Bari Pollard


One of the biggest challenges that charities face with a CRM system is managing the data within it; new projects are launched, old ones end, new functionalities are added, skills leave the organisation.

So how can you get the best out of any system?

CRM Champion(s)

There is a misconception that by outsourcing your CRM needs your third party supplier will understand all the data that is in it. However that isn’t usually the case.

The best people who know your data is you. To make the most out of any CRM you need people in the organisation who understand how your systems work, and more importantly how you work.

These champions will translate the frontline delivery of the project, through to the inputs required to record the data into your CRM, which will then allow you to demonstrate the project outcomes.

The Champion can then support the following:

Get Training

Do you have a basic training programme for new starters on your CRM? Or is it left to their manager to train them? Periodically offer training to refresh those who have used the system for a while on its features and educate those new to the software. They can also keep an eye out for new innovation within the CRM community that can be integrated within the refresher training

Keep it Simple

The CRM Champion can help to ensure the CRM solution does not become overly complicated.

  • What do you NEED to record?
  • What would you LIKE to record?
  • What isn’t necessary to store within your CRM?

Wherever possible try and create standard data sets rather than free text. For example; Nurse, nurses, ward matron etc. could be one entry of Nurse for reporting purposes. Free text fields are great for getting softer outcomes, however they are very difficult to report on.

Use the data

So you’ve recorded the information, now you have to use it. Reporting is a key part of any CRM and getting the most out of it involves learning how to create reports. Most reports are generating simple numbers from the database e.g. how many people attended this session. Other reports might require exporting data from the CRM into Excel to do some more in depth analysis. E.g. have they got better after using your services? There are other analysis software tools, like Tableau, which can visualise and filter your data for your funders. It is easier to train a couple of people in generating reports and analysing the data than to expect all of your front line workers to query the CRM for lots of disparate information.

Isn’t that going to cost though? Yes but….

Costing the data collection and analysis

We all know that collecting data and reporting of outcomes are critical to both delivering the service and achieving funding. This includes Funders, so make sure that you add a line to any funding bids for performance monitoring. This is what the Big Lottery Fund has to say about evaluation:

It is important that you have sufficient money and staff time dedicated to support and undertake the evaluation. This may include time and resources needed for:

  • planning and managing the evaluation
  • attending training to up-skill staff in evaluation methods
  • collecting data and other information about the project and its outcomes
  • Communicating the findings.

Projects with more resources should be able to carry out a more extensive piece of work. Smaller grants (For example, those up to £10,000) may focus on a few key things they want to learn about. The Big Lottery Fund encourages projects to allocate up to 10 per cent of their budget towards monitoring and evaluation. We encourage applicants to consider this in advance of their application.

Here is a link to their project evaluation guide

A good CRM implementation will help you demonstrate your impact with clients to funders, which can lead to new or increased funding for successful projects.