Why NOW is the right time for nonprofits to put CRM back on their radar


Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) is a hot topic in the nonprofit sector, and with good reason: When implemented correctly, it can help a nonprofit address a serious problem — disparate data scattered across multiple systems requiring tremendous staff effort to rein it all in. It also can support a nonprofit’s most important initiatives — engaging constituents more effectively to support and spread its mission.

But, why is NOW the time for CRM? The recent history of CRM has brought us to a place in which it’s a more reasonable possibility.

We started hearing about nonprofit CRM around 2006. Better technology had started to become available: improved ways of integrating data between systems, better reporting and business intelligence tools, and systems that could start us down the CRM path. And then… the economic downturn of 2008. Organizations put their CRM plans and projects on hold.

Now CRM is back on their radar, and it’s needed more than ever. During the downturn, nonprofits embraced and committed to online communication to an unprecedented degree. We’ve also seen the rise of social media and all manner of Software-as-a-Service solutions for communication, fundraising and mission management. All of this has created more data silos and generated even more constituent data.

In a nutshell, here’s how I see it:

  • The bad news: Organizations have many technology systems that barely talk to each other and have aged poorly over the years.
  • The good news: Many organizations now have more time, resources and support to make things better.
  • The great news: Technology has made substantive improvements. Organizations can get further down the CRM path, faster.

In our recent study, Insights into CRM for Nonprofits, we take a closer look at how nonprofits are approaching CRM today to overcome challenges and meet their goals.

How is your organization approaching it?

Keith Heller

About Keith Heller

Before establishing Heller Consulting in 1996, Keith managed information and operations in the development office of The Exploratorium in San Francisco. Taking his know-how for both technology and nonprofit operations, he has developed services for organizations using nonprofit software, and personally worked with over a hundred organizations, large and small. Keith has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College in Minnesota, and frequently speaks at local, regional and national conferences for nonprofit professionals.

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