CRM in Not-for-Profit


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Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink

Posted 27-Sep-2004 11:04 AM
[Posted for Neil McGregor]

Is CRM as effective within organisations that operate on a not for profit basis? I’m just looking for views to back up research suggesting that CRM greatly improves the efficiency of any business and helps to improve the overall service provided. More specifically, the effects of CRM within Housing Associations and how it helps to maintain an effective relationship with all tenants.

Graham Hill

Posted 28-Sep-2004 03:26 AM

Despite the emphasis on profitability in much of commercial CRM today, there is no reason why CRM as a business capability cannot be used to equally good effect in a not-for-profit such as a housing association.

The heart of commercial CRM is managing contacts with customers such that sales are generated, customers are satisfied and relationships are developed. All of this at a profit.

This is not fundamentally changed in a not-for-profit environment. The heart of CRM is still managing contacts with customers such that rents are paid on-time, tenants are satisfied with the services provided by the housing association and community relationships are developed. All of this not at a loss.

If there is a real difference I suggest that CRM for a housing association should be much more about developing a two-way dialogue between members of the association and those who operate it on their behalf, maybe even about fostering a community spirit amongst members of the association. This collaboration always sits in the background of effective CRM. It is just that much more important in a housing association environment.

By the way. I have been a member of a housing association in Germany, so these observations are from a member’s perspective as well as a CRM one. Why am I not a member now? The simple answer is that the housing association was run largely in the interests of its long-term management and the coterie of local contractors who somehow ended up doing all work on the housing association’s properties, not in the interests of its members who paid their salaries. No attempt was made to act in the best interests of the members, indeed, member suggestions were batted away with the sort of arrogance that quickly leads to defection. Like mine.

Use CRM as a tool to support building real two-way dialogue with the housing association’s members and you can’t go far wrong.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant

Member Council

Posted 30-Sep-2004 09:30 AM
Hi Neil,

Not-for-profit organizations are using CRM. I’m sure you’ll find research suggesting that CRM improves the efficiency of member services. There are a CRM companies that serve this market.

This Web seminar may be of interest.
Event Title: Microsoft CRM for the Association Vertical Market
Date: 10/12/2004
** I registered as a partner, however, you may be able to register too. Do a search.

The CRM Assoc is using CRM for members and attendees. Over time we hope to pass along methods to optomize lower-priced tools—that were built for profit companies, mostly for sales.

MS CRM is a good example of this, we’re (trying) to use it. The national is using SalesForce. I hope to link the two.

I know CRM techniques will improve our member services, and allow us to be more responsive. I just don’t have a testimonial or research to prove it.

So, I hope others will join in with research links.

take care,
Share Reeves


Posted 30-Sep-2004 09:41 AM
I helped a work related non-profit implement Goldmine (GM) almost 3 years ago. They used GM to replace a custom MS Access-based system. GM provided much better structure and discipline to their “record keeping” if you will. GM was modified to track additional data fields specific to this non-profit.

Overall, I would say that GM provides structure and discipline that allows them to serve hundreds of “members” with a very small staff.

Cathy Allington

Posted 07-Oct-2004 04:39 PM
I have a number of non-profit clients in CRM, from associations to charities. One of the key business benefits for associations has been creating one central view and database of all members, categorising these accordingly, and then being able to communicate news and information on a one-to-one basis. This saves them a lot of time in manually producing communications, and builds stronger relationships, which make for a stronger assocation.

By effectively communicating specific benefits and initiatives to its members, an association justifies the cost and time involved from members. After all, unless an association provides value for its members, what is the point of its existence?

Cathy Allington
Managing Director
Client Relationship Marketing

Bernhard H. Aulenkamp

Posted 14-Oct-2004 08:28 AM
Is CRM as effective within organizations that operate on a not-for-profit basis?

Certainly. The “customer” in profit orgs is the “donator” in NPO. If you have a professional possibility to get information about, and the philosophy in your organsation (marketing, foundraising a.s.o.) you can realize the same things.

For example:

One time donators—may be you have the adress—give them newsletters, an outbound call to activate them, a.s.o

Peoble wich donate middle-size totals- maybe you have a special club with more and better informations, with special offers and events

and peoble where its possible to inherit a fortune: they need a key account mgtm.

So its possible to maximize my volume of contributions with DRM (donator relationship markting/management).

And with this I’ve finally a better realization of my non-profit-mission.

best regards


Graham Hill

Posted 15-Oct-2004 01:01 AM
Bernard raises an interesting point.

CRM in Not for Profit (NFP) organisations is about donors, but it is also about those who receive the NFP’s largesse as well. One provides the funding and ones receives the funding. The NFP sits in the middle facilitating the exchange as efficiently as possible (hopefully).

The donor management part has already been covered. It would also be interesting to see how NFPs use CRM to get people to raise their hands to receive charity. Unlike in the venal world of commerce, many people who are entitled to charity are too proud to admit that they need it, for example, elderly citizens facing hard times. Reaching these people is a particular problem.

So how do you reach these people and get them to raise their hands?

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant

Tom Obright

Posted 21-Oct-2004 02:44 PM
Scouts Canada is using a Siebel CRM as our primary registration tool. The Siebel package allows us to provide secure web-based access to members and local registrars across Canada (over 125,000 users in total) to register themselves, change their profile information, and in the future register for training and special events.

As well we are using a web based presentation and analysis tool called DataBeacon to present statistical information, and allow extraction of member data from the CRM.

It has enabled us to move from a variety of smaller databases and systems onto a single platform, give our local registrars and members a direct stake in keeping membership data up-to-date, and streamlined our member registration processes.

In the future we are planning a portal structure, using the data from our CRM to suggest content and areas of interest, as well as to allow secure access to discussion forums and other services for our youth members.

So, to answer the original question, is CRM appropriate for a not-for-profit, the answer from our perspective is a definate yes!

Tom Obright
Director, Information Management
Scouts Canada


Posted 27-Oct-2004 09:19 AM
Having been both a user and implementer of CRM solutions for years, I would agree with Graham’s perspective on the need for utilizing CRM for both sides of the equation.

In working with both profit and NFP clients, I’ve found it most effective to get them to understand that CRM tools are really ERM (Effective Relationship Management). By getting the entire organization to utilize a system to effectively work with everyone with whom they have a relationship with (Customer/Donor, Vendor, partner, competitor, service provider, media contacts, volunteers, local officials, etc.)

As Kathy pointed out, CRM provides a strong case for improved communication and my view is that every communication regardless of the recipient either adds to or detracts from the organizations success.

With regard to how a particular NFP finds and gets recipients to raise their hands, CRM should easily benefit the NFP in a similar way to FP organizations. The better the organization understands their existing client base, the better able they are in identifying clients with similar needs.


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