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our upcoming free webinar, Four
Nonprofit CRM Strategies, our presenter will
be an NPTech leader I’ve followed for a good long time – David Geilhufe.
is Senior Director at NetSuite.org, Netsuite’s corporate foundation. He’s also
one of the great ones in nonprofit database development and use, specifically constituent relationship management (CRM) databases.
CRMs are one of those
under-appreciated tools that can streamline an organization’s
operations, reporting, fundraising, communications, and outreach.
Here is David’s story.
Early in his nonprofit career, David became
the founding director of the Eastmont Computing Center in East Oakland (now
called the David Glover Education and
Technology Center). He and his team provided technology classes to hundreds
of youth, adults, and seniors every week.
At Eastmont he learned that
technology is both absolutely critical to expanding social impact and that the
technology itself does almost nothing to expand social impact. He believes that technology is
really just an amplifier or enabler for change.
David got really involved in
nonprofit database work just after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
After the hurricane displaced
hundreds of thousands of people, online survivor registries began appearing on multiple
websites. This was a well-meaning but ineffectual way to reunite families and
friends after such a large disaster.
took a leave from his job and jumped in to organize a large volunteer effort called the Katrina PeopleFinder Project.
PeopleFinder project volunteers collected and manually re-entered information from the online survivor
registries into a single online searchable database.
organized an effort in cooperation with the nonprofit CiviCRM community to create a data standard
called the People Finder Interchange Format
to automate subsequent disaster relief data collection efforts.
I think he
regards this as
one of his favorite accomplishments.
course he has done other things, including putting together the CiviCRM
Thousands of global NGOs are using CiviCRM, and it now has a worldwide community
of over 15,000 techies working on software engineering, testing, and
David is now Senior Director at
NetSuite.org. NetSuite recently became a TechSoup donor partner, offering an integrated, cloud-based set of software tools to improve nonprofit fundraising.
NetSuite Mid-Market Edition includes a donor database, an email marketing platform, and e-commerce solution for accepting online donations. NetSuite TribeHR, a cloud-based Human Resources Information System, is also available through the TechSoup donation program.
Nonprofits can also apply to the Netsuite donation program for a grant of cloud
based Netsuite tools including a basic set of back office tools for accounting,
financial management, inventory control, order processing, service delivery,
billing, and employee management. You can review their charity
guidelines to determine if your organization is eligible.
Given David's expertise in nonprofit CRM systems, I asked him what he thought made CRM implementations successful. Here’s what he said:
“Successful CRM starts with strategy - know what you want, know what is important. This is not a big sophisticated document. It could be three sentences in an email. Once you have strategy, then you narrow the scope to a phase one that is achievable. Finally, there is always another phase -- CRM requires constant care, feeding, reevaluation' and tweaking."
On David’s philosophy on nonprofit data management, he says simply:
“Lists are better than sheets of paper. Databases are better than lists. Databases that support your specific constituent strategy are better than the tool with a million whizbang features.”
David's latest interest is how we can make it easier for nonprofits to participate in a data
He says that data initiatives like the GIIRS
(Global Impact Investing Ratings System) and the new Bridge
Project to create a unique NGO identifier ignore one important
point: How do nonprofits put data into those systems?
He is interested in tools that help, tools that put nonprofits in control of their own data, but don't require them to be "technical geniuses that have to know how all the data standards mumbo jumbo works." That is part of their vision at
NetSuite.org - social solutions that make it very easy for nonprofits to
achieve operational excellence and participate in sophisticated sector-serving
Image one: courtesy of David Geilhufe
Image two: Smiteme
Image three: NetSuite logo