LSLA Conference: CRM – Why? and How to Pay for It

The Libertarian State Leadership Alliance (LSLA) conference was held in Aurora, Colorad May 17-19th in conjuction with the state convention of the Libertarian Party of Ohio. Here is the latest video from the meeting. From the video description:

by LP Texas’ Rob Lapham and Nathan Kleffman – Keeping in touch. We wrote that we would in each others’ yearbooks in high school, but we REALLY need to be doing it today with our members, supporters, and donors. Keeping track of each one of them is almost as important as the message itself.

12 thoughts on “LSLA Conference: CRM – Why? and How to Pay for It

  1. Shane

    Just scanned through for about a minute. These guys are great for putting on this presentation but this is not the right advice.

    Non-profits and Salesforce don’t mix. I’ve tried it and now help clients get off of it at their request. I do use it for agency data and have a dedicated employee to manage it. It’s not a volunteer tool.

    There are several CRM’s built for non-profits (and some have great campaign tools) that are open source and free.

    In the end, a CRM is only good to manage your housefile (and required). When it comes to voter management, the complexity is much higher.

  2. Sam Kress

    There are several CRM’s built for non-profits (and some have great campaign tools) that are open source and free.

    Which ones do you recommend?

  3. Shane

    Agree with David on Civi. On bogging down, it’s only with the exports and can be corrected. I have databases with 60k+ records that run without issue.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp

    It’s quite likely that LSLA will follow the LNC pattern on computer systems: Reject anything cheap or free in favor of hiring “consultants” to deliver over-priced (even at budgeted cost, which is never met), non-functional proprietary software.

  5. Sam Kress

    LSLA is not getting a CRM, it held a presentation for states that may be considering it.

  6. George Phillies

    @4 Perhaps you could write up an article on the key issues. I am reminded with issues on getting parallel processing software up and running.

  7. David Colborne

    I’ll note that, just because the software is “free”, it doesn’t mean getting it set up, configured, getting useful data imported and collated, and training users would (or should) be.

  8. Thomas L. Knapp

    DC @ 8,

    That’s true.

    But the virtue of “free” software versus proprietary is that the former is more likely to have a larger community of developers.

    Competition for work brings prices down and provides an incentive for better customer service, above and beyond the immediate savings of “free” versus “thousands of dollars” for the software itself.

  9. Shane

    It’s really not even an issue of cost. For a small to mid-sized non-profit, Civi is a superior product due to the user community behind it. Knapp is correct as usual.

    With that said, it’s not designed for large databases like the LNC’s (which is actually fairly large due to historical data). It is perfect for state parties.

    @7, appreciate that George but it’s not my specialty, just a tool I use and know enough about to sound halfway intelligent.

    If we go back to Raiser’s Edge for the LNC, the intent was to modernize the database and provide access to affiliates. The database was modernized but, RE is a Ferrari. Few Ferrari owners will ever take full advantage their car. Same for RE.

    Affiliate access never occurred but I think that could be extremely useful for states and national. Grassroots data is the most valuable and hard to obtain, and I’m not talking donor data.

    If the states fed data up to national and it was modeled and passed down (all instantly), the LP could actually be dangerous in an election year for the right races.

    The LP as a whole has places too much focus on donor databases. You don’t raise money to raise money. You raise money to win races so focus on a tool that will help do that, a voter database.

    Just look at the tool that gave Obama a significant edge: NGP Van with Catalyst data. Boots on the ground feeding data upstream and consolidating.

    Some may argue that we’re “too small” for that but it’s not a two year cycle for us.

    There’s a reason the Kochs are refocusing their political funds into companies like i360 and there’s a reason why Rove pushed so hard for the RNC database contract. On the left, Ickes controls Catalyst.

    Lots of lessons out there to learn from.

    Knapp on @5, I think a problem in the LP is a lack of a consultant class. There are hacks that come and go but for the most part, consultants are paid well because they SHOULD know their stuff.

    Volunteers are well meaning but they are normally involved in areas where they lack expertise — and in the LP, they call the shots — kinda scary if you think about it.

    The opposite is true in the GOP where the consultants call the shots — which is worse. As with most things, it’s about balance.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp


    My recollection is that the LNC’s initial cost estimate for getting Raiser’s Edge functional was $34k, and that it ended up tens of thousands of dollars over that budget estimate, while never really working out.

    My recollection could be wrong, of course. But I have to think that an organization the size of the LNC should be able to get a database/CRM solution actually working for less than that.

  11. Shane

    The cost was actually hundreds of thousands, maybe $400k including transition fees paid to tech consultants. I don’t know what the original quote was. That was before my time. The annual licensing fee for RE (even after you bought it) runs $12k or $20k per year dependent upon support, NCOA’s etc.

    I’m no fan of RE, but the LNC database is large. Registered voters, previous donors, anyone who requested an info pack are all individual records. Combine the contribution records that go in each individual record and its pretty big even though the active portion is only what 16k donors?

    For a list that big, I’d just outsource it to a data shop and cager or I’d archive grossly lapsed donors and just deal with actives on something like Civi. But since RE is paid for, I’d keep it and just pay the annual fee. It’s a good tool but not worth the $1mm price tags I’ve seen.

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