5 Ways Non-profits and Government Agencies Can Use a CRM

Some people view a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system as something only B2C or B2B companies need. It’s true that these types of companies will utilize a CRM for the traditional activities including a contact database, and integrated sales and marketing. However, non-profit organizations and government agencies can see a lot of benefit from a CRM, and it may surprise you how they can use it.

As an example, I’ll focus on a government entity such as a land management agency. Usually under the umbrella of a city, county, or state, a land management agency is typically funded by sales tax, lottery funds, grants, or bonds. We’ll pretend our agency is managing park land and open space areas. The agency obviously isn’t selling anything, and marketing for them means public communications. Regardless, there are creative ways that a public agency can put a CRM to work for them.

I’ll be referencing HubSpot CRM in regard to features and tools. Learn more about what you can do with HubSpot’s Free CRM in this blog post.


1. Managing Stakeholders, Volunteers, and Donations in a CRM

Let’s say our land management agency regularly communicates with different groups of stakeholders, and those lists are constantly changing; requiring accurate contact information based on the latest updates. In a CRM you can segment your contacts into groups such as an Advisory Board, Elected Officials, or Public Information Officers with partnering agencies. This way it’s easy to send emails only to the group you want, and keep notes and past activity within each contact record. You will be able to track who opened your emails as well. A benefit of using a CRM for multi-recipient emails over say, Outlook, is that you aren’t limited in the amount of recipients you add to your email.

Another way our agency could use a CRM is for managing volunteers. The contact records for volunteers can be filled with helpful information such as which volunteer events or programs they have attended, personal notes about them, the areas of the organization in which they are most interested in volunteering, and again–which emails they have opened.

What if our agency receives in-kind donations from retail stores, of goods that are utilized by volunteers, or employees? If you are not organized when it comes to which companies you have asked for what, and how often, you can really look unprofessional, or worse–greedy–if you ask the same company multiple times for a donation. Within a CRM you can keep track of asks, donations, and then run reports on them.

2. Event Registration or Reservations in a CRM

If our agency is hosting a land clean-up day, or celebrating the grand opening of a trail, event registration may be important, especially if the event is capacity limited. An event management site such as EventBrite can integrate with HubSpot, tying your contacts, event registration, and communications together, and saving the data for future reporting.

Additionally, a CRM could be used to track and report on activities such as campsite or picnic pavilion reservation. 

3. Contact Segmentation for Targeted Communications

Contact segmentation means grouping contacts by any kind of filter you want to apply. In our example case, it would beneficial to create filters for the visitors to the public land such as hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, equestrians, birders, etc. You could gain this information from a simple survey. Then, when you need to communicate about certain land improvements or projects that really only affect a certain user group or two, you can ensure your communications are reaching the right people. Conversely, if you knew the neighborhood that individuals live in, you could communicate about a project at a particular trailhead, used only by that neighborhood, without sending an email to those that never use the trailhead.

4. Using a CRM for Tickets–but Not the Support Kind

If there’s public land being used, there are going to be some challenges involved. ‘Bad Actors’, or violators, will typically receive tickets, fines, and sometimes court summons for regulation violations. The Service Hub of HubSpot would provide the use and tracking of tickets, not support tickets in this case, but park violation tickets given to contacts. The HubSpot CRM offers custom properties in the contacts database that could be made to track number of offenses, number of warnings, etc. for each contact.  Plus, with a mobile-friendly CRM, field staff such as Park Rangers could access it in the field.

5. Information and Reporting for Data-driven Decisions

The reports that come with HubSpot are robust and can be customized to show particular data. When our example agency gains transparency into their visitor’s behavior, interests, and usage of the parks, it can make correlations apparent that employees and management didn’t even know existed. Additionally, the data can aide in making decisions about future projects that impact visitors.

You Can’t Integrate Your Website with a CRM? No Problem

It’s worth noting that, in CRM systems such as HubSpot, there are a myriad of tools that are made to integrate with a website. This is where the more traditional sales and marketing comes in as the tools help you to create content for a website, increase traffic, analyze the leads coming in, and increase their conversion rate, among other things. The thing is, many government agencies have their website CMS locked down tight for security reasons, and integration with a third-party CRM is out of the question. But as demonstrated above, there are still many useful CRM features that don’t involve a website.

CRM Customization and Integrations

In summary, a non-profit or government agency can find creative solutions inside a CRM that will save employees time, eliminate multiple third-party tools, and provide in-depth reporting that is important for stakeholders and the public. To address some unique needs, customization may be required in order to get the CRM to do what you want it to. But most often, if a CRM like HubSpot doesn’t have the functionality needed, it can be accomplished through third-party tool integration.


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