Focus on These Critical Areas If You Are Implementing a New Advancement CRM

 

Implementing Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives can be overwhelming—they require change, disrupt processes and workflows. They force your organization to think about how you manage your existing data and deciding how you’ll move forward with data collection.

 

Internally, business processes and technology may need to be changed. Externally, constituent experiences can be disrupted, requiring you to shift in how you communicate.

 

Improving your CRM platforms can leverage an integrated advancement solution that helps break down data silos, drive major gifts and online fundraising, improve reporting and insights with artificial intelligence (AI), personalize engagement, and steward longtime supporters.

 

Now is an incredible time for Advancement teams to focus on improving and modernizing their strategies for success.

 

Focus on these critical areas if you are implementing a new Advancement CRM—primarily if staff work remotely or have worldwide concerns.

 

Stakeholder Engagement

 

Stakeholder engagement has always been an essential part of Advancement, but it needs an overhaul—the way it’s been done is changing. Gone are the days (at least temporarily) of traveling for face-to-face interactions.

 

Video visits were trending even before the pandemic. One-third[1] of all advancement teams were already using video chats as visits, but now it’s an overwhelming majority. This trend will likely not disappear.

 

The shift to digital engagement holds massive potential for fundraising. A gift officer can make dozens of video calls in a day versus a handful of in-person visits—doing so at a fraction of the cost.

 

There will always be a need for face-to-face visits with prospects, but incorporating more resources into building out digital advancement programs can help deliver personal, concierge-like experiences to more donors at scale.

 

Project Communication and Transparency

 

Project communication is challenging without layering on the obstacles brought on by the pandemic. Teams remain working remotely. Many are facing worldwide concerns that extend far beyond your organization.

 

The way you communicate varies greatly depending on the project’s role and stage—but project communication and transparency have never been more critical.

 

A CRM accurately and efficiently drives prospect research and reporting—helping you streamline gift entry, inform strategy, measure campaign effectiveness and return on investment (ROI), and access predictive analysis tools.

 

Focus on reliable information and transparency about the benefits your organization offers your constituents, funders, and communities—they are critical to your legitimacy, funding, and competitiveness.

 

Requirements Management

 

Poor requirements management processes have been associated as a leading cause of project failure. Requirements can be classified into functional and non-functional.

 

Functional requirements are capabilities that the product or service must satisfy user needs. These are the most fundamental requirements often referred to as business requirements.

 

Non-functional requirements include usability, performance, reliability, and security requirements. These are qualities that a product or service must have—they are no less critical than functional requirements.

 

Requirements management helps suppliers and customers understand what is needed to avoid wasting time, resources, and effort. To be effective, it must involve all four requirements processes: planning, development, verification, and change management—which also should be associated with formal standardized organizational implementation.

 

Many requirements management tools are already well-positioned to handle the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Critical areas that requirements management will significantly influence for years include remote working, consolidation and automation, and AI. Organizations that have already adopted these practices stand to benefit greatly and rise above the competition.

 

Requirements management will have to facilitate an agile approach to business. Simultaneously maintaining an efficient development process may mean shorter time-to-market, more imaginative prioritization of business demand, and integration of design thinking processes into development.

 

Iterative Planning

 

Managing new roadblocks, disparate team members, and responding to the new budget and resource constraints should be reflected in your project management processes. With economic and market turmoil, you’ll need to use all available resources to guide decisions with data analysis and predictions for your top prospects and trustees.

 

This current pandemic is not a time to drop everything and panic—it is an opportunity to manage projects and continue to deliver value to your organization.

 

Iterative planning—the process of creating new strategies or developing new products—will be a necessity as organizations may be vulnerable to the economic fallout of the pandemic.

 

Not to mention, the pandemic has decreased median income wealth in the United States[2]. Mid-tier giving will likely be more critical than ever—significantly if top donors scale back the same way they did in 2008.

 

High levels of uncertainty require you to operate at high speeds. Here is a five-step cycle you can apply to plan ahead, responding to the rapidly changing environment.

 

  1. Get a realistic view of where you are starting.
  2. Visualize multiple versions of your future and develop scenarios.
  3. Establish your stand and overall broad direction.
  4. Decide actions and strategic moves that can be applied across scenarios.
  5. Set points that trigger your organization to act at the most opportune time.

 

Develop a team dedicated to planning. They should focus on developing your modular and support your iterative planning cycle throughout the crisis.

 

[1] https://www.prosek.com/unboxed-thoughts/source-development-survey-shows-big-majority-of-reporters-prefer-phone-over-zoo/

[2] https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2020/4/8/course-correction-will-the-coronavirus-crisis-upend-the-higher-ed-fundraising-model

Data Security: A Primer for Advancement Leadership

Data security is critical to making sure that vital information from your organization is not easily accessible, but maintaining data security isn’t easy. In fact, there have been 540 data breaches this year.

 

That’s 163,551,023 people affected in 2020 so far by breaches in data security. Let’s dive into this critical topic as more and more workers and students sign in online every, single day.

Top 6 Causes of Data Breaches

To increase your knowledge about data security, here are the top causes of data breaches.

1. Weak and Stolen Credentials

Passwords that are cracked through brute force algorithms are a main cause of data breaches, but so are stolen passwords.

 

To keep your passwords safe, make sure that you’ve made them complex enough to render them “unhackable”. You can randomly generated passwords and manage them with tools like LogMeOnce or LastPass. Extra points for a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

2. Application Vulnerabilities

Hackers find the technical vulnerability in a software and then exploit it. Before using or launching a new application, make sure your team tests it for vulnerabilities and finds ways to patch those security threats. This includes applications that house your constituent data, like your Advancement CRM database.

3. Malware

“Malware” is short for “malicious software.” It describes a variety of threatening methods that are designed to infiltrate and damage, disrupt, or hack a device. For example, think of viruses, worms, ransomware, and Trojan Horses. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of malware.

4. Malicious Insiders

Taking care of your employees so that they don’t become a future risk to your institution is important, but so is screening out those who seem predisposed to betraying their employer. Malicious insiders are the employees who have access to sensitive information and then purposefully commit a data breach to harm the institution. Better hiring and screening processes, along with maintaining a good organizational culture and robust employee training programs, can help prevent these insiders from coming on board and wreaking havoc from within the organization.

5. Insider Error

Employees who do not have malicious intent but commit a data breach by mistake are also a threat. These employees may not be aware they’ve done anything wrong, but one accidental keystroke can cause a serious data breach.

 

For these employees, it’s important to remind them to take more care with their work and to encourage them to be transparent when they’ve made an error. Employee training is a crucial step to prevent these errors. Together, you can grow and learn, ultimately stopping similar mistakes from happening.

6. Physical Theft

Theft of a device that holds your institution’s sensitive information falls under this category. To prevent these breaches, you may want to take extra care in where you physically store this information—consider using a safe or a security system.

Why Preventing Data Breaches Is Important

Data breaches are preventable. In fact, 4 of the 6 causes of data breaches can be prevented based on changing human behavior. This means that every staff member in Advancement can be a part of the solution.

How To Prevent Data Breaches

There are several measures you can take to prevent data breaches.

Security Policy Training and Education: Setting The Standard

When you’re creating your security policy training and pulling together your educational materials, it’s important to clearly set the standard. When you’re completing this step, it helps to ask yourself and your colleagues the following questions:

  • What is the policy?
  • Why is it beneficial to the organization?
  • How does a security breach impact Advancement?
    • By making a breach relevant to Advancement itself, you’re adding a sense of urgency for employees to comply.

You’ll also want to discuss examples of behaviors that adhere to the policy and examples of behaviors that would violate the policy. By giving employees clear examples, you’re ensuring that they’ll fully understand what does and does not constitute a data breach.

Advancement Leadership as Security Champions: Lead by Example

As a leader in your Advancement team, you must champion the cause to protect sensitive information and build confidence with your donors and supporters. Give periodic Executive Briefings on the key points below:

  • Know what data you have, including its:
    • Location (is it in an on-premise data center, is it vendor-hosted, is it in a storage room, or is it in Mike’s desk drawer?)
    • Format (is the data in a digital copy or a hard copy?)
    • Volume (how much data is there, really?)
    • Classification (whether the data is sensitive or confidential)
  • What potential vulnerabilities exist based on the data you have, the software you’ve used, and access you’ve given staff members?
    • Map these vulnerabilities out and identify them, before a breach occurs.
  • What plans are in place to reduce the vulnerabilities your company has? Are they working? (Tip: If they’re not working, brainstorm ways to improve.)

Communication Plan for Data Breach

Have your plan ready before a data breach occurs. Establish a communication plan such that you and your leadership team can be immediately informed if there is a threat or possible threat of a data breach. Creating a data breach task force or committee can also help streamline that process internally. Determine how you will communicate to your constituents.

Performance Evaluations: Enforce Security Policies

You can’t simply rely on IT to be the sole security watchdog for your organization. By the time they are even aware of staff behavior that has compromised the organization, that door may have been open for months. Staff should be evaluated on a consistent and measured basis.

Data Security: Final Thoughts

Assessment of your Advancement team’s Data Security requires a 360-degree look into how your institution is performing, the vulnerabilities that exist, and ways that existing processes can be refined to prevent future data breaches.

 

When you’re trusting employees with sensitive data, remember—human error can and will happen, but with the right precautions, you’re taking safeguards to prevent future accidental breaches from happening again.

 

Malicious actors also exist, but again—with the right measures, you’re taking steps to prevent them from hacking into or stealing your data.

Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

Everything You Need to Know About Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

We’ve all seen what happens when colleagues think the other followed up with a major donor — and then no one does. Without proper procedures in place, it can be difficult to organize complex programs and maintain efficiency.

 

When it comes to streamlining processes or developing operations procedures for your advancement team, there are a handful of key steps to success to follow. It’s equally as important to document procedures as it is to implement procedures in your department, so be sure to not only write the steps down but also share the new processes within your department and to external stakeholders to ensure alignment and buy-in.

 

Let’s unpack how to develop procedures that help your advancement operations go more smoothly, as well as the steps to implement the program in your institution.

 

How Developing Procedures Improves Productivity

Developing Advancement Operations procedures improves productivity by streamlining existing processes.

 

You see, standard operating procedures can help bring much-needed structure to any organization. This is especially true for institutions with limited budgets and resources. But by investing the time and effort into defining standard ways of working, you save time when amidst the execution of a high-profile event or impending deadline.

 

If these procedures are developed and implemented in advance, they will be well established  (and quickly accessible) when needed most.

8 Must-Haves for Effective Procedure Documents

 

What exactly does an effective procedure document contain? When you’re compiling your procedure documents, make sure they have the eight key features listed below.

 

  • Objective: Describe what will be accomplished by using this procedure.
  • Background: Give the user some context about why this procedure was developed.
    • For example, are you trying to comply with a regulatory or institutional policy?
    • Additionally, are there any significant changes in this procedure that need to be identified upfront?
  • Scope: Describe what this procedure will address. What need will it fill?
  • Responsibilities: Provide a high-level overview of all participants and their role in the procedure.
  • Definitions: Supply a list of business terms that will be used in the procedure.
  • Process Overview: Provide a high-level description of the overall process that will be used for this procedure.
  • Procedure Steps: Describe all the key procedure steps in detail.
  • References: Create references to other related information, including policies, other procedures, forms, templates and other institutional systems.

Getting Buy-in From Stakeholders

 

To get buy-in on these procedural changes from your stakeholders, you’ll need to be transparent about what you’re trying to achieve. For instance, why are you implementing these changes now? What challenges will they solve? How will your organization improve due to the implementation of these advancement operations procedures?

 

If you’re able to answer these questions clearly and with confidence, you’re well on your way to creating an operations procedure that your stakeholders will encourage and embrace.

 

5 Steps to Implement Top-Notch Procedures in Your Organization

Now, let’s take a look at how to implement best-in-class procedures in your organization. To do so, you must take these five steps.

1. Educate Users on Best Practices

Best practices keep organizations in a position to be donor-focused and bogged down with operational challenges, so identify them early and reiterate them often. Once your users are equipped with deep knowledge of these best practices, they’ll thrive under your new procedures.

2. Standardize How Information Is Captured

When standardizing how the information you collect is captured, you’ll want to do two main things.

First of all, increase the speed of your data entry to maximize efficiency. Second, improve the accuracy of your data entry by making every extra effort to do so—without losing the speed gained from increased efficiency.

3. Decrease Ramp-Up Time for New Staff

By streamlining your training processes, you’ll decrease the ramp-up time required for new staff. Decreasing the time needed for onboarding and training is ideal at any point, but it’s especially critical when you want a new hire to dive into their workload right away.

4. Develop a Reference Library of Business Practices

Developing a reference library of business practices for all users will help you get everyone on the same page. As a bonus, it will also help you avoid receiving similar questions from different users down the line.

 

When developing your reference library, you’ll want to understand the use of reporting in procedures. This will ensure your reference library of business practices will remain relevant as the organization evolves.

5. Inform Users About How Data Entry Impacts Reporting

If users are informed about how data entry impacts reporting, they’ll be more likely to take pride (and extra care) in their data entry tasks. So, let them know the full extent of their impact.

 

Continuing the Success of Your Procedures

Continue the success of the new procedures you’ve implemented through optimized procedure management processes and robust procedure development services.

 

Procedure Management Processes

Your procedure management process should establish the procedure owner, along with any Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). This process should also educate business users on new and revised procedures.

 

Additionally, your procedure management process should establish a procedure review schedule, with a cadence that is quarterly, semi-annual or annual.

 

Lastly, procedure updates should be scheduled multiple times per year to ensure your procedures are being managed effectively.

 

Procedure Development Services

 

When developing your procedures, it’s good to have options. (Such as, a trusted advisor to counsel an organization on the critical selection and number of procedures to establish as an institutional foundation).

 

When developing these procedures, you’ll want to be mindful of the 8 Must Haves for Procedure Documentation. You should also hold regular procedure review workshops. Reviewing and validating  recently developed procedures and workflow with key stakeholders.

 

Once any revisions have been made and final sign off achieved, you can then implement the new procedure through staff training. Being sure to measure user adoption across the institution.

 

Procedure Development Planning: Final Thoughts

To recap, your procedure documents must have an objective, background, scope, responsibilities, definitions, a process overview, procedure steps and references.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Developing Advancement Operations Procedures

 

Not forgetting these success factors in your organization, either. They include:

  • Educating users on best practices
  • Standardizing how information is captured
  • Decreasing ramp-up time for new staff
  • Developing a reference library of business practices for all users
  • Informing users about how data entry impacts reporting

 

Once you develop and implement effective procedures, you’ll also want to manage and measure their success.

 

Procedure Development Made Easier with a Trusted Operations Partner

As a leader in higher education and/or healtchcare, it can be difficult to maintain service levels to demanding schedules and major donors. With proper standard operating procedures, your team can boost productivity while maintaining quality service.

 

Reach out for a customized consultation with Precision Partners, so you can focus on achieving your fundraising goals and maintaining excellent relationships with your donors.

Current State of Advancement: Is Your Acknowledgment Process COVID-19 Proof?

 

Are you struggling with how to fundraise in the current environment? 

Many institutions are. The uncertainty created by the pandemic, along with a slowdown in our economy and growing civil unrest, can make it difficult for your voice to be heard. 

So in these times and beyond, transparency and sensitivity are critical in your donor communications. How can you ask for funds tastefully, and genuinely thank the donors who contribute them? 

 

Advancement in a Pandemic: The Current Landscape

As you can imagine, this was a difficult year for individual giving. In fact, individual giving decreased by 6 percent in the first quarter of 2020, compared to last year. That’s nearly $25 billion in lost revenue for nonprofits if this trend continues throughout the year.

 

Although technology and data enable us to live and work in a socially-distanced world, these tools alone will not lead us to success. In the face of a global pandemic, our relationships have increasingly taken center stage. These relationships were always important, but COVID-19 has made us remember their true value. After all, human connections allow us to survive in the short term and thrive in the long term. 

 

Take a look at one of your most fundamental, human-connection-centric business practices—thanking your donors. This practice of planned gratitude, also known as your acknowledgment process, doesn’t go unnoticed. It’s greatly appreciated by the donors themselves.

But is your acknowledgment process COVID-19 proof? 

 

Assess and Document Your Current Acknowledgement Process

Currently, you probably follow a standard acknowledgment process that may look something like this: 

 

4 Tips to Revamp Your Acknowledgment Process

Since nothing about 2020 has been business as usual or typical, it’s not sufficient to use standard acknowledgment practices anymore.

Go a little further with your acknowledgment process and tailor it to the times. Below are four (4) tips to help you do just that.

 

1. Change Your Verbiage

Our first tip is to change your verbiage. The way you word your acknowledgment email and letter should address COVID-19.

Directly address how COVID-19 has had an impact on your institution, and on your community. Recipients will appreciate your honesty and they’ll empathize with your circumstances. Remember, we’re all in the same boat. 

If you don’t acknowledge COVID-19 in these communications, you risk coming across as if you’re going through the motions…and no one wants that. 

So, breathe deep, and craft a message as though you’re communicating from one human being to another—because you are. 

 

2. Thank Donors at Every Level

Gift minimums might’ve made sense before the pandemic, but they definitely don’t make sense now. 

Discard your gift minimums for saying thank you, and acknowledge anyone who gives a gift during these tough times. Throughout unprecedented uncertainty, these special individuals have decided to support your institution—now that’s a big deal! By thanking all your donors, you’re showing that you truly see and appreciate their efforts. 

 

3. Get Personal

Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. People appreciate those extra steps, especially amidst all this uncertainty. 

If your standard practice is to send an email or a letter, try giving people a call to thank them instead. After all, people’s routines have been disrupted, and they’re feeling more isolated than ever before. Hearing your friendly voice, and discussing something that evokes feelings of hope (like your institution), can add extra positivity to someone’s day. 

 

4. Expand Your Acknowledgement Process

Go beyond the donors, and expand your acknowledgment process. Don’t stop at expressing gratitude only to the people who’ve given a gift; include those who are fundraising on your behalf in your communication process. 

Additionally, pay attention to people who are sharing heartwarming stories about your institution on social media, and take the time to thank them. Expressing this gratitude one-on-one is great, but so is sharing their posts on your social media channels (with their permission). Doing this will amplify the appreciation on both sides while encouraging others to follow suit. 

 

Relevant Acknowledgment for Advancement: Final Thoughts

  • To recap, your current acknowledgment process likely needs an update for this pandemic world.
  • The current landscape for individual giving to nonprofits looks dire. Therefore, change is essential to survival.
  • When it comes to your acknowledgment process, don’t follow the status quo.
    • Change your verbiage, so that people can see how the current landscape has affected your institution and your community. 
    • Don’t set gift restrictions—thank donors at every level.
    • When thanking your donors, get personal. A quick phone call can come across as more heartfelt than your standard acknowledgment email. 
    • Expand your acknowledgment process to include those who are fundraising on your behalf and those who are sharing your institution’s stories on social media.

 

With these actions, you’ll be sure to strike a friendly, positive chord with those you’re acknowledging. These tips will help you in strengthening and maintaining your donor relationships for years to come.

 

If you would like an assessment and clear roadmap, contact us to Future Proof Your Acknowledgment Process.

 

We will help you create an acknowledgment process that is not only effective during the pandemic but sets you up for being responsive to your donors in the future.

A Promise of Accurate and Reliable Data – Learn How!

 

The promise of having accurate and reliable data is often made as a part of the implementation of a new CRM (constituent relationship management) software. It is that promise that often keeps every VP of Advancement/Development Services up at night trying to figure out how to miraculously transform over 10 years worth of information plagued by human error and evolving data entry procedures into something that is pristine, free of duplicates, and meaningful for all users. So why do we even take this on? Accurate and reliable data is critical to user adoption. There is no way of achieving all of the benefits that were listed in the project charter for this multi-million dollar system if no one uses it. So let’s take a look at how we can fulfill on this promise…

 

Continue reading “A Promise of Accurate and Reliable Data – Learn How!”

Let’s evaluate your CRM

Author: Dauwn Parker, Principal Consultant at Precision Partners

Maximizing the benefits of Constituent Relationship Management systems has become critical for organizations that are looking to solidify the long-term viability of their fundraising, advocacy, and advancement programs. This has created an urgency for organizations to find answers to the following question…

Why do so many Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementations fall short in the following ways?

    • Meeting the expectations of its users
    • Being the catalyst that transforms how the organization relates to its constituents
    • Ushering users into the age of “Self-Service”
    • Realizing the Return on Investment

THE CHALLENGE..

These common barriers to success are often the culprit that limit the success of a CRM implementation

Hurdle #1: Defining project objectives and measurable factors for success

With the pressure of developing an RFP, selecting a software vendor, packaging a project proposal and justification for board approval, magically garnering resources that are already overloaded – this critical step is often lost in the shuffle.

Hurdle #2: Implementation Preparation

CRM Implementations are often a new endeavor for an organization and the members of the project team. This often leads to the phenomenon of You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. This lack of knowledge and preparation can limit project success before it even gets started and in most cases the impact isn’t realized until the project is well underway.

Hurdle #3: Support for Project Leadership

Software implementations are demanding and projects that seek to revolutionize the way an organization interacts with its constituents increases the need for peak performance by the Project Manager. All too often the Project Manager is asked to run the implementation marathon without a coach, proper training, preparation, or continued support.

Hurdle #4: Project Team Performance

Project team members must be fully engaged to become a high performing team. Fully engaged does not equate to a dedicated resource. No matter how much or how little a person is allocated to a project, the following factors must be present for a high performing team to emerge:

  • A team identity
  • Clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and expectations
  • Above all else a commitment to the success of the team
  • Continual reinforcement that their contribution is integral to the success of the team
  • Recognition and Appreciation
  • Personal and professional growth or value in their engagement

Hurdle #5: Project Health Assessments

Project status is most often measured by whether the project is on time, within budget, and the software application is delivered according to the documented specifications. While these are important elements to monitor this does not speak to the overall health of the project. Did the methods used to deliver a quality product on time and within budget cause a loss of trust between project team members or stakeholders, disintegration of cross departmental relationships, or loss of credibility for the project sponsor or sponsoring department? Most organizations would say that any of these negative impacts are not acceptable, but it often happens in projects without a structure for prevention or intervention.

Hurdle #6: Stakeholder Engagement and User Adoption

Many projects manage to engage a core set of team members who develop a solution that they wholeheartedly believe will meet the needs of the organization. It is the biggest threat to morale when after such a strenuous effort, the software application does not meet the most basic needs of some key stakeholders and declared unusable.

If you are currently facing these challenges that are threatening the success of your CRM implementation, Precision Partners Project Advisory Services is your solution.  

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