CRM Fitness -What’s the Nutritional Value of Your Data?

CRM Fitness, - What's The Nutritional Value of Your Data?

Like cupcakes vs. blueberries, not all data are of equal nutritional value. And like the pull of a plate of cupcakes, organizations often say they want to know “everything about everyone.” The CRM itself reinforces this “must-fill-in-record” temptation visually – through empty fields! That said, an animal welfare organization likely doesn’t need to know that I’m a left-handed.

Your CRM can capture a seemingly unlimited amount of dimensions about a constituent – like I’m a lefty and wear black socks – but it doesn’t mean it should. As you work through a new CRM, consider data and data management. It’s a perfect time to get fit.

Data fitness considerations:

  1. Nutritional value. Your CRM project implementation is THE time to categorize and prioritize data and its associated processes. It’s brave to say we don’t need all this information. Focus on high-value constituents and high value data and keep in mind these are not mutually exclusive.
  2. Each ingredient should have value. Each piece of data you collect should tie to a result of value to your business. As you roll-out new initiatives, evaluate each dimension; as you deploy CRM, remember “clean up” can mean “ciao.”
  3. Change management. There is a psychology to data inputs. People, especially the personalities working in your operations and data departments, want to see complete information logged in your CRM. Socialize that it’s ok to have incomplete records and that your organization wants people focused on high value data – the data that will lead to increased fundraising and engagement. Better yet, although likely for many of you aspirational – have your UI/UX match business process. There is a psychology to data management but that’s for my dissertation.
  4. Data migration. Bringing in a ton of data? Is it useful data? Do you have a plan for the potential data clean-up issues you might face?
  5. Duplicate records. Ahhhhhh, the #1 bane of every organization. A CRM, by nature, will have duplicate records. Socialize your end-users to expect this. How many are acceptable? What is a duplicate record? What is the process or source that is causing this? What happens if you don’t resolve all of them?
  6. Data management through CRM use. Provide tools to your end-users so that as they are working (presumably if an end-user is in a record, it’s high-value record) they can merge right then and there. There are efficient ways to manage and categorize dupes. Be creative.
  7. People move. During 2013 – 2014, approximately 12% of the US population moved. That’s nearly 36 million people – or, 1/9 Americans. Even applying National Change of Address (NCOA), you can expect a % of your contacts to be bad or be that lovely dupe of Jonny V. Azerbzzyx born on February 29, 1977 that has two records in different states. Do your donors embrace the self-service method of updating their information? Keep in mind that they do embrace self-service with amazon.
  8. Data management plan. Create a data management plan that uses paid services and automations to ensure your data is as good as it can be. Define what “can be” means and move on.
  9. Donors. Despite all your efforts, donors will let you know when they think you mess up. Apologize, explain, correct (if you can), apologize. If you see a pattern, evaluate your processes. And most importantly, these things can spiral in complexity but don’t be tempted – look for the simple answer. It just might be there.
  10. Not all data are equal. Categorize your data into high value, medium value and low value data. Build your strategy and staff time allocation around your data and the processes it supports. Consider risk in this conversation. Your business should be a partner in this conversation because they want to use precious staff resources working in the way that best supports their fundraising and engagement strategy.

Like filling in all available fields on your user interface, cupcakes are delicious in the moment. However, data should be nutritious and ultimately feed your organization’s strategy. Your CRM project is the perfect excuse to get fit.

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. If you work through new CRM, you need to consider data and data management. For nutritional value you need to pay attention on high-value constituents and high value data. In short, your data should be nutritious.

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