The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

First Steps to Nonprofit CRM Success

Non Profit CRM

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You’re ready to take your outreach and fundraising to the next level with a constituent relationship management (CRM) system, also known as a donor management system. Where to begin? It might seem daunting, but implementing a nonprofit CRM can be a pleasant experience, we promise! In our recent webinar, Network for Good’s Jonathan Gibbs, vice president of products, showed nonprofits just like yours how to implement a donor management system without all the headache. Here are a few simple steps that will ease your transition into working with a nonprofit CRM so you can grow relationships with donors.

  1. Develop a vision of life with a nonprofit CRM.

At its core, a nonprofit CRM is a robust online database that tracks your contacts’ activities and key actions, such as giving history, volunteer participation, email opens, and even social media activity.

The first step in implementation is to think about the big picture. Brainstorm the main things that a nonprofit CRM can help your organization achieve. For example:

  • The entire staff can see all the interactions we have with our constituents regardless of where they are—at home, on the road, or in the office.
  • We can easily run a report of all major donors.
  • We can easily provide a report to accounting.

Knowing what you want to achieve with your data guides you to the features you’ll focus on first.

  1. What specific metrics do you want to measure?

The endless possibilities contained in a donor management system can be overwhelming. You find yourself wanting to achieve everything all at once. One of the great things about a nonprofit CRM is that you can grow into it. You can start with one feature or data point and learn how to use or track it, and that carries you into another feature, and so one.

Begin with a single problem to solve. Maybe you have a lot of donors who gave last year but not this year. Your first focus could be learning how to identify and reach out to those donors at different giving levels, with the goal being to get last year’s donors to give this year.

  1. Find your expert.

Your expert is likely the person helping you implement your nonprofit CRM or the company providing the system. This should be someone who’s gone through the process before so they can help you avoid a lot of the common things that can trip you up. At the beginning of the process, for example, your expert will help you make sure you’re putting in only the data you need to get started.

  1. Build a roadmap.

Your expert can be a great help in this task. Your donor management roadmap lays out what you want to learn from your data and how to use the system. For the first few months, much of your time will likely be spent figuring out who your donors are: “I have 10,000 contacts but no idea how many are actually engaged.” Your nonprofit CRM will help you learn which of those people are actively engaged—giving regularly, volunteering, attending events—and who is just filling space on your list. After that, your next “destination” could be learning how to send different messages to those people to increase engagement.

  1. Identify your internal champions.

Find the people within your organization who are passionate about using the nonprofit CRM and are willing to help others find information, run reports, and generally train and encourage them on the system. Your champions help evangelize the merits of a donor management system to the rest of the organization.

  1. Reward activities that build the system.

Rewards might be as simple as reinforcing behavior: “Thank you for including that note in the nonprofit CRM about that major donor. It was really helpful for me to know they’re out of the country for the next two months.” Little things like that let people know how the nonprofit CRM is making your organization more efficient and effective.

Celebrate your donor management successes! For example, “As a result of segmenting our $25 per month donors, we increased more than 50% of them to $35 per month.” This helps your team see the system’s value and encourages them to continue building it.

For more about how a donor management system can help you better manage donor data, schedule a demo with one of our consultants to see our new, uniquely designed CRM for nonprofits.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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