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Top CRM resources & support for fundraisers

Melanie May | 13 February 2024 | News

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From which CRMs are good for small charities, to how to solve issues with the one you’ve got, and source good training and consultants, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to take your questions. Luckily there are number of groups, sites and resources available to help.

Here’s a round up of some of them. They’re not all CRM-specific but they are all places you can go to ask CRM-related questions, or find useful support.

Groups & communities

Fundraising Chat – free, active, and with 20k users. Join this responsive Facebook group here and ask it any fundraising-related question you like – questions generally get a number of responses from people keen to share their experiences or expertise.

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Data in Fundraising group – free, active, and with 1.6k users, this Facebook group describes itself as being for anyone working in charities or wanting to learn or share more about the data best practice and discuss topics like: what tools to use for data & insight; good courses; database headaches; and interesting data and IT related articles. Join here.

From Data & Systems Hell to CRM Mastery – a group for arts/culture/heritage professionals – set up by Helen Dunnett Consulting, this is a LinkedIn group for arts, culture, heritage and not-for-profit professionals. It’s described as providing a space to connect and interact with other like-minded individuals, support each other and share best practices, receive help on how to reach audiences through improving data, systems and CRM strategies, and ask questions. Joining it is by invite or application.

Charity UK on LinkedIn is a public group and networking resource created by Keith Grinsted for everyone involved with the charity sector in the UK, from employees to supporters and suppliers so has a wide reach with over 48k members. It’s a group for networking and connecting so is another resource fundraisers can use to post their CRM questions.

Non-Profit and Charity Network is a LinkedIn group for people involved in the sector as well as those interested in charitable work. It’s a space to share ideas, and ask for advice. Join it here.

Steph Graham, CEO at GoodCRM also adds:

“If your charity already has a CRM, I would always recommend joining any ‘platform specific’ groups or forums that exist. Some of the large CRM providers have groups on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.”

GoodCRM for example has the TheGoodPlace, while there are also Facebook groups for providers including Beacon, Donorfy and Raiser’s Edge.

CRM providers’ training – CRM providers also often provide their own training resources, offering everything from group training to on-demand courses and certifications so it’s worth checking out what they have to offer.

CharityConnect – this handy network of charity professionals is a place to go to ask questions of the 17,000+ community, and share insights and experiences. Do a search for ‘CRM’ to see all the conversation threads on this topic. If you work for a UK charity, you can sign up for free.

CIOF Insight in Fundraising Group – This Chartered Institute of Fundraising group is for anyone in the charity sector using or delivering insight as part of their role. It runs a programme of events including an annual conference, and free webinars. Join its mailing list to be notified about these (you need an account on the CIOF site for this).

Reports

CIOF report: Technology & tools for improving the customer experience. This paper is to help charity staff to better understand which technology and tools exist, and what they can do to improve the supporter experience.

Fundraising Magazine runs an annual survey of the UK charity CRM universe. The 2023 survey was completed by 527 charities, covering a wide range of incomes. Beacon has the 2023 results available (by permission) here.

Graham says:

“The Annual Charity CRM survey is a great place for fundraisers to start their CRM research – the most recent version was released in May 2023. The survey is a brilliant catch-all for the most popular charity CRMs, and it can be used as a shortlist for some more in-depth desk-based research.”

Sites & other resources

Charity Digital – over the years Charity Digital has posted lots of resources on CRM. Register for free to access them.

UK Fundraising (of course!) – UK Fundraising runs an annual editorial CRM focus every February. Do a search on ‘CRM’ to find a whole host of useful content.

Consultants’ and CRM specialists’ websites – check out their sites for resources. IT for Charities, and Adapta Consulting, for example have free guides on aspects of CRM that you can download, and Beacon also offers a free resource, How to evaluate a charity CRM, which goes through all of the common concerns around CRM, red flags, costs, timelines and what questions to ask providers to find the best suited CRM.

Charity Excellence – Ian McLintock has lots of handy resources on his site, including a guide called CRM for Charities – Choose The Best CRM System Software For Your Charity. This covers: Which are the best UK charity CRM systems? How to choose the best CRM system software for your charity ­– the key issues in choosing, migrating and making the most of a charity CRM system.

FundraisingEverywhere has two on-demand webinars on CRM covering Top 5 tips on maximising fundraising through data and getting the most out of a CRM integration, and How to move to a proper CRM System if you’re still using spreadsheets. There is a cost but they’re priced low (£18.75 each) to keep them accessible.

More advice – from the experts

A top piece of advice from Julie Pitt, Director of PtG Business, is this:

“Get yourself a peer network; people you can reach out to, to ask those ‘stupid’ questions, who are going to help you unpick your problem and suggest things you haven’t thought of. We all need someone we can direct a question to. Fundraisers do it a lot with questions about fundraising, but often don’t/won’t ask questions about data. Social media groups are often the best way of getting to know people; post your question and if someone comments with something you like the sound of, ask if it’s OK if you message them directly. Before you know it, you’ll be on a Zoom with a cuppa talking about all kinds of data delights.”

Chris Houghton, CEO at Beacon, also makes this suggestion:

“If you’re looking for a CRM, providers’ websites will often answer the simpler questions but booking a demo and coming prepared with a list of in-depth questions about how you want to manage your data, and how you can get the most out of it, is another great way to get lots of free advice on where to go next.

 

“If you already have a CRM, and are struggling to make the most of it, the first port of call should be your provider’s support or customer success teams. They’ve got a wealth of knowledge around best practice and can even give you tips on how other customers are using it.”

Do let us know what else you would recommend.

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