Does poor data management lead to poor governance?

There has been a lot of discussion in the news recently about how organisations have potentially mishandled their customer’s data, at times using the data inappropriately and at other times not fully understanding the intentions with which the original customer’s engagement originated. It appears that data has been passed and often sold between organisations creating a nightmare scenario for auditing and tracking of intent. 


Given the nature of many of these organisations they need to adhere and be seen to adhere to the very highest standards, more than many organisations their reputation is built entirely on trust and if this is lost with it potentially goes valuable income and donations. Customers that have signed up with one organisation and are then contacted by another are left confused and frustrated at how their information has been shared, especially if they are unable to have a credible explanation of how that organisation came by their data.



Many organisations are running old CRM systems that are no longer able to provide the functionality and scale needed for the fast, demanding, real time environments within which we now all operate. With the explosion of social media use the expectations of customers has risen exponentially, with 1 in 4 social media users expecting a response to their request from an organisation within one hour of contact. Without the right support systems in place there is the genuine risk that customers will feel let down, not a great situation if your income relies on donations.


So, what can be done? Here we outline our top five recommendations to help not-for-profit organisations stay ahead of a fast changing world with data at its center.


  1. WHERE ARE YOU? It’s important to know where you are and where you need to be. This may sound obvious and straightforward but you’d be surprised how many organisations overestimate the capability of their systems. Most people start CRM initiatives without a clear idea of their current state of "CRM maturity", let alone where they aim to be. It's not enough to say, "We want to be better at servicing customers" or "We want to know more about our customer base". What do you currently know and what will provide you with real business benefit?

  2. TRANSPARENCY is vital to any organisation that depends on good will from their supporters. The ability to demonstrate that the income from supporters is being used for its original intention is an important element of the trust that is built.

  3. AUDITING Often organisations will have multiple products and campaigns running at the same time, not only is it essential for the organisation to understand how well the various parts are performing to get accurate ROI data but to be able to link activity across functions. In addition to the business benefits of tracking performance it is also essential to be able to provide audit trails of permissions that have been granted for contact information for instance or the allocation of Gift Aid.

  4. EXECUTIVE ENGAGEMENT is often mentioned but rarely delivered in a sustained way. We have seen projects where there is a high level of executive engagement at the start of the project for it only to fade away quickly. A truly successful CRM deployment isn’t and never should be regarded as an IT project owned and managed by the CIO or CTO. The most successful projects have clear ownership and understanding at executive level, including CEO and CFO to ensure that the needs of the business are fully met.

  5. CLARITY OF PURPOSE can be overlooked, it’s very easy to see a new CRM system as the solution to all of the challenges within your organisation. CRM systems have hugely variable functionality but they aren’t a panacea. Make sure the priorities and objectives or the organisation are clear and prioritise and focus on what are the essential elements verses the nice to have things on your list of requirements.


There are many more considerations when embarking on what amounts to a business critical evaluation but these are a good place to start. Here at Cantata we understand the essential need to get this right. We have provided a roadmap service for many of our clients and this process often uncovers some interesting insights into the true nature of where your organisation is, especially as it relate to the rest of the market. If you believe you could benefit from an evaluation from some of the industries most experienced experts then get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.