4 Tips for Using Your CRM to Foster Supporter Engagement

This article explores four tips for using your nonprofit CRM to foster supporter engagement.

Engaged supporters are key to your nonprofit’s success. For your organization to retain a strong base of support, you need a consistent strategy for communicating with donors and cultivating relationships throughout the year. However, managing all of these crucial relationships can be a challenge.

That’s where your nonprofit’s CRM, or constituent relationship management software, comes in. This platform houses all of your supporter data and comes equipped with other valuable features you can leverage to boost supporter engagement. But to access these benefits, you have to know how to use your CRM effectively. We’ll explore the following best practices that can help you leverage yours:

  1. Analyze CRM Data to Learn About Your Supporters
  2. Create Segments to Personalize Outreach
  3. Leverage Automation Features
  4. Build Out Your Technology Stack

Whether your nonprofit uses a highly customizable platform like Salesforce for Nonprofits or a more basic donor database, you can use these tips to maximize your CRM’s unique potential to engage supporters. Let’s dive in!

1. Analyze CRM Data to Learn About Your Supporters

By housing all your supporter data in one place, you can more easily see overarching trends and patterns in your donor base. Through analysis, you can then unlock key insights to help you determine the best engagement strategy for your audience.

Specifically, your CRM helps you learn about your supporters’:

  • Giving habits and preferences. Knowing how individual donors prefer to give helps you tailor fundraising appeals, increasing the chance they’ll engage with your requests. For instance, a donor who gives $15 a month is far more likely to respond to a tailored increase request asking for $20 than a standardized message that asks for $50. Plus, you may discover wider giving trends—such as peak donation periods—that can inform the structure and timing of future fundraising campaigns. 
  • Charitable interests. Each of your donors has their own reasons for supporting your nonprofit. By analyzing giving data and looking into supporters’ involvement history, you can find out which aspects of your mission each donors engage with most. For example, you might find that one supporter volunteers to help with local food pantries. To better engage this supporter, you would send them information about an upcoming food insecurity campaign.
  • Preferred type of involvement. Learning which supporters prefer to attend events, volunteer, or participate in advocacy helps you determine the most relevant types of involvement to promote to them. Of course, supporters can get involved with multiple parts of your nonprofit—volunteers often make great donors. However, be conscious of how supporters first choose to interact with your nonprofit and send them materials that align with their expressed interests. 
  • Employment information. Ask supporters to share the name of their employer and potentially even their job title. With this information, you can find donors whose employers participate in corporate philanthropy. Then, encourage these supporters to engage with your nonprofit through their employer’s CSR portal to earn extra support for your organization, like matching gifts. 
  • Communication preferences. There is a wide range of ways to stay in touch with your donors, and chances are that many of them have a specific way they’d prefer for your nonprofit to reach out. Allow supporters to share whether they’d like you to contact them via email, text message, social media, direct mail, or some other platform. 

With this data, you can create tailored stewardship strategies that are designed to engage your most important supporters. As you learn more about each individual, make sure to record the information in your CRM to tailor your strategies even further in the future.

2. Create Segments to Personalize Outreach

Personalizing your communications with supporters is vital for maintaining a high donor retention rate. To convince supporters to stick around and continue engaging with your organization, show your donors that you’re paying attention to their specific contributions and value them as individuals.

Fortunately, your CRM doesn’t just store supporter data but also allows you to arrange it to divide donors into segments based on shared characteristics. Group your supporters based on an attribute that might impact how you would communicate with them, like: 

  • Giving preferences. Consider how you would reach out to a donor who prefers to give by check over one who always makes online donations. 
  • Involvement methods. Use the data you’ve collected on donor engagement and continue promoting ways to get involved that align with their interests. 
  • Length of time as a donor. New donors need an introduction to your organization and an extra initial push to persuade them to stick around long-term. In contrast, long-term donors still require routine communication, but there’s no need to continually go over the basics with them. 

Use grouping strategies like these to enhance the personalization of your messages. For example, one of your involvement method segments might consist of all past volunteers. From there, you could narrow it down further into a group of those who volunteered at least 10 hours this year and those who volunteered over 20 hours together. To engage the volunteers in both of these segments, craft two different volunteer thank-you messages that recognize each individual’s contributions.

3. Leverage Automation Features

Your CRM likely comes equipped with a variety of automation features to make your staff’s lives easier. These tools save your staff time, cut down on manual data entry, and mitigate data loss—but you can also leverage them to engage supporters. Often, these features allow you to:

  • Auto-fill donor profiles with information from your online giving page when a supporter donates.
  • Automatically send donation receipts, thank-you emails, or reminder texts when supporters take specific actions.
  • Fill in email templates with personal details from your donor profiles, such as supporter names and gift sizes.

Marketing automation tools within your CRM can be especially useful for fostering supporter relationships. According to Redpath Consulting Group, these tools seamlessly pull data from your CRM into automatically tailored donor communications, handling personalization and other baseline stewardship strategies for you. Some tools even allow you to create complex automations that use branched logic to increase personalization.

For instance, you might create an automated email stream that sends supporters a feedback survey after they attend an event. After the initial email, the email stream might branch in two directions: supporters who fill out the survey receive a personalized thank-you email, while those who don’t fill out the survey receive a few reminder emails spaced out over a week.

4. Build Out Your Technology Stack

Finally, don’t limit yourself to the features that come with your base CRM. Many CRMs have add-ons available to expand your technology’s capabilities and meet any additional needs you may have.

For example, if you use Salesforce, you can browse hundreds of native and third-party apps for nonprofits and choose the ones that best fit your technology needs. Double the Donation’s list of the best Salesforce apps includes several types of apps that are designed to help you engage supporters, such as:

  • Matching gift software. Integrating a matching gift tool with your CRM helps you find out which of your donors are eligible for a corporate match and automatically lets them know, greatly increasing your fundraising potential while adding another layer of supporter engagement. 
  • Event management apps. If your nonprofit hosts a lot of fundraising events, you can simplify event planning and management by integrating virtual event tools with your CRM. These tools can help you create events that resonate with your audience and yield a better turnout.
  • Nonprofit marketing tools. Need to refresh your donor communication strategies? Expand your marketing automation capabilities, manage complex promotional campaigns, or tap into a new marketing channel with these apps.

If you’re not sure where to start, a nonprofit technology consultant can help you find the best solutions and even implement them for you. Look for qualified experts with nonprofit experience who will evaluate your existing technology and work by your side to determine the best path forward. Be sure to let potential consultants know that your goal is to better engage supporters with your CRM’s help.

As you try out these strategies, keep track of your results and don’t be afraid to pivot your approach when necessary. With your CRM as your organization’s technological foundation, you’ll be on your way to creating a stronger community of supporters who feel personally connected to your nonprofit.