The Power of CRM For Nonprofit News Organizations

Nonprofit news organizations cannot just rely on website traffic numbers, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, number of Tweets, or the number of email newsletter subscribers to know who your audience is and how they interact with your news operation. These kind of metrics are too simple and miss the crucial details of getting to know all the kinds of groups you reach – news consumers, donors, subscribers, volunteers, board members, etc.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Constituent Relationship Management is a way of being able to manage your interactions with your existing and future customers/constituents.

CRM can be used to:

  • Market your news services/products
  • Help with customer support/service
  • Measure impact through analytics
  • Reach groups and measure impact with email newsletters/social media
  • Manage members
  • Manage fundraising/donors and campaigns
  • Manage/track events
  • Set Goals

When considering a CRM tool, you should identify your goals. This will help you to figure out what kind of CRM tool will work best for your news operation. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Do you want to use the CRM tool to help track/manage donors, members, subscribers, volunteers, board members or event attendees’ contact information?
  2. How much information do you have on each contact now and how much more information do you want to obtain on each contact?
  3. What kind of systems do you use now to hold contact information? What kind of files are those contact records in?
  4. Do you want to know more about your social media reach and followers? Do you know who they are? Where they are located? What kind of interactions they have with your organization?
  5. Do you want to better manage your customer service/support?
  6. What is your current process for recording and tracking your constituents? How would CRM software help you with your current process of tracking this information?
  7. Do you have an upcoming event you are hosting and want to reach your constituents with different messages and invitations but don’t know how to group them or know who should be in which group (donors, volunteers, subscribers, etc.)?
  8. Do you have any upcoming fundraising campaigns? How do you reach key constituents for these kinds of campaigns and how will the CRM help you in this regard?
  9. What is your budget for this software?
  10. What timeline or deadline do you have to get this CRM tool launched?
  11. How many people on your staff will be using and accessing the CRM software?
  12. Who will serve as the system administrator for the tool?

Once you have these questions answered, you can then start to make decisions as to which CRM tool is best for your operation and what features the tool will need to have in order to make the most effective use of the tool.

Dedicated Staff

When you decide to purchase CRM software, make sure to have a staff member that can manage and administer it. Your relationship management strategy can strengthen or weaken depending on how many resources and how much time you put toward it.

CRM Caveats

Since CRM software contains personal information of your constituents, be careful in deciding who has access to the software. You should clearly identify which people on your staff have access to it and what levels of permission they have to access contact information.

You may want to have a system administrator to manage the overall CRM and have several levels of access for those staff members who will be interacting with the various constituents. Contact information can be compromised and you should also have a contingency plan of what you will do if something happens to the database. It is important when choosing a CRM provider, you find out the permission options they offer, the privacy options they can provide and their contingency plans if the system is ever compromised.

Where to Go

There are several CRM tools today that are web-based that allow you to manage your customer information within the cloud – from anywhere at anytime.

When reviewing options, don’t rush into the decision. Contact the company and ask them to give you a personal demo of how the CRM system works and how it can work for your specific organization. The demo will help you to have a better sense of whether it will work for your operation or not.

Also, consider the following options when selecting a CRM provider/tool:

  • Tech support options
  • Level of detail for the contact record
  • Integration options with other systems (email, social media, etc.)
  • Exporting and importing of contact records
  • Upgrade options
  • Access to system (web, mobile app, etc.)
  • Training
  • Privacy options and permission options

(Karen Graham offers some great on her slideshare deck here:

CRM can be a costly investment but there are options for nonprofits. Here are a few CRM providers that provide discounted rates for nonprofit organizations:

As a nonprofit news organization, you have several constituents who are important to your operation and using tools such as CRM software can make a difference in how you manage and grow the relationships with your donors, volunteers, news consumers, board members and other important groups. It can make a difference in how successful your news operation can be in the months and years ahead.