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“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Who knew that 2000 years ago, Aristotle could so perfectly articulate the value of Constituent Relationship Management? No surprise; the relationship between your nonprofit and your constituents has many parts – and in all likelihood these parts are recorded in spreadsheets, note pads, in people’s heads and in databases. Many databases. In ten words, Aristotle perfectly described the entire value proposition for CRM; it assembles all those relationship dimensions from all those sources into a form that both compounds its value and at the same time makes it actionable.

Here is an obvious but important theme. People don’t behave like data. People behave like people. We don’t fit neatly into columns and rows. We span them depending on time of day, month of year, stage of life and the world around us. As our preferences shift over time we expect those closest to us to notice and adjust. It’s no different for nonprofits; we need to pick up on those subtle cues that tell us constituents are changing—for the positive or negative—and adjust. That’s how we build sustainability and trust into a lifetime relationship.

A CRM system goes farther than a database toward that objective in that it brings all the sources of information spanning all those columns and rows together into a holistic view of the world in which we operate. It enables us to sense or predict change and then make adjustments to lessen change’s impacts or exploit its potential.

In our case salesforce.com is the CRM platform on which we create tools for nonprofits to build and sustain trusted relationships for life, through all those cycles of change. Why salesforce.com? Simply because it is, by a landslide, the most widely used platform to build lifetime relationships with customers. It is used more broadly by businesses than any enterprise or cloud-based software on the planet for relationship management. It works.

There is an art and a science to just about anything worth doing. In the nonprofit world our causes are driven by both. The science is in the databases, those soulless engines that ensure our operations are served with accurate and timely information from any number of traditional or emerging sources. They serve faithfully at the foundation. But it’s the “AR2T” in how we give that science a soul that drives our success in creating sustainable lifetime value. It is how we can now equip our professionals to excel at achieving our causes’ missions that is exciting.

What is AR2T? It’s the progression to that Trusted Relationship that any nonprofit seeks with its constituents.

Awareness: Awareness is a two-way street. You want to know as much about your constituent as they already know about you.

Relevance:
When your constituent view is more rounded, you can tailor more relevant communications and deepen engagement.

Relationships: Better relevance turns communications into dialogues and those lead to relationships.

Trust: As you become more Aware and turn that into higher Relevance you nurture that relationship and earn lifetime Trust.

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That is precisely what a CRM system does. It layers AR2T on top of science so that consolidated data becomes a high resolution picture of your world. It gives you the holistic view that you can’t get from silos of information. It lets you know your constituent as a person – not a record in a database – and that above all else is its value.

Given the chance, Aristotle would choose @roundCause CRM over a database any day.

Dan Lammot is President & Founding Partner of roundCorner.com, a Salesforce.com backed team of more than sixty people will work tirelessly in partnership with you to transform the way you achieve your mission. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him @roundlammot.

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