The use of CRM and data is critical in how fundraising is conducted. Yet recent Blackbaud research showed 57% of UK not-for-profits (NFPs) are struggling to unlock the marketing and fundraising potential in their data and 24% are struggling to manage the sheer volume of data generated. Worryingly, more than a third (35%) said that they didn’t have enough knowledge about their CRM systems to manage them effectively and 18% said their systems were just too complex to manage.
So CRM and data really matter. But there is a lot more that could be done when preparing for a new CRM system, so I offer five simple points which can help a charity and its chosen partner when embarking on the technology element of a CRM project.
1. Prepare to lift the carpet
Some of the things that often take organisations who are implementing a CRM by surprise are the quality of the data, the inefficiency of processes, company politics and negativity from those in the organisation who previously appeared to be in favour of a change. In other words: the dust and detritus that have been swept under the carpet from the previous years of organisation growth.
I can’t stress enough the importance of preparing yourself to discover that your organisation is far from the shiny, modern and efficient thing you might think it is. Accepting that this is the case, and not falling into the trap of thinking “Ahhh but my organisation is different,” is crucial to the success of your project.
2. Perform a technology audit
Your IT department probably already has a good idea of what technologies are in use within the organisation from an ‘installed’ and ‘licenced’ perspective; however that is very different to the kind of technology audit that will help your CRM project.
The kind of technology audit that will help your CRM project needs to identify who is using what, how.
This will help you identify information black holes and extra processes that have evolved over time due to inefficiencies in some other area of information management. These systems, people and information need to be collated and, even if they’re not included, at least acknowledged as part of the implementation of a new CRM technology and strategy.
3. Capture and document your goals and ROI
Today, both vendors and client organisations seem to have understood that putting hard ROI values on a CRM project is, at best, optimistic and at worst delusional.
But you can certainly help your CRM project by sharing what goals, expectations and ROI with your implementation partner. Their team will then be able to better use their experience to shape the solution towards your desired outcomes and help identify processes, systems and information that will influence them (both good and bad). If you don’t have anything specific, it is well worth the effort of creating some or asking your supplier to help you do so.
4. Understand your CRM strategy
You do have a CRM strategy don’t you? Make sure the implementation of any supporting technology backs it up and is part of (and not the driver for!) that programme. Inevitably there will be challenges and either strategy or technology will need to bend in favour or one or the other at times. But whatever happens, make sure that everyone involved in the organisation (and not just the project) understands the strategy and can bring that understanding with them to work.
5. Have an accurate and complete org chart to hand
CRM is all about ‘customers’ and everyone has customers. So who is going to use your new CRM system? What are they using to manage their customers now (see point 2) and how will the new system impact this for them?
Acknowledging that the system is going to be used by everyone means that it is important to both understand internally and to share with your implementation partner, exactly what ‘everyone’ means. To some organisations, ‘everyone’ includes customers logging in to their website to manage their membership or child sponsorship. To others, ‘everyone’ means just those in the Grants team.
Either way, understanding the map of the organisation’s internal people and their customers is important for both project planning and ensuring that segments of customers are not accidentally overlooked.
CRM is a powerful tool that allows charities of all sizes to better use their data for fundraising and marketing. But successful implementation relies on thorough preparation, so do not overlook this when embarking on your CRM journey – good luck!
Ben White is an enterprise CRM consultant at Blackbaud Europe