If you’ve worked with K2 before you know we are big believers in processes – the behind the scenes work that needs to be done to keep organizations and campaigns organized, intentional and strong. Recently I listened to a great podcast titled: Clate Mask: Not Having a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System is Costing You by Business Made Simple by Donald Miller. It’s a short quick listen, geared towards business owners but frankly all nonprofits and campaigns should listen.

Your organization (business, campaign…) grows when relationships grow – and the only way that happens is through connection. That connection comes when you understand your data and the people you’re trying to work with. If you have more than a dozen relationships you’re trying to manage you need a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Your CRM could be a spreadsheet for starters, but whatever it is it needs to be the system everyone on your team uses. I’ve managed tens of thousands of records over the years, from grassroots to donor records. I’m going to give you my best advice on getting started, maintaining and utilizing your CRM. This could be a longer webinar but for today here’s what I have:

  1. A CRM, if for nothing else (and as the podcast covered), forces you to get organized. If you don’t have a budget for a cloud based CRM, start with a spreadsheet. You need to start somewhere.
  2. Know the rules of the road. You absolutely need a set of rules that everyone (note I keep saying everyone…) abides by. These rules, or processes, should be simple enough that everyone abides by them when using the CRM. These processes could refer to the entity, where they came from, why they are there, who owns the relationship, is there any urgent follow up etc. For example, because our clients use CRMs and consistently follow the same processes, in less than 30 seconds I could pull a report of all the people I need to follow up with this week because we are properly using our CRM. It works for me now and makes me a better fundraiser. More time properly setting up a CRM on the front end saves you hours of time later.
  3. SOURCE CODES! I refer to “source codes” as the WHY a donor gave. For example at any given moment I want to better understand what drives a donor to give, was it a mail piece we sent, an email, an event or a phone call? Knowing the source helps you better understand the relationship. This applies to grassroots just as much as it does donors. Understanding why an individual wants to participate in a legislative hearing or send a letter to the editor helps you (the leader) best work with them and utilize their talents. 
  4. Followup: How do you track calls and meeting follow up? It’s great if you or your client are contacting hundreds of people a week, but what’s the followup and how can you make sure things don’t slip through the cracks? I can tell you in all areas I’ve worked in the past 17 years, the followup is where most organizations drop the ball. Systemize the followup and action planning around thank yous, gifts, whatever the action may be (wants a yard sign! will participate in a hearing! will donate!). You need a system that everyone participates in that is tracking the followup. If one person in the organization doesn’t buy into the CRM it will not work.
  5. The worst DECEASED: Have you ever called or emailed someone who recently passed away? News flash, we’re all aging and the more we stick around the more people we will know that passed on. You need to have a process for tracking “do not mails” and deceased people. It’s a fact of life and it’s the right and kind thing to do. Manage your lists well.
  6. Fancy does not always mean better. CRMs should not cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. K2 has a preferred list of vendors we work with and recommend to our clients. At the end of the day, the best CRM is the CRM everyone uses.

I could spend hours talking about best practices when it comes to CRMs. I’ve been on all sides of a CRM, the spreadsheet, the fancy Salesforce apps, data transitions. Through that experience I’m hoping some of these tips help you and your organization set up and manage your CRM. Please email or call if you want advice – K2 is always willing to help!