5 Ways to Effectively Use Your CRM

April 23, 2018 | EveryAction Team

A CRM is no different than any other tool that your nonprofit uses, in the sense that there is a difference between using it well enough to get by, and really getting the most bang for your buck. Because software programs are a strategic investment on behalf of the entire organization, it is important that staff in all departments are trained and able to put all of your CRM’s features to use. Here are five of our favorite CRM-based tools that you might not know about, but definitely should be using to save time and maximize the impact of your work!

1. Utilize A/B testing for more impactful emails

The most effective way to consistently communicate with your supporters is through email, a huge majority of Americans check their email at least once a day, and the number is only increasing. As a result of this phenomenon, however, people are feeling more and more overwhelmed by the amount of marketing emails in their inboxes, meaning that more and more emails are going straight to the trash folder, unopened and unread. How do you cut through the clutter and make sure your emails stand out from the crowd?

Actually, we can’t tell you a magic secret to writing emails that your members will love to read, because every email list is unique. What works really well for one organization may completely fail when tried by another nonprofit. Only you can really know the people on your email list and what piques their interest enough to get them to open an email, read it, and take action. The tip that we can tell you is that your CRM is the only tool you need to find this information for yourself.

Your digital tools should allow you to run A/B tests on email subject lines, to experiment with different options and prove what your supporters care most about. EveryAction’s multivariate testing suite enables A-J testing of up to 10 options. Careful testing allows you to fine tune your language to fit what your audience wants to read, and increases your messages’ likelihood of being opened instead of deleted. Your nonprofit can “get by” on running a standard email program on your CRM, but to maximize your impact and return on investment, perform regular, detailed tests on your email subject lines and call-to-actions. Once you have those test results, adapt your program and messaging based on the what you have found to be successful. With effective testing, you’ll be maximizing the potential of your email program and your CRM.

2. Leverage the power of social networks with peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns

Baby boomers and millennials take a fundamentally different approach to charitable giving than their silent generation counterparts, meaning that nonprofit fundraisers also need to update their methods in order to stay at the top of the game. One significant difference displayed by younger donors is that they are less likely to wait for direct correspondence from an organization (such as direct mail, or even email), and more likely to rely on their own research or word-of-mouth from the personal networks that they know and trust.

Because younger donors are more likely to seek out and trust information about which organizations to support from their family and friends, maximize your fundraising potential by turning your supporters into ambassadors to their own networks with peer-to-peer fundraising. This type of social fundraising campaign harnesses the power of that personal network-based trust to help you promote your organization through your existing members. Peer-to-peer fundraisers have a personal, grassroots feel that attracts donors who are looking for an authentic and individual connection to an organization. To get the most benefit from your CRM, don’t just use it for traditional outbound fundraising methods; maximize your ROI by supplementing your Development program with modern tools like peer-to-peer fundraising.

3. Track supporters’ engagement across channels

If you want to talk to your most active, die-hard supporters, which of your members would you call? Donors? People who have volunteered for your events? What about people who open every email that you send them, or sign and share every petition that you post on your organization’s social media accounts? More than likely, you’ll want someone who meets several of these criteria. Tracking member engagement across different mediums or channels can be difficult, but achieving a 360 degree view of their activity will enable you to understand and communicate with them in more powerful ways.

To engage your supporters effectively, it is crucial that you are able to segment lists based on their level of participation and address them with this in mind. You likely have reports that will tell you about who your donors are, about who is most engaged on your email list, and even who your biggest social media fans are, but even with all of the data in front of you, you’ll need to use a unifying feature like Engagement Points to really see a whole pictures and make quick, accurate decisions. With EveryAction’s Engagement Points tool, you can assign custom point levels to actions that your members take, such as donating, signing an online petition, or participating in a volunteer event. Quantifying actions with a point system enables a quick comparison of engagement level across various channels, so that you can easily see who your most active members are.

4. Activate and Organize Supporters

Although we sometimes get caught up in building our digital and fundraising programs, it’s always important to remember that there is more to life (and to our members’ lives) than emails and donations. Nonprofit members support your work for the same reason that you are involved in it—they care, and want to make a difference!Giving your supporters the chance to take action helps them feel proud to be part of your work and increases the identity that they feel with your nonprofit, so look for the ways that your CRM will make empowering them an easy task for you.

Offline organizing tools such as phone banking, peer-to-peer texting, and door-to-door canvassing all provide outlets for your members to take action in ways that are easily tracked and quantifiable through your CRM. By using a volunteer and event management tool, you’ll be able to organize your supporters for any type of event—from neighborhood clean-up days, to political lobby days, to simply helping with administrative tasks around the office. And if you aren’t feeling up to organizing regular in-person actions, use digital advocacy tools such as click-to-call emails or targeted social media campaigns to give your members convenient and meaningful ways to raise their voice for your cause. The benefit of running these campaigns through your CRM is that you’ll have easy access to reporting data whenever you need it—allowing you to show the impact you’re making on the community.

5. Communicate constantly with mobile optimization and social media matching

Your members are increasingly on their smartphones more than any other device, and they expect the organizations that they support to communicate with them in ways that are accessible and optimized for mobile use. Emails and forms should be formatted for display on both computer and smartphone screens, so that your supporters have a clear and enjoyable experience regardless of the platform that they are using.

Because phones are with us everywhere, social media has also become ever present in our lives. To take your member communication to the next level, use CRM features like social media matching and social share tracking to determine the online engagement of your supporters, and communicate with them on the platforms that they use the most often. Running multi-channel campaigns that include a social media component is a standard non-profit practice, but make sure that you’re able to track and maximize participation through your CRM’s social media integrations.