Are you asking how important your mission and organization is to your donor’s lives?

Harvard Business Review recently published an article about misunderstanding of CRMs by business leaders. They could have easily been writing it about misunderstanding of donor databases by nonprofit leaders. To be an effective relationship management tool they have to manage not only important financial relationship items but important non-financial elements as well.

Think about that, it’s more than a numbers game. Relationships are the key to successful fundraising. That means it’s about having the ability to measure the impact and engagement of the constituents inside your CRM. But this engagement has to go beyond just transaction data. Sure, it’s great to know a donation history, but donations are just a piece of a donor’s relationship with an organization.

When strategically designed, CRM can measure all of these things, and, when properly managed, it provides that most crucial of insights: how important your organization is in people’s lives.”

Does your donor database help you measure engagement? If you’re only inputting financial history then almost assuredly you’re not.

Think about the multitude of interactions you create for your donors. From emails to tweets to events to personal phone calls–your donors are (or should be) getting repeated touches as you steward their relationships with the mission of your organization.

Those data points are crucial to building a picture of that constituent’s engagement with your mission and your organization. You want that picture to be as rich as you can, to ensure you have a complete view of that relationship. That means the first step to success is recording your interactions and points of engagement with each prospect or donor.

Then look over time to see how those more engaged donors interact with your organization versus less engaged donors. Are they contributing more frequently? Are they more likely to bring their friends into the fold as volunteers or donors as well? Do they provide feedback on different fundraising efforts you embark on as an organization? (Do you ask for feedback?)

This should allow you to have an idea of how engagement relates to satisfaction and donations to your organization. If you can, try running a correlation matrix to see what factors influence your results more. If you know how many touches for instance it takes on average to retain your donors or upgrade your donors or to have them refer their friends you can strategically maneuver your fundraising operations around that.

These are only questions you can answer through a relationship management tool. It’s not a donation management tool – it’s all about managing your donors’ relationships with your mission.

It’s not too late to start.