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Four Signs Your Development Team Needs CRM Training

Jan 08, 2023
Team Training Session

If you’ve been in nonprofit development for long enough, you probably remember a time when donor records were kept in large beige filing cabinets in a closet down the hall. Today, like most things, the administrative functions of development departments have been almost entirely digitized thanks to a very powerful type of database known as a CRM. (Hopefully!) you are already familiar with what a CRM is and how it works. For those of you who are not, now is the time to learn! 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system that houses all of your donor files including demographic and contact information, transaction and gift data, and a complete history of the donor’s relationship with your organization. 

But that is just scratching the surface of a CRM’s functionality. Today, many nonprofit CRMs operate as all-in-one solutions for records management, online donation processing, email and digital marketing and communications, task automation, major gift portfolio management, grant proposal tracking, peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns, and comprehensive data analytics and reporting. 

Successful use of a CRM can lead to incredible time and cost-savings for your organization, while also increasing the size of your support base and overall fundraising revenue. On the other hand, development teams without proper CRM training are prone to data mismanagement, inaccurate reporting, and decreased job satisfaction among employees who feel frustrated, confused, or simply overwhelmed by the vast range of tools your CRM provides. 

If this sounds like your team, make sure to check out the list below and see if your team would benefit from CRM training:

You are paying for CRM features that aren’t being used

Have you ever found yourself looking at your CRM’s navigation bar wondering what all those other tabs are for? Do you find that you are limiting your CRM use to the two or three areas that you were originally trained to use? Chances are you aren’t the only one. And that means there is a good chance there are whole parts of your CRM that are not being used at all. 

CRMs are always rolling out exciting new features designed to make your life easier, but that can only happen if you know how to integrate them into your strategy. The last thing you want is to be paying for costly tools that you aren’t benefiting from. Even worse, you could be leaving donations on the table by not taking advantage of tools that could easily attract new donors to your organization. Committing time to get trained on your CRM’s full range of features will help you upgrade your strategy to incorporate all of the tools at your disposal.

Your development team has experienced turnover

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the turnover rate for nonprofit fundraising professionals is higher than in other fields, with the average development director only staying in their position for about eighteen months. This can create serious problems in development departments when it comes to maintaining consistent and accurate development operations.

It is important to never assume that your current or new employees are already experts at using your CRM or other tools, even if they listed such experience on their resume. It is possible they were trained on an older version of the software, trained incorrectly, or only ever worked in one or two parts of the CRM at a previous role. This means it is likely that they will not immediately know how to use your CRM in a way that supports your development strategy. 

Also, don’t forget to consider the possibility that existing staff – even yourself! – could benefit from a refresher course on the CRM’s main capabilities and some new tools that have been introduced in the last few years. Retraining can be a great source of inspiration for your team to upgrade its operations and take advantage of dormant features in the CRM. 

Your development team does not have a formalized CRM procedures guide 

The training process is an excellent opportunity to do some spring cleaning in your CRM and get some clarity on each staff member’s responsibilities in the database. As mentioned above, when there has been turnover within a department, it is not uncommon for some small but critical tasks in the pipeline to be forgotten or overlooked.

The classic example in our experience has been sign-up forms on websites that are not being monitored or are not integrated into the organization’s CRM. This is a tiny detail that could have major ramifications for your fundraising revenue, especially if all of those leads were looking for information about how to donate! 

As these gaps in your pipeline are unearthed, they should be added to a checklist or procedures guide that is formalized and circulated to each member of the team. When changes are made, the whole team should be notified. We recommend keeping an updated copy of this guide on file with HR so that it is provided to each new development employee as part of the onboarding process. This can help to cut down on errors in your CRM. It is also a way to periodically check in to make sure that all tasks in the pipeline have a clearly identified owner. 

Reports do not reflect accurate data about your development program 

It can be extremely frustrating to pull a report from your CRM and find that some gifts are not reflected in the totals – even when you are 100% sure they were received. If you find yourself pulling reports that are missing information or show inaccurate totals, this is a clear red flag that you and your team may not be using your CRM correctly to record supporter information.

These discrepancies could be as little as forgetting to check a single box in the gift entry process, or as serious as an incorrectly mapped integration. Imagine a scenario where first and last names are entered into the city and state fields in each supporter record. This could derail entire direct mail campaigns, costing your organization thousands of dollars and hurting your relationships with supporters.

Remember that your CRM is the central hub of your development program. If even one cog in the process is out of place, the entire program could be at risk! 

Invest in CRM Training for Your Team

If you are experiencing any of these issues within your organization, it may be the right time to invest in some CRM training for your development team. Start the year off strong, and avoid major pitfalls for your organization’s development program by providing your team with the tools they need to be successful in their roles. We promise they will thank you! 

Devine & Parker provides live, virtual training for development teams in a discussion-based, group, or one-on-one setting. We are certified partners with several top-rated nonprofit CRMs and are experienced with using many others as well. If you are ready to invest in CRM training for your team, we encourage you to reach out today!