Throughout my career I’ve been involved in many charitable organisations and worked with fundraising teams of all different sizes, from large and noisy multi-level offices to one-man shows tucked away in small makeshift offices. I’ve seen every possible way to manage relationships and donor data – from the most sophisticated, sleek CRM systems with teams operating like well-oiled machinery to multiple-tabbed Excel spreadsheets that make you want to rip your hair out!
As a fundraiser with a diverse range of experience, I’ve been lucky enough to work behind the scenes of fundraising and observe how different fundraising teams operate from almost every imaginable angle. I’ve seen life-changing key features of relationship management tools being under-utilised or ignored completely. I’ve also seen the impact these tools can have when utilised correctly.
Without further ado, here are three must-have features of a fundraising CRM that will go far in increasing your organisation’s fundraising revenue and – ultimately – the impact your organisation can make.
- Actionable Prompts
As much as we all like to think we’re on top of everything, in reality things slip through the cracks. From time to time even the best fundraisers forget a major donor’s birthday, forget to hit send on that thank-you email or even accidentally send event registration emails to the wrong attendee!
Many fundraising CRM systems are great for storing gift and constituent information such as birthdays, major gifts, volunteer information and event registrations but they often fail to act as a proper “relationship management” tool. It’s crucial to have a fundraising system that not only stores this information but also prompts the relationship manager to get in contact with the constituent. When these prompts are actionable, it’s priceless. You need a proactive system that can prompt you about a major donor’s birthday or point out that you haven’t reached out to an active supporter for a while. Continued support is the best support. It’s far more cost effective to maintain supporters than to gain new supporters.
The point is, no organisation – large or small – should lose supporters through lack of communication. Your supporters are your lifeblood and should be treated as such. Therefore, it’s crucial to action your thankyous, happy birthdays and other expressions of appreciation to your supporters so you’ll enjoy continued support.
- Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device Access
Since your fundraising team doesn’t just work from the office, your CRM system shouldn’t either. An accessible and easily editable CRM system is a must. I see many fundraising teams lose valuable information simply because their fundraising CRM system isn’t as dynamic and flexible as they are – unacceptable in 2016, given the technology we have available.
Whether you’re meeting with major donors, prospective donors or corporate sponsors, it’s vital that these notes are recorded accurately in order to be of any value to your organisation. Many fundraising teams spend weeks at a time out of the office with limited time to update their notes and actions, losing the finer details. A CRM system that’s accessible via mobile or tablet is a must-have in these circumstances; it’s even more valuable when combined with the voice dictation capabilities of mobile devices.
- Dynamic Lists
The ability to easily filter lists of thousands of constituents down to a specific unique identifier for your organisation is a powerful tool, especially when you consider it can be done by clicking on a few buttons.
Whether you’re providing a list of major donors for your CEO to contact or creating a list of VIP guests with specific dietary requirements for your next catered event, a CRM system’s primary goal should be to make your life easier; you shouldn’t have to be a CRM wizard to be able to produce this information. If your current system doesn’t provide this for you, in reality your system is not working for you – you’re working for your CRM. The ability to sort through thousands or even hundreds of thousands of records and save this list for future reference is a crucial time saver and enables your fundraising team and DBAs to focus on revenue-raising activities to further your organisation’s impact.
The overarching theme across these three features is simplicity and convenience. Your fundraising CRM system should make life easier and allow your team to focus on helping your organisation achieve its goals. The system should answer more questions than it asks. If your CRM system is failing at any of these three points and causing headaches, then it’s time for an upgrade. Treat yourself to an all-inclusive, intuitive system that saves you time and creates new, innovative revenue streams.