Great record keeping in your customer relationship management (CRM) software streamlines the donor journey, enables metrics, bolsters accountability, and drives momentum in moves management. However, teams who aren’t used to intensive data entry can feel intimidated and quickly get behind.
Any new habit takes some getting used to, which is why we are offering eight suggestions for frontline fundraisers on how to keep from getting behind and stay on top of action entries.
Note: we recommend that fundraisers enter all “meaningful contacts” into the CRM. This includes communications or interactions that would be important or helpful for others to know in order to best cultivate the donor towards a gift request and steward them throughout the donor journey.
1. Review your calendar at the beginning of each week and enter upcoming actions, such as meetings or calls, into your database.
Having a list of open/incomplete actions in the CRM creates your to-do-list for you. It also makes things easier in the future; for example, you will simply have to confirm the details, add any notes, and hit complete.
2. Open the constituent or opportunity record prior to any call and leave it open until you’ve added the action.
That way, if you need to immediately jump on another call, you will have a reminder on your screen to enter the action details before you close the tab. It also promotes treating the CRM as a system of record where you can take notes directly into the associated records as often as possible.
3. Leverage technology to take advantage of shortcuts such as:
- Integrate your CRM into your email so that outcoming emails to constituents are automatically added to the CRM and incoming emails can be added with the click of a button.
- Some CRMs, such as the RENXT App, allow you to dictate your notes. If using this feature, just make sure to review them later to ensure everything transcribed correctly.
- Other CRM’s, such as Salesforce, allow you to send chat messages to your colleagues from a constituent, opportunity, or action. Tag applicable colleagues on an action record after adding meeting notes as an FYI or on an opportunity to indicate a status change such as “pledged” or “received.” This both saves time (as you will not have to send an extra email) and keeps you aligned with CRM best practices as any follow-up discussion will automatically be in the CRM.
- If available, utilize your systems or development operations teams to create templates for bulk uploads of actions.
4. Group similar tasks together to reduce friction.
If you have a few opportunities or constituents on similar tracks, enter or plan actions for them all at once. Reducing the need to open your CRM and enter one-off interactions will save you time.
5. When you enter a completed action, plan one or two steps ahead.
It will be much easier to think of your next touchpoint and create a reminder for yourself to take action later while your mind is already on the cultivation and servicing of the relationship.
6. Find your own regular use for accurate actions.
If you are only entering actions to meet expectations or serve someone else’s job function, you will not be as likely to keep up with it. Some suggestions are to use future actions and deadlines to remind yourself to get things done, or to check in with all open actions at the start of each day. Looking at actions over the last two weeks can help you spot who is missing out on your attention.
7. Launch a summary report or dashboard that is available to you and shared with your manager.
If actions feel as though they disappear into the ether, it is not compelling to keep up with them. With updated action entry and a dashboard, you can experience the motivation that comes from seeing your actions add up in real time.
8. If you are still running behind on entering actions, block off one or two hours at the end of the week to do so.
Having this recurring time in your calendar will help you make sure all actions and notes from the week are in the database. If you have a few minutes left over in your time block, use them to get ahead on future activity entry, and make the next week a little easier.
We see over and over again that investing time into good record-keeping is worth the growing pains. Dynamic data insights, and seamless transfer from one fundraiser to the next, are just a few of the benefits. Take the time to try these tips and you will find action entry becomes part of your regular routine and your best way to deliver great relationship management.
CCS Fundraising is a strategic fundraising consulting firm that partners with nonprofits for transformational change. We plan and implement fundraising initiatives to help nonprofit organizations make a bigger impact, including Systems projects to help organizations use their CRMs to drive strategic fundraising activity. To learn more about our Systems work, contact Allison Willner, Vice President of Data Strategy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCS’s annual Philanthropy Pulse reports provide nonprofits with helpful data to navigate the ever-evolving philanthropic space. The survey that will inform our 2023 report closed on November 17, 2022.
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