Change CRM to DRM

Change CRM to DRM

Hansjuerg Moser, LIN’s Skilled Volunteer 


In the world of business or profit companies, the term CRM became more and more important in recent times. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and incorporates all aspects in connection with the precise identification of the customer: Who he is, how he behaves, what his needs are, how to approach him, how to behave and how to satisfy his needs by delivering the appropriate products and services. Why did managers literally have been forced to turn their attention to CRM to stay in business? Well, different reasons like the increased awareness of the clients, more and more competitors, a huge choice of nearly identical products/services and a worsening economic situation put entrepreneurs under pressure. It was no more sufficient to develop some marketing ideas and strategies, create some ads and publicity to be successful. So the customer became the center of attention, companies created CRM-tools to identify characteristic attributes of their customers and marketing managers focused their activities not solely on target groups as a whole, but on the client as an individual who has to be treated carefully and appropriate.

At this point, you may think only for-profit businesses have to worry about this.  NPOs work for a cause and the committed staff does such a lot of good that all the customers praise them and the world has to honor their efforts! Does this really reflect reality? I often hear from NPO staff of every level that in these times of economic uncertainty, the need to help poor and disadvantaged people and communities is rising, but the amount of donations and funds is far behind expectations. More and more NPOs are competing with the available money. Donors develop more and more an unexpected, unpredictable way of giving. Even if the amount of online-donation is rising, the biggest part of money comes from off-line sources, to say from persons in different, but direct relation to your NPO.  So why not consider to change the CRM into a Donor Relationship Management or DRM. You don’t have to install a whole Department, unless you’re a worldwide NPO, but take some steps towards a practical DRM adapted to your possibilities, and I am convinced your NPO will get a lot of advantages and new, more intense relations to your donors which could result in a rising willingness to give.

Here is a short, condensed description that should allow you to start building your Donor Relationship Management tailored to your specific situation. Feel free to use your own terms.

Phase 1: Build your database (or amend it, if you already have one)

This is an often laborious work, but it is the starting point for your relations to your donors. Go systematically through your donor list. Sort all available information in a logical order. In addition to the usual information as name, address, phone, contact person, gender etc. amend these with

Donor characteristic (some examples):

– Kind of donor:  private person/family, corporate philanthropist, company, foundation

– Selected field of support: non specified, handicapped people, shelter for children

– Motivation of donating: unknown, philanthropist, responds to story, presentation, request

– Decision making process/who is involved: head of family, CEO, CFO, foundation board.

– Time span from 1st contact to money transfer: immediate, 1 to 3 months, 4 months and more

– Type of donation: regular (time interval), irregular (how many times in time period), one-time

– Date of first and latest donation

– Amount of donation, sum in total, average over the period

– Relation of donor to your NPO: Personally unknown, personally known/well known, close person


A history of contacts with the donor could help you to judge if he had been sufficiently informed in an appropriate way and through the accurate channels/media and if there were any results. It could look like this:

– Date  – Kind of contact (phone, email, letter, meeting/presentation, round table, interview, visit, social media) – subject/topic   – result/feed-back from donor

Phase 2: Establish your donor typology and structure

Analyzing your database will result in a structure of your donors and the donations and presents possibilities for improvement.

Examples of possible conclusions: Most of our donors are personally known companies with regular contributions. Private persons and families are very rare among our donators. 70 percent of our yearly funds come from 10 percent of our donors. The donations range from $$ to $$$. The average sum per donor is $$. An increase of donations is clearly related to our public meetings and presentations.  We urgently have to revise our newsletter and design it more readable, as we never get feed-back.

Phase 3: Develop your relationship plan of action

Starting with this analysis, you will then be able to

– define the weaknesses and strengths of your donor relationship, e.g. with the well known  SWOT-analysis

– get a new and broader comprehension of your donors

– get more detailed information of how and how often to communicate with them

– develop actions for improvement and a DRM strategy and action plan

It is quite a lot of continuous work, but I am persuaded it is worth the efforts. It will strengthen the relationship with your donors, result in more substantiated fundraising activities and finally in better results.

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Posted in For NPOs, Tips
3 comments on “Change CRM to DRM
  1. Du-Linh says:

    Thank Hansjuerg for these systematic tips! Beside MSExcel, is there any tool/software to apply DRM with?

    • Hansjuerg Moser says:

      Dear Du-Linh
      Thank you for your feed-back. Indeed there are different CRM tools to find on internet. The difficulty is to get an appropriate one. If you send me your email address and some cues about your organisation, I try to give you some advice what to choose.
      Best Hansjuerg

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