Stop blaming the CRM

Snip20160315_1Your customer relationship management (CRM) system is often the victim – unfairly blamed because of other poor practices across the charitable organisation. “Salesforce is a mess” or “that data is wrong in The Raiser’s Edge”. CRM searches often cause an organisation to realise a need to improve internal processes and, sometimes, prove the database is not the issue at all – it is the fault of bad data entry, little or no oversight, and, often times, lack of standardisation across the nonprofit organisation.

When a charity acquires a new CRM, it is an opportune time to “fix” your poor data practices. At this stage, your organisation ought to:

  • Cleanse the data prior to a data conversion.
    • Clean up poorly maintained pick lists/drop down tables.
      • Get rid of duplicate table entries.
      • Ensure proper meaning for communications preferences and opt out coding.
    • Cleanse duplicate records.
    • Create split record for spouses.
      • Complete linkages for the spouses.
    • Establish data policies and procedures.
    • Create roles within the organisation specifically to oversee the data and your CRM.
    • Perform address standardisation and address hygiene to capture new addresses for constituents your organisation may have lost.
    • Acquire deceased and other opt out codes for your data set.

When I discuss moving from one CRM to another, I offer the analogy of moving house from one city to another. Most would never pack everything owned and move things as is – only to open the door of the new home and have it look exactly as your old home in the old city. Instead, most would purge items no longer wanted, organise belongings before they are packed, and acquire new items when you move into the new home. Moving a database is the same process. Purge your organisation of unwanted items, organise the data in a systematic manner, and acquire new, meaningful data elements for the new “home”.