4 Strategies to Make the Most of Your Nonprofit CRM

Optimize Your Nonprofit CRM: Fundraising, Donor Outreach, and More

June 24, 2022

When it comes to fundraising, donor outreach, and marketing, your nonprofit’s CRM is one of the most important tools you have. It’s the system you use to keep track of donor and prospect information, get in touch with your supporter base, and assess your fundraising progress.

That’s why it’s important to take advantage of all of the features your CRM has to offer. In this guide, we’ll review four strategies for making the most of your nonprofit CRM:

  1. Practicing good data hygiene
  2. Conducting prospect research
  3. Creating donor segments and personalized marketing campaigns
  4. Leveraging integrations to work more efficiently and effectively

These strategies will allow you to learn valuable insights that will help you develop data-informed marketing and fundraising campaigns.

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Practicing good data hygiene

Your nonprofit CRM is a tool that helps you track donor data. Also known as a donor database, your CRM maintains records on the donor’s demographics, contact information, donation history, and much more. When you use a CRM like Bloomerang, you’ll have the information you need to build strong, long-lasting relationships with your donors all in one place.

To make the most of your CRM, you need to keep your data “clean” or accurate and organized. Below are a few data hygiene standards for your entire team to follow.

Keeping your donor profiles updated

Your donor profiles contain relevant information that helps you get to know them better. This information could include things like their:

  • First and last name
  • Pronouns
  • Contact information
  • Employment information
  • Special interests or information on their personal connection to your cause
  • Engagement history, including donation and volunteer histories
  • Event attendance history
  • Communication history, including frequency and method preferences, what point they’re at in the donor stewardship process, etc.

Check and update your donor profiles at regular intervals so you know that you have the most up-to-date information on your donors.

Only storing relevant information

Another aspect of good data hygiene is regularly assessing your database for unhelpful information and ensuring that you’re only tracking necessary data. This will help your team understand which data is important and what they can ignore or delete.

Here are some steps to remove irrelevant information:

  • Eliminate inaccurate, duplicate, or outdated records. Eliminating these records will allow for a more streamlined data assessment.
  • Edit your forms so you’re only collecting relevant information. Remove any unnecessary form fields, such as ones that ask for things like a donor’s middle name.

When your donor data is accurate, you can leverage it more effectively. Crowd101 highlights several ways you can do that, including creating outreach campaigns, making fundraising requests, and undertaking activities that help you build stronger relationships with your supporters.

2. Conducting prospect research

Your CRM not only offers insight into your existing donor pool, but it can also help you gather information about supporters who haven’t given to your cause yet. You can do this through prospect research, which is the process of gathering information about individuals who have the inclination and capacity to contribute to your organization. This allows you to find potential major gifts hidden in your current donor base.

When conducting prospect research, you’ll use your donor database to assess a prospect’s inclination and capacity to give:

  • Inclination indicators: Your CRM can keep track of your prospect’s existing relationship with your organization, such as whether they’re an alumni of one of your programs or if they’ve volunteered at an event in the past. If they have a history of supporting your nonprofit or a nonprofit with a similar mission, this indicates that the prospect might be interested in supporting your mission through a financial contribution. Your CRM can also track relationships between donors and prospects. This can be helpful if you’re looking to emphasize family or other personal connections to your cause to create a more personal fundraising appeal; these are often more effective than cold outreaches from your nonprofit. Finally, you can use the prospect’s donation history to create a more informed fundraising ask.
  • Capacity indicators: This includes information on a potential donor’s financial situation, such as whether they own stocks, what business affiliations they have, and what their real estate holdings look like. This data will inform the donation amount you ask for when soliciting a donation from these prospects. You can also track if the prospect’s employer matches donations they make to nonprofits.

If an individual seems inclined to make a gift and appears to be capable of making one, they are a strong prospect. By continually conducting prospect research, you can identify and solicit donations from more prospects and increase your organization’s fundraising revenue.

After a prospect donates, use your CRM or the tools that you’ve integrated with it to communicate with and steward each donor. This will show your donors that you value their time and involvement beyond just their financial contributions.

3. Creating donor segments and personalized marketing campaigns

In order to make a positive and lasting impact on a donor, you need to personalize your messages to them. That’s where donor segmentation comes into play.

Donor segmentation is the process of segmenting or grouping supporters based on shared interests and characteristics. Donors are more likely to engage with messages that appeal to their interests and preferences, and segmentation allows you to tailor your messages accordingly.

Your CRM should allow you to segment donors and create personalized communications by pulling information directly from your donor database. You might choose to create segments for:

  • Lapsed donors
  • New donors
  • Major donors
  • Monthly donors
  • Volunteers
  • Engaged social media followers

When you have donor segments, you can create dedicated strategies for moving each group further up the donor pyramid and strengthening their affinity for your cause.

4. Leveraging integrations to work more efficiently and effectively

Your nonprofit likely uses a variety of software solutions—think Mailchimp, QuickBooks, or Square—to manage your ongoing operations. Your CRM should integrate with the solutions you already use because this will help you keep track of all of the interactions you have with donors and how they’re responding to each one.

By making the most of your integrations, you can streamline your team’s daily tasks and keep all of your data within one system, eliminating the need for manual data uploads and migrations. For instance, if you’re creating an email campaign, you can create supporter segments and then transfer these segments directly to your email marketing platform.

Consider integrating the following tools and solutions:

  • Marketing software
  • Prospect research database
  • Donation tools
  • Accounting software

When your software solutions work in harmony and support one another, your team will have a much easier time planning and executing campaigns, reporting on your data, and understanding what efforts are successful or where you need to improve.

With these strategies, you’ll be able to set up ongoing processes and procedures that ensure your team is using your CRM to its full potential in all of your initiatives.


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