CRMs, or Customer Relationship Management platforms, are key elements of most organizations. A good CRM will help your organization to easily keep track of how supporters interact with you. You can track things like donations, in-kind donations, event attendance, volunteers, and other people who may interact with your organization, like direct clients.
Having a dedicated CRM will help your organization keep track of, segment, and target all of its contacts from one central location. This is a very important feature for any growing organization, as it allows you to target specific requests to specific groups of people relatively easily. It helps you find allies and supporters who may have inadvertently slipped between the cracks, and it facilitates mass communication via emailing. Having all of that information in one database, instead of spread across several, will cut down on duplicate data, duplication of effort, and general confusion, while improving organization and ease of access to data.
A good CRM is many times more valuable than a good website in terms of what it can do to recruit and mobilize supporters. While a website is useful for looking professional and providing information about your organization, it lacks the personal touch and customization that communications sent using a segmented list might. For example people typically access a site to look up information on staff, programs, and hours of operations, but they are more likely to donate to your organization based on a direct email appeal that is targeted to them, a new supporter who has never donated before (or a long time small-dollar donor, or a frequent volunteer who has never donated).
The ability to display factual information about your organization and staff is, at its core, very simple and technologically easy. Time spent organizing and understanding your supporter data typically offers a significant return on investment.
Customer Relationship Management platforms provide valuable information about donors, as well as powerful metrics about what practices are working for and against your organization's ability to fundraise. Using CRMs is considered a beneficial return of investment because it affords using one program to track and improve project management and accounting from a multipurpose application instead of having to compare notes from many to complete the same task. Effective CRMs enable growing companies to be nimble, assess data quickly and make important strategy decisions in real time.