What Is On Your Customer Relationship Management Wishlist?

At my day job, we have been looking into the possibility of getting a new ticketing system. We have passed the RFP (request for proposal) deadline and are evaluating the submissions. One of the areas we are really focusing on is customer relationship management (CRM) features because keeping track of all the ways a person interacts with us is increasingly important…and increasingly difficult.

This whole process reminded me of an article that caught my eye last summer, Why Nonprofits Deserve CRM Innovation. Author Gabe Cooper’s central thesis is that there is nearly $340 billion in donations being directed toward non-profits annually, yet the available CRM tools are oriented toward business sales rather than building relationships that connect with a donor’s passions.

“Charities and social enterprises face growing pressure to cut through marketing clutter and connect personally with younger Millennial donors. Their software can no longer afford to see donors as “leads” or “transactions”; instead, they must focus on the personal passions of each giver.”

He identifies five areas in which improvements to CRM will benefit non-profits.

Generosity-specific predictive data analytics. Nonprofit CRMs must predict and customize each donor’s experience. Successful systems will combine tried-and-true fund-raising data analytics with social media signals and even current events to create a holistic, personalized relationship with each giver.

Giver-managed relationships.
Nonprofit CRMs must enable two-way communication and create open conversations with givers about the success of individual projects. Nonprofits can no longer report on cold institutional metrics.

Completely removing the “sales” paradigm. Nonprofit CRMs shouldn’t be modeled on sales/transactions. Instead, they should focus on long-term relationships around generosity, social engagement, advocacy, etc.

Open APIs and integrations. The days of monolithic donor management systems are over. Nonprofits want to use best-in-breed tools for email marketing, donation processing, etc. The new CRMs should embrace these choices and provide easy integration.

Increase efficiency and decrease overhead. Nonprofit CRMs must help reduce the unnecessary costs common to charities. Back-office tasks like donation importing, gift receipting, and foundation giving management can suck up hours of staff time and create massive overhead. The new CRM needs to understand the very specific needs of nonprofits and provide efficiency tools that allow charities to go about the work of accomplishing their mission.

I am sure there would be a lot of people cheering if the activities listed in his last point became much easier. Given that donor acknowledgment letters need to go out this month, it would probably move to the top of everyone’s wish list.

I had also been thinking that it might be useful to be able to record notes from every interaction whether it be phone call, face to face interactions, emails and social media. These things may already be possible in a way that doesn’t treat them as sales calls.

I wondered if any existing tool allowed you to record indirect signs of investment in your organization like people mentioning or tagging you on social media. Can you take screenshots of positive comments and electronically file them away?

I was a little leery at the mention of combining “fund-raising data analytics with social media signals.” That phrase made me wonder if he envisioned a system that tracked the social media activity of anyone who engaged with you and sent you tips noting what a person was passionate about. I could see that getting really stalker creepy fast.

On the other hand, if you have entered keywords into someone’s file regarding what they were passionate about and the system alerted you when a related topic was trending on social media, that might be okay. Or if the system collected keywords from the social media profiles of people who engaged with you and then spit out a report letting you know 58% of those people are passionate about animal rescue, Indian food and bluegrass music, that could also be help inform strategy development without feeling overly intrusive.

Are there any features on your wishlist you would love to see as part of a CRM package?

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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