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From the Community: Best CRM for Education

From the Community: Best CRM for Education

Welcome to From the Community, where we highlight questions from our community members. Join us each Friday as we dive into the featured inquiry.

CRM isn’t just for the sales team anymore. As of late CRM has been picked up by marketing, nonprofit donor management and other fields as a tool for keeping track of their outreach campaigns. One of the sectors with a preexisting need for this function is, believe it or not, higher education.

Many public and private universities do a large amount of fundraising through their alumni associations. The typical association builds lists of alumni to contact with the intent of collecting school-bound donations.

This week’s question comes from Debra J., who asks, “What is the best CRM for use in college/university systems across campuses, programs, modalities for lead capture and conversion?

CRM for Education: Essential Features

The applications of CRM for education aren’t just limited to donor management either. Some of the other potential functions are:

  • Admissions/enrollment management
  • Interacting with students via social channels (Social CRM)
  • Additional discovery on student body and prospects via reporting and analytics


There are multiple levels at which a university can use CRM to its advantage, but the best one overall is combining all those features into a system that builds out a full life cycle for each student from candidate to student to alumnus. In doing so a university can open up a wealth of opportunities all along the way, be it in admissions, student programs and servicing or connecting for fundraising with alumni.

Think of it this way: it’s never not beneficial to have a more detailed picture of your customer base, and every new layer of data one has is potentially a new insight on which to better engage with prospects as well as established donors.

2 CRM Picks

Here are two solutions, one smaller, one larger, that integrate together to provide a wide array of different features designed exclusively for higher education institutions:

crm for educationEllucian is noteworthy in that, unlike a big tent solution like Dynamics CRM, it’s a suite of solutions designed specifically with higher education institutions in mind. Some of Ellucian’s standout student-side features include recruiting & admissions performance and international student & scholar management, phone dialing for telephone-based fundraising campaigns and management of third-party non-alumni donors.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM
crm for educationDynamics CRM is one of the broadest and far-reaching CRM systems out there, but one of the main things the Dynamics suite has always emphasized is its flexibility, and higher education is one of the niches it services.

In addition to the specialized recruiting and admissions management tools provided by Ellucian, the core Dynamics offering can bring in elements for assisting in the evaluation and certification of faculty and managing help desk customer service inquiries across an institution’s many different branches and departments.

Where to Go From Here

crm for educationCRM is one of the most saturated segments of business software out there today. To help deal with some of the information overload we’ve put together a Top 40 CRM Software report as well as a comprehensive CRM software resource page for all our CRM-related material. Either place would be a great next step in your research process.

Have a question you’d like us to feature in our weekly blog post? Send us an email at or tweet us at @BiznessSoftware with the hashtag #fromthecommunity after you’ve posted your question to the community and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

  • Top Expert

Mark Aspillera
Expert in ALM, IaaS and Business Intelligence
Mark is former member of the marketing team. He contributed interviews, profiles and analyses on relevant subjects in the business technology field.