HubSpot vs Salesforce: Comparing CRMs for NFPs. Adam Kensington - Content Strategist by Adam Kensington, Content Strategist

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Customer relationship management software (or CRM) is a powerful tool for companies and organisations like Not-For-Profits (NFP) to help manage contacts and opportunities, and ensures everyone you interact with has a great customer experience.

Purchasing CRM software that’s right for your needs is particularly important in helping your marketing and acquisition efforts. A good solution allows you to manage contacts (this could be prospects, course attendees, alumni or donors), segment them by persona or demographic, and have more meaningful conversations. For an education provider, this might present an opportunity to engage with course attendees and foster long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

When evaluating CRMs, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Is it fit for purpose
  2. Does it meet our success criteria?
  3. Are there other solutions that may help achieve your goals more effectively?
  4. Price (explicit and implicit)

Let’s start by looking at two popular business CRMs – HubSpot and Salesforce – and weigh up the pros and cons of each. Here’s what each says about their offer… 


“Whether you’ve got a small team of five or a sophisticated sales force of 500, HubSpot offers pricing and packaging options that grow with you. HubSpot customer relationship management software is built for companies that want to spend less time logging data. It keeps all your contacts in one centralized, customizable database. “


“We help small and medium businesses to increase sales, reach more customers, and improve service”. 

So good so far, but what are the pros and cons of each solution, and are there any other solutions that might be better suited to NFPs?

HubSpot for charities and NFPs.

HubSpot Pros

Support for small to medium sized organisations

Hubspot offers organisations a solution that scales with them as they grow. It also offers a free, unlimited trial account so that you can have a play with it before presenting to senior management

Internal Chat Integration

Chat integration allows all members of your team (sales, marketing, customer service staff etc.) to collaborate and nurture customers in one centralised conversations hub. For education providers, this could mean taking prospective students through the lifecycle from candidate to alumni. Consolidate your Facebook chat, team email, web forms and web chat into the ‘Conversations’ tab and never miss a beat. 

Quick setup and time-saving CRM

All businesses want software that is quick to set up and easy to deploy. HubSpot takes just minutes to set up and most likely won’t need an IT professional’s involvement. 

Specifically caters for Non-profit and Education

HubSpot has a range of successful case studies in their work with nonprofit and education providers. 

Free training and resource centre

HubSpot offers free training, certification and resources to help you get more out of the software. This includes training webinars, blog content, emails and more.

It also offers a “freemium” package allowing you to play around with it before making a selection. All of this will help ensure your buying decision is the best for your budget.

Email marketing

Email marketing remains an effective way of reaching prospects and customers. To ensure your email marketing campaigns are optimised, you’ll need to create emails that are punchy, purposeful, and align with the reader’s wants and desires to build trust. HubSpot comes with email marketing wrapped into the product.

It also uses a certified email provider to ensure that emails remain compliant with security and safety standards. 

A/B Testing

The software also allows you to A/B test your email campaigns. This is the practice of creating two almost identical emails – with slight content differences – and sending them out simultaneously allowing you to monitor which one is most successful (measured by bounce rate, open rate and click rate). It also provides a framework to make amends and tweaks, optimising your efforts. 

Task management

Staying on top of your tasks and to do’s is an essential part of any successful lead nurturing campaign.

HubSpot’s in-app task management sends timely reminders about your leads or candidates through their decision making process. It allows you to set a time and date for when a task should be completed helping you to stay on top of your contacts and where they are in their journey with you.

Unlimited users and data

Hubspot allows you to have unlimited users, data, and up to 1,000,000 contacts with no time limit or expiration date for teams from 1 to 1000. This is ideal for smaller teams and NFPs.

Reporting dashboards

HubSpot provides multiple sales and marketing dashboards comprised of many customisable report cards to display key data about your organisation. This also allows you to get real-time view on how a deal or donation journey is tracking. 

HubSpot Cons

There are other solutions tailored more closely to the needs of NFPs and educational institutions. These will also have their own benefits and drawbacks so should be evaluated against your selection criteria. In the NFP sector, you might find this article helpful in your shortlisting efforts.  

Salesforce for charities and NFPs.

Salesforce Pros

Contact management

Salesforce is built primarily with sales personnel in mind. Its design can also help small businesses, NFPs and educational institutions meet their needs.

Its “contact management” feature allows users and prospects to have meaningful conversations, tracking and logging activity.  


Collaboration helps teams have a view of where their prospects are in their buying journey. 

This journey is the path that a prospect or donor goes through from awareness stage to decision stage – taking a desired action. In the case of a not for profit or charity, that’s likely to be making a donation.  

Marketing tools

Salesforce comes with several marketing tools baked into the product. This includes email marketing, prospect management, marketing triggers and more. Here’s a full list.

Account and Contact Management

Having a complete view of your contacts, including activity history helps cultivate more successful customer relationships, campaigns and marketing efforts.

Salesforce can also help you gain insights from popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The result? A better understanding and response to what your customers, donors, conference attendees etc are talking about which leads to greater engagement. 

Opportunity Management

Opportunity management allows you to track the progress and health of your prospect’s journey.

Salesforce allows its users to see where contacts are in this journey enabling them to review campaign messaging and tweak as necessary. 

Contact Management

As with opportunity management, contact management allows you to understand where a contact is along their journey towards a desired outcome. For an education provider, this might be turning a candidate into a course attendee. 

Salesforce Cons

Enterprise focus

Salesforce is aimed primarily at enterprise level businesses. This means that their solution is expensive to set up and run. This makes them less appropriate for smaller businesses and lean NFPs. 

Heavy deployment cost

Salesforce is more tricky to set up as it has many more customisation features. This requires more input from IT teams on configuration making it less useful and immediately impactful to smaller businesses and NFPs. 

Salesforce is more expensive than HubSpot to set up and maintain.

Salesforce includes all the features you need at the advertised price. You only pay for additional revenue-generating seats, free seats are available for team members who need visibility into the business, such as reporting, without any of the day-to-day functionality of sales tools.

Salesforce charges for every user and requires paid add-ons for essential features. 

And even if you are an enterprise level customer, HubSpot is still likely to be cheaper. 

Time limited trial

Salesforce trial only last 30 days. This limits the time you have to get to know it and present to your decision makers. 

So what have we learned?

Selecting the right CRM software for your business or NFP is a time consuming process. Research is key to selecting the right tool for you.

Salesforce and HubSpot both offer great features that can be useful in helping you manage your marketing and nurturing efforts, though there are other tools that might be more appropriate.  

Many systems do the same thing but in slightly different ways so it’s good to have a play with them to see what works best for you.

We recommend setting up a demo with a few of your preferred software providers. This will help you understand what they can do and, more importantly, help you to reach your desired goal. It also provides a great opportunity to ask the questions you’re likely to have.

When setting a budget for implementation, include a contingency for snags that might occur during the implementation process.

Our preferred software partner is HubSpot as, from experience, we find it is the best fit for our clients and offers the most transformative suite of marketing tools. 

So to recap:

  1. Take time to research and play with two or three software solutions
  2. Get your senior management team involved in the buying process at an early stage
  3. Include a contingency budget for unforeseen upgrades or snags
Adam Kensington - Content Strategist by Adam Kensington, Content Strategist
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