How to Establish Goals for Your Advancement CRM Project


The implementation of a new advancement Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) is a significant investment of time, money, and resources. It is important to your institution to show this investment was worthwhile.


Realizing the full benefits of your CRM implementation requires you to be intentional at the beginning of the project. This includes defining your project goals and building an infrastructure to measure your progress through to completion and beyond.


Establishing goals and building an infrastructure to measure your progress is not an exercise that you do at project completion.


Instead, you should establish goals for your advancement CRM project early on. Here’s how to get started.


Step One: Brainstorming

During this phase, you’ll need to brainstorm to clearly indicate the problems you are trying to solve (and why) with your new CRM implementation.


Usually, the problems a new CRM aims to solve fall into three categories: technology, process, and people or behavioral. These are all things you can investigate leading you back to the problems you’re trying to solve.


Technology Changes


  • Catching up: Your current technology is outdated or you’re outgrowing it.
  • Innovation: You want to take advantage of new CRM opportunities and technology.
  • Realignment: You want (or need) to move technology that is more affordable—whether it’s a matter of aligning staff skills to support it or transitioning to an outsourcing model.


Process Changes


  • Silos: You’re trying to move from siloed processes—to a more collaborative and integrative working model.
  • Efficiency: You’re trying to increase efficiency or some other process changes.
  • Productivity: You want to increase productivity in certain areas.


People/Behavioral Changes


  • Reorganization: You’re hoping to reorganize roles and responsibilities or make personnel changes.
  • Behavioral: You need to cultivate behavior changes toward a common goal including transparency, collaboration, and culture of philanthropy. Breeding a culture of philanthropy within the organization is not just the front-line fundraisers responsibility—everyone should be driving toward that culture.

Step Two: Prioritization

You may end up with a long list of things you want to accomplish with your CRM implementation project. But can all of those be impacted within the timeframe of the actual project itself or soon after? If not, you’ll need to narrow down your goals by using prioritization to rank them for viability and level of impact.


For example, if your project is within a year or 18-month time frame, look at your list of goals and decide what will be the most beneficial to complete within that time frame. Ask yourself these questions.


  • What would make the most impact?
  • What can be done within the project timeline or within 6 months after project completion?
  • What would give us the most return on our investment?
  • What will move the needle in a significant manner?

Step Three: Infrastructure to Measure Progress

You’ve established your goals and prioritized them for impact level. Now you need to establish infrastructure to measure your progress. For each goal, you’ll need to describe what success looks like, and decide how you can measure it.


  • Establish a baseline: Record where you are today so you can accurately measure your progress. You won’t know if you improved if you haven’t established a baseline.
  • Identify a timeframe: Indicate processes and intervals for how you’ll measure your progress. What is the measurement you will take in the future and how will you compare it to your baseline? When will the first measurement be taken? For example, will you take a measurement in six months from your CRM project start or is it three months?


Common timeframe intervals to measure your advancement CRM project progress include:


  • The first time the goal is measured
  • Project milestones
  • At Go Live
  • Three months after Go Live


Here’s a process change measurement example and how you can measure your advancement CRM project success.

You want to be donor centric. One of the easiest, fundamental elements of being donor centric is giving a gift in a timely manner. How quickly can you communicate to your donor that you’ve given a gift? Remember, you’ve taken something that’s broad scale, and now you need to decide how you can measure that in an actionable way.


  • Goal: We want to be donor centric and clearly convey to each donor that every gift they give is appreciated and has an impact on our mission.
  • Defining Measurable Success: Reduce the time it takes to send a personalized thank you note or acknowledgment to the donor.
  • Current State (Baseline): Today we send a letter within five business days.
  • Future State: We email the donor within two hours of receiving the gift.


When it comes to goal setting for your advancement CRM project, you can also follow the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) methodology.