This is a brief, simple message: just because you have a CRM database does not mean you can automatically "do CRM". CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is not about software – CRM is a policy and a practise and a whole culture – not (just) a database. In fact, it is possibly one of the most abused terms in the IT industry and has been used to describe so much software that a few years ago had a completely different moniker.
That said, the good news is that if you are a NFP organisation then it is highly likely that you already practise good CRM – if you look after your clients, manage your donors, communicate well with your supporters then you are more than half way there. I believe that, in some ways, charities have been ahead of the commercial sector for years in terms of “CRM”, as charities have always known how important it is to look after their supporters and stakeholders.
So, yes, a good database will of course help your CRM strategy. It should do loads of things for you: keep contact information up-to-date, enable you to understand your supporters better, help you communicate with them better, in a more targeted and efficient way, record their correspondence with you, record all their activity with you, mean you can interact with them online and offline and store centrally all such interactions, allow you to allow them to tell you what they want to hear from you…
But don’t let any software vendor tell you that if you buy their database then you will immediately, magically be able to “do better CRM”. It is your organisation and their approach which defines that. The database will help but CRM database software will not automatically implement CRM at your organisation.