How to Avoid CRM Project Meeting Fatigue


Meetings, of course, have their purpose and are an important part of your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation. But unnecessary and ineffective meetings—especially Zoom meetings—can negatively impact psychological, physical, and mental well-being. And the number of meetings has increased significantly (13%) since the start of the pandemic.


Your CRM implementation is a big undertaking and likely requires many meetings for your project team—on top of their already burdened workload.  


Here’s how you can avoid CRM project meeting fatigue. 

Meeting Etiquette 

Meeting etiquette has been lost. Like regular business etiquette, meeting etiquette encourages attendees to behave professionally and respectfully, be on time, listen without interrupting, avoid phone use, and be prepared.


It should also include a keen sense of participant’s availability and resources. 


Schedule based on availability and avoid overlapping lunchtime. Double-check if people are free and do not interrupt them during focus time. The more uninterrupted time CRM teams have, the higher their productivity is. 

Additionally, have a deep understanding of your CRM project team’s availability of resources. If your team is under-resourced, they won’t be as productive as they could be during a meeting. 


Your CRM implementation teams’ calendars are packed. Therefore, it’s helpful to know what will be covered, who needs to be there, and the impact the meeting will ultimately bring. 


If you’re facilitating the meeting, send the content ahead of time that you plan to cover. People may accept a meeting invite and ignore the content and preparation. Avoid this by asking participants to review the meeting material and complete assigned tasks—allowing adequate time for participants to prepare. 


Efficiency is the goal of meetings. Set goals and aspirations for what you’re working toward in the CRM project. Create goals collaboratively; asking for input can shape responsibilities and motivate staff to meet their goals. Then, during your meeting, follow a list of things that should be addressed and reported. 

Meeting Cadence 

Establishing the proper meeting cadence is essential. If you’re meeting too often, you may not be allowing enough time to get things done. On the contrary, conducting meetings too infrequently could result in your CRM project falling off track. 


A meeting cadence is a pattern of regular team meetings. Short, frequent meetings increase a team’s work momentum. Groups that provide oversight, such as boards and committees, hold longer meetings less frequently. Schedule according to your project’s timeline and tasks at hand.


When people come together, especially for meetings, sometimes they can turn into “grievance sessions.” Avoid these grievance meetings by effective moderation. 


Assign a moderator to each meeting. The moderator’s role is to act neutrally, holding participants to time limits and keeping them on (or off) topics. This may require respectfully interrupting someone if they veer off path or begin to discuss something controversial. 

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.

Managing Your CRM Implementation Through the Holidays

Your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation is likely to last through the holidays. On average, for smaller institutions, a CRM project duration is 12 months. Whereas larger institutions, their CRM project can last anywhere from 12–18 months. So, it’s inevitable that your team is going to take your CRM project through the holidays. But work-life balance and productivity can co-exist if you plan for it.


Planning your CRM implementation through the holidays doesn’t have to be an angst-filled event. Reduce the stress on your team by respecting the time they’re giving to work on the project. The end-of-year holidays focus on family and friends—something we’ve realized even more important in the last couple of years—which should not change just because you’re doing a CRM project implementation.


Focus your efforts on how you’re treating the people participating in your CRM project more than the progress. Your team should not be expected to sacrifice their time through the holidays to participate.


Here’s how to manage your CRM implementation through the holidays.

Identify Breaks

Purposely establish a wind-down plan for your CRM project during the holiday season. This period doesn’t mean your team goes idle. Determine with each workstream where the break will occur. Review what has been achieved up until that point. Categorize the completed deliverables and those in progress.


During these wind-down meetings, plan clear breaks during the holidays and identify non-working days—days that nothing is planned (no exceptions.) Establish a stopping point where your team feels confident with their completed deliverables versus those in progress. This will help you decide where to pick up when you reconvene.


Plan Self-Paced Activities

The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is not the time to start new initiatives. Avoid planning large meetings during this time. This helps alleviate the complications of scheduling since most people tend to take time off through November and December.


The reality is that activities for your CRM implementation project can happen. But instead of planning team projects, take advantage of self-paced individual activities that help move the project forward during this time.

  • Create templates
  • Refresh policies and procedures
  • Research concepts, new features, or technology
  • Encourage supplemental training

Take Time for Training

Use the holidays as a time to focus on training. Typically, the holidays are a less demanding time—creating the perfect opportunity for your team to participate in training they may not have been able to do otherwise.

Avoid CRM application training but encourage supplemental training activity. Have staff take advantage of training that may increase their knowledge or skill set that would enable them to contribute to the project more effectively. Examples of supplemental course topics to aid your CRM project may include:

  • Effective Marketing for Successful Fundraising
  • Developing Annual Sustainability and Major Gifts
  • Managing the Capital Campaign
  • The Art of Fundraising
  • Effective Leadership, Successful Fundraising
  • Engaging Women as Donors
  • Fundraising from the Business Sector
  • Social Selling


The holiday period is a time to focus on family and friends, but that does not mean it is a useless period for your CRM implementation project. Communicate clearly to your team to ensure they are still maintaining progress on your CRM project but take advantage of this well-deserved less demanding time.

Here’s How to Give Your Advancement CRM Project Communication a Digital Refresh

Having a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) communication plan is important, especially during your implementation phase. The way in which you communicate with users before, during, and after your CRM implementation is crucial to the project’s long-term success. Open and consistent communication throughout your CRM implementation keeps your project on track (and in scope)—ultimately supporting your timeline and budget.


Traditional project communication is no longer enough. A project status report illustrating percentage complete simply won’t suffice given how much information vies for our attention. You’ve got to go further, especially with the level of importance of your projects.


Now is the time to consider a digital transformation on your advancement CRM project communication. Digital transformations are forcing organizations to change the way they conduct CRM project communication—creating a need to adapt to the new market reality. This change is driven by donors who expect content to be delivered in relation to what they’re doing anytime, anywhere, and in the format and on their device…the same goes for your users.

Here’s how to give your advancement CRM project communication a digital refresh.

Step 1: Create A Communication Plan that Provides Added Content

Content is an asset to any organization and any department, but especially when it comes to advancement. Content helps you build trust and connect with your target constituents, but also acts as fuel for your other marketing and communication techniques. It’s the base upon which you promote your organization, so it’s essential to give it the attention it deserves, especially during your advancement CRM project implementation.

Step 2: Use A Multi-Channel Communication Strategy

Having a multi-channel communication strategy allows you to not only reach a wider audience, but you are able to reinforce your organization’s message. Using email, mobile, and social can support your message tenfold.

Integrate a variety of content strategies including:

  • developing articles for your project website;
  • creating social posts to share your project journey;
  • offering a behind the scenes look to increase excitement in an email campaign; and
  • featuring a team or individual working on the project through your social media.

It can be difficult for stakeholders to effectively communicate during an advancement CRM project implementation—even more if they aren’t directly involved. Connecting with them through digital platforms is imperative to your CRM project’s success.

Step 3: Talk About Project Challenges

Your CRM project is tough. Being transparent and talking about your challenges openly (and honestly) can increase stakeholder engagement. Share the challenges that your team was able to overcome through your communication channels. Discuss what tactics and tools you used to help manage the challenges. Being forthcoming and allowing people the opportunity to develop a greater understanding makes your project more relatable.

Step 4: Highlight Team Members

When conducting a CRM implementation, your team may very well be one of your most important assets. Highlighting your team members and recognizing their commitments are always a good idea. But if you’re looking to do a digital transformation, highlight the team members who may have volunteered to work on your advancement CRM project through your digital communication channels.

Step 5: Use Video

Don’t be afraid of video. Video messages will increase engagement. Video is a great option for messages from your project sponsor. Additionally, visibly seeing the project sponsor allows the potential for individuals to make that connection and further be inspired by what the project sponsor has to say.


Another option for your video messaging is to conduct an interview. Select those that have gone through a successful project implementation. Interview them to get some lessons learned and apply the tips to your project. Sharing with your audience will boost engagement and make your institution feel relatable.


As you push out this content, be mindful and take opportunities to make it interactive, reinforcing stakeholder understanding of your CRM implementation project. Establish an infrastructure and analyze your open rates, click rates, and see what people are interested in to further refine the messaging in the content you create.


Lastly, make sure you provide your stakeholders a way to provide resources and feedback. Further informing the information you put out about your advancement CRM project.

Six Steps to Help You Understand the Scope of Your Advancement CRM Implementation



There’s never enough time and resources when a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Implementation is underway at your institution. But before you begin, it’s essential to pay attention to the scope of what needs to occur. You may be wondering, what does that entail? 


Your project is not just about implementing the CRM software you choose—it’s usually more comprehensive than that. Defining the scope of CRM projects means figuring out which areas need to be included in the CRM implementation plan. Understanding the scope of your advancement CRM implementation is essential to establish what the effort will (and will not) cover and prevent feature creep and project bloating.


Here’s six steps for how to understand and plan the scope of your advancement CRM implementation.


 Step 1: Set Your Parameters 


To begin the scoping process, reflect on what you’re hoping to improve using a CRM system—narrow your focus to help you understand what kind of scope you need. Then, to keep expectations realistic, make a list of questions for yourself and the vendors of your shortlist platforms. 


Consider things like:


  • Budget
  • Timeframe
  • Amount of training you think you’ll want


By asking these targeted questions to the project managers and stakeholders, you can move forward confidently with parameters that meet your needs.


Step 2: Define the Scope 


Defining the scope may be easier said than done. But with a bit of preliminary planning, you can get up to speed right away. 


Ask yourself these questions. 


  • Is our CRM scope broad or narrow? 
  • What is the timeline—will it be all at once or staggered?
  • What is my general budget?  


Ask your vendors these questions. 


  • How long does this solution take to implement? 
  • What training resources are included in the base cost? 
  • What type of customer service do you offer? 
  • How well does the CRM platform integrate with other systems? 


Step 3: Decide on Additional Technology Components and Platforms


What technology platform are you going to use? This includes all the software involved—not just the vendor software you purchased like Salesforce Affinaquest or a Blackbaud CRM. It has all the software that is (or will be) installed that supports the CRM vision. 


Usually, CRM software can’t operate alone. It needs a place in the ecosystem that it can be integrated. And you need to identify all those other systems it must integrate with. This could include a data warehouse or a data analytics platform—these are most often implemented in tandem with a CRM package. 


Step 4: Gather Information from Relevant Departments


Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to gather your specific requirements. Long-term CRM success often has less to do with the technology you use or the money you spend and more to do with adoption. 


Because of this, it’s important to make sure everyone is on board from the beginning. Ask for feedback from the departments in your organization about their needs and goals for the CRM. 


Also, think about your institution’s infrastructure and processes that will be impacted, as well as instructions to identify key performance indicators (KPIs). Then, make your intentions to upgrade and integrate a CRM system apparent to all those whose work will be impacted by the changes. 


Step 5: Identify Your Users   


Who are your actual users that will be a part of this project and implementation? 


This includes those who directly access the CRM software but also those who will be the data consumers. Consider all users who may be consuming data through other measures. This includes users who are accessing information from a self-service portal. 


For example, your finance department would be considered users because they may be accessing your CRM application to post to your general ledger. They’re not logging in to the system, but they are consuming the data—so they’re considered users.


Step 6: Distinguish Business Processes


Create an inventory or identify the business processes that the CRM implementation will enable. It is essential to identify those that are a part of your scope and detail out processes within your organization that are out of your scope. 


For example, you might distinguish a business process that impacts this project, but you do not want to touch the XYZ process. Solidify what’s in scope as is what’s out of scope—doing so helps set expectations for your user population. 


Defining the scope of your advancement CRM is vital for your institution. It offers better insight into the overall cost of your project and the features you need. Additionally, it provides a better understanding of your requirements and what you’re expecting from the project from all members of your institution.

Here’s How to Ensure A Successful Advancement CRM Project Sponsorship

You’ve likely contemplated the implementation of an Advancement CRM for quite some time—it’ll save hours of administrative time, offer better future casting, and create a central hub for all your donor profiles. Having your Advancement project run smoothly often comes down to outstanding leadership. Standard project management always has a project sponsor—an executive-level person responsible for the outcome of the project.


In many cases, the project sponsor is the Chief Development Officer (CDO) or Chief Philanthropy Officer (CPO). Some organizations may opt to formulate a sponsorship committee including individuals from your Information Technology (IT) department—a viable option if your IT is a centralized staffing model. Regardless of who takes the lead, your sponsor can help your project with its vision, communication, implementation, and make critical decisions.


Here’s how to ensure a successful advancement CRM project sponsorship.




The project sponsorship role needs to be visible; It can’t be a role merely on paper—it must be an active role throughout the project’s duration.


Sponsors first need to understand how their role supports the project team. Decide your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Then, assess how your project sponsor can mitigate those weaknesses or transfer them into strengths. For example, if your team is unaware of your sponsor’s commitment to the CRM adoption, mitigate that by being more accessible.


Your project sponsor should mesh their calendar with the project calendar—making themselves available to attend meetings frequently. The project sponsor needs to be present during milestone moments like project kickoff, forums—they can in no way skip out on those types of events—or meetings where information is being disseminated.


The project sponsor doesn’t need to be present at every meeting because that isn’t feasible, but have them pick some key in-depth activities. For example, if your sponsor has expertise and strategy around business intelligence, they can get involved more intimately in that capacity.


Encourage them to get a little bit out of their comfort zone—asking questions when they don’t know the answer. If stakeholders and project team members see your sponsor making an effort—being brave, vulnerable, and asking questions—it creates a culture of inclusion, allowing team members to feel comfortable and supports innovation.


One of the biggest problems in CRM project implementation is team members are often afraid to ask questions. When the project sponsor takes that lead, it creates a ripple effect.




It’s essential to set a vision and goals of your CRM project that aligns with your organization’s mission. It’s necessary to maintain communication and ensure everyone understands the need for implementation. Think about what your team may be wondering.


  • Why are we doing this?
  • What are the goals and vision?
  • How does this affect my role?
  • What long-term changes will be made?
  • How does my skillset contribute to the project?


Allow your team to understand the “why,” which always supports the “how.” But as you know, CRM implementation is a massive undertaking and often wanes on staff—often feeling like a second job.


An essential role of the project sponsor is to mitigate the impact of those changes, reduce fear of change, and offer encouragement throughout the process.


Project team members and stakeholders need to hear from your project sponsor. Encouragement should be ongoing—don’t wait until the end to celebrate their success. Ongoing encouragement can help pull your team through a challenging portion of a project.


Be sure to offer:


  • messages of encouragement;
  • messages of gratitude; and
  • thanking a project team or project team member for their hard work.


Timely encouragement throughout the project continues to fuel and support team members working hard and can make a big difference in your project’s success.

Know the Difference – Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement

For all of my colleagues in Advancement Services or for anyone in charge of Advancement Information Systems; I have a Precision Practices tip for you. I’m going to talk about the difference between Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement versus Implementing CRM Software.


If we look at implementing new CRM software as the entirety of the project, here’s what happens…we install our software, add some configurations and customizations to make it work for our specific institution. That’s it! These items consume our focus, attention, and resources. A successful project requires much more than that, so let’s shift our thinking to Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement.


Let walk through what that looks like. If you focus your project on implementing an entire solution for Advancement, that does include implementing the CRM software. But we also want to integrate the CRM software into the entire fabric of the technology ecosystem that already exists.
This can include things like:

  • An integration with a Document management system
  • An integration with a Financial system
  • An integration to the Grants Management system
  • For a University, an integration with a Student Information System
  • For a Hospital, an integration with a Medical Records System


But we don’t stop there…


The second component we MUST add is how do I make the CRM software a valuable tool for every staff member that uses it. In that case, I’m actually talking about a broader component of the project that will include an on-going Training Program. From a product training perspective, all of my staff members need to have a certain level of proficiency with different modules of the CRM software. It is highly likely that I’m also going to implement new workflows. As part of my Training Program I will also need revamp my policies and procedures. The primary objective is to provide guidance and establish a new business practice in daily operations for everyone who uses the CRM software.


The third component we MUST consider is Data Governance. There is a lot of information that is going to move in and out of the CRM software as it becomes an integrated part of the technology ecosystem. I need to look at establishing a Data Governance Structure. This is a Committee or Team who will actually provide guidance on an on-going basis to maintain the data quality and make sure the CRM software retains useful information.


The fourth component when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement is populating the new CRM database with information from our existing system. How do I get my old data from my legacy system into the new CRM? This might not only be information that’s coming from the legacy system, we might also have shadow databases sitting out there that also need to be considered as well.


As a recap, we explored 5 Components that you MUST have equal amount attention and resources when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement:

  • Implement the new CRM software with configurations and customizations suitable for my institution
  • Integrate the new CRM software in my technology ecosystem
  • Create a comprehensive Training Program that incorporates product training and new business practices
  • Establish an ongoing Data Governance Structure
  • Identify all sources of data required to move to the new CRM database


If I incorporate all of these components in my project charter and project management plan, I will achieve the true benefits of the CRM software and also meet the expectations of my Advancement staff.


I hope you found this helpful, comment and let me know what other items you would add to a MUST DO list when Implementing a CRM Solution for Advancement.

How to Select the Right Project Manager to migrate your Fundraising Database to a New CRM system


Now that you have finally decided to migrate all the fundraising data you have in various places to a sleek new CRM database there remains only one problem.

How are you going to achieve a donor database that provides clean data, solid reports and a staff that buys into the process?

Who are you going to put in charge of this monumental task?

In the early days of using computers, to manage fundraising databases, most organizations relegated this task to programmers. The organization didn’t understand the technology needed and didn’t want to be bothered as long as they could get the information they needed. The result was a programmer, with little knowledge of the industry, developing and acting as the Project Manager for the most important tool in your fundraising arsenal.

Selecting the right Project Manager is integral for your fundraising database migration and can mean the difference in having the project done right, in budget and on time or incurring cost and time overruns and not achieving the desired outcome.


An article by Benoit Hardy-Vallee, PHD, at Gallup states that there are 3 main reasons for project failures:

  1. Technical
  2. Individual
  3. Stakeholder

When selecting a Project Manager these are the 4 key elements you need to consider:

  1. A Dedicated Resource

The project manager must be available as a full time resource to the project. They cannot juggle their duties as the Director of Advancement Services or Manager of Information Support Services and lead this effort. Many have tried and learned that both the project and the operational duties have suffered.

  1. Domain or Subject Matter Expertise

Do they have the technical expertise and understand the fundraising business. Does the Project Manager have a successful track record of implementing the right systems and procedures that you need in order to achieve the desired goals in your organization? Your CRM database is the lifeblood of the fundraising process and it is imperative the Project Manager you choose understand the process. The consequence of not having someone with the technical and industry knowledge will result in simply going through the motions and not achieving the desired outcome.

  1. Leadership Skills

Do they have the necessary skills to pull together a cross functional team and move them toward the desired goal. The ability to communicate, assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses and maximize the productivity of the team members ensures not only the individual team members professional growth but ensures a cohesive team. When conflicts arise do they have the leadership skills to resolve the conflicts in a constructive and professional manner?

  1. Process Improvement and System Implementation

Database migration is never simply a technology project. User involvement, Executive buy in and facilitating the next generation of fundraising are all goals that need to be achieved. Failure to do so results in having the same inefficient processes, just using new technology. To fully realize a return on your investment the right Project Manager will implement the right processes and procedures tailored to your specific needs.

The right Project Manager will have the skills necessary to build teams, effectively manage time, have cross functional thinking, set priorities, coach, facilitate and delegate and most importantly, successfully deliver the desired results.

Selecting the right project manager is the determining factor in successfully implementing a new CRM database that will enable you to achieve your fundraising and engagement goals.

Leave a comment – We’d Love to Hear from You

What has been your experience – any lessons learned? Are there other factors when selecting a project manager that has impacted your project in any way?


Profile pictureDauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.