CRM is short for Client Relationship Management. So much more than a database software, these systems will streamline your ability to connect with your audience, understand them better and develop organizational strategy that gets responses.

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Rachel and her team at Copper Hive Consulting offer consulting packages and coaching to churches and nonprofits with a focus on operational strategy and structure. She also has an expansive network of freelancers who specifically prefer serving nonprofits and with whom she shares contract position opportunities. Schedule a free discovery call with Rachel to find the right coach or to share your job opportunities with the freelance network.

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Salsa Engage and Sales Force. 

Today’s featured resources are two CRM systems. Salsa Engage was created specifically for nonprofits. In addition to basic CRM functions, they offer specific modules and tools for fundraising. This is a great function that not all companies offer. Salsa Engage also has a great blog that publishes articles on a variety of topics relevant to nonprofits.

Salesforce is like the mecca of CRM platforms. It is used by large companies and really does just about everything but make your morning coffee. It is very expensive for companies, but Salesforce created a segment specifically for nonprofits. Not only does it offer features for grants and fundraising, but they do have a free level of service and offer discounts once you get past the free tier. 

If you are a startup or small nonprofit, I definitely recommend checking out Salesforce. 



Not all of you know me, so we’re going to go back in time for a minute. My corporate career started off in sales. While in college I worked for Enterprise Rent-a-car which is an organization known for their excellent training and for hiring college graduates with an appeal of promotion, advancement, and sales incentives. 

Everyone in the office, from newbies to managers, would rotate going out on sales calls to existing and prospective clients. I’m aging myself, but this was 20 years ago and we nearly had DOS systems on our office computers, no web browsers at the time and certainly no CRM - Client Relationship Management system. 

We collected paper business cards from businesses we visited, partly for accountability to our managers and partly because that’s how we updated our contact info and notes about that company. There’s a possibility that I used the incredible Palm Pilot I had received as a graduation present from my dad for notes, but we definitely had a Rolodex behind the front desk.

Thank goodness technology has evolved to where it is today! Today I’m sure your church or nonprofit organization uses a database at a minimum. How on earth would we keep up with all the various ways of communication and care without digital assistance?

I’ve used a few databases created for churches and researched a handful more as my last church was searching for a new database. As I shifted into marketing and consulting I began working with CRM systems, both for myself and with clients. 

Databases and CRMs might sound like similar software, so I want to clarify the difference and help you choose the type of software that will best fit your organizational goals and needs.


  • Hold information - donations, participation, contact info, forms, 
  • In the past - analyze data that has already happened
    • Check on program completion
    • Background checks
    • Past notes or communication
  • Run great reports
  • Manually convert into emails, phone calls, or other communication
  • Everything you do with a database is data drive


  • More integrated communication options - some have email marketing features in addition to contacting individuals directsly
  • They are able to assist with future and predictive behavior. What that means is that if someone in your database expresses interest in one type of event, cause, or perhaps responds to a call to action, they can be funneled into another step of engagement automatically.
  • A good database provides a more robust way to understand your members and donors and to connect with them in ways that provide value to them.
  • What you do with a CRM is process driven - what is a next step someone could take?
    • Move to the next donor level
    • Volunteer again or in a new way

You're most likely a church leader or nonprofit executive, but no matter what you do, you want to serve people in some way. CRM systems used to largely be associated with corporate culture, but the benefits they offer expand well beyond the marketplace. To serve people, you need to understand them (and you use data to do that), then you need to connect them with opportunities to grow, to serve, to find resources, and to develop as people. Organizational strategy depends in part on data from the people who are supporting the mission.

If you have a database you just adore I have no problem simply adding CRM and better email marketing if that’s the best option, but it makes me think of the movie, Hidden Figures. When NASA got their first computer in the movie, it was so big they had to cut a larger hole around the door in order to get the equipment inside. That’s really inefficient and sooo cumbersome.

This is what a database without CRM functions feels like to me. It’s clunky, antiquated and I have to wonder why you would choose an old IBM that fills an entire room when there are much more advanced laptops and palm-sized computers that do more and do it better.

A CRM will provide you with workflows to help keep members engaged, and automatically move them into new funnels based on their activity. It can provide deeper insights into behavior and predictions allowing you to not only understand particular individuals, but how you might need to adjust care and communication overall to serve everyone better.

As I mentioned previously, if you don’t have a CRM in place already, there is no need to panic. There are easy ways to integrate a simple CRM system with your existing database. (Thank goodness for Zapier!) 

If you are shopping for a new CRM, there are tons of videos on YouTube reviewing various aspects of pretty much every platform. Every company also has great salespeople who will set up a call with you at no charge to review your needs and explain how their product can serve you.

Work with Me as a Consultant
This is one of the ways I coach and consult with nonprofits at Copper Hive. You can schedule individual coaching sessions to review specific areas such as this. We also offer consulting packages to do a more in-depth discovery of what is happening in your organization and what your goals are. After spending time going into great detail we provide a written analysis and recommendation that you can implement on your own or enlist one of our coaches to walk you through implementation. Head to to start a conversation about how I can help you streamline your operations and simplify managing your teams and projects.

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