Dreaming the CRM Dream


My dream is for CRM for nonprofits to shift paradigms so that it unleashes powerful data synergies.  I also have a big ol’ bag of over-used, worn-out clichés that I’ve quite clearly tapped this morning.  I’ll just put away that bag and start over…

I’m pretty inspired by the CRM opportunities in front of us in the nonprofit sector.  Right now, most of us have lots of systems, lots of silos.  Data is scattered, we each have to learn and use multiple systems, and any one process (e.g., sending a mass email, creating a report) is done different ways in those different systems.  That’s a lot to manage, and it keeps us from our primary goal – delivering more of our nonprofit’s mission.  But hope is here!  And help is on the way.

Changes in technology over the past few years now means that we can now genuinely and productively move towards a CRM environment that brings data together, unifies and streamlines business practices, and lets us access all of this more efficiently and productively.  What’s the upshot?  Treating our constituents better, with better and more far-reaching results.

In my CRM dream…

  • You can treat each constituent as a “complete person”.  When you look up their information, you can see all the ways they connect to and engage with your organization.  You can more quickly have a deeper and richer relationship with them.
  • You only have to learn one system to get the information you need, or to record what’s important.  No more duplicate entry!  No juggling usernames passwords!  No more sticky notes saying “In System A store this info here, in System B store this info there”.   CRM should be a tool, not a burden and a barrier.
  • Whatever you’re trying to do, there’s just one way to do it.  And it works!    Why learn 3 ways to build lists and 4 ways to send emails and 2 ways to send mailings?  Not in my dream!

So, is this a dream you can buy into?  What would you add?  Come on, you’ve got CRM dreams, you know it.  Finally, someone’s asking you to share…  (in the Comments, below!)


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.


  1. The ideal CRM includes the following element:

    The ability to automate and measure ongoing constituent engagements: The vast amount of data can seem overwhelming when it comes to measurement and analysis. I want to measures the engagement level of both individuals and organizations on an ongoing basis to provide qualitative insight for calculating and measuring the health of constituents, services and/or the overall health of the organization. Then based on a certain score combining both qualitative and quantitative analysis, I want responses and campaigns to be automated and triggered to handle various constituent questions, problems and/or communications.

    It doesn’t have to be a dream. I am equally inspired about the new innovative technology at our disposal to help foster deeper and richer relationships with constituents.

  2. Hans Carter

    One thing that’s always a challenge with CRM is data quality. It’s a very complex issue and commercial organizations invest a lot of money on data cleansing, de-duplication, and standardization. You could expect that as much as 20% of your CRM database will require data changes in the next year as constituents move or life events require profile updates.

    Good tools are available these days, and the target is to make sure your CRM data is reliable and accurate. In a perfect world this would be cheap, easy and all our donors would willingly keep their data accurate. Dream on, my friends.

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