People First, CRM Second

People First, CRM Second

A festering trend of the past decade is many of our clients have migrated from micro-computer based fundraising databases to CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) cloud-based databases. And for 10-years we continue to see too many of these organizations’ ability to leverage their data for insights decline. Rather than the CRM serving the nonprofit, it seems like the nonprofit now must serve the CRM. I still find this so ironic and frustrating. Databases don’t solve problems – people solve problems. I know it’s not any one CRM or any one client. I think most every organization underestimates the commitment of undertaking migrating to a CRM. They also underestimate the cultural change required to harness the power of CRM – which includes adding highly trained (and highly salaried) fundraising professionals to run it. Most organizations understand the need for CRM and are willing to swallow the expensive of the database infrastructure, but in my experience, too few organizations have been willing to cover the cost to train their people adequately or add CRM professionals who know fundraising to their payrolls. It’s like building a fancy new library, filling the library with books, magazines and periodicals, and then not hiring any librarians. A lot of clients come to us asking our opinion about what database they should choose. And the first question I ask is how are they leveraging the current data they already have? The better investment may be to make sure you have the right people who can use data to solve your...
Let’s Get Small?

Let’s Get Small?

As we kick off 2016, I have a question for you. Let me set the context. In the past decade, we’ve witnessed many of our clients migrate from micro-computer based fundraising databases to CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) cloud-based databases. And for 10-years we’ve seen many of these organizations’ ability to leverage their data for insights decline. Rather than the CRM serving the nonprofit, it seems like the nonprofit now must serve the CRM. I still find this so ironic and frustrating. I know it’s not any one CRM or any one client. I think most every organization underestimates the commitment of undertaking migrating to a CRM. They also underestimate the cultural change required to harness the power of CRM – which includes adding highly trained (and highly salaried) fundraising professionals to run it. Most organizations understand the need for CRM and are willing to swallow the expense of the database infrastructure, but in my experience, too few organizations have been willing to cover the cost to train their people adequately or add CRM professionals who know fundraising to their payrolls. It’s like building a fancy new library, filling the library with books, magazines and periodicals, and then not hiring any librarians. OK, that’s my long-winded setting of the context. Here’s my question: Do you think organizations will one day abandon their failed CRM adventures and return to micro-computer fundraising databases? Love to hear your...
The Beauty of Small Data

The Beauty of Small Data

Is CRM the nonprofit solution? Everyone is talking about nonprofit organizations needing to buy CRM systems so they can be just like the Obama campaign and mine BIG data to make huge breakthroughs. But I am not so sure. I hesitate to sound like the great Jeff Brooks’ Future of Fundraising Now blog and criticize anything new in fundraising, but . . . The aging promise of CRM has always been making insights from your data easy. But I have yet to see it. Rather than being a user friendly tool for nonprofits, CRM becomes the angry tyrant that everyone must satisfy. Much more time and resources are spent on the multi-step data processes then on mining the data for actionable insights. And that’s just not right. For now, I could not recommend moving forward with CRM. Rather than spending all that money on a data system, invest into some analysts to mine the data you already have. Your ROI on investing in analysts over infrastructure will be far, far...