How to leverage your CRM for your non-profit

Today’s tech-savvy framework for contact managementor more commonly customer relationship management (CRM)—software makes it easier than ever for your nonprofit to reach more people and make a greater impact.

A CRM can handle details, provide data-based insight, and reduce administrative fatigue to help you build authentic relationships.

But are you getting the most out of your CRM?

After all, you’re not working at a nonprofit so you can pass the day bogged down in meetings or pushing paper. You thrive on relationships, not on administrivia. And you’ve likely had enough of micromanaging fundraising campaigns and grant applications.

Streamline operations for stronger connections

A CRM can help coordinate the moving parts of your day-to-day operations. If you’re still using your CRM like it’s just a pricey Rolodex, it’s time to leverage your resources and make a bigger impact.

Make the most of your meetings

Your CRM provides a convenient platform for sharing information about individuals, situations, and programs. Are you using meetings to disseminate this information instead? Meetings held merely to disseminate information or because it feels about time are more than just fodder for water-cooler complaining. They waste time and deplete morale.

Reserve meeting time for authentic collaboration, and use your CRM to provide updates and information-sharing. Your CRM insures every item is linked to the related project, updated in a timely manner, and accessible by everyone on the team. It becomes almost effortless to link details, such as emails, phone calls, relevant contacts, new developments, and meeting notes, to related projects.

Imagine how much more effective your team could be when everyone is on the same page before the meeting even starts.

Take it with you

Data accuracy and effective use of information can increase throughout your organization when every team member has access to share and retrieve information remotely and enter data updates and notes in situ. Is your CRM as flexible as you are?

You’re not afraid to go off-site and get your hands a little dirty. Your CRM shouldn’t be stuck at the office either. Make the most of your CRM’s go-anywhere, intuitive user interface. Keep the entire team connected and up on timely, accurate information.

Multiply the power of your CRM

Integrating with third-party apps gives you more usability from your CRM. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn how many apps integrate seamlessly with your CRM. It makes it easier to select, sort, and analyze information based on demographics, visitors, and other sites your contacts and potentialcontacts care about.

Already a MailChimp user? Make it more powerful by integrating with your CRM.

The more your CRM integrates with third-party apps, the more your CRM allows you to analyze who’s invested in your issue and what they’re doing to make a difference.

Drill down and readjust

You’ve taken steps to sync your CRM to your audience. Were you successful? Take a look at your CRM reports. I mean really look at them. Don’t just print the reports and pin them up. Find out what the reports indicate and how you can adjust your approach for better results.

For example, are you getting the predicted results with your targeted campaign? Easily track and manage the details and the effectiveness of each campaign, project element, and case outcome. Maybe you need to adjust your message, timing, or revisit the motivations of potential donors.

In a study of the factors that determine nonprofit growth, Stanford Social Innovation Review found nonprofits successfully developed a model for large-scale funding when connected to funding sources that were natural matches to their missions and beneficiaries.

What’s the takeaway? Use your CRM’s demographic information to pinpoint who cares about your issue and who or what’s got their attention. Then use that medium to deliver your targeted, effective message. It takes a little art and a little science to make this happen, but it’s much easier to hone in with data from your CRM’s analysis of demographics, giving patterns, and corollary interests.

Turn supporters into fundraisers

Connect broad campaigns, and reach diverse networks through crowdsourcing and online personal/team fundraising. These efforts require support at every step, whether it’s a grassroots movement or a more traditionally coordinated effort. Use your CRM to automate and distribute essential elements such as an integrated payment platform, targeted email distributions, online giving forums, event registration, and real-time fundraising analytics.

Keep everyone in touch through your CRM’s easy project tracking to increase your team’s effectiveness and an organizer’s engagement. Provide access to online forms, specialized training, updates on trends and relevant current events, background education, calendar/timeline syncs, and other support material. Keep in touch with fundraising efforts through personalized scheduled emails and by providing communication templates from a fundraiser (to potential donors). Since you’ve already integrated your CRM with social media sites, it’s easier for fundraisers to import contacts and get the word out.

Make a wise investment

If you’re still shopping around for a CRM, make sure you take a good look at the options. Most small to medium sized nonprofits make the most of their investment with an out-of-the-box CRM. This eliminates an expensive installation and the need for costly custom applications. CRMs can be so complex that their platform requires extensive training and a full-time administrator. An out-of-the-box CRM with a friendly user-interface gives you a better chance of having your entire team enthusiastically adopt the new technology and yield greater returns.

Of course, now that you’ve asked…we’re partial to Nutshell’s intuitive interface and friendly platform, but we’re also admittedly biased.

Back to the Rolodex

Want people to care about your cause and stay engaged? Give the message you matter. Tailored, well-timed emails and social media help to create this environment, but they only go so far. You need to personalize every interaction. As your nonprofit grows, it’s nearly impossible for everyone on the team to keep up on every detail of every individual. That’s where your CRM contact list comes in. Call it a virtual Rolodex if you like.

leverage crm for nonprofit pullquoteA CRM provides your team full view of contact information with details, notes, calls, and emails. It’s easier to get to know individuals and stay connected with immediate access to details like a donor’s past history or the major concerns of project lead. Authentic connections give every individual significance in your nonprofit’s success.

What happens when people feel significant? They work harder, commit more resources, and more effectively draw in others.

Ready to act?

A CRM can’t promise a meaningful impact for your nonprofit, but savvy use of your CRM gives you the right tools to, as our sometimes quirky and always friendly team at Nutshell likes to say: Get organized. Sell (raise funds) Smarter. Grow Relationships. Visit our resources page to learn even more about CRM.

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