In this article, we look at what a CRM is, why you should use one, how you should go about picking one and what the main benefits are.
More and more digital campaigners are using Customer Relationship Management (CRMs) software that are designed specifically for the work of digital campaigning, fundraising and organising.
A good CRM is key to streamlining the digital campaigning work you do. It allows you to analyse data and trends in your supporter base and move these supporters towards your goals and action. CRMs have different features and different pros and cons. Picking your CRM depends on your specific goals, audience and price range.
But the base CRM should allow you to build a database and manage all your communications tools, including email, social media, and text messages, all in one place.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. In the private sector, CRMs are used by businesses to keep track of each customer's information. Initially, CRMs were done manually through spreadsheets of customer data – including phone numbers, email addresses, and previous correspondence. Now CRM software exists to keep customer information and streamline the sales process.
CRMs are becoming increasingly useful for the public and non-governmental sectors. Campaigners need to track the data of potential supporters, activists and/or party members in order to maintain a support base and continue to grow.
As a result, a number of software companies have developed CRMs specifically tailored to digital campaigning and organising. Their features range from website builders, databases to track supporters or activists, communications tools like email, social media, and text messages and the financial tools needed to accept donations and raise funds.
The value of using CRMs is that they give you access to analytics about your supporters that allows you to make data-driven decisions based on trends in your supporter base and move these supporters towards your goals and action.
For example, a US based CRM called Nationbuilder was used to power Donald Trump’s and Emmanuel Macron’s winning campaigns. You can read more about it here.
When choosing a CRM, it’s necessary to do a needs based assessment first.
After you’ve created a report of the needs from your CRM needs assessment, it is recommended to research the main CRMs in this article (see below) and look over their prices and key features.
After that, arrange a meeting with one of the CRM customer services with the criteria taken from this questionnaire in mind and test one of the tools as a demo for a week or so.
Most CRM’s offer similar functions, and the choice often comes down to:
Note: This information was compiled in early 2022 and as such the CRM landscape may have changed by the time you read this. The EGP does not endorse any of these companies and all examples included here are purely illustrative.
Action Network is a US-based organisation that only provides its services to progressive organisations worldwide. Since launching in 2012, the Action Network toolset has powered many of the largest mobilisations of the last decade, including the Black Friday Walmart Strikes, the Women’s March, and the Climate Strikes.
Action Network strives to be accessible to all groups and so is one of the best known CRMs on the market.
Cambuildr is the first all-in-one software for digital movements - made in Europe.
CiviCRM is an open source project that produces software for the nonprofit and civic sector organisations. The software is a web-based, highly customisable CRM. Founded in California, USA, CiviCRM was conceived as an alternative to the proprietary CRMs serving the nonprofit sector.
As an open source software, CiviCRM was made freely available for use and improvement, allowing it to attract a passionate community of software developers and nonprofit professionals to drive its roadmap and feature set.
Engaging Networks is a US based nonprofit software that includes online fundraising, advocacy, and email marketing tools. The platform provides widgets to connect with your website.
EveryAction’s mission is to empower nonprofit partners to be more effective in their mission and do more good, by providing the best omnichannel platform that optimises interactions for the best outcomes, from raising more money to building more support.
Nationbuilder is a popular US-based CRM used to mobilise supporters online through technological infrastructure that makes participation and leadership possible at scale. Nationbuilder has specific tech tools geared towards campaigning for elections.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. More and more digital campaigners are using Customer Relationship Management (CRMs) softwares that are designed specifically for the work of digital campaigning, fundraising and organising.
A good CRM is key to streamlining the digital campaigning work you do.
When deciding your needs for a CRM, it’s essential you do a needs-based assessment first that decides what a CRM must do to reach your campaigning goals. Some CRMs, for instance, are not designed to integrate with petitions, or to provide the segmentation of your audience that you might need. Many Green parties, including the EGP, use CRMs, and you can reach out to these partners for advice.
Last updated: June 2022