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What does it take to create or promote a community garden or urban farm in Michigan? There’s planning, of course. There’s designing, funding, and cultivating partnerships with local communities. All of these elements were part of this year’s challenge set forth by the WMPMI competition “The Project 2017”.

Lettuce tell you about long-time DPT team member, Shawn Rathbun who has attended or volunteered with the competition every year. She is an adjunct instructor at Michigan Technological University leading their Advanced Project Management course. This year, she served as project champion two Project Management teams at Michigan Technological University over the course of a semester. Both MTU teams decided to create a community garden for a real community in the western upper peninsula.

The competition was divided into four stages with deliverables that needed to be sent in to a panel of judges. Preparing these deliverables taught the students how to write a project charter, a scope statement, develop a risk register, a communication plan and other project management documents. But the chief learnings were practical, real world lessons on time management (to avoid over-thyme as milestones approach), stakeholder management, scope management (pruning the scope to meet budget), teamwork (turnip for team meetings), open communication, and patience.

The students also gained confidence answering questions, and honing their public speaking skills by holding several public forums to gain feedback from their stakeholders in their respective community. By the end, they knew their project’s details better than anyone and were prepared for the final step of the competition–presenting the project to the judges.

Shawn described her students this semester as talented, mow-tivated, and enthusiastic – all of which the judges saw. In the end, they awarded team MTU team, Turnip the Beet first place, squashing the competition and making them the first Michigan Tech team to bring home the big check, the big trophy and even bigger bragging rights. This is a really big dill because Michigan Tech has always placed in the top 3, but had never taken first until this year.

So congratulations to Turnip the Beet! It takes a lot of growth, hard work, and mow-tivation to compete in The Project. It also takes great leaders like Shawn. We’re thoroughly impressed by them and can’t wait to see their gardens in bloom. And – we can’t resist one last pun! – if you carrot all about Project Management, come talk to us here at DPT!

A robust Customer Relationship Management solution (CRM) may not be at the top of most nonprofits’ wish lists, but it really should be. Whether they’re volunteers, donors, or those receiving services, nonprofits thrive on good, two-way relationships with their constituents. Doesn’t it make sense to invest in them? The returns can be huge–saved time and money, simplified daily operations, more effective outreach.

How CRM can give nonprofits a leg up:

 

    • Coordinated Communication. Between donors, volunteers, board or committee members, and those who receive services, a nonprofit has a lot of people to track. It often becomes more complicated if people occupy two or more roles like a volunteer that also makes monthly donations. CRM makes it simple. By streamlining data into a single source, nonprofits can track who they’ve communicated with, when, how, and how often. For example, it will keep people who occupy two roles from being on two mailing lists while still receiving information relevant to that role. It also ensures that outreach gets into the right person’s hands. This helps avoid mistakes like sending a letter to the husband when it’s supposed to go to the wife.

 

    • Efficient Processes & Systems. Saving time and money is a boon to any non-profit, and streamlined processes and modern systems will do just that. Once your CRM data model is set and processes running smoothly, daily tasks like donation follow-up and volunteer coordination will be more efficient. There will be more time in the day to do the work that really matters. You can ensure that more of your donations, grants, and other types of funding are going directly to services.

 

    • Preserve Organization Knowledge. If someone has been with a nonprofit for years, they may not need to reference statistics, procedures, and other important information simply because they know it off the top of their head. This system works great for them, but what happens if they decide to retire or move to another position? If that knowledge isn’t captured in the nonprofit’s systems, it’ll be lost. CRM mitigates this by building critical relationship information into its processes. It also grants access to several people or departments so the data can become institutional knowledge.

 

    • Relationship Visibility. Imagine being able to see all the touch-points and relationships for an individual or household in one snapshot. There would be records of events they attended, emails they’ve received, and face-to-face contact like times they’ve volunteered. There’d be no digging through dozens of spreadsheets or hunting all over a complex system to find one piece of information. CRM enables nonprofits to see this information at a glance. Having it all in one place helps provide better visibility and more effective marketing and communication.

 

    • Simplified Data Management. It’s no secret that executing critical projects like creating a new marketing campaign or planning an outreach event are complicated and time-consuming. It gets worse when spreadsheets, procedures, contacts, and plans have to be passed around in email after email. Nonprofits can stop the email chains and eliminate the need to constantly double-check information by creating a hub for all their information. CRM can be this one-stop-shop because it’s easy to add, edit, and share information.

 

While for-profit companies have been using CRM for years, many nonprofits haven’t taken advantage of it yet. This is especially unfortunate because they actually have greater potential to benefit from implementing CRM than their for-profit counterparts. Based on the fact that so many of the people they interact with fill multiple roles, the impact of creating an efficient, accurate database to track and interact with them is much bigger. It fosters clear communication which ultimately means the nonprofit can serve more people.

That’s a win-win in our book.

If you’d like to learn more about how your nonprofit can leverage CRM to drive strong relationships and further its mission, contact us. We’d love to show you a free demonstration.