First of all what is a “CRM”?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business process to enable an organisation to manage a number of key customer driven processes. These are usually around Sales, Marketing and Customer Services.

To support these processes there are a number of IT packages which enable management from a central location. This means your data and data activities are all in one place and not spread around a number of unrelated spreadsheets and databases. These packages can be known generically as “Contact Management”, “Marketing Management” or “Case Management” system’s, the collective names given for these solutions are CRM systems which follow the name of the business processes they support.

These systems are used by business big and small in most business segments to allow them to increase productivity and profits by centralising and systemising data processes. This gives more opportunities to gain new customers by targeted marketing, sell more products with managed sales processes and maintain customer relationship with good customer services and after sales support.

Is this overkill for a Charity?

If you’re a charity why would you need to invest to have a slicker sales process and deliver a truly world class customer service – well the answer is that you probably perceive you don’t.
Having been employed by and subsequently been a consultant for a number of Charities large and small I see a lot in common with businesses, they both:-

• Have lists of contacts and organisations
• Rely on money to operate
• Need to promote who they are
• Offer products or services
• Require people to run it

So really the difference is minimal by way of operation. A business need to sell a product or a service at a profit, the more the profit the more the opportunity to grow. Charities exist to deliver a service or to promote awareness against its aims and objectives, most of these are around social wellbeing and are supported by groups of people with the same interests for common good.

The money required to run a charity comes from funding, donations or sponsorships and a whole plethora of diverse activities from second-hand shops to selling their expertise in the marketplace.
Ultimately a charity offers something which they want to promote to their target groups so they can continue to supply that service. Once they have a customer or supporter, they wish to retain the relationship with that person with a view to aligning their beliefs and the hope of future financial support. If you read between the lines these processes are Sales, Marketing and Customer Services and are exactly the same as a business.

Ok, I understand that but Charities are different to businesses – aren’t they?

The other great thing in common with business and the non for profit sector is how they both deal with data. A majority of the businesses I work with have a menagerie of spreadsheets and databases where unrelated information exists over a number of different areas. Contacts are held on people’s Outlook contacts (or mobile phones), critical notes and information is held in people’s heads and the businesses rely on end of month calculations to understand how the financials stack up. This allows for the leaking of customers where businesses are unable to fully use their own data. As a result Ineffective marketing will not attract new customers. Bad sales processes will be unable to maximise every opportunity. Substandard customer services will have your customers leaving you for your competition in droves.

A better approach is to get all this information into one place so there is full transparency across the organisation about your customers. This means that when your customer rings, you have access to all their information, this includes:

• Every interaction they have had with you, who said what and when
• A list of all their dealings with you, good and bad
• All their customer service issues current and passed
• Every marketing campaign they were added to
• All sales opportunities, quotations and invoices

If you have this information to hand you are able to assist them there and then and make them feel important as a person as you’re not passing them around your organisation from one person to another.

But charities don't have customers in that respect

I was reading a paper which demonstrated how companies lose customers. It’s staggering to read that over 68% of customers walk because they have received a bad customer experience. So to give a bad customer experience is not a good thing and we know that. We have all received bad customer service at some point so we know how we felt and what our resulting actions were. So let’s imagine you received or discovered a substandard service from a charity you support – would you employ their services again? Would you redirect your donated money to another charitable cause?

Of the charities I have worked with, most have developed their CRM systems so they have a central point for the management of all their core charitable activities of contact management, marketing and client support as well as:

• Funding
• Donor management
• Event management
• Management of staff and volunteers
• Bespoke areas to manage their charity objectives and aims

A Customer Relationship Management process offers so many untapped opportunities for Charities; having all your data in one place allows you to instantly tie information together and manage your outputs and:

• Generate a list of who attended one of your events so you can target them with follow up marketing on other related events
• See how much profit, or loss you made from an event
• Research the type of organisations who supports your aims and goals so you can find more of them
• Manage your donors so you can tell them why they should continue to support you.
• Monitor the sales and profit of merchandise
• Monitor your collection tins and how much income they produce
• See which training your volunteers have received or require

A CRM system for a Charity can provide all the benefits that businesses have used for years. 

So all sounds good, but now the obvious question – How much?

Microsoft offer a donation scheme which allows qualifying non for profit organisation to have access to core office products, Word, Excel, Access, Outlook and a few others for free – yes for free.

Microsoft has extended this scheme to its business level software where it is offering these solutions, the CRM included, at vastly reduced costs for non-for-profit organisations.

Dynamics CRM 2013 is the Microsoft answer to all the other CRM products on the market but with the obvious benefit that it will seamlessly integrate with all your other Microsoft products and most if not all, of your marketing, web and financial packages. Microsoft has also developed a number of apps for iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices to allow charities to gather data at source directly into the CRM system. This is really good when you’re at an event and you want to put people’s details directly into your system.

If I said that you can get a user licence to Dynamics CRM 2013 for about £10 a month would it make you look at all your spreadsheets in a different way?

Microsoft offers a system which allows charities to understand and manage their business from a business point of view. Out-of-the-box, Dynamics CRM 2013 supports a very power marketing and customer relationship building process which is designed to promote awareness and galvanise loyalty.

This integrated to your core day to day functional activities gives you a very power platform in which to manage your charity and instantly measure its success against its objectives. Charities rely on money to continue, being able to prove your social impact with dynamically accurate data presents many opportunities to continue delivering your service against your charities aims and objectives.

“Why on earth would a charity need a CRM”?

Because what you do is important, you want to continue doing it and do more of it.

Call 0844 375 0742 to learn more.