Constituents – The Heart of Your CRM


Nonprofit CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) starts with, well, your constituents.  So who are these folks?  In the commercial sector, it’s pretty clearly a company’s customers.  For us in the nonprofit sector it’s a bit more complex and, I’d say, a bit richer.

In my working definition of CRM (it’s a work in progress, and it’s collaborative) I’m seeing the following primary categories of constituents:

  • Mission Beneficiaries — the people who benefit from your organization’s mission.  Serving them is your organization’s purpose.  Not all organizations will have a well-defined and specific group (e.g. a nonprofit focused on influencing public policy, environmental or animal rights organizations), but most have a list of folks somewhere.
  • Donors and Prospects — the people and organizations who financially support your mission.
  • Program Partners — individuals (such as volunteers and advocates) and other organizations who help deliver on your mission.
  • Your Team –sometimes overlooked in CRM, but perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of a well-functioning CRM.

It’s pretty clear pretty quickly that there’s a real likelihood of overlap among these categories.  In fact, you want overlap!

Ideally, Beneficiaries (for some types of organizations) can also become Program Partners and perhaps Donors.  Donors may engage as volunteers, deepening their relationship with your organization and its Beneficiaries.  Your Team may come from these groups, or as they become “alumni,” they may stay connected through these avenues.  Understanding the many ways a person is connected to your organization helps you best engage and serve them.

And that’s the goal (and challenge) of CRM.



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One comment

  1. Hans Carter

    The way I think of CRM is to consider a “constituent” as the most valuable asset any organization can have. Now for some that would be clients, for others their volunteers, but in either case the details of any CRM design is to maximize the “care and feeding” of your asset by everyone involved with your organization.

    This isn’t easy, but assets are resources that help our non-profits succeed and if we neglect any asset, it can rapidly turn into a liability.

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