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Can a CRM help you to be a better fundraiser?

Posted September 9, 2016 by Timi Paccioretti

Using a CRM will improve findraising

Wikipedia describes Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as a model for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers that uses technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support. If you’ve placed a customer service call to a company, for example, and received a personalized thank you for being a loyal customer, that’s a CRM at work.

When it comes to fundraising, CRM stands for Constituent Relationship Management and is similarly a system organizations use to track constituents—in this case, fundraising, demographics, membership levels, membership directories, volunteering, and communications with individuals. 

We believe that having a donor management system that incorporates CRM functionality can be integral to your fundraising success. Here are a few suggestions for how you can use CRM functionality to help you to develop strong relationships with your supporters and ensure that they remain lifelong supporters.

Manage more than just donors in your database.

Every day, you interact with a variety of people who have not yet given to your organization. Volunteers, members, family members, staff, event attendees—all are potential donors and people with whom you have relationships. Adding them to your organization’s database allows you opportunities to communicate with them (i.e., send newsletters, invite to events, etc.) and engage them in your mission.

Make it a habit to use your database every day.

If you think of your database as the foundation of your fundraising and outreach efforts, it’s imperative that you get in the habit of using it every day.  In addition to entering gift information, consider using your database to document:

Contacts you’ve had with your supporters:  Just got off the phone with a board member and they mentioned they had a candidate for your open board position? Or did they suggest a possible sponsor for your upcoming event? How about that chance meeting in the parking lot with one of your organization’s biggest donors who shared they are expecting their first grandchild? Be sure to document that contact in your database.

The benefit? Adding a quick note of the conversation will help you recall that important piece of information and commit it to your organization’s “institutional memory,” where it becomes part of your ongoing relationship with the constituent.

LGL Contact Report form

Example of a contact report from Little Green Light


Manage upcoming tasks: While entering a contact report, you can set task for yourself or a team member to do some follow up (i.e., call the board candidate or send a congratulatory card to the new grandparents). You can set up tasks to remind yourself to connect with a single constituent or a group of constituents, or assign that task to a member of your team.

The benefit? You can focus your energies on the items that most deserve your attention and keep track of items not yet completed.

Using tasks in LGL

example of a Task entered into Little Green Light


Invite others in your organization to use your CRM.

Relationship management is not a one-person job! Everyone from your Executive Director to your front office staff interact with your supporters. Encourage your team to add contact reports, manage tasks, and share pertinent information about your supporters in the database. (Look for a donor management system that allows role-based user access allows you to control what those database users are allowed to see and do.)

The benefit? Your entire organization can have “buy-in” to the important role they play in the advancement of your mission.


Document all the mailings and emails you’ve sent.

Using your CRM to manage your mailing lists and email contacts and the communications sent to those lists is yet another component of your relationship management strategy. Document who has received mailings or emails, as well as responses to those communications.

The benefit? You will better understand your constituents’ interests and their willingness to support your mission, which will better equip you to develop a more personalized plan for future outreach or solicitation.

A comprehensive nonprofit donor management/CRM solution can capture all your organization’s interactions with your constituents—whether by phone, email, mailings, or in person—and can play a vital role in your organization’s ability to develop lifelong relationships with your supporters.


Interested in learning more about how Little Green Light can help you to build stronger relationships with your organization’s supporters?  Try LGL Free for 30 days  or take a tour of LGL by joining one of our live introductory webinars.

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