CRM Has Evolved to Help Those Who Help Others: Charities

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Charities rely on individual donations to stay afloat. In fact, individual donations make up 70 percent of a charity’s yearly income. There are, then, two major challenges when raising funds: donor acquisition and donor retention.

Economic uncertainty and a spate of negative press around the management of charities worldwide have made it more challenging than ever to attract and retain donors. And the issues don’t stop there: Funding cuts, increased regulation around data protection, and ever higher donor expectations add to the pressures these organizations face every day.

So What’s the Answer?

Improve engagement by communicating sincerely with your donors. This is critical for charities: They aren’t just competing for attention but for advocacy, time commitment, and, ultimately, supporters’ hard-earned cash. They need supporters to feel like they are part of something bigger, like they are part of a community, and that they are understood.

Thankfully, advancements in data collection and analytics have made it easier than ever to understand what it is that motivates donors to give, and equally what discourages them from doing so.

Problem Solved?

Well, not quite, but the CRM industry can help. Charities often utilize some form of database or antiquated fundraising management system with little, if any, automation or data analytics.

Charities might not realize it, but over the past 10 years CRM has evolved to serve more than just sales teams. The development of specialized donor management systems has been a great boon to charities, and CRM continues to meet new demands.

The Opportunity for Data

Spending hours sifting through and sorting donor data certainly isn’t an efficient use of a charity’s time. Combine that with the advent of GDPR, which has meant that the proper storage and protection of data is no longer just a nice-to-have but is enshrined in law, and charities have a huge amount of work on their plate. That’s why it’s imperative that a charity’s CRM provider has a strong data management package.

Understanding donor habits requires the collection of a robust range of data sets. These might include de-identified personal information, age, place of residence, employment details, nationality, and importantly, giving histories, which indicate how and when they are most likely to give.

That data should be sorted, stored and displayed in a way that enables charity workers to ensure that different groups are being communicated with in the way that suits them best. For example, the giving habits of Millennials differ from Gen Xers and Gen Zers, and the triggers for giving will reflect that. This information should be at the fingertips of the charity’s employees.

If a charity’s CRM system cannot efficiently sort and store data, it will simply be a waste of time and money that would be better used to help people. But an exceptional CRM platform for NFPs should do more than just manage data.

Building Relationships

Meaningful relationships with the general public are hard to come by for any organization, particularly in the age of digital communications where anyone can schedule an email blast using a third-party platform. Therefore, charities need to find a CRM system that can both analyze data efficiently and enable the provision of well-informed, personalized marketing and communications.

There are multiple tools CRM platforms can provide to meet those requirements and help build those key relationships, without the need for third-party platforms. Social media integration can help charities reach new and wide-reaching donor audiences while giving them more data to understand what resonates with those audiences from a communications perspective.

Content management system (CMS) integration is perhaps even more important, as a charity’s website should have the donor experience at its heart; it’s impossible to build meaningful relationships with a brochure-ware site. To that end, a charity’s CRM system should help them collect information throughout the entire donor journey, identifying individual preferences and enabling them to manage, improve, and personalize the experience as required through the CMS.

The data collected should then inform pledge and targeted demographic campaign management, ensuring that select groups of individuals are receiving the right marketing information at the right time. This could include automated, personalized thank-you notes drawing on data to determine how they should be worded to best demonstrate the charity’s appreciation. Or indeed regular updates which keep donor’s updated as to how their donations have been utilized, selecting the areas that will resonate with the individual.

The very best systems for charities will combine these tools with intuitive analytics that enable a charity to make continuous improvements to its processes to avoid the cookie-cutter approach. Communicating knowledgably and sincerely with members and donors makes them feel like part of something bigger, and that is imperative to the success of a charity.

More Than CRM

As technology advances, so too do the public’s expectations that things get easier. To address that, we’re seeing the rise of CRM providers offering a far broader range of services than those with which charities are traditionally associated.

This trend is allowing charities to access an even broader range of tools to help modernize the donation process and increase engagement. These can include web development services; SEO consultancy to ensure charities are making the most of search engine algorithms; automated data validation, streamlining the input process for the donors and ensuring veracity for the charity; SMS donation integration, allowing donors to give more conveniently; and natively integrated payment platforms that improve efficiencies by eliminating the reconciliation overhead and middle-man costs of third-party billing solutions.

CRM businesses can now act as a one-stop shop for digital services, reducing the number of vendors that charities work with, saving time and money.

So What?

Ultimately, a charity should select a CRM provider based on the team behind the business. The importance of a team that understands the NFP sector and has the insight to build the specific functionality charities need into their systems cannot be understated.

Working with the right team and the right tools will allow any charity to make the most of its donor data, maximizing donations, improving operational efficiency, and enabling them to reach and help more people than ever before.

Gerry Gualtieri is the CEO of ClearCourse Partnership, a group of innovative technology companies providing software, services and digital capabilities to membership organisations, including a large range of charities and not-for-profits. He has over 25 years’ experience leading and growing technology businesses, having held senior roles at Eze Software Group, Tradar, and Fidessa LatentZero. 

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