When I first met NeonCRM co-founder Lei Zhang in 2004, he had a vision of creating one of the first cloud-based software platforms for nonprofits. Back then, a database was something handled by an IT manager, Facebook was only available to Ivy League students, and fundraising was accomplished by just direct mailing. But when Lei walked into my office at the Kidney Cancer Association and shared his dream with me, his vision soon became mine.
We started sharing our vision with others: to build software that was affordable, scalable, and accessible to a nonprofit organization of any size. We were, and still are, supported in that vision by friends, family, and nonprofits such as the Kidney Cancer Association, Melanoma International Foundation, and Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. We invested everything back into our vision, hiring people who knew nonprofits because they had worked for them. Today, over 3,000 nonprofits rely on us to help make their own visions a reality.
The average nonprofit leverages three to five separate databases in order to manage its daily workload; this may cost them time and money they don’t have. NeonCRM’s certified integration ecosystem decreases day-to-day tasks such as mindless data entry that nonprofit professionals typically struggle with. This provides them more time in their day to concentrate on the donors that help fund their missions.
As technology options have become more readily available across industries, we’ve seen increasing interest from investment firms in the nonprofit technology space. When they came knocking, we told these firms that, if we were to partner with them, it needed to be on our terms. We had to ensure that nonprofits would not be hurt by damaging price increases or removal of vital software, that our staff would be secure in their jobs, and that we would have access to resources that empowered us to truly change the world in a way our industry has never before seen. All the usual suspects came and went and we continued to build, waiting for the right partner.
We’ve continued to be one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States by staying true to our vision. We focus on helping nonprofits solve problems by listening to their needs and adapting to their actual daily experiences. We value transparency, open communication, and autonomy. We never settle for the status quo.
Our approach is working– we have joined the Inc. 5000 list for the fourth year in a row and have helped our clients raise over $1 billion in 2017 alone.
Today, we are thrilled to announce we have finally found our partners. Blue Star Innovation Partners and FTV Capital have invested significantly in our company. Our joint goal is to build off of NeonCRM and establish a larger ecosystem of software and services: Neon One. NeonCRM will now be the most powerful core nonprofit-focused CRM of a much larger ecosystem, parented by Neon One, that will focus on building better software, serving more nonprofits, and growing our partner community exponentially.
By taking on this investment, we will create something much bigger than NeonCRM. Neon One will focus on expanding our community of software products, consultants, institutional partners, and nonprofits. We want your mission to succeed, so we hire the best people to allow you to maximize your time, talent, and treasure. By charting this new path, we’ve decided that the right way to do business is to grow by helping our clients grow. This can be achieved by expanding our nonprofit-focused ecosystem, investing in forward-thinking integrated technology that’s easy to use, and offering more resources to address the process issues hindering a nonprofit professional’s ability to do their job. We succeed if nonprofits get more donations — it’s as simple as that.
Our new partners have a proven track record of making sure that clients succeed: efficiency through job creation, integrated systems of support, and a commitment to providing best in class experience for organizations. They also realized they would be investing into our team as much as they were investing into our technology. As the new President of Neon One, I can assure you we will not be losing any members of our team due to this investment partnership.
I want to also share what this investment means for our vision of a unified industry offering:
- Kicking off Neon One by bringing in Rallybound, an industry leading peer-to-peer fundraising platform that has helped Sierra Club, Michael J. Fox Foundation, and many more nonprofits raise over $200 million
- Creating more options for fundraisers, event planners, marketing directors, volunteer managers, and other organizational staff to make sure their missions succeed
- Expanding resources and industry research to address issues like general operation support, capacity building, and employee retention
- Investing into institutional networks by deepening our commitment to community foundations, nonprofit centers, and state associations
- Establishing a program, based on mutual respect and trust, that gives consultants and other affiliated stakeholders in the nonprofit industry opportunities to thrive
- Continued support of initiatives that celebrate and support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the nonprofit industry. We will continue to spotlight issues relating to mental health, safe spaces, and bridging the technology gap between rural and urban communities
In launching Neon One with this investment, we will have the resources and runway to make our vision a reality for every nonprofit in the industry.
This investment is bigger than us. We want to make an impact on the lives of every nonprofit whether or not it utilizes our software. We want to drive innovation beyond anything that has been seen before. We want to ensure that technology combined with social good becomes the norm beyond the nonprofit sector.
There have been a lot of announcements like this in our industry lately. We understand the skepticism many of you may have when reading this, and we want to acknowledge that. We also want you to hold us accountable. We want to continue to cultivate the trust you have given us since 2004. You are the ones who can ensure we make our vision a reality since there wouldn’t really be a NeonCRM without you.
By the way…we’re a passionate team of dedicated and experienced nonprofit professionals who are constantly working to make the world a better place. Sound like something you’re interested in? Check out our Neon One open positions.
We can’t wait to work with you. Together, let’s make good happen.