nonprofit CRM

The “C” in CRM can mean different things depending on which industry or sector you work in. Whether it’s “customer relationship management” or “constituent relationship management” the key objectives for both overlap almost entirely.

Here are a few of the common key objectives of CRM systems no matter what sector is implementing and using them:

  1. Enable the capturing of all notes and communications between the employees and the prospects or customers/donors
  2. Facilitate the recording of all financial transactions
  3. Provide a complete “360 degree view” of the prospect or customer/donor be easily showing all information from #1 and #2 above
  4. Enable the proper timing of all follow-up activities
  5. Provide a “pipeline” of all future financial transactions
  6. Sharing this information among all employees and stakeholders

Comparison of Sales CRM to Nonprofit CRM Usage

Since the six key objectives outlined above are almost always shared between the commercial and the nonprofit sector, one would think the usage levels would be nearly identical.

Sadly they are not.

The usage of sales CRM systems is by nearly every employee of any commercial company using such a system who interacts with a prospect or customer. Those employees would feel left out and not able to perform their job successfully without being “plugged in” to the central CRM system.

The usage of nonprofit CRM systems is more times than not relegated to administrative staff only. The key fundraisers and executives who interact personally with prospects and donors seldom if ever use such a system to capture the valuable notes, thoughts and ensuing personal communications! This truly destroys the key objectives above or forces them to far from complete in nature.

Why is CRM Usage so Radically Different between Sectors?

Through the process of performing thousands of in depth “Needs Analyses” in the nonprofit sector over the last 30 years, my sales and customer support teams have been able to compile extremely valid survey results. Here are some of the reasons given by charities as to why the database system is not being used daily:

  1. Usage was not mandated by the board or top management
  2. The system required a large amount of training
  3. The system was deemed not user friendly
  4. Fundraisers were often used to operating by gut feel rather than key metrics
  5. Fundraisers never stopped using their old methods for information capture
  6. The system was not easily accessed out of the office
  7. Getting information out was so difficult people were scared to put it in
  8. Fundraisers did not view the system as an invaluable tool

Is This Happening at Your Nonprofit?

It is no wonder the CRM systems in the nonprofit sector became gift recording and/or direct mail systems only. Those CRM systems could not be anything else without the vast amount of daily interaction details. Is it any wonder fundraising results can fall sharply when there is any change in the gift officers of the fundraising staff? The knowledge that was known about the hopes, dreams and passions of the major donors walked out the door when the gift officers or management of the fundraising staff changed.

This does not have to be the case! Yes, if EVERYONE dealing with donors in any manner properly uses the donor management or CRM system, we can avoid this disaster. And yes, this means that a nonprofit CRM can and should be used just like a commercial CRM.

The Buyer's Guide to Fundraising Software

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.