The Struggle is Real: DoD Contact Report Entry by Dawn Wyatt, Associate Director of Prospect Management

07/14/2017 8:54 AM | Vicki O'Brien (Administrator)

In the Office of Development at the University of South Carolina, it is the Prospect Management team’s responsibility to make sure contacts entered into our CRM by Directors of Development (DoDs) are accurate.  Last fall we did a study and discovered that 78% of the contact entries made by DoDs needed some form of correction, whether large or small, by the Prospect Management team.  During the study, we discovered numerous mistakes made by DoDs— contacts entered in the wrong stage, blank fields, manager conflicts, asks entered with no manager assignment.  Each mistake required our attention and knowledge of how to correctly document contact entries in our CRM.

As the Associate Director of Prospect Management, I knew there had to be something I could do to eliminate these errors and improve our business processes in order to have accurate, reliable data in our CRM. While attending the 2017 Apra Carolinas fall conference, I participated in a group discussion about prospect management and quickly realized this was an industry-wide issue with others experiencing the same problems with contacts being entered wrong or not entered at all into CRMs. This common complaint gave me the motivation I needed to work on improving the process or to provide an alternative to the traditional method of contact report entry into our CRM. 

I saw the Prospect Management team as the professionals inside the database reviewing an average of 300 records a week, and the DoDs as the professionals outside the database meeting with constituents and donors.  Because the Prospect Management team members are among the primary stakeholders and subject matter experts when it comes to entries into the CRM, my plan was to develop a system for DoDs to submit to the Prospect Management team information about their fundraising efforts that did not require the DoDs to log into our CRM and make their own contact report entries.  This would hopefully free the DoDs to do what they do best which is raise money and enable my team to do what they do best which is manage data entry in our CRM.

My plan was to create an online contact report form for DoDs to fill out and submit to the Prospect Management team to make the entry correctly in our CRM. This simple form was accessible online by computer, tablet, and smart phone to help our DoDs who travel frequently.

The goals of the form were to:

•       Help ensure accuracy with contact entries

•       Increase accuracy of data in the reports we provide to leadership

•       Decrease the time it takes DODs to document their efforts

•       Eliminate the uncertainty of where a contact needs to be entered in our CRM

•       Eliminate the time it takes to correct entries

•       Decrease number of questions for DoDs regarding their entries

The project started with six DoDs from different divisions who committed to a six week test run of the online form. When they discovered the form could be submitted via their smartphone, they quickly became advocates.  They became even bigger advocates when they realized they could use “voice to text” on their smartphones to fill in the form.  The Prospect Management team members were on board with giving this project a try; however, they expressed concerns about how to keep up with the new form while also continuing their regular routine of reviewing contact entries.  These concerns were quickly laid to rest when it became apparent the online form was quicker when compared to the amount of time it took to identify and correct existing errors made by DoDs in our CRM.

Throughout the six week test run, we received great feedback and excellent recommendations for improvements to the form.  Among the improvements was the inclusion of specific fields to help save steps.  For example, we added a field so a DoD can submit one form to add multiple entries, for example when they send out numerous emails to schedule appointments.  A form does not have to be filled out for each constituent receiving an email instead one form is filled out for the entire email recipient list.  We also added a field to ask the DoD would like to be assigned as a manager; this prompts us to assign them as a prospect manager without them having to do anything else.  We are also able to capture new biographic data with a field that asks for updated employment or address information. We even have a field asking if the gift capacity rating seems accurate.  If it doesn’t seem accurate, we forward the form to our Prospect Research team who re-screens the constituent’s gift capacity rating.

The six week test run was a tremendous success; we quickly saw a decrease in corrections needed on contact report entries. The results were presented to senior level management who, with no hesitation, quickly saw the value of the online form and asked that I do a presentation on the form at our division’s quarterly all-staff meeting.  The form is now a part of our regular business processes to offer DoDs the online form as a method for getting contact reports entered into our CRM.

Use of the online form is optional and has been in use approximately six months; 50% of our DoDs are using the form and a staggering 1,700+ online forms have been submitted.  The popularity of the online form continues to grow alongside our quality in communication with DoDs.  If DoDs are contacted, they are now contacted in a positive way and not because of a problem with an entry in the CRM. Even DoDs who made little to no effort to enter their contacts are using the form, which means their activities are being entered and are accurately reflected in our reports.

Ultimately, we have made the contact report review process more efficient and decreased the number of corrections needing to be made to entries. Our overall experience with the implementation of the form has been positive and we’ve seen excellent results in terms of data accuracy.  

Dawn Wyatt

University of South Carolina

Associate Director of Prospect Management


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