How well a nonprofit organization manages its constituent relationships is perhaps the most critical factor in determining the organization’s success in fulfilling its mission.
What’s required is reliable, accurate, and easy-to-access information to manage the nonprofit’s relationship and engagement with each constituent so that the organization can strengthen those relationships to successfully carry out its mission. To accomplish this, many nonprofits focus on the technology needed to create a constituent relationship management (CRM) ecosystem that enables them to fundraise, create awareness, mobilize volunteers, and provide support. However, a nonprofit strategy that focuses first on the technology is often not the answer. Instead, it’s crucial to prioritize people first.
Successfully accomplishing that requires engaging with all the internal stakeholders to better understand their requirements and preferences. How, when, and where they access information can have a significant impact on the structure and deployment of the CRM platform. Making CRM accessible in preferred channels is a benefit for most users. A CRM system that accommodates how and where users work will improve both the user experience and productivity.
However, creating or improving a CRM system requires managing change and thinking through how stakeholders and constituents will interpret the change. Everyone’s journey through a project is different. By putting people first as you implement your CRM nonprofit strategy, you can anticipate their wants and needs and minimize any bumps in the road.
Resistance is an inevitable part of any change. This is arguably the biggest threat, so it’s essential to identify and address resistance to the changes being implemented. Resentment and fear can make it difficult to align individual perspectives with the best interests of your organization. Even the most loyal staffer in your organization can show resistance to change.
In our experience, most resistance is the result of failure to make stakeholders part of the change process. Getting them involved and making sure their concerns and suggestions are heard is the ideal way to eliminate resistance and ensure better acceptance.
Identifying who will be impacted by the change and in what ways enables you to prepare messaging specifically to address any issues around those impacts. The earlier you reach out and begin managing expectations through effective communications, the better prepared stakeholders will be.
To ensure you engage stakeholders most effectively, it’s important to consider the following questions:
Change should not be viewed as a static end state – “Things were this way, then we changed them, and now they are this other way.” Instead, active change management is necessary throughout a CRM implementation project: pre-project, in the middle, at launch, and post-implementation. That’s why it’s important to recognize this dynamic state of change, have a process in place to communicate clearly throughout the transition, and be prepared to take corrective actions as changes occur and results are monitored.
Good communication is the key
The importance of effective communications as part of a project cannot be overestimated. If your organization clearly communicates why change needs to be made, what change really involves, and what the various constituents stand to gain from cooperating, your chances for success will increase exponentially. If you ensure that communications are handled well and occur throughout the entire transition, then people are going to be far more cooperative and receptive to change.
In the end, any changes you’re considering in your nonprofit strategy are more about people than they are about processes or technology. When you make the effort to understand the people using the system, consistently communicate with them, and provide complete transparency during transformation, you’re substantially improving the chances of adoption and success.
If you put people first in your nonprofit strategy and base everything else on their input and ideas, you’ll be well on the road to successfully implementing change for the better in your organization.