Coming Soon: Insights from Nonprofits on CRM

Seems as if those of us who work in and with the nonprofit sector have been all a-buzz about Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) lately. As I mentioned in a recent post, Idealware posted their own article about 10 Things to Consider in a CRM. In late March, NTEN offered an online session about implementing CRM to advance your mission.  And a whole host of software vendors — including Blackbaud, Convio (now Blackbaud), and — are promoting their CRM products for nonprofits.

It’s not surprising. CRM holds a lot of promise for nonprofits. It offers the potential for:

  • Reduction of multiple databases into one system
  • A single view of your constituents
  • Coordination across your entire organization

And, because CRM offers so many possibilities, we at Heller Consulting decided to find out more about how nonprofits are thinking about and approaching CRM today. Over the course of the past several months, we interviewed executives from 30 nonprofit organizations to uncover their thoughts on their strategic, operational and technical goals, activities, and challenges within the context of CRM. While the organizations we spoke with represent some of the larger nonprofits in North America — including American Heart Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Jewish National Fund, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving — many of the issues that we discussed apply to any nonprofit thinking about how to approach CRM to overcome challenges and meet their goals.

Here are the questions we asked:

  1. What is your organization’s definition of CRM?
  2. What prompted your organization’s decision to pursue CRM?
  3. What challenges would CRM help you meet?
  4. What goals would CRM help you achieve?
  5. Have changes in technology influenced your consideration of CRM?
  6. What do you see as the greatest challenges in implementing CRM?
  7. Who has been key in advocating CRM at your organization?
  8. How are you getting started? / Where are you in the process regarding CRM?
  9. What advice would you give to other large nonprofits looking to move toward CRM?

Next week, we’ll share findings based on our discussions with participants around these questions. The report will offer participants’ insights as well as our perspectives based on the interviews and on our own experience from working with more than 800 nonprofits over the past 15+ years.

Our goal: That this report will give you valuable insights into how your nonprofit compares with others and how nonprofits are approaching CRM to tackle challenges and reach their goals.

Stay tuned for this thought-provoking report!


The Connected Cause is a place for experts in the nonprofit online space to share perspective, offer guidance and promote best practices for using today’s technology effectively. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of collaborative thought leadership for the nonprofit industry.

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