Relationships are crucial to your church’s mission. To reach and impact your community, you likely aim to welcome newcomers, retain visitors, and strengthen relationships with members. 

The same is true when it comes to church fundraising. Fortunately, there are fundraising tools available to help your church build and strengthen relationships with its supporters. 

Church membership management software is often the first stop for churches, as it offers features tailored to spiritual growth, worship planning, and congregation management. However, when a church needs fundraising software, a constituent relationship management (CRM) system is a much more complete tool. 

Nonprofit CRMs offer donor management and fundraising tools to help various types of organizations raise more for their missions. Let’s explore four ways your church can use a CRM to manage your congregation and drive your mission forward.

  1. Personalize your communications.

CharityEngine’s fundraising guide explains that a key superpower of CRMs is their ability to segment audiences. These platforms host important donor data that helps you group church supporters based on shared characteristics. This way, you can send the right messages to the right people, even if you have a large number of congregants to reach out to.

While “Dear Steven” is more appealing than “To whom it may concern,” personalizing communications doesn’t end with knowing someone’s first name. If, for example, you address someone by name and wish them a happy birthday, you’ve moved into personal communication—and it’s powerful.

Using your audience segments, make communications even more personal by:

  • Noting meaningful events or dates. Perhaps someone makes a gift on the anniversary of a baptism or death, and you can engage with them on that day to thank them and note the reason.
  • Specifically referencing prior gifts. If a supporter’s gift size has increased over time, thank them for their growing support. Take time to explain how you’re using their donations.
  • Identifying various support types. Some supporters give to your church in multiple ways, such as volunteering. Offer focused thanks for the exact nature of their contributions, including their time and resources. 

Personalized communications help donors feel individually recognized and valued by your church, making them more likely to deepen their involvement. This does more than increase your fundraising success. Donors will be more excited to invite others, serve your church in other ways, and stay involved for a long time when they feel a personal connection to your church.

  1. Track donor interactions.

When researching the best nonprofit CRMs, another key feature to look for is reporting and analytics. CRMs can provide insights into donor engagement, allowing your church to evaluate its interactions with supporters and understand how you can best inspire further support.

Important data points to track surrounding donor interactions include:

  • Donation history: Understand how supporters have given in the past to plan your fundraising goals and approaches for the future. You may even find opportunities to raise more, such as identifying prospective major donors.
  • Participation beyond dollars: Identify those who are committed beyond writing a check to illuminate a cadre of strong supporters. For example, are your church’s donors signing up to staff a church bake sale or volunteering to teach young students? 
  • Communication preferences: Evaluate congregants’ preferred channels of communication to reach people effectively. A younger cohort may prefer a text campaign while older members want direct mail. 
  • Membership numbers: Supporter data can reveal whether or not your congregation is growing, helping you diagnose any problems or lean into growth patterns. 

Understanding how donors engage with your church’s fundraiser can also indicate their giving motivations, helping you connect your fundraising appeals to their interests. This can also help you emphasize the church values that they most align with when making your fundraising appeals. 

  1. Gather feedback.

Aside from serving as a fundraising tool, your CRM can facilitate two-way communication by creating online surveys for your donors. To solicit feedback from your church’s supporters that will help you strengthen your relationships with them, follow these tried-and-true tips to get the most from your surveys:

  • Test your survey first. Ask a small group to take the survey and tell you about their experience to help identify technical problems or questions that are hard to understand.
  • Offer “other” or “not applicable” options. Collect the most accurate answers from church supporters by ensuring there are options to cover every potential answer. Alternatively, you can give respondents areas to write in answers.
  • Keep your surveys concise. Any survey that has too many questions, or repetitive questions, will increase abandonment.
  • Use surveys sparingly. Wait to conduct a survey when you have a clear objective, which may be dependent on congregational feedback.
  • Consider user experience. Make sure your form is appealing and easy to use. For example, use your church’s brand colors and eye-catching design to encourage more people to complete the survey.
  • Ask questions carefully. Avoid asking leading questions or swaying opinions with the phrasing of your survey prompts.
  • Share the results. If supporters take the time to share their thoughts, follow up with the results of the survey and how it impacts plans or goals.

Surveys are an excellent tool to gather feedback, and your CRM should offer the tools to execute the surveys and then collect and analyze the data. You, in turn, can apply these insights to build stronger relationships with supporters. 

  1. Show donor appreciation.

Look at any vibrant, growing church, and you’re sure to find a congregation of loyal supporters. What makes them so loyal? More than almost anything else, it’s because they feel valued and appreciated. 

When church leaders take the time to show donor appreciation, they’re rewarded with solid relationships and engaged supporters. Here are some tips for effectively showing donor appreciation: 

  • Match their preferences: Tailor your appreciation efforts to appeal to donors by matching their preferences. For example, send your appreciation messages online or offline depending on donors’ communication preferences. 
  • Be prompt with thank-you messages: A note or call on the heels of a gift reinforces the importance of it to the donor and the church. Additionally, the donor will associate their gift with the positive feeling of being thanked, making them more likely to give again in the future.
  • Phone calls: A phone call from church leadership can be an unexpected and powerful message of appreciation. In fact, eCardWidget’s list of appreciation ideas highlights phone calls as a highly personal way to recognize supporters and strengthen your bond with them.
  • Share impact stories: Let supporters know how you’re using their funds or contributions. For example, if you host a drive for canned goods or hygiene supplies, publicize the amount of supplies donated and share testimonials from the people who benefitted from these donations. 

A CRM can help you track contributions, both financial and otherwise, enabling you to send immediate and personalized thank-you messages. The more data you gather and analyze, the stronger your donor relationships will be.