Heller Consulting recently surveyed over 30 nonprofits to ask how they’re using their CRMs (constituent relationship management systems). You can download the report free, but here are some interesting takeaways:
- Fragmented, non-integrated data in many places is a problem everywhere
- CRM can be viewed as a system, a way to provide customer service or a strategy for engaging with constituents (the most progressive nonprofits do all three).
- Having a central database helps in being able to segment your audience and in managing major donor relationships
- Silos between data, people and departments get in the way of connecting with constituents
- Most nonprofits now use social media to connect with supporters, but these conversations need to be included in your database.
- When bringing in a new CRM, bring in stakeholders from many areas, engage them early and involve them throughout the project.
- Documentation, help screens and training is essential, no matter how ‘user friendly’ the database may seem.
My take – your success also depends on your organization culture. The best CRM software won’t help if staff don’t consistently enter information about interactions with constituents because they prefer to keep it ‘in their head’ or in personal files that only they can access.