Contact Cleanup, and CRM Best Practices for Nonprofits

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | April 2023

Donor Retention 101-1We've all heard the old saying about data, "garbage in, garbage out." 

In short, this means that if the data you put into a system isn't accurate, the results will also be incomplete. This makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, one "chore" organizations tend to avoid is cleaning up CRM data. Let's face it. It's not exciting, and it's pretty tedious work. That said, it's vital and one of the most impactful things you can do for your nonprofit. 

Keeping your nonprofit's CRM up to date is essential

Customize Needs & Preferences

It allows you to have accurate information on your donors, volunteers and stakeholders. This enables you to tailor your outreach efforts, making them more effective.

Improved Analysis and Data-Driven Decisions

An up-to-date CRM ensures a complete record of your interactions with supporters. This is invaluable for tracking your progress, identifying trends, and analyzing fundraising strategies.


A solid CRM saves time and resources by enabling you to automate routine tasks. This may include sending thank-you notes or updating contact information. Higher efficiency allows your staff to focus on more strategic initiatives. With so many nonprofits stretched thin, who doesn't like that?

In short, an updated CRM is essential for maintaining relationships.


Still not sure if you want to prioritize data management?

CRM systems are essential to the success and health of a nonprofit organization. They allow nonprofits to track and manage relationships with all their audiences.

A centralized system makes it easier to access data on donors, such as their giving history. This can help nonprofits personalize communication, tailor fundraising strategies, and improve engagement.

CRMs provide insight into fundraising effectiveness, allowing nonprofits to adjust strategies as needed. With an up-to-date CRM, nonprofits can improve efficiency and save time.

CRMs are integral to building relationships, which is critical to a nonprofit's success.

Messy CRM data can negatively impact your organization

Wasted Resources

When your CRM data is inaccurate, your staff may spend unnecessary time trying to correct it. This can result in inefficient operations and reduced productivity.

Poor Decision-Making

Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to poor decision-making. For example, if you're unaware of a donor's giving history, you may target them with irrelevant fundraising appeals.

Missed Opportunities

If your CRM data is disorganized, you may miss opportunities to engage with supporters. For example, if you need up-to-date contact information for a donor, you may miss the chance to thank them for a gift.

Damaged Reputation

Poor data management practices can damage your nonprofit's reputation. If a donor receives many copies of the same appeal, they may get frustrated and less likely to support you.

Legal Issues

Failing to follow data privacy regulations can result in legal issues and fines. If you violate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you may face penalties.
Unclean CRM data can have a range of impacts, including wasted resources, poor decision-making, missed opportunities and legal issues. It's important to focus on data cleanliness to avoid these consequences.

Best practices for managing your CRM system:

Regularly Update Your Data

Keep your data accurate to ensure you have the most current information. This includes removing duplicate contacts and contacts that have hard bounced.

Standardize Your Data

Establish consistent data entry protocols, such as abbreviations, to avoid conflicting records.

Segment Your Audience

Divide your supporters into groups based on demographics, giving history, and interests. This allows you to tailor your communication and fundraising strategies to each group.

Automate Routine Tasks

To streamline repetitive tasks, such as sending thank-you notes, freeing up staff time for more strategic initiatives.

Train Your Staff

Provide training to ensure they are familiar with the CRM's features and capabilities.

Use Analytics

Use analytics to track engagement, donor behavior, and campaign effectiveness. Use this information to refine your strategies and improve performance.

Monitor Data Privacy

Ensure that you are collecting, storing, and using data in compliance with applicable laws, such as GDPR or CCPA.
By following these best practices, nonprofits can manage their relationships, streamline processes, and improve fundraising efforts.

Topics: Nonprofit Help

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