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Constituent Relationship Management: A Guide for Success

Learn all there is to know about constituent relationship management.

The use of constituent relationship management software is a topic that’s always buzzing in the nonprofit sector, so it’s easy to get lost in the swarm. Luckily, our helpful pointers for CRMs will clear up any questions you might have about the software.

We’ll cover the basic information you’ll need to know like:

  1. What is a constituent relationship management software?
  2. What types of constituent relationship management solutions are there?
  3. Do I need a constituent relationship management software?
  4. How do I start my search for a constituent relationship management solution?
  5. How do I fundraise with my constituent relationship management software?

If you’re ready to master donor relationships, fundraising strategies, and more with a constituent relationship management solution, let’s dive in!

What is a constituent relationship management software?

1. What is a constituent relationship management software?

CRM, or Constituent Relationship Management system, is a popular nonprofit software used as a way to house constituent data in one centralized location. CRM software handles the approach and provides the tool, meaning this solution handles how nonprofits manage their relationships while providing the tool for easy management.

Ultimately, CRMs were designed with nonprofits in mind to lift some of the administrative burden off the backs of organizations’ staffs and volunteers.

Most nonprofits invest in constituent relationship management software to better organize their donor data. It’s as simple as that. Organized data translates to better donor relationships and more efficient outreach and fundraising strategies.

CRMs let you track all types of donor data, like:

Take a look at all the donor data you can record with your constituent relationship management solution.

  • Contact information
  • Philanthropic interests
  • Giving history
  • Income
  • Stock ownership
  • Real estate ownership
  • Custom fields

CRMs basically give nonprofits 360-degree images of their donors, so the organizations can get to know their supporters inside and out. These profiles allow your organization to better cater your cultivation, communication, and fundraising strategies to specific donors.

What types of constituent relationship management solutions are there?

2. What types of constituent relationship management solutions are there?

It’s important to note that there are two fundamentally different types of CRMs: onsite and cloud-based.

An onsite CRM is a traditional solution that’s installed on one computer, usually in a nonprofit’s central office. Onsite programs are great for larger nonprofits who have a bigger staff and more resources to maintain the software.

Some organizations are required to use this type of constituent relationship management solution because it’s historically more secure than cloud-based programs.

On the other hand, we have cloud-based CRM systems, which are easily accessible through any internet-capable device, like a cell phone, tablet, or laptop. This software is perfect for smaller nonprofits or organizations who are consistently on the go as it allows an organization to create different user accounts with different security levels.

Plus, cloud-based CRM providers often provide mobile apps to make your donor management process even smoother!

Do I need constituent relationship management software?

3. Do I need a constituent relationship management software?

In short, you most likely do. To really know if your organization can benefit from a constituent relationship management solution, you’ll need to do some soul-searching.

Because CRMs offer endless features for donor management, like constituent profiles, donation tracking, donor cultivation, member management, reporting, and more, you’ll need to determine what your needs are as a nonprofit.

Your Nonprofit’s Size

Take a look at how large your organization is. How many people are on your staff? Are you growing quickly?

The bigger your organization is, the more powerful of a CRM you’ll need. Larger nonprofits often need more complex and sophisticated software that can handle the number of supporters they interact with.

But be cautious: if you’re a smaller nonprofit, there’s no shame in that! Be sure you don’t invest in a software whose scope is just too large for you. You don’t want to be paying for a solution you’re not using. Instead look into scalable software, a solution that you can add onto and that will grow as your organization does!

Your Nonprofit’s Users

Look for a solution that accommodates all the individuals who need access. If your organization’s development director, fundraising consultant, staff members, and peer to peer fundraisers all need access to your software, a solution that only allows for 4 users won’t be sufficient.

On the other hand, if only your organization’s leader and fundraising consultant will need access, then a solution with 4 users might even be too big!

Make sure you size up your organization to your solution to find the right fit.

Constituent Relationship Management Software Features

Keep in mind what your nonprofit absolutely needs. What information do you want to record? Which data can help your better your strategies?

For example, many smaller nonprofits like recording personal and custom information about their donors, like their pet’s name or any dietary restrictions.

This information lets nonprofits then invite donors with pets to their next walk-and-paw-a-thon event or offer the most popular (and safe!) meals at their next gala. In the end, it comes down to offering their donors opportunities tailored to their interests.

Nonprofits that make notes like these might say that custom entry fields to donor profiles are a must-have!

Think about the features you’re interested in when it comes to a constituent relationship management software. Popular features often include:

  • Donor engagement tracking
  • Custom fields and notes
  • Scheduling capabilities
  • Organizing staff’s hours
  • Reporting on popular trends

Check out what reporting and analytics with Salsa's constituent relationship management solutions looks like:

Your constituent relationship management solution will complie your data into helpful reports.

Constituent Relationship Management Software Integrations

If you’re already using any fundraising software, you’ll definitely need to make sure the CRM you invest in is compatible with your current solutions—unless you’re looking to give something up.

Investing in a CRM that seamlessly integrates with your fundraising software means you won’t have to manually transfer any data, but can instead use all of your solutions like a team.

As your online donation forms collect a new donor’s information, that data will be transferred to your CRM to create a new constituent profile. Sounds like a dream, right?


Annual Development Plan Checklist


How do I start my search for a constituent relationship management solution?

4. How do I start my search for a constituent relationship management solution?

After you’ve determined your needs, your search for a CRM solution requires just a few steps:

    • Do your research. It’s easiest to start researching constituent relationship management solutions online, but don’t forget to reach out to your peers to ask for help! Ask similar sized nonprofits with agreeable causes which providers they use. You’ll also want to take this time to create a budget for a solution. Keep in mind, you’ll want to save some room to grow so don’t under-budget!
    • Get in contact. Give your top vendors a call. When you get in touch, your organization and the vendor can work together to determine if their software is a good fit for your organization.
    • Try a demo. Submit a demo request on their website and try out their software. Now that they think their software could work for your organization, it’s your turn to confirm it!
    • Test out a free trial. If you liked what you saw in the demo, ask the vendor if they offer free trials! Many providers offer 15 of 30 day free trials so you can test out their solutions with your latest campaign or even an event.
    • Commit. Last but not least, sign a contract when you’ve found the perfect CRM for your organization!

In just 5 easy steps, your organization can find a great CRM solution!

How do I fundraise with my constituent relationship management software?

5. How do I fundraise with my constituent relationship management software?

As mentioned, your constituent relationship management software comes with endless benefits, one of which is the improvement of your fundraising strategies! The following three are just a few examples of how your CRM can vastly benefit your organization.

Matching Gifts

Matching gifts, for those who don’t know, are corporate programs where a donor can double their donation to your organization by submitting a request to their employer who will match their donation!

Most companies match on a 1:1 ratio to full-time employees, though sometimes part-time employees and retirees are eligible. Some companies even match at better ratios like 2:1 and many have minimum and maximum donation requirements.

You can log all your donors’ matching gift information in your constituent relationship management software and integrate a matching gift tool. This way, your donors can check their matching gift eligibility while filling out your donation form.

Then you’ll know who’s eligible and be able to send matching gift-tailored content to the appropriate supporters. The more eligible donors know about matching gifts, the more likely they’ll be to submit the right paperwork to their employers! That translates to more donations for your organization!

Take a look at Salsa's constituent relationship management software integration with Double the Donation's matching gifts.

Salsa’s CRM integrates seamlessly with Double the Donation’s matching gift tools.

Donor Stewardship

With a CRM, you know your organization can store endless amounts of donor data. From contact information to their favorite sport, the options are limitless when you can create your own custom fields to track data that’s important to your organization.

You’ll be able to store unique information in one centralized location to give you a holistic view of your supporters that you can leverage for upcoming campaigns and fundraising events.

With these insights, you’ll be able to target your donors with information that’s appropriate and of interest to them! A strategic outreach will prove you value your donors and their preferences, all the while taking the time to really get to know them!

Prospect Research

Every CRM comes with different capabilities as well as integrations so you can focus on even more tailored content for your fundraising efforts. Prospect research is often one of these integrations that you can connect with your CRM

As a nonprofit professional, you're well aware of how prospect research can help you better understand your supporters and identify major donors. Not to mention prospect research can also reveal the following about your donors:

  • Past giving history.
  • Relationships with other organizations. 
  • Personal information.
  • Business affiliations. 
  • Real estate ownership.
  • Political giving. 

Think of what you could do if that information was connected to your nonprofit CRM! Once you've conducted your prospect research, the data you obtain could be easily transferred to your donor profiles. 

With Salsa, for example, you can integrate DonorSearch’s powerful prospect research tools to help you track major gift prospects, craft personalized outreach, and organize cultivation processes.

Check out Salsa's constituent relationship management software integration with DonorSearch's prospect research tools.

Keep in mind, with more data, you’ll easily be able to find the donors who can give more!

Remember that a CRM solution can only help your organization if you use it, but the investment in a constituent relationship management system will help your organization grow its fundraising and communication strategies while you get to know your donors better!

If you’re interested in learning more about managing your donors, check out these additional resources:


Buying Constituent Relationship Management Software

We get it! There are tons of choices out there and buying software can be a daunting task. Use this infographic to develop a game plan for when you begin to ensure you satisfy all of your organization's wants and needs.

For more information about fundraising and nonprofit CRM software, check out one of our helpful guides or view the infographic below.


- Click Infographic to View High Res -


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If you want to unlock more supporter management and fundraising tips, check out these additional resources:

Personalized Demo Salsa CRM

Topics: Donor Management