Which CRM?

CRM Demos and Tips to Help Organizing Groups Save Resources & Build Power: a 6-part series

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These days a LOT of organizing groups don’t have the right CRM* for their organizing needs. Yet the tool that we rely on to hold our supporter data, send mass email, fundraise online, and set up petitions and email actions to targets, is vital to the effectiveness of our organizing.

Being matched to the right CRM reduces time spent on admin, is cost-effective and helps us build a broader audience and run more powerful online/offline actions. The right CRM is essential for knowing who our audience is, and tracking trends in how they support us - in other words, enabling our strategy for building grassroots power to be data-driven.

This series is for you if any of these is true:

  • You’re using Constant Contact or MailChimp and want to become more effective and powerful in your organizing.
  • You’re paying several hundred dollars a month for a CRM that feels clunky and you’re still putting in a ton of admin time to meet your top needs.
  • You’re using two or more tools that aren’t integrated and wonder if there’s a better way.
  • Your system is so difficult to learn and manage that it’s a regular staffing strain.
  • You wonder if there’s a less expensive tool that meets your needs.
  • You're looking to fundraise more effectively than your current system allows.
  • You have special use cases such as integrating a canvass operation, or affiliate/parent org needs, or use of NGP-VAN voter data files that further complicate your needs, and you’d like to be able to ask questions about addressing those needs.
  • You want to know what else is out there and what it can do to support your organizing more powerfully.

The series starts with an overview of CRM selection considerations. The other five sessions each focus on one of five top CRMs for organizing groups - including Action Network, NationBuilder, EveryAction, ActionKit and CiviCRM. They are structured as a series of questions posed to a representative for each tool, followed by a comparison de-brief. SMT accepts no support of any kind from any vendor in order to ensure strict objectivity and staff are blunt about strengths and weaknesses as we see them.

*CRM=Constituent Relationship Management system


Yotam Amit, SMT Staff Partner and CRM specialist. Started organizing a decade ago in Chicago as one of the founding members of a local Palestinian rights group. Expertise in coding, security, and in-depth knowledge of a range of CRMs to better contribute to the movement primarily through Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). Has in-depth experience with Classic Salsa, EveryAction, Salesforce and ActionNetwork. Also experienced with ActionKit and NationBuilder. Has used APIs to create custom flows and data patterns. Has created automations to serve different content to segments of email lists based on calculations of giving and action history, set up real-time tailoring of what audiences see as they enter their donation. Has served up custom fields for actions, integrating with external tools both with and without an existing integration, and designed and set up custom forms. Lots of experience with data migration including strategizing what data is worth keeping and how to translate it into the new CRM and working with smaller groups helping them make the transition including handling recurring donations and tags. Passion is to help harness the powers of various tools and techniques to convert traffic spikes and untapped potential into sustained growth, without sacrificing grassroots organizing or relationships and community.

Additional presenters:

Amy Chin-Lai, Action Network
Andrea Miller, People Demanding Action
Maggie Rogers, National Public Pension Coalition
Mike Liddel, EveryAction
Taylor Pinero, NationBuilder
Cameron Mussar, Students for Education Reform
Jason Foster, River LA
Tanya Africa and Chris, ActionKit
Jon Goldberg presenting on CiviCRM
Jamie McClelland, Progressive Technology Project
David Bracamontes, GSA Network

Photo Credit: Slut Walk NYC, movement against gender violence, 2011. (David Shankbone)