Today’s tip has to do with managing one of the most precious of resources in community groups – information. I would like to talk about becoming more strategic about holding on to information by utilising technologies available, such as a simple CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database.
Groups such as schools and clubs have an inherently high ‘turnover’ of volunteers. The BIG challenge is that valuable knowledge, or intellectual property, is lost. A lot of wheels are being reinvented out there!
Let’s take an example of a local football club seeking sponsorship. Typically, a volunteer might brainstorm about which local businesses to approach, and ask any available experienced members who might have assisted in the past.
Imagine instead, that they are presented with a full record of interactions with every business that has ever been approached. They could see where their time could best be applied, and foster the ongoing relationships rather than pounding the pavement. Strategic direction would be possible, rather than just treading water and putting out fires!
If a business owner is addressed by name, with reference made to past support, many hurdles are instantly overcome.
A simple way of storing information is by storing it in a Google Spreadsheet where a large number of people have access to edit. You would keep all contact names up to date in various columns, and make notes against the business names.
An online CRM database, however, is specifically designed to manage information about ‘clients’ (in our case, potential supporters). It is a tool that allows multiple users to access your data, to add new contacts, and to record a history of interactions with each one.
Most CRM systems these days will have an email address that you ‘blind copy’ to that will automatically record your email against the relevant contact without having to copy and paste it in.
CRM database review:
I use Capsule CRM for my business and really love it. It is simple to use and a great way to share information and set reminders. The free version allows for only 2 users and 250 contacts, though, after which it is $12 per user per month. It might be enough for some community groups, though.
Hubspot are a well recognised inbound marketing firm, who have introduced an ‘always free’ CRM as an entry point to entice you to try their core services. I haven’t used it, but it doesn’t appear to have limits on user or contact numbers so is probably worth a try.
I haven’t used Zoho CRM either but I have seen them around for quite a while. Their ‘always free’ package allows free access for up to 10 users. It doesn’t specify if there is a limit on contact numbers so I assume there isn’t one?
Within the volunteers in your organisation is sure to be somebody who has worked with a CRM database. They are not complicated to set up, and can be a lifesaver when it comes to building those important relationships with your supporters.
Remember, proper records are the greatest gift you can give your organisation as it means your group can continue to learn and thrive and no longer ‘spin your wheels’!