CRM Tracking leadership development

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Recap: We had a really robust conversation on constituent relationship management systems, which are used to track interactions between the organization and its base, which can be members/volunteers/donors, etc.

1. An effective database builds up a picture of your constituents, both on individual level and big picture. You’ll need to decide what data you want to collect, and note the variability of contact info for marginalized communities

2. It might be helpful to ask staff/Board/volunteers what changes you’re hoping to see/ accomplish (behavior, attitude, action).

3. Differentiate what data is important for your organization and what is important to funders; it is equally important to collect both.

4. When switching CRM’s or tweaking your current system to work better for you, onboard new staff, establish clarity of process and expectations, and create a rudimentary guide showing how to accomplish top tasks.


What Brings You to this Session?

  • Nancy (IDEPSCA):
    • Starting to use Powerbase; wants to talk about the shift of using a new CRM
    • Other issues: reporting back to funders, tracking data takes time and effort, big accomplishments over time get lost
    • Jazmyn designed Powerbase for previous org, can help Nancy.
  • Shirley (API Equality LA)
    • Looking to synthesize communications & donor tracking in 1 software
  • Tiffany (UC Santa Cruz)
    • Nonprofit serves population of 1600 people and has a five-person Board.
    • Wants to learn how to store personal contact info safely, alternatives to Google Contacts
  • Jazmyn
    • Has a research/data background, currently bringing that knowledge to nonprofits in how to tell deeper stories and trends that data shows, has dealt with a lot of pushback from leadership not recognizing the value of data
  • Lisa
    • After Leadership Tracking seminar, the next logical step is to talk about how/where nonprofit data is stored
    • What interests Lisa is the data model, or structure of the information you need to collect and how they’re related to each other

Discussion Topic 1: What would a database need or have in order to be effective?

  • It tracks something about people over time that involves collection of information from them
  • Ideally, it presents a holistic view of person/constituent, so staff/volunteers can look for themes and changes in individual growth, as well as a big-picture of the organization.
    • Example: - If someone comes to a membership meetings every month, that paints a really compelling story about their involvement.
  • Log every storytelling/relationship building activity (meetings, 1:1’s) – anything substantial.

Discussion Topic 2: What questions should we be asking to collect good data?

  • Start with staff/volunteers: what changes do you want to see, what are you hoping to accomplish? Is it a behavior, attitude, or action? (Then, figure out your data collection method. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with generic info like attendance.)
  • A follow up question for staff might be: what ladder of development opportunities are you offering for members of your organization?
  • How difficult is it to get to our event? How motivated are you to attend our events? What is your impression of X?
  • A lot of qualitative data lives internally within staff, volunteers, etc. Therefore, think about how to frame better questions to get rich story of constituents/members.
  • When intentionally collecting stories, ask “how does you current work relate to what you did with us X years ago?” Example: alumni tracking

Discussion Topic 3: Data Analysis

  • You can do a word analysis and see which words/ themes are being most used.
  • When analyzing your data and impact, if you see that Person A and Person B have the same impact/result but have followed a widely different “ladder of engagement,” reassess your ladder. If skillset gained does not match up to activities to get there, evaluate program.
  • Capacity to do analysis is an ongoing issue. It has to be made a consistent priority. Clarity of process and expectations helps. Have the person you’re training use their notes to create a rudimentary process guide or top 5 tasks guide.

Discussion Topic 4: What are the different CRM’s out there?

  • Saas can create mind maps but it needs the data behind it.
  • Atlas is a research tool.
  • Bloomerang is a CRM
  • Powerbase does have a volunteer tracking tool, it can track phonebank shifts or hours tracking.

Discussion Topic 5: Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data

  • Most CRM’s don’t analyze your data for you, they only facilitate it so that you can perform your analysis.
  • Numbers don’t tell the full story to funders and the general public – stories do. Funders usually dictate how they want to see your data, but if we keep demanding stories over “hard numbers,” the world will eventually shift.
    • Example: IDEPSCA has a group of 15 workers who have been involved and active for X years consistently; even though it is a “small” number, the years of involvement tell a bigger story based on lifestyles/how hard it is for them to be involved.

Discussion Topic 6: Making the switch to a new CRM

  • People often transition out of an organization before they get to document the important relational stuff, especially when working with marginalized communities.
  • With turnover, you can lose historical year-to-year information and/or have variable contact information, especially when working with marginalized communities.
  • Make it a priority to onboard staff/teach the important information to track.
    • Make sure your onboarding/database teaching is inclusive: a lot of people would rather watch a video than read a manual. To make your own video, record your computer screen doing database tasks while recording your voice.
  • When making the switch from paper to database, collect data/surveys on paper first, and then transfer data into the database at a convenient date, maybe via intern. Another option would be to use text recognition software exists.
  • Pinpoint what information is important for you and what funders want to know. Each are equally important.