Why you need a Data Strategy to power your CRM success

Back when Hart Square started out, data was largely seen as a by-product of a transaction, activity or process. Data collected during a process was stored in a CRM system (if not in Excel) and rarely used unless there was a need for a specific follow-up e.g. data collected during an event booking process was used to deliver the actual event to the delegate.

At that time the leading CRM solutions within the non-profit sector fulfilled that need, and reinforced that perception, by being very good “systems of record” while being poor at analytics or reporting, and often even making data access a specialist task. Reporting was widely provided to business teams by a technical department, often making them inflexible and out-of-date. Many of the charities we worked with had a data team in place to manage the datasets needed by the charity, for example to create data segments on demand when fundraising campaigns were being initiated.

More than a decade later and the digital age is fully upon us, systems and their capabilities are much enhanced. Better yet, engagement systems are more integrated so you can have your members, donors, supporters and all interested parties creating and updating their own details. All round then you’re now able to capture and store more data, and ideally have it updated more frequently.

New technology may provide that solution, but to really reap the benefits of your new technologies, you need an engagement strategy to justify the investment, and alongside that you need a data strategy to be able to execute your engagement strategy.

You need a data strategy to be able to execute your engagement strategy

Modern CRM technologies, and the low cost of storage, tempt and encourage us to capture – and create – more and more data, but this is a pursuit of a false God. We’re far better served by only capturing the data we need, and we have a use for.

If we reduce the range of data we capture we’ll have more capacity to steward and improve the data we do hold, to derive benefit from it. We can ensure it’s cleaner, more complete and more up-to-date. We can then also resource the effort required to acquire new data.

From there we’re in a position where our data can power our engagement programmes, whether that’s about fundraising, membership recruitment and retention, qualifications management, or training courses and event programme participation.

So you need to draw up a data strategy which focuses on your objectives – why you need this data, what you’re going to do with it – as opposed to starting from “this is the data we’ve got”. From the why, you can detail what data you need and how you can acquire it. From this process you can identify the core datasets you need, the use you’ll put them to, and then the technology, processes and resources you require to capture, maintain and execute it.

Drawing up a data strategy is no quick and easy undertaking, but once you have it agreed and in place, with the resources allocated to allow you to achieve its objectives, you can look forward to becoming a data-driven non-profit with an effective engagement programme, and to being significantly better placed to deliver on your mission.

Just remember that creating a data strategy isn’t a standalone activity; it must be driven by your overarching business strategy. Therefore, a critical starting point for any data strategy is the business’s strategic objectives. To put it another way, what is your non-profit trying to achieve and how can data help you get there?

After all, what’s the point of a data strategy – indeed, what’s the point of data in general – if it doesn’t help you achieve your non-profit’s goals? So before you charge ahead to your data strategy, review your business strategy first and then develop your data strategy.


Want to know more? Join our upcoming webinar event on 24 November ‘Get the most out of your data for engagement, recruitment and retention’

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Content Marketing isn’t just about content

Content marketing for non-profits and member based organisations

Does your organisation publish content on LinkedIn?
Do your members go to your website to lookup the latest article you created?
Did you recently post your organisation’s latest news on Facebook?
Is your organisation using Twitter or tumblr? Or Instagram?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, was there a strategy behind this content? Whilst it’s relatively simple to post links, publish a blog article and add new items for your organisation, ensuring that they all link to your goals can be easily forgotten.

Although this content might make you more visible is it bringing you new members, is it retaining your current members by answering their questions and giving them the support they need?

If the answer is no, you need to re-think your content marketing strategy. In building a strategy around your business goals, the needs/wants of your members should be driving your content marketing, and not content alone.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What are the needs of your members?
  • What are your strategic goals?
  • How do you add value to your members?
  • How can you successfully deliver and address your members’ needs?
  • How can you build trust and relationships with your members?

How can you ensure you evolve in line with their needs? Building your strategy around your business goals and members needs should be holistic and ensure your organisation is thinking ‘with one head’. Before you publish/post/add think about the following:

  • How will this help your strategic progress?
  • What value will this be to your members?
  • Will this drive conversations?
  • Is this aligned with your organisations goals?

Currently there is a buzz around social media becoming too congested with content marketing and we could be witnessing a bubble on the verge of collapse. This buzz could be helping to drive organisations to deliver more content, to be heard above the rest and adding to ‘the noise’, instead of focusing on what is important to the organisation.

What’s more, now that we’re all having to spend ever more of our working lives online, the risk of information overload is at an all-time high. The imperative is to stand out from the crowd and to be talking to your audiences about the topics they’re interested in, otherwise you’ll simply be ignored.

Creating a content strategy will help you to have a clear and consistent voice and also ensure you aren’t publishing content that is useless to your audiences and isn’t growth-driven.

A Content Strategy shouldn’t be complex; it centres on an overall model comprising:

  • Having objectives you’re seeking to achieve
  • Defining your key audiences
  • Producing specific, tailored content for those key audiences
  • Delivering that content on the channels and in the formats they prefer
  • Monitoring performance and tuning accordingly

Lastly here are some tips for future content marketing:

  • Ensure content is of the highest quality
  • Be in sync with your organisation
  • Be boring (as long as you are serving the needs of your members)
  • Change is good (as long as it is progress)
  • Listen to your members
  • Be committed and consistent

If you’re ready to build out your strategy, we can help! Talk to us about our range of strategic development services including digital, social, business and technology.

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