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Data, and your CRM

Data. As you read this, please keep in mind that I am not a data expert. I know one though. So if you need to speak with one or hire one, let me know.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Again, no expert. But I do have my favorites. And, there seem to be new ones every year.

Thanks to years of leading fundraising teams, and friends who are amazing data people, I pay a lot of attention to both of these.

Perhaps the title should begin with CRM? I thought that at first, then realized that many nonprofits begin with data first. Some of my clients have started with using Excel spreadsheets to keep their data, simply putting name, address, donation amount, and donation date into a spreadheet and voila!

For many organizations, this can still work. There may come a time when you want to at least consider a CRM, or a new CRM if you already have one.

In regards to data, the main lesson I have learned over the years is that for most nonprofits, several, if not dozens, of people have had access to and added data to the CRM. Each individual has perhaps added data as they best see fit to add it. Then the next individual takes over and adds data as they best see fit. And so so on. You can see where this may not be ideal.

My suggestion is to, right now, create a CRM or data-entering policy. This won’t take too long, and can completely change how your data looks. It can keep your data clean. Forever.

The policy is a simple guide on how to enter data. No more, no less. If everyone adheres to the policy, you are good to go.

Once the data is clean, or you have a data policy, you can pay attention to a CRM, or even a new one.

There are a couple of things I consider when choosing a CRM with a client:

How much data can it hold at the price stated? By data, I mean how many donors. Is there a flat price up to a certain amount of donors, or are you paying more as your database grows?

Customer service. How strong is it? How available is it? Is it free? Can a new employee who also happens to be new to the CRM call for help?

How easy is to pull a LYBUNT report or a report of all individual donors for the past three years who donated $10.00 or more?

How easy is it to learn?

Can I “tag” donors? Meaning can I have a way of grouping donors who attend events, who give through their Donor Advised Fund, etc.?

How much does it cost per year?

Having all of this information makes it a lot easier to decide which CRM is best for you. I’m sure there are dozens of other questions that can be helpful.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your favorite CRM in comments.

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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