CRM search infrastructure lacking in your nonprofit?

Database word cloud concept

The customer relationship management (CRM) system or, as some call it “the database system”, is a non profit organisation’s most important asset.

FundraisingForce receive at least one phone call a week from non profit organisations seeking assistance with a data base search and many are planning to launch a search now that we are in the new year.

Complaining about the CRM/database is the one thing, which every non profit organisation has in common. Charities often say things such as:

  • it is too clunky
  • it does not meet our needs
  • we’ve outgrown the system
  • no one uses it
  • if the database could only do x, y or z
  • I wish our organisation owned x product
  • I used x product at my previous job and it was great
  • I’m going to contact X supplier immediately and see if we can’t get a demo and start to talk about pricing

Put the brakes on.

Do not contact any suppliers until you have CRM search infrastructure in order.

CRM search infrastructure, includes:

  • Organisation CRM readiness. Study whether your organisation is ready for a sophisticated CRM. Do you have the following in place:
    1. Financial backing of organisation leadership? Do leadership have realistic expectations of project costs?
    2. Organisation resourcing to implement a chosen CRM. Remember, the organisation is required to staff the project in the same manner as the supplier.
    3. How will your organisation deal with staff turnover? Staff turnover can become detrimental to a CRM implementation. If your organisation has vacant key positions, perhaps waiting until those positions are filled is the right strategy.
  • Documented, detailed requirements across the entire business. Ensure you focus on the detail rather than “high level” requirements. The more you understand your business requirements, the better suppliers will understand them.
  • Market research, including a list of suppliers and associated products available in our market.
  • Time allocation for a comprehensive CRM search. A CRM search takes time, even if you contract with an external consultant to coordinate the search for your organisation. Be certain you understand the time commitment required of your team.
  • CRM search coordinator. Whether you resource the oversight of the CRM search with an internal resource or a consultant, be sure you identify “who is in charge”. This pint of contact is critical for your organisation and the various CRM suppliers. Empower this person with the responsibility and the authority.

Ensuring you have the proper infrastructure in place before you hit the CRM search accelerator is critical. Searches fail because of a lack of organisation readiness, improper resourcing, poor documentation, or unrealistic expectations. Your ability to negotiate with CRM suppliers is dramatically impacted by not having your act together.