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By chris

In an effort to bring our readers the best information available on prospect research and its surrounding topics, we like to sometimes highlight posts from outsides blogs that provide valuable insights and information regarding the nonprofit sector. Today we’re featuring one of those posts.

6 Steps to a Successful CRM Strategy initially appeared on Andar/360’s blog. You can check out the original version here! 

This article was written by Real Bedard, President of Helix Ltd

6 Steps to a Successful CRM Strategy

1: Collect Information

Names, addresses, employer, cell numbers, email addresses, communication preferences, gifts, pledges, payments, formal/nicknames, relationships between accounts, demographics, competitive giving,… the list goes on and on. Information is everywhere and it can all be extremely valuable when getting to know your constituents.

To be useful, information needs to be organized and categorized, and put in the right place. Most CRM systems are flexible and can store a variety of information. Get to know where things go. Your organization should have some data standards so everyone stores information in the same place. If you enter it in yourself, it will help you know how to get it out. Information management is NOT something to be delegated.

2: Log Communications

Every single interaction with every constituent should be logged. This includes e-mails, telephone, text messages, face-to-face visits, and all other communication methods. If a conversation mentions or involves a third person, then that third person should also be linked in the communication log.

This is by far the simplest and most difficult task in any CRM strategy. It is simple to do but unfortunately, it requires very strong self-discipline. There are many benefits to logging communications. It documents the state of the relationship. It also greatly reduces the risks involved with staff turnover. Anyone on staff will be able to pickup the relationship where it left off. Considering the staff turnover levels in nonprofits, this process delivers benefits far beyond just a CRM strategy, it’s often critical to the survival of the organization.

3: Summarize into Notes

Although communication logs are critical to track what was said and any required follow up, they may be challenging to get a quick overview of a constituent. That’s why professional fundraisers will regularly review their constituent information, including communication logs, interests, social media, and other sources, and write a summary of the constituent into a single concise note. In some cases separate notes can be used to summarize a biography of the constituent, the relationship status, and the strategy going forward.

4: Use your Information

Collecting information is great but the benefits really kick in when the information is actually used. So, before any interaction with a constituent, it is critical to review your notes in order to understand your current relationship with the constituent. That knowledge will assist you to move the relationship forward instead starting at square one every time.

Information can also be used to personalize your automated communications. If you know your constituent’s interests, you can add messages of interest in your newsletter, thank you letter, tax receipt, etc. Your marketing team can analyze your information to maximize returns from your messages.

5: Use Plans, Tasks and Move Management

CRM consists of three pillars: People, Process, and Technology. This is where process comes in. Henry Ford discovered almost exactly 100 years ago that a well defined process (assembly line) can dramatically increase productivity. Much of what an organization does is systematic, highly repetitive and can be documented. But documentation by itself is not very useful. These process steps should be entered into your CRM system so your staff can be guided along the process without missing a step or worse, missing some constituents. Your CRM system can also perform some tasks automatically, on schedule, without human intervention.

Move Management is a little more “fuzzy.” This process guides you as you “move” your constituent along the path from non-donor to donor. This process is usually not very well defined and varies greatly from one constituent to another. Prospect codes can track your constituent’s progress along this relationship building continuum.

6: Measure and Improve

Once the above steps are implemented, you can begin to measure your performance. How many constituents are engaged? What communication methods yield the best results? Which donors are increasing their gifts? Which ones are not? What tasks should be improved? What fundraising strategies work best? What donor segments raise the most money? The truth is in the numbers. This is where your organization can strategically plan for the future and have the data to prove it works.

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6 Steps to a Successful CRM Strategy