A Good Nonprofit CRM Database Manager is Hard to Find (Video, Podcast, Transcription)

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Build Consulting expert Peter Mirus presents an interactive webinar on CRM Database manager characteristics to look for when hiring, how to manage this position, and how to improve in this role at your organization.

Finding, developing, and retaining good CRM database managers (including for systems like The Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce) is a constant business challenge for the nonprofit community. This challenge can create problems for donor data management that adversely impacts the results of fundraising efforts.

  • Learn the qualities possessed by top-quality nonprofit CRM database managers.
  • CRM database managers will learn where they should focus themselves to improve.
  • Executives and managers will learn to hire, develop, and retain good CRM database managers.
  • Learn when and how to outsource the role.
  • Improve fundraising outcomes by hiring and retaining the best CRM database managers, and supporting them at your organization.

There is a 15-minute Q&A at the end of the webinar addressing specific business cases.

Our Build Teams service provides outsourced donor database assessment consulting services, as well as ongoing donor database management services for clients with platforms such as The Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce. If you need more information contact us.

The Insights:

  1. What is the problem hiring and retaining talented database managers? (starting about minute 3:13)
  2. What does a CRM database manager do? (5:00)
  3. Why is it hard to hire for this role? (8:15)
  4. Why is it hard to retain good database managers? (9:40)
  5. Why is it hard to support talented database managers with professional development? (12:24)
  6. How can your organization prepare to succeed at CRM database management? (16:10)
  7. How should you approach the hiring process? (21:00)
  8. When should you outsource? (30:20)
  9. Compensation in general. (40:10)
  10. Do you need a Raiser’s Edge assessment? How healthy is your database? (47:50)
  11. Q&A (50:00)

Additional resources:

Nonprofit organizations collect a lot of donor data in their CRM systems. But what is the quality of that data? Is your nonprofit getting the right insights from that data to increase donations? Listen to three Build Consulting development/fundraising operations and CRM experts in this webinar recording from February 2019, who answer your questions about taking your donor data management to the next level.

Examples of Audit Queries for Improved Nonprofit CRM Data Health (PDF) https://buildconsulting.com/learning/nonprofit-crm-database-audit-queries-examples/



A Good Nonprofit CRM Database Manager Is Hard To Find

Peter Mirus: Hello everyone and welcome to Build Consulting’s webinar for March 2019 titled A Good CRM Database Manager Is Hard to Find: How to recruit, develop, and retain the best.

Just a little bit about the agenda for today’s presentation. I’m going to do a quick introduction of myself and Build Consulting, then we are going to talk a little bit about what a top CRM database manager looks like, briefly discuss challenges and then solutions and hiring talent development and retention.  Then, we’ll talk a little bit about a free offer that’s available from Build Consulting before we jump right into questions and answers.

There should be about 15 minutes for Q and A remaining at the end of the conversation. Some of you submitted questions in advance and I try to weave those into the presentation as much as possible, but feel free to use the chat feature or the questions feature in GotoWebinar to submit your questions and I’ll be happy to answer them at the end. You can do that either during the presentation or after the presentation in the Q and A period.

Just a few quick housekeeping notes. Again, ask questions via chat. Try to avoid multitasking, so you don’t miss the best part of the presentation, and as always, webinar recording and slides will be shared via email after the webinar. We are now making most of these webinars available in MP3 format as well, so you can listen to them on your commute.

Just a quick minute about Build Consulting. We work exclusively with nonprofit organizations to help them make strategic technology decisions that support their mission and we try to do that with a collaborative approach so that we are empowering our clients to make important decisions in their own best interest. We provide three main services:  We provide outsourced part-time or interim CIO services; projects that range from information strategy roadmaps or tech strategy roadmaps to system selections and implementation guidance; and with Build teams, we provide outsourced data managers with deep development operations and technical expertise in the nonprofit CRM space.

Little bit about myself. My name is Peter Mirus. I’m a partner with Build Consulting and I’ll be your presenter today. Little bit about me by the numbers. I have 20 years of experience serving nonprofit organizations, worked directly with over a 100 different clients in both the  nonprofit, government, and other areas of the social sector space as well as for-profit organizations. And, my three primary areas of expertise that I am bringing to today’s conversation are as an executive and director in the areas of marketing, constituent relationship management for a variety of different purposes including donor management and information strategy in general.

So now, we are just going to kick straight into the topic of today’s webinar, which is one of the largest challenges facing nonprofits: hiring, developing, and retaining excellent CRM database managers.This is a challenge that we encounter in many nonprofits and most of the nonprofits that we go to. At one point or another, they face a serious challenge in this area.

There are a few reasons why this is a problem:

  • It’s a source of significant inefficiencies in nonprofit organizations when you don’t have good CRM data management and that can impact everything from fundraising to program outcome reporting and everything in between.
  • When you lose a good data manager, it often causes a great deal of operational disruption because the amount of institutional knowledge that that person departs with when they leave the organization can be difficult to replace. In addition to that, you have to go through the process of finding someone new to replace that person, and bringing them up to speed which can some time take a prolonged period of time, et cetera.
  • In addition to that, when you don’t have a good CRM database manager or don’t have a good CRM database manager role, it definitely leads to a lessened impact or diminished outcomes for the organization.

CRM is such a large concept as a platform. It can be focused specifically on donor or constituent relationship management, but it can also cover a wide variety of other bases as I mentioned earlier:Program management, Case management, a variety of different other things. So, if you are not doing your CRM database management well, it definitely has the impact to lessen the ability of your mission to execute.

So, what is a database manager in the broad sense specific to CRMs, and what is that person? Basically, it’s what you see on screen here. Someone with the business and technical skills to navigate the complexities of the org and the database systems. In this case, CRM database systems and their connected pieces. This is all in support of the organization’s activity. So, if you are thinking about database and the database manager role in regards to a departmental role or a system specific role, in this case CRM, this is sort of the fundamental concept that you want to start with and you build out your ideas from that.

Other titles that are given to the CRM data manager role in the market are database manager role or data manager, database administrator, information systems manager, information manager, et cetera. Just so you are aware for the purposes of today’s conversation, we’re going to be thinking about all of these terms as being fairly synonymous.

What does your organization want or what should it want for the CRM database manager role? Ultimately, it’s about helping your organization to bring its data closer to providing an accurate and accessible representation of activities and outcomes. You want to know that your data is really helping to serve the purposes for which your organization intents at, and the database manager is key to making sure that there is reliable data that helps to contribute to the mission of your org. And that drills down into some primary focus areas for the role. There is a lot of policy in practice development that goes into maintaining the database manager role at a high level. The person needs to have great project task management abilities. There are a lot of opportunities and requirements for process documentation and improvement and how you handle CRM data management. There are a lot of responsibilities in regard to data quality and accessibility. With “accessibility” here meaning: the ability to have access to the kind of data you needed to make informed decisions.

And also, what falls under the umbrella of the CRM database administrator role or manager role is information systems implementations and integrations. So, this could be for example integrating your marketing automation platform with your core CRM platform. And this is a role that—a part of the role that often is not mentioned when the database administrator or manager is hired, but often becomes a part of their requirements later on as the organization grows and develops and considers changing its technology in various ways.

What are some of the hiring challenges specifically that we see for CRM data managers in the nonprofit space? I think the first is that there is

  •  Not enough talent to go around. People even sometimes are doing very good solicitations for candidates for the role. We will find that they are not getting a good number of candidates to meet their requirements and that’s a critical challenge. It’s been particularly a challenge as the economy has been good or fairly good recently. Generally speaking, the more people are entrenched in their employment positions and their stability in that regard, there is less mobility within the market and less talent available.
  • Undervaluing the role. I think the nonprofits expect the database manager could perform at a high level and they don’t often mirror that expectation with compensation and we’re going to talk about that specifically in a little bit here. And then, often times, we see
  • Poor hiring processes. Nonprofits often don’t know how to express what the job requires or look for candidates in the right places. So, therefore, they often end up picking the best from among a group of less qualified individuals.

We’re going to get onto solutions for these challenges later, but first, we’re going to talk a little bit about retention challenges and talent development challenges. So, again for retention, there is not enough talent to go around.  You should assume that people are going to be trying to approach your talent if you have a really good database manager, particularly if you are not supporting that individual in the right way with their role inside your organization and that contributes to undervaluing the role as well.

But, oftentimes, there is a poor understanding of data management inside the organization.  That can contribute to lack of retention. Data management is often the least understood part of the business and too often the complexity of the role is overlooked. Data just doesn’t magically maintain itself and this can lead to the constant over-tasking of data managers resulting in burnout. There is a very high burnout rate in this position and I don’t necessarily mean burnout in the sense of an individual becoming overwhelmed and leaving the organization. Sometimes, they can stay within their organization and be burned out and that creates additional challenges.

And then, finally, on this retention challenges point, just lack of support from the organization. Database managers are held responsible for data quality, but they typically do not have the authority to enforce good data practices by others within the organization. So, this can lead to data managers being blamed for data integrity problems over which they have no control and I would say this is a characteristic challenge that we face with our nonprofit clients. It’s this lack of understanding that contributes to lack of support from the organization.

There is a lot of data problems that occur often upstream of the CRM data manager’s role from different people and different areas of the organization that are performing data management or data entry. And that tends to roll downhill to where the database manager is responsible for reporting and manipulating data in a way that helps contribute to outcomes. So, you have a garbage in and garbage out problem that’s not always remediable at the database manager level, but for which database managers are often held accountable.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about talent development challenges. So, again, there is a lack of definition for the proper function of the role within the organization, and when the role isn’t properly understood, it’s difficult for executives and managers to set talent development goals and allocate budget for appropriate professional development because they don’t know what they are targeting for.  They don’t know the space. And sometimes, if you are a database administrator that’s not professional or goal- or learning-oriented in a way that’s super-outgoing, maybe you’re a little bit more of an introvert, you are not coming up with those options by yourself and presenting them to your management or executives for review and approval.  Sometimes you want to go up against an executive who you are presenting with an idea for your professional development as an imperative or a very high value, but you are not able to get allocated a budget. So, that can be a challenge as well.

And then, I would say that the next major development challenge is insufficient knowledge of the tools and use by the organization. That sort of goes in hand in hand with a prior point which is that IT managers at various levels don’t always know the CRM tools or have a sufficient understanding of their complexity and the large body of knowledge that needs to be maintained in order to use them effectively.

Professional development in terms of ongoing education is critical to maintaining the database manager role over a period of time.

Both of those challenges segue well into the third point that I’d like to make which is lack of exchange of ideas with communities of support or communities of practice. CRM tech and best practices change rapidly.  If time and budgetary commitments on the part of the individual and on the part of the organization aren’t made to a frequent exchange of ideas with vendors and other CRM data management practitioners within the nonprofit space, knowledge can quickly become stale and start creating liabilities in different areas of the organization. This is a level of responsibility primarily for executives and managers often because they are the gatekeepers of time and budget allocation for professional development, but it really is the responsibility of the practitioner as well to know what they need to nurture themselves and how they serve the organization in that role and then present those in the value cases for them to their managers.

So, we went through a number of challenges fairly quickly for both the areas of hiring, retention, and talent development challenges. And now, what I want to spend the majority of the center part of the presentation on is talking about what nonprofit organizations can do to address these challenges with solutions.

And the first thing I’d like to talk about is, how to prepare for success in data management  How do you till the soil of your nonprofit organization to make sure that there is opportunity for initial and overtime continued success in the data management role for CRM specifically?  And then, learn how to approach the hiring process and then talk about planning for talent development and retention.

The first thing we are going to talk about is how to prepare for success in CRM data management and the thing that Build Consulting likes to really emphasize for any technology or data initiative is that it is more than just about the data, it is more than just about the tech. So, let’s talk about that.

There is a discipline in the information strategy space called information management you see across the top of the screen here.

These are the five keys to information management. And these are the five areas that Build Consulting would ask any nonprofit organization to consider whether we were doing a technology assessment and roadmap engagement or whether we were providing CIO services or even in the case of doing CRM specific consulting services. We’re going to be taking a look at any situation or any need within the lens of these five areas.

  • Leadership. I think everything within the organization starts with leadership. Leadership sets the policy and cultural foundation for success, provides the clear vision and strategy and makes the key investment decision. So, whenever you are thinking about facility of use with CRM or success within the CRM data manager role, you really are going to start with leadership every single time. And, so many times, when we have webinars talking about anything having to do with information systems, but with CRM specifically, there are a variety of questions that ultimately come back to leadership. Good leadership is at the root of everything.

Second thing we ask people to consider is

  • Operations, and we generally look at it from the standpoint of people, project management, and communications. Within all of the areas of organizational operations that touch CRM data management.  Do you have the right people in place? Is there a framework for projects management that’s mutually understood?  Are there clear communications from the CRM data manager role out to the rest of the organization in regards to how the role functions?  How it benefits the organization on a daily basis from a pure day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year operational support standpoint?

And, the third thing that we’d like to take a look at is

  • Processes. What are the business processes that the organization is executing? I mean this is key to understanding everything downstream.  The organization that doesn’t really understand its critical CRM supported process, doesn’t have it clearly defined and consistently execute it, really hamstrings the ability of the CRM data manager who’s in place or coming into the role in the future to really have a successful impact and deliver to the expectations of the organization.

And then, as we move more towards right, here we start getting into data and technology questions. We’re talking about collecting, organizing, maintaining, and using data, and then finally, you get to technology.

  • Technology, that is aligned to the four prior keys. And, we talk about this generally speaking in terms of grouping information and management to two primary areas: And, the first area is in blue here and that is the leadership operation and processes component and that is more focused towards organizational strategy and business plan and development of mission-oriented goals, objectives, and programs.

And then, to the right, sort of

  • Data and technology are highly interconnected concepts.

The reason we emphasize this is that everything at the data and technology level is really dependent on everything that happens in leadership operations and processes. If you get everything that’s more organizationally focused to the left, it makes data and technology that much easier. So, even though the domain of the CRM data manager’s area of focus for the role might be highly focused on data and technology, it really is necessary for them to traverse issues that have to deal with or that are impactful on them from these three other areas.  I think that’s one of the things that is undervalued by the organization. So, with that framework in mind, let’s talk about specific solutions.

The first thing I’d like to talk about is approaching the hiring process.

Typical organizations want to know three things when they are looking for a CRM database manager. The first is: can you fix my problem? There’s always some problem that needs to be addressed. It might just be we need somebody to keep the trains running because we just lost our previous CRM data manager. It might be some other challenge relating to cleaning up data or making it more affordable, but that’s the first thing:I’ve got a problem. What you’re going to do to help me fix it? The second thing is: Will you make my life easier by fixing that problem?  What are you going to do for me that gets this monkey off of my back and how does that contribute to making my life easier? And, do I enjoy you as a person? So, these are three typical things that people that are thinking about buying products or services are looking for. It’s no different when you are talking about recruiting an employee or a subcontractor. You want to know each of these three things.

And the reason why I say the typical organizations look for these three things is not because excellent organizations are necessarily looking for anything different, but with the typical organization that’s recruiting a CRM database manager, the details inside of each of these areas tend to be muddy. There isn’t enough clarity around what is expected of the role within the organizational dynamics that pertained to information management.

Let’s take a look at what excellent organizations look for and how they start to elaborate and develop specificity within each of those three areas.

So, first can you fix my problem? And, in order to really answer that question and to articulate what the problem is and then get an answer to it, the candidate needs to have an understanding and familiarity with the specific kinds of challenges that your organization is dealing with and that are supported by CRM.  Whether that’s doing relationship management or specific areas you have done in relationship management such as major gifts, whether it’s grants management, whether it’s program management, any of those things. What are the specific challenges that we’re dealing with those in organizations? And second to that is technical knowledge and aptitude on the part of the candidate. We’re going to get into that a little bit more in future slides and definitely problem solving abilities – perhaps more important than specific system technical knowledge and aptitude. Do you understand the work in which we are engaged and do you have good problem solving abilities?

And then under the heading of would you make my life easier – Yes we want somebody that can solve the initial challenges, but we want somebody in this kind of role that’s outcome-oriented, that’s not firefighting-oriented. Another way to express this might be:somebody that is strategic; who has enough strategic mindset so that they are not constantly just focused on knocking off granular tactical tests. Somebody that’s good at project management is really important for the CRM data manager role because that individual is going to be charged with managing their time and perhaps the time of others and organizing and prioritizing requests as they come in from a variety of different sources, particularly for the person in the CRM data manager role in a medium- to large-sized organization. There are constant requests of a variety of different natures coming in. Some of them are individually defined as projects. Others are just more quick support requests. So, there’re a lot of things that need to be organized, then good project management is really indispensable for handling all of that. And, you need somebody in the CRM data manager role that’s capable of clearly and consistently communicating the mission of the role: what it does for the organization, how those projects are prioritized and where the authority for that prioritization comes from, the status of them. These are all things that fall under the category of “Will you make my life easier?” that good or excellent organizations clearly have in mind and articulate when they are recruiting for the CRM database manager position.

And under the heading of:  “Do I enjoy you as a person?” you need somebody that has good intellectual capabilities, but also somebody that has good emotional capabilities. There is a lot of diplomacy and understanding of stresses on other parts of the organization.  Responsibilities and stresses that comes along with being an effective CRM database manager. So, that also contributes to the individual’s ability to be a team player, to be able to read others, to be able to understand their needs and concerns and also somebody who has the ability to create and maintain appropriate boundaries for the role and the expectations under time and can be calm in the midst of storms.

Like I said, there are a lot of challenges, a lot of complexity associated with this role and there are a lot of requests that come in from a variety of different sources. So, the ability to maintain healthy expectations from the organization in regards to the role is in part up to the data manager themselves to really establish good boundaries and to be calm when deadlines are approaching, when people are struggling to get data in or out of the system with the support of the data manager role.

There are a lot of things that fit into each of these three categories and we could talk about what excellent organizations look for all day long, but these are some of the things that I would recommend people that are recruiting a CRM data manager look for that might be something other than what they would typically put in their job description or solicitation.

So, again, when you are recruiting, take care to define the position in specific terms, communicate the role’s level of empowerment and post the position in nonprofit specific venues. You want to define the position specifically to be attractive to a top candidate. When top candidates are looking to move within the space or evaluating potential opportunities, if the role is defined in a mushy sort of way, that will be a red flag to them.  They want to know that there will be good mutual expectations about what will be entailed in that role and how its success will be measured. And, if they can’t employ their great experience, CRM data managers don’t want to step in to an unempowered role. They want to know where they sit in the chain of command. They want to make sure they are not going to be held responsible for other people’s data entry or data management challenges within the organization. The data manager role within any system or any focal point area needs to be empowered appropriately.

And then, in terms of posting the position in nonprofit specific venues, make sure you exercise idealist community message ports. If you can’t find someone out there in one of those locations, your odds of getting a good person decrease extremely rapidly. If you are relying on LinkedIn primarily or even Monster.com specifically, you know the mainstream job boards, once you get past this community specific areas, like I said, you are definitely running out of time. And, you also don’t want to choose the best of several poor options. So, you may want to make sure that you get some good candidates by giving appropriate time and attention to the hiring process.

And, we will talk a little bit about the cost of it that higher momentarily, but you really don’t want to be in a position again where you feel compelled to make a decision, but you are not really satisfied with the options that are in front of you. So, make sure to invest the proper time in the recruiting process. It’s not something that you’re going to be able to do overnight, it might take time.

And now, there is always a question about whether or not you should outsource the role.  This is particularly true for small- to mid-sized organizations that might not need a full-time database manager or might understand that the role is more effectively met by one or two individuals, or the perspective that they require on a particular situation is greater than one individual’s experience can provide. You might be able to have a successful sort of internal CRM database management practice with a junior data manager or departmental staff taking care of routine data entry, simple imports and exports and reports and then outsource the senior management responsibilities which could include strategy; process documentation and improvement; integrations management and complex data, import, export and reporting and analysis.

So, if your organization doesn’t otherwise have a mechanism for bringing the information management role inside of the organization, then you might consider outsourcing to a firm with multiple successful nonprofit clients that help bringing in the perspective and capabilities that you are looking for. Best for small to mid-sized organizations, breadth of experience from a team serving multiple nonprofits is something that you should look for. There could be an opportunity to get some packaged in, CIO-level expertise so that when you need somebody that’s really going to talk to you about how CRM data management supports the organization strategy and mission, and you need to have conversations to that level, there could be some additional resources that could be made available by your outsource shop.  It allows you to stay focused on constituents and outcome.

So, if you are constantly having turmoil in the CRM data management role internally or you have trouble keeping it consistently staffed or you have subcontractors that come and go and each one manages the data a little bit differently, you might want to outsource the role to a shop at an affordable cost and just get it off your plate and get it taken care of so that you can focus on your key mission objectives.

Specifically, Build Consulting provides customizable services that would allow you to outsource.

So, if you haven’t considered outsourcing to a team or getting some sort of supplemental support from a team that is not your full-time data manager or you want to complement your full-time data manager with some other skill sets that you need, that might be a good way to go about doing it. There are other companies in the market that provide those services as well.

So now, I want to talk about planning for talent development and retention as two very closely interrelated topics. And, the first thing that I want to talk about is learning. So, a fair number of people have at least some technical jobs in the CRM in question, whatever CRM you are using, whether it’d be Neon or the Raiser’s Edge or BB CRM or Salesforce in some version or even Dynamics and/or they might have some fundraising or donor management experience. But, very few people are out there with the other necessary skill sets, some of which we alluded to earlier. So, does that individual that you need have the project management capabilities you require? Do they understand the idea of customer service as the CRM data management is often an information resource to the rest of the organization? Do they understand time management and change management, particularly if this individual is managing a team of persons instead of just themselves? These are the kind of learning opportunities that aren’t necessarily specific to the CRM in question and/or the fundraising or donor basic management experience, but the soft things. And, it’s easier to train on these things I would say and find good training for them that are even not specific to the nonprofit sector, than it is to find somebody and train them up on fundraising or donor management, let alone on the specific CRM. And, another reason why I emphasize these first is that they are often overlooked by nonprofit organizations when they are thinking about professional development for a CRM data manager. Another area is Process Mapping and Design and this sort of fits into the same category as what I just discussed. It’s often required of the role even though it is not clearly articulated. It’s something that a lot of the individuals that may be on the Salesforce database administrator and say, “I know a good bit about that system and I know a good bit about fundraising, but I have no sort of business background or process mapping or design,” that could be extremely helpful for somebody in that role. So, that’s another critical area of learning. Obviously, data management knowledge and system-specific knowledge are very important from a learning standpoint for somebody in this role.

And, one of the questions that I get often in regards to data and system-specific knowledge is: Do certifications matter? So, should you be getting your Raiser’s Edge administrator certification or your Salesforce certification? And, I think the answer for a current employer, if you are from the employer side is: Only if the path of certification is a good learning path for the employee within the context of your organization’s needs. There are some certifications out there that really don’t convey a lot of knowledge or don’t have a lot of requirements associated with them. They are just a very small way of checking the box that you have exhibited the minimum amount of interest in the platform to get a cert.

But, there are others that are extremely substantive and really make sure that the individual knows the ins and outs of the platform or even a certain learning tracking associated with the platform; looking at Salesforce from a donor management specific standpoint for example. But, again, you have to evaluate the certifications closely to make sure that they actually have some meaning. So, that’s why I say:  Is it a good learning path or not? That’s the key consideration. For an employee or a CRM data manager that’s looking to be competitive in the market, yes certifications are important, but mostly because of candidate screening and not questions. So, the knowledge is far more important than the certifications themselves in terms of your ability to do the job once you are in at the role. Sometimes, certifications can be the best way to achieve that knowledge, sometimes not. But, there are organizations that will do candidate screening and say, “Well if this person doesn’t have a Raiser’s Edge certification, we are not even going to take a look at them,” much in the same way that having a master’s degree might be requirement for certain other roles inside the organization.

And then, a critical part of learning is community engagement, and what I mean by that is both in the physical world attending conferences and also in the virtual world attending webinars and exercising your ability to learn through discussion forums, et cetera is very important.  When talking about nonprofit CRM data managers specifically, I think there are two organizations that provide venues for community engagement where there is a high value. One is an option that a lot of people are familiar with, which is the Nonprofit Technology network which hosts the annual Nonprofit Technology Conference that tends to have a lot of learning traps that are focused on data management that is CRM specific and marketing automation specific. So, they are very heavy in those two areas. And the vendors that tend to exhibit and present at those conferences are often very focused in CRM and marketing automation platform spaces as well.

The community that less people are familiar with is called Data Analysts for Social Good. They hosted the Good Tech Fest annually. This year, it’s in May in Chicago. And, that is another organization particularly for sort of mid- to advanced-level CRM data management practitioners. The membership fee for both is very affordable, both Nonprofit Technology network and Data Analysts for Social Good is very affordable relative to the value and have a lot of resources and learning opportunities to offer. And then, there are technologies-based platform or vendor-specific conferences like Dreamforce for Salesforce which has nonprofit specific tracks, the quality of those are varied from year to year and BBcom for Blackbaud. So, there is a lot of opportunities for community engagement and managers and exacts need to take a good look at those on behalf of the CRM database managers on their team and really also be responsive to suggestions that they get.  They will be so quick to throw that out as a luxury expense when it comes to budgeting.

And, let’s talk a little bit about the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to retaining CRM database managers and that’s compensation.  It’s a difficult subject to talk about and I don’t get into the specifics of what an individual should be compensated for at a particular organization with a particular set of responsibilities in these webinars, although I will do that within client consultations.

I would just say there are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are deciding how much to compensate for the role. The first is expect to pay more than the average. So, if you are doing your salary compensation research and you are looking to see what the averages are, the average is what mediocre makes. And since you need more than mediocre, you should expect to pay more than the average. So, in terms of total compensations of salary and benefits put together as well as other peripheral benefits associated with the role such as working environment, you should expect to pay at least 20% premium over the market average for the role.  The market average might be further adjusted based on your reaching within the country. So, if you are taking a national average for the role, you need to plan the standard cost of living increase or decrease depending on your region’s expectations relative to the national average in those areas and then add a 20% premium on top of that.

Consider the cost of a bad hire here or at least the turnover. You definitely don’t want to hire the wrong person for the position and this speaks to my earlier point about investing in the hiring. Hire somebody that you want to retain. Make sure you do that because the cost of a bad hire when you take everything into consideration could be as much as two to three times  a CRM data manager’s annual total compensation. That’s taking into consideration just the cost of paying that individual, perhaps paying severance, on-boarding the new individual and everything that goes into that process, not to mention the hours and time invested in recruiting. That doesn’t even take into consideration necessarily the operational impact on the organization and the cost of that if you’re really at sea for a while and the CRM database manager role can increase the cost exponentially even if there hadn’t been the kind of cost that would be immediately apparent on the departmental budget sheet. So, those are the two main major points under compensation.

And then another key to retention that I started to get into just a minute ago: unless you are prepared, don’t hire somebody with lower professional maturity than what the role requires. Unless you are prepared to be responsible for training them and forming their maturation process, don’t expect them to just grow into the role without having to take some responsibility for that. So, make sure that you are equipped and have the infrastructure necessary to bring somebody along.  A lot of organizations don’t understand the role well enough to do that or don’t have the time or overestimate the time that they have available to commit to that person’s professional development. So, I would say that again, unless you are prepared, don’t hire somebody with lower professional maturity than what the role requires. And, when I say maturity, I don’t mean their ethical abilities or their ability to behave like an adult in a professional environment or just the progress of their maturation within their role and their skill set.  They both could be true.

And, from a CRM data management standpoint, professional development is necessary for all staff, not just the CRM database manager. Ultimately, data management is a team effort, and if you require your CRM database manager to develop and maintain a level of professional competency that’s not shared by other staff around them, that can have the ability to impact their success. Don’t expect that CRM database manager to stick around.

I often say that database management, particularly CRM database management is one of the most poorly understood roles within any nonprofit organization and yet has the highest expectations associated with it. And, as a result, that individual, from their professional development standpoint and from their job satisfaction standpoint, is not going to be satisfied if you don’t have the same commitment to advancing the professional development of other staff that are contributing to the process. And indeed, if you take a look at some of the statistics as to why technology initiatives fail internally including in specific, especially CRM projects, it’s because the professional development of staff that are engaged in using that system as a whole is not advanced. The professional development is just consolidated into these direct CRM database manager roles and that ultimately ends up being a mistake.

And, this is again along with a compensation issue, is something that is often not talked about except within the specifics of quiet HR conversations.  But you are looking for somebody that has a lot of intellectual acuity and professional competency and persons that fit into those categories specifically as well as all employees desire to be respected and challenged. And, if they don’t feel both respected and challenged in such a high-demand sort of “feet to the fire” kind of a role – high expectations, lots of requests coming from multiple different directions – they will often either move on or start to implode in place depending on their personality type. So, somebody that’s more social and sort of risk-tolerant is going to start going at looking for other options.

There is a lot of lateral movement in the CRM data manager role from organization to organization either due to lack of being respected and supported or being challenged sufficiently in their role and a lack of ability to learn new things.

There are others that are more introverted and less social and less risk-tolerant that have the tendency to just sort of gradually get more and more depressed and anxious about their role in place and both are challenges and problems that you don’t want to address too long after they become a problem. So, a key to retention (again, this just goes back to the fact that everything starts with leadership and operational capacity) you want to make sure that across the entire organization, you have people that feel respected and challenged in their roles, but specifically with top performers in the CRM database management arena.

So, we’ve talked a lot about challenges and solutions and I realize that we are up against the Q and A period here.

I just want to say as a closing note before we get into the Q and A, Build Consulting has a new offering that it’s putting forward to help clients with Raiser’s Edge take their organization’s fundraising to the next level.And, we know how important good data management is to engaging with constituents.  Nonprofits that integrate Raiser’s Edge into their fundraising strategy are able to find new prospective donors and delight their constituents and raise even more money. So, what we do as part of the assessment is benchmark and assess a particular nonprofit’s instance of the Raiser’s Edge across five core areas that are proven to help power your work and we have decades of experience with Raiser’s Edge across our team in fundraising, specifically in well-identified ways that you can improve your operations processes and data to help accelerate where you want your organization to go.

All you need to do to take advantage of this free offer is shoot us an email, you can go to buildconsulting.com/contact and let us know if you’d like to schedule a free Raiser’s Edge benchmarking assessment. We will review your system and share our insights with you in approachable language so you can get the most from your investment in the Raiser’s Edge and have recommendations that you can take to the rest of your organization so that you know where to focus as an organization in the future.


And, with that, if there are any questions, we’ll take some questions from the group. There are only about 12 of us on it right now. I think one of the questions that I often get in regards to CRM database administrator roles is:  Is it important that a person knows—when they are coming in – knows the specific system that I have? I think that is very much a question that is yes and no. I would say that knowing the way that CRM systems work and knowing how fundraising and operations work are more important than knowledge in the specific system. So, I would value those things as some of the other criteria that I mentioned earlier over system specific knowledge. And, you know, if somebody has in-depth experience in the Raiser’s Edge in your Salesforce shop and they otherwise have great qualifications, I would suggest giving them a shot in learning how they can apply that to your Salesforce situation. I often tell CRM database managers not to worry about information that they can get easily and technical information is within that information set if you have the ability and the curiosity to go get it.

So, one of our participants asked what you suggest when recruiting for a database that is not CRM fundraising database. If you could provide more specifics, that would be great.  I’ll just mention a couple of cases that I’ve seen in the past. I’ve seen people that are very human services delivery focused. They have client and case management systems that are their primary orientation. So, that could be a case management system that’s based on Salesforce which is traditionally considered to be a CRM platform via strong case management functions or even they have their primary constituent database in the case management system like CaseWorthy and are wanting to do a little bit of fundraising from those individuals. So, it’s always a good question how you’re going to handle that? It’s a complicated one, but again, you want to try to hire somebody that has expertise in the areas of the business challenges that you are trying to address and good technical aptitude and aptitude in other systems, and then allow them to transfer that knowledge to your specific system and your specific areas of need. I think that’s the best answer I can give right now, but if you want to—whoever asked that question wanted to follow up with good or specifics, do email. I’ll be happy to dial out back and forth on that a little bit. Hope that answered the question.

Another question that we often see about CRM database administrators is who they should report to inside of the organization? Should they be reporting to the IT function? Should they be reporting to the development department? Sometimes there are multiple departments that are elaborating the CRM for basic purposes, whether it’d be program management or donor relationship management. And so, nobody really owns the function. I think that’s a question that is best addressed on a per organization basis, but generally, we say that the part of the organization that’s responsible for managing the data should co-own that data and the technology that supports it with the IT function inside of the organization because both have a stake and set of responsibilities.

The important aspect that creates from an internal dynamic standpoint is that it avoids situations in which IT and development, as an example, are pointing the finger at each other when their technology has data-related challenges, and then in those kinds of situations whoever is central or one of the CRM database managers can be caught in the crossfire. So, those are the kinds of situations that you want to avoid. And, in situations where there are lots of different internal stakeholders from different departments using the system, it’s really important to have structures like data governance committees that specifically identify who is responsible for maintaining what data inside of the system in what ways. And, if the CRM data management role is supporting multiple teams across different departments, to make sure that their role in providing that support is clearly identified and that the internal reporting requirements are clearly identified as well.

So, there are no more questions coming in. Thank you so much for attending today’s webinar. We will not be having another webinar for Build Consulting until May and will be sending our emails about that next month.

I will be speaking at the aforementioned Data Analysts for Social Good conference, Good Tech Fest, in May on the subjects of how to build an information strategy for your organization and how data quality defines an organization. Those are two separate presentations that I’ll be doing at Good Tech Fest in May. So, I hope to see you there. I don’t think it’s too late to register for that conference if you didn’t already have it on your radar screen and those are also presentations that will be made available as webinars through Build Consulting and our partner Community IT that we engage with on a lot of these webinars, probably in the fall.

So, with that, we are going to adjourn. Again, thank you everybody so much for attending and best wishes for the rest of your day.

Nonprofit Database Managercreate an information strategy