CRM, a Change Campaign: from Seeds to Flowers

CRM Change Campaign
A Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) deployment is an excuse to change your entire business. Change is a noun and a verb.

There is a psychology to inspiring change and numerous needlessly too-complex definitions of change; the bottom line is, even in CRM-Land, change is relationship management that works toward a goal your business defines. It should not be viewed as another I.T. geek out project with Gantt charts and spreadsheets.

Your change strategy – you are changing your business – is essentially a campaign with a silent phase, a public phase, an all-too brief celebration, and then you start anew.

Today’s topic is the campaign’s silent phase. Considerations:


During the silent phase, ironically, you need to talk. A lot. With your end-users, senior management, key business owners and your own team. You are conveying how you envision doing business once the project is complete – essentially starting from the end. You are testing and refining your elevator speech. Concurrently, you are introducing your implementation style: how you will engage users, why this project is different than others and why your organization is revolutionary in its approach. Your goal is to build excitement, refine your message and plant the seeds of trust.


There will be moments you will want to throw your chair (and possibly yourself) out the window. You will hear voices of dissonance – and they are often loud and have credibility in your organization. It means they care. Seek them out, invite and embrace them. Otherwise, they will be critical of your efforts as you move into the public phase. In fact, some of the hesitant ones may end up being the project’s strongest supporters. It is their system, they have some say, let them talk. Your goal is to identify willing (and unwilling) participants to help water the seeds.

Build your army

Create relevant topic-based groups and identify who would best serve where. For example, a “Peer Review” team can help you decide the thorny issues. These are the people that will know what you are facing and will help you move through it, and even communicate on your behalf. Create a “Cabinet” – a variety of stakeholders that can advise you on the actual change management strategy. Be strategic, you do not want groups for the sake of having groups and you always must respect people’s time. Your goal is to create a bubble of trust and sprout a team that will be understanding advocates for the project.

Define what type of change agent you want to be

You want to be adaptable and have some delight with it. You are also a target of your own change management strategy. Your goal is to want people to be involved with the project now and later.

This all may sound simple – so you talk, listen, form some groups, and be awesome – but I assure you, it involves much coordination, planning, thought and effort. It is the ultimate exercise in relationship management.
Finally, recognize and thank those who help you. In the end, they will likely not get raises or promotions as a result of putting in extra time on a project that does not help them with their here-and-now duties. It is never too early to say thank you and you cannot say it enough. Your reputation and the outcome of the project rides on their well-tended leaves. So make sure everyone gets some time in the sun.

Lisa Fay Wellek

About Lisa Fay Wellek

Lisa Fay Wellek has worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years with focus on integrating CRM with fundraising. She is the owner of Philanthropy361 LLC, which consults with non-profits about how to best implement and strategically use CRM. She is a frequent project member with build Consulting. She was with JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) for 10 years in various roles including Chief of Staff for Development and most recently, National Director of CRM Strategy. With Lisa Fay’s leadership, JDRF launched LuminateCRM - a Blackbaud product that uses as its development platform. She believes that in today’s fast paced tech-focused world, non-profits must invest in the right infrastructure and staff in order to be sustainable (let alone grow). Previous posts include: Stevens Institute of Technology, KPMG Consulting and University of Connecticut Foundation.

One comment

  1. Susan Kenna Wright

    Love this book on change management and highly recommend it.

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