Optimizing Your Return on Fundraising Investment Via Constituent Relationship Management

Optimizing Your Return on Fundraising Investment Via Constituent Relationship Management

Did you know that nonprofits spend 2-3 times more recruiting a new donor than for-profit companies spend to attract new customers? Also, did you know that acquiring that new donor costs about five times more than maintaining an existing donor relationship? Given the simple math, savvy nonprofits do everything possible to build long-term relationships with their supporters and donors. This begins with capturing as much information about each donor as possible, and then consolidating and presenting this information in a useful way. This is the baseline requirement for any constituent relationship management system.

To be truly useful, however, CRM should also be tightly integrated with the applications nonprofits use for email marketing, event management, volunteer management, and donation tracking. This makes it possible to interact with “golden” donors in a way that is both personalized and consistent across all of your campaign and communication channels.

CRM by the Numbers

Studies show that the longer donors stay engaged with a nonprofit, the more likely they are to make recurring donations and the larger those donations are likely to be.

An effective CRM system will automatically track and consolidate all of the information associated with each donor’s giving histories and preferences. This not only includes the giving details but also information that can be used to target future fundraising campaigns based on the donor’s prior support for a particular program or community concern. The CRM system should also provide insights into the donor’s giving patterns by seasonality, media vehicle, preferred method of payment, and more.

Most nonprofits are chronically understaffed. If employees have to manually enter information into the CRM system, they may lack the time for data entry and what does get entered may contain numerous errors.  Key details will be omitted and errors will crop up. For example, the same donor may appear multiple times due to small variations in how their name was spelled. A CRM database like this is virtually useless, a classic case of garbage in/garbage out.

Therefore, it’s critically important to choose a CRM system that automates the process of capturing and consolidating donor information as much as possible. And, since this information may originate in an event management or online donation campaign, it’s essential that the CRM system has  the capability to draw this information automatically from every system that donors interact with.

Why Profiles Matter

A productive CRM system enables you to build a detailed profile of each donor including such facts as their birthday, marital status, family members, employers, hobbies, and community interests. It should also maintain an ongoing record of every significant interaction they have with your organization, including their largest donation, a record of every email sent and received, and notes that staff members take after interacting with them. The CRM system should also be flexible, allowing you to easily determine what kinds of data are captured and how the data can be put to work most efficiently by:

  • Reminding you to send out a birthday greeting or sending it out automatically.
  • Notifying a supporter about an upcoming event or volunteer opportunity similar to one they participated in previously.
  • Alerting you that a new donor came through an existing donor relationship and then generating personalized thank you notes to each of them.

A well-designed CRM system will also provide centralized access to all of this data so it can be utilized efficiently by everyone in your organization. However, it should also include access controls that determine what types of data can be seen by each system user. Most often, this is achieved by creating a set of user profiles that grant varying levels of access. For example, a volunteer may be allowed to view and update a donor’s contact information only while a Development executive will be granted full access to the donor record. Such access rules should be easy to set up and modify as needed.

Capabilities for Standard and Ad-Hoc Reporting

The data within the CRM system is only as useful as the degree to which it can be accessed in a way that meets each user’s specific needs. Therefore, it’s important for the system to provide a robust set of reporting capabilities.  This should include a set of pre-formatted reports for tracking such things as total donations per campaign, cost per donation, and more. The system should also allow for ad-hoc reports to be created quickly and easily on the fly by selecting filters from pull-down lists and by pointing and clicking. Finally, it should be possible to export the reports and the report data in a variety of print and file formats so it can be readily utilized by popular word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet applications.

Staying Focused Using Tasks and Alerts

The difference between a good CRM system and a great one is the degree to which it helps you focus on activity that produces results. Consequently, the CRM system you choose should include robust calendaring and task management capabilities, as well as an alert system that notifies you when certain actions should be performed.

For example, you might want the system to alert you on the anniversary date of a large contribution by an important donor. This might be the right time to tell them what you were able to accomplish thanks to their generosity and inform them about a new campaign you’re launching to do even more. The system should also automate as much of this process as possible. For example, it might generate a report that includes the name of the donor, the date and amount of their donation, the program they supported, and anything else that can be used to create a personalized “ask” and message of thanks.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the success of a CRM system can be measured by the degree to which it helps you optimize your fundraising efficiency. That means reducing the time and effort you spend on inputing data and more time building relationships with supporters that lead to recurring donations for your organization. The right CRM application will enable you to:

  • Automatically capture and consolidate stakeholder data in one place
  • Manipulate, analyze and generate reports from this data
  • Group your stakeholders into segments based on their prior behavior and preferences
  • Personalize your communications to each segment and track the results
  • Optimize your fundraising campaigns to produce the greatest possible ROI

Click here to learn more about successful CRM strategies for your nonprofit.