Nonprofit CRMs truly are the superheroes of the fundraising world.

Think about it: what other software can help you manage all of your donor information, provide you with valuable supporter insight, and help you implement perfectly-designed outreach strategies?

Your CRM can be a game-changer for your fundraising and stewardship plans, but only if you know how to make the most of your donor database (and all its features).

In this article, we’ll show you how to use your CRM to:

  1. Understand your donors on a deeper level.
  2. Streamline all your operations.
  3. Plan events (without the hassle).
  4. Keep communications timely and effective.
  5. Report on everything you need.

Hopefully, by the time we’re done, you’ll know exactly how to use your CRM to its fullest potential.

If you’re not clear on the basics of CRM software, first take a look at Neon’s guide to discover everything you need to know.

On that note, let’s get started!

One of the most fundamental functionalities of nonprofit CRMs is their ability to provide your nonprofit with all the intel you need about your donors.

By setting you up with in-depth donor profiles, your CRM can give you a clear picture of your donors from a number of different angles.

Not only can you use your database to better understand your donors, but you can use that understanding to inform your decisions and strategies as an organization.

That being the case, to fully take advantage of your nonprofit CRM, you’ll want to make sure you have as much data on file as possible.

While basic information like name, mailing address, and phone number are a start, you should also include the following information:

  • Preferred giving channel. Since there are so many ways to give, you can’t rely on the assumption that your donors all find the same donation channels engaging. By tracking how your donors have given in the past, you’ll be able to send them more targeted donation requests in the future.

  • Affinities for giving. Some causes and projects will be more appealing to some donors than others. Segment your donor list by interests to find out which campaigns have the most widespread appeal and use that intel to influence both your communications and your campaign strategies in general.

  • Relationships. When you can view your constituents in relation to one another (including professional, familial, organizational, and personal relationships), you’ll be able to get a more holistic view of how your donors interact. Some software providers even enable you to create households and direct actions toward specific groups.

As important as it is to have comprehensive information in place, it’s only valuable if that data is also accurate and up-to-date, so don’t slack on data maintenance! You should be performing annual cleanings to ensure your database is free of duplicates, lapsed donors, and inconsistent data entries.

To sum it up: You know your CRM can help you manage donor information, but in order to really tailor your fundraising and stewardship strategies to your donors, you’ll need to have a comprehensive set of data to work with.

While managing donor information might be the main feature of a CRM, it’s not the only thing that these powerful tools are good for.

In fact, if you’re only relying on your CRM for its donor management functionality, you might be missing out on a number of valuable resources within your software!

When you use a comprehensive CRM, you’ll likely have access to built-in features that will allow you to manage many other fundraising- and stewardship-related tasks.

If your CRM’s features are more lightweight, you might need to integrate other third-party platforms to create a unique CRM system that can meet all your needs.

No matter which route you choose, you should end up with access to a variety of tools and features that can streamline almost every facet of your organization, such as:

  • Online giving software. Your CRM should provide you with customizable online donation forms to embed on your nonprofit’s website. These donation forms make it easy for donors to give online or via mobile devices, and since they’re linked up to your CRM, all the data you collect will flow automatically into your database.

  • Member and volunteer engagements. Nonprofits operate on many different types of support, including member and volunteer engagement. With a powerful CRM (or the right integration), you should also be able to manage these supporters’ interactions too, all within one system.

  • Specialized fundraising software. Planning a peer-to-peer campaign? Maybe you’re hosting an online auction. Whatever your fundraising needs, make sure you integrate all the dedicated fundraising tools you use with your CRM so that all data is available in one centralized location.

To sum up: If you’re using your CRM correctly, you should be able to centralize all aspects of your fundraising and donor stewardship strategies, creating a more developed, informed view of your organization overall.

Fundraising events are a major aspect of most nonprofits’ annual fund strategies, and for good reason! Events are some of the most engaging, lucrative opportunities for your organization.

But if you’ve ever planned a fundraising event, you’re probably aware that their benefits don’t come without a lot of hard work and extensive planning!

Thankfully, your CRM can help you plan events that are not only easier to manage, but better altogether.

Let’s look at a few ways your software can come through for you as you’re planning and executing your next fundraiser:

  • Plan for your demographic. You’ll need to consider many facets of your audience when planning an event. From geographic locale and median income to age range and lifestyle, your CRM can supply you with the data you need to plan an event your donors actually want to attend.

  • Customize your registration forms. Remember those handy webforms your CRM can build for you? You can also customize your own event registration forms to include all the fields you need, and even set up different packages or ticket options.

  • Manage attendees before, during, and after the event. All your registrants’ data should automatically flow from your webform to your database, so you’ll be able to track guest information well in advance of the night itself. Plan seating charts, target promotional materials, and automate post-event follow-up—all using your trusty CRM!

Since your software takes the burden of event logistics off your shoulders, you’ll have more time to focus on what matters at your events—actually engaging with your supporters (and maybe even having some fun while you’re at it)!

To sum up: When it comes to events, your CRM can provide valuable help on its own and be integrated with more dedicated event-planning tools to tackle even the most complex undertakings.

If you haven’t heard how helpful your CRM can be for all your marketing and communication needs, we’re here to shed some much-needed light on the topic.

Your CRM comes equipped with a host of communications tools, some of which you’re probably already taking advantage of. The most basic functions, such as sending mass email campaigns to all your supporters or integrating with dedicated email marketing tools, are some of the most common calling cards of nonprofit CRMs.

But when it comes to communications and marketing, you may not know the total scope of your software’s power (or how to take advantage of it)!

For example, your CRM can help your nonprofit:

  • Manage custom email lists. Sure, sending mass emails to all your donors is great, but wouldn’t it be even better to tailor the exact communications your constituents receive? Enter your CRM! Create email lists based on any data field and automate targeted email campaigns to specific groups of supporters (or even individuals).

  • Automate communications. Timing is everything when it comes to effective donor outreach. You can use your CRM to analyze previous donor interactions, plan your future engagement strategy, and even automate your communications so that you never miss important milestones in your donor relations.

  • Track engagements. Your CRM can show you a two-way record of all donor communications. That means that not only will you see what your nonprofit has sent, but you can also track donors’ responses too, including email open and click-through rates, social media engagement, and responsiveness by channel (e.g., mobile, email, direct mail, etc).

Donor engagement is the cornerstone of donor stewardship, and if you’re not communicating with your constituents on a consistent, effective basis, you’ll be sure to fall short on both fronts.

That’s why it’s crucial that you take advantage of your CRM’s communication features. When you tailor your communications to fit your supporters’ preferences and schedules, you’re more likely to connect with your donors.

A stronger donor-nonprofit connection leads to more involvement, more donations, and more long-term investment! And who doesn’t want all of that?

To sum up: When it comes to nonprofit communications, it’s tough to get the timing right. Thankfully, your CRM can take a lot of guesswork out of interacting with your donors by helping you automate, track, and manage your communication efforts.

Chances are, you’ve already discovered at least some of the amazing reporting and analytics features that your CRM has.

All CRMs will come equipped with basic reporting features that enable you to run reports across preset data fields to gather insight into fiscal activity or donor engagement.

However, your nonprofit CRM should be your one-stop shop for all your fundraising and stewardship needs, so you should also be able to create reports that reflect the many nuances of your organization.

When you’re able to tailor both the input and output fields of your report, you’ll be able to better analyze your constituent data and improve your fundraising overall.

For example, your CRM’s reporting features can help you:

  • View campaign success. If you’ve just wrapped up a fundraising campaign or event, you’ll need to assess your overall results. With a powerful CRM on your side, you should have no problem getting both a high-level executive view and a detailed breakdown of your strategies’ effectiveness (which you can use to plan for next year!).

  • Discover major gift prospects. Major gifts make up a huge chunk of most nonprofits’ overall fundraising strategies. You can use your CRM to run a cultivation report to predict major gifts, perform wealth screenings, or segment your donor list by giving history and affinity to determine potential prospects.

  • Be transparent. Not only are nonprofits required to report their fiscal activity to the government, but most organizations are also responsible for presenting reports to stakeholders, staff, and donors. With your CRM, you’ll be able to quickly export reports in a variety of formats so that everyone can access the information they need.

Analyzing your fundraising results is the only way to improve upon your efforts in the future.

You’re already using your CRM to manage your fundraising and stewardship tasks, so it only makes sense to use your software to measure the fruits of those labors, too.

To sum up: A robust CRM will allow you to create custom reports that measure your nonprofit’s unique efforts. By taking advantage of these analytics features, you’ll be in a better position to improve your strategies in the future, from events to major gifts and everything in between.


Because nonprofit CRMs are complex, powerful tools, it’s easy to get lost in their feature set and miss out on some of the valuable functionalities they offer. Hopefully, this article has shown you a few ways you can use your software better (and enjoy all the benefits thereof!).

If you’re searching for software that can help you manage donor data and maximize fundraising potential, we recommend checking out NeonCRM!

Have you become a CRM master? Tell us your favorite software features in the comments!

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