CRM Software Recommendations
CRM (customer/constituent relationship management) systems are designed to help a large and physically dispersed group of people collect information about individuals and groups, record interactions and document outcomes. This type of system is very useful for disaster relief groups because it helps them manage relationships with four types of people: volunteers who want to give their time donors who want to give their money survivors who need assistance human service providers who can help people in need A few VOAD member groups that I spoke with were using CRMs for their Sandy relief operations — but, by and large, the VOAD community isn't using CRMs. Instead, most VOAD members I spoke with were either using spreadsheets or desktop-based database systems to track and manage their relationships. The few organizations that were using the CAN system for disaster case management lacked a solution for the CRM functions CAN doesn't provide, such as volunteer and donor management. More About CAN The general sentiment about CAN at the NVOAD event was that it’s an outdated piece of software, but it’s the best thing the community’s got. Even still, few organizations use it voluntarily and was widely cited as one of the largest bottlenecks to effective disaster case management, especially during the first months of the disaster when few people who were doing case management work could access the system. Some of the problems with CAN articulated during the NVOAD event include: It takes days, sometimes weeks, to be granted access to CAN; and many grassroots relief groups and some VOAD member groups simply don’t qualify for access. Many groups waste time and energy trying to access CAN when they could be using those resources to develop and deploy CRM systems that meet their own unique set of needs. All data that goes into CAN becomes the property of the Red Cross under terms that are difficult to question or change. Only CAN employees and CAN partners can perform import and export functions. No one but VisionLink can modify the CAN software.