How to Create the Building Proficiency Section of Your Advancement CRM Training Program

(This is the third article of a four-part series on creating an advancement CRM training program. Stay tuned for more great content!)


If you’ve been following along on our four-part content series, you’re well on your way to creating an effective training program for your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation.


To recap on the first two articles, we first talked about the importance of setting parameters for the getting started section. Then, we talked about how to create the learning the basics section for your CRM training program. We also explained the importance of a CRM training program and how it serves as the foundation for your team to operate efficiently and continually improve through program adjustments and updates.


Now that you have prepared both the getting started and learning the basics sections, it’s time to move on to proficiency. Building proficiencies in your CRM core competencies is an extra step. But there are standard shifts in the industry, and if you don’t make the shift in your training, it can have adverse effects.


Here’s how to create the “building proficiency” section of your advancement CRM training program.


Create Proficiencies

As you create the proficiency section of your CRM training program, follow the learning path that is best suited for job responsibilities—evaluating the level of mastery. Help users build proficiency in working within the advancement CRM software to fulfill their job responsibilities.


Users should not be on an island. Construct a working knowledge of advancement CRM functional areas for departments that frequently interface. This prevents users from working in a silo and develops a working knowledge of how colleagues use the system.


To achieve this, create instructions for how to prepare reports. But be careful how you approach report training. Preparing reports can easily turn into “how to get data out of the system” which can lead to building shadow databases—not the method you want to use. People tend to build shadow databases in legacy systems because they export and use the data elsewhere, then the system doesn’t know what they’re doing.


Avoid this tendency by framing a question. In your building proficiency CRM training program section, include ways for users to access the reports they need—including next steps to take within the system to gain the information.


Include a section that prompts questions. For example, only after they identify what problem they’re trying to solve, they can decide on the appropriate report.


Include prompts to help them answer this question.

What reports or actions do I need to take in the CRM system based on the answer I expect to receive?


When it comes to working within the CRM database, something is wrong if users can’t continue to work within the system. They shouldn’t have to leave to gain information or assess reports that are directly related to your CRM data. Include instructions for how they should let someone know if they aren’t able to continue working within your CRM program.


Checklist for the “Building Proficiency” Section of your Advancement CRM Training Program

The building proficiency section of your advancement CRM training program should help users build upon their basic level of knowledge, most specifically, using it to create reports and analyze data. Here’s what to include in this section of your advancement CRM training program.


  • In-depth instruction: Create training that helps users effectively use the features within the CRM or perform a specific set of tasks in the advancement CRM software. For example, how to maintain constituent records or manage prospect strategies and plans.
  • Real-life scenarios: Include real-life scenarios that staff members may encounter frequently in their daily tasks. This helps users become more self-sufficient and advanced within the CRM system.
  • Data consumption: Offer an overview on how users can use dashboards and reports to answer a question. Demonstrate the next steps they should take within the system based on their answer.
  • Data management and Security: Review your policies and guidelines on when and how exporting data should be completed.
  • Business rules: State what information is tracked within your CRM database in a certain way and illustrate why.