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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Top 6 reasons nonprofits should use a CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. I like to redefine it as a Constituent Relationship Management system. Originally limited to sales and support departments, it has now been widely adopted by nonprofit organizations. Here are the Top 6 reasons your organization should be using a CRM.

Know you are about meet a donor BEFORE you enter that meeting
We are all communicating more than ever and connecting with more people than ever. How are you supposed to keep track of the important conversations happening with your constituents? Let alone share it with your team. Your CRM system will provide a simple way for all staff to record emails, phone calls and meetings with your donors, volunteers or other supporters. Imagine it: all of your organization interactions with your stakeholders in one place and no more searching through multiple spreadsheets. This consolidated ongoing communication will enrich the contact profile and start building institutional knowledge, which is coincidentally my next point.

Never lose the keys to your institutional knowledge
“That was before my time” “Documentation? What for? I've got it all in my head.” Does this response sound familiar? Information, for the most part, should be readily available to most staff (if not all). Your whole team could view previous iterations of volunteer engagement emails, donor recognition processes, and specific considerations made for individual event attendees. With a richer context, your staff will be empowered to always put the organization's best foot forward.

So you do all of that for our mission?
Break down the information silos! Having separate databases for volunteers, donors, grants and programs does not allow you to capture the complexity of the relationships you have with your constituents. Your volunteers are becoming donors and could also be recipients of your programs and services. Without a centralized place you might not be able to identify and leverage key supporters.

Get new blood on the gala committee
The key to achieving your mission is engaging the right people in your cause. You probably have a few key supporters who are serving on your board and mobilizing the community around your vision…but there is an unlimited number of individuals who would increase their commitment to your mission with the right pathways. Consolidating ways your constituents are engaging with your organization (donations, event attendance, volunteers, receiving newsletters, etc.) is the beginning to understanding engagement levels. From there, you could better target your supporters by offering them the appropriate engagement opportunities based on where they currently are.

Find all donors in 85255 zipcode who have given more than $1,000 in the past year
With basic contact information stored in a single location, combined with information about how each contact is engaged with your organization, targeting your supporters becomes a lot easier. You do not have of send the same communication to everyone all the time anymore. Target donors who have not donated in the last 6 months but have attended an event recently or any contact who is both a volunteer and a donor. You can go further and microtarget your constituency. For example, you could find all donors in 85255 who have given more than $1,000 in the past 365 days. Finally most modern CRMs will integrate with marketing solutions such as Constant Contact or Exact Target to streamline the process of sending mass communication.

Never forget thank you letters and followups again
Who does not like to save time? Modern CRMs allow you to automate tasks and free staff time. Think of acknowledging a donor who just reached a new donation level with his last donation. Or automatically assigning a task to your executive director to call a major donor for her last contribution. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. These pieces of the business process, and much more, can be automated to save your staff time, and ensure that none of your supporters slip through the cracks unappreciated.

Pierre Kaluzny is the founder of Sputnik Moment, a Phoenix based Salesforce consulting company who has helped over 200 nonprofit organizations implement Salesforce technologies. Pierre is also the leader of the Salesforce Phoenix Nonprofit Usergroup.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog