People First, CRM Second

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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 problems.

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