6 Ways to Use Your CRM for Better Donor Retention
The best tools are only as good as the processes we put behind them. And as we know with donor recruitment and retention, there are many moving parts to keeping donors engaged. The beauty of using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool is that it gives you a place to house your donor information, and creates automated processes and background information to guide you in continuous engagement.
Think of using your CRM to retain donors with these six starter tips in mind.
1. Authenticity Is the Key to Relationships
Donors read between the fluff so start with personalized engagement from the get-go. Use phone calls, personal emails (versus mass-emails) and snail-mail written letters. Think about your approach, tone and how you come across. (Does it seem like you’re only reaching out because it’s close to annual fund solicitation time?) Schedule regular check-ins throughout the year via your CRM and track each of these donor touch points within your system. When the end of the year comes, pull reports to see how many times your donors have heard from you — personal or otherwise — and work on updated touch points for the new year.
2. No-Strings-Attached Engagement
Money drives business but appreciation drives relationships. Don’t make it all about the donation. Get your donors involved by sending personalized invites for special events, open houses or activities outside of fundraisers. Use tags within your CRM to note when a donor or prospect has attended an event, fundraiser or otherwise. Do the same to keep track of committee chairs and volunteers — past and present. Donors want to feel useful regardless of their monetary commitment to your organization. They may not have the means to give again but look forward to ways to remain involved. Keep track of these types of engagements and monitor this type of donor engagement throughout the year.
3. Commit Their Stories to Memory
Either remember their stories or, at the very least, add them to the donor notes area within your CRM. Ask your donors questions about their family, their experiences, why they give, etc. As you build a relationship with your donors, they may share their own stories and funny experiences. Track those notes within your CRM so that the next time you see that donor you can talk about those experiences with them or ask them about the new grandbaby they were so excited to tell you about the last time you spoke. Review this donor information any time you go out for a donor meeting, call or special event.
4. Never Overestimate the Power of ‘Thank You’
Automated “thank yous” are great; personal “thank yous” are better. Show your donors how their gifts impact your nonprofit. Provide information on how dollars are used. Do this at the time of their donation and throughout the year as new milestones are reached. Add these special notes and dated touch points to your CRM for easy tracking and a visual aid to how often you’re connecting with donors.
5. Search, Filter and Analyze
Dig into your CRM’s ability to create custom fields or set filters to search for different donor types. For instance, when you can create filters by donation amount or timing (e.g., lapsed donors, annual donors, monthly donors) you can use that information to increase or maintain certain donor touch points. Using different search and filter tools within your CRM also gives you additional insight into donor profiles and can offer ideas for how best to engage with donors based on their giving history or other factors.
6. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Get the team involved by divvying up the reports and donor touch points established within your CRM through your development team. The first step is to ensure everyone who has access to the CRM is using it in the same way. Your data is only as good as what the users enter. For instance, as a team, consider such CRM data-entry processes as:
- Daily entries when emailing, calling or mailing correspondence to a donor
- In-the-moment updates after getting off a personal call (or email) with a donor
- Weekly team meetings to go over CRM reports and donor notes
- Assigned check-ins for donor records (may be dependent on the size of your team and/or donor database)
Review your donor retention program and CRM process on a regular basis. This sets the stage for what’s working and what you can do to improve donor engagement and retention.
How are you putting your best foot forward to your donors? Boost donor retention with a little help from your CRM. Process makes perfect!
Ronald Pruitt is the president and founder of 4aGoodCause, an easy-to-use and effective online fundraising platform for small nonprofits. Ronald has more than 24 years of experience helping nonprofit organizations build websites and raise millions of dollars online for good causes. This extensive experience has made Ronald an expert in user-friendly online fundraising and understanding what drives donors to give online.