Why Your Nonprofit’s Art Collection Database Needs a CRM

Elysian Koglmeier | September 14, 2021

Image credit: Pawel Czerwinski, Unsplash

Does your art collection database have an integrated CRM? If not, you may be spending more time and money than need be. Learn why it’s crucial to streamline your information in one single platform.

There are a lot of moving pieces to orchestrate within your arts nonprofit–exhibitions, permanent collection management, donor relations, etc. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could consolidate all of your artwork, contacts and tasks into one centralized database? Imagine how simple administrative demands could be. 

With a CRM within your CMS, you can:

  • Have all of your contact information consolidated in one place.

  • Always have access to your digital address book.

  • Identify donor trends.

  • Make informed recommendations to increase future donations.

  • Align and empower your staff by ensuring they have critical information at any time.

  • Rally together around organizations goals and execute against your mission.

Artwork Archive developed a fully integrated CRM tool to help you build new relationships, strengthen existing ones, and generally work smarter. 

Below we’ve outlined specific ways you can reduce frustration, focus on your mission, accomplish your goals, and simplify your day-to-day workflow by having a CRM within your art database. 


First things first, what is a CRM? 

In the for-profit world, a CRM refers to a “Customer Relationship Management” system. In the Nonprofit sector, it can be called a “Constituent Relationship Management” system which is synonymous with donor management. 

At Artwork Archive, we prefer to think of CRM as ‘Contact Relationship Management’ since you manage many types of contacts—donors and member-patrons, curators, artists, vendors, etc.


How to use Artwork Archive’s CRM to build new relationships with donors:

Since Artwork Archive is cloud-based, you’ll have access to your digitized address book at any time, anywhere, from any device.

Let’s say you’re the director of an academic gallery and meet a philanthropist at an event on campus. They’re very interested in your institution, especially in an upcoming retrospective you’ve organized, as well as your various patronage levels. 

With Artwork Archive’s CRM, you’re able to create a contact record for the prospective donor. This contact record can contain general information, social media links, notes about how you met this person, and other distinguishing features, such as additional charities they support, or other artists whose work they might enjoy.

Easily create contact records within Artwork Archive to make sure you don't lose critical information. 


You can add this new donor contact to a contact group such as a “VIP preview XX” for the retrospective exhibition that they’re interested in. That way, when the show is installed, you can filter your contacts by this group and send them an exclusive invitation to a private VIP walk-through of the show—all with the click of a button. 

The CRM will note this action in the contact’s record, so you can easily refer back and confirm what information was sent to them and when. 

With the CRM tool, you’re also able to set reminders about a specific person directly from their contact record. So if the prospective donor mentions they would like an invitation to an artist lecture, you can instantly create a reminder for you to follow up with them at the appropriate time and invite them with a personalized message. 

Create an automated reminder within your Artwork Archive so that you don't lose track of key dates and tasks.


This function is also incredibly useful for annual collection maintenance, such as reminders to follow up with conservators, appraisers, or insurance agents.


How to use Artwork Archive’s CRM to manage relationships with artists:

As an arts institution, you’re most likely busy working with artists. There is a lot of important information to track for your artists–contact information, bio, artist statement, works on loan, demographics, and more. 

If you’re coordinating a call for entry, temporary/traveling exhibitions, you’ll have the artist’s information handy for internal communication and marketing efforts like press releases. You’ll also be able to stay on top of artist-related tasks by creating reminders on the artist record. Know when the artist is dropping off or picking up their artwork, or when their consignment agreement is due.

These artist contact records are also visible on your Artwork Archive Public Profile and can be embedded onto your website. Check out how Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art showcases the artists in their collection. And how the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens embeds these artist pages on their website. 

Did you know that Artwork Archive has an Artist Upload Page? Allow artists to upload their artworks directly into your account through a password protected page. They can also update their contact information. This is very handy when you’re coordinating calls for submissions or staying ontop of annual memberships!

Reduce annoying admin work by letting your contacts (artists, donors, exhibitors) securely upload artworks directly into your Artwork Archive account.


How to use Artwork Archive’s CRM to strengthen existing relationships with donors and avoid attrition:

While continuing to grow your donor base is important for ongoing success, it’s also true that strengthening relationships with your existing network is one of the critical drivers of long term sustainability. 

A CRM helps you and your organization understand and maximize your relationships with donors because critical information is consolidated all in one place. Make your data mean something and put it to work for your organization’s mission. 

Artwork Archive’s system is relational, meaning that contacts are hyperlinked to their respective documents, such as invoices, appraisals, donations and gifts, allowing you to track everything you’ve shared with a specific person, as well as all prior correspondence. 

From various Reports to Private Rooms, everything you share with a contact will be recorded on their individual contact record, even if you share information with an entire group of contacts at once.

NOTE: You’re also able to share with a Contact Group. Once the report is shared with that group, a Share Record will be recorded on each individual’s contact record. This is an excellent way to seamlessly communicate with specific sets of contacts, including top level donors, lending institutions, and local partners. 

Keeping track and staying on top of this information doesn’t just help you stay organized, but also empowers you with the information you need to keep your existing donor base feeling appreciated and engaged. This can ultimately result in greater fundraising!

How to use Artwork Archive’s CRM to work smarter:

With Artwork Archive’s integrated CRM tool, you’re able to manage and organize your contacts efficiently–making sure nothing falls through the cracks. A CRM can significantly help reduce friction and frustration. You’ll save time and resources by having all of your contact information in one place. 

Here are a few ways examples of how Artwork Archive’s CRM makes administration aggravation-free:

Automate tasks

Reduce your time in front of your computer. Upload your existing contact list to your Artwork Archive account with our contact import. Schedule reminders for your contacts. Create and share reports with a few clicks of a button. Make address labels in a few seconds. 

Consolidate communication

Contact Groups allow you to categorize the different relationships within your network and send groups customized communications.

Let’s say the philanthropist you met has become one of your most active donors. It would benefit you to group her as such. For example, adding this contact to a group called ‘VIP Donors’ will allow you to send this entire group exclusive offers that strengthen those relationships even further.

If you are planning an exhibition, you can also work smarter by corresponding with all the artists featured in said exhibition at once, and also adding reminders to follow up with certain artists regarding shipping deadlines, loan agreements, or special events such as openings or lectures.

Find important information quickly

Every time you enter a donation, the system automatically enters the donor and classifies them as a ‘Donor’ in your account. This enables you to sort through your contacts by who has donated artwork to your institution. 

The same applies for registering sales from benefit auctions. Every time you register a sale, Artwork Archive labels the buyer as a ‘Client’, allowing you to easily track this important demographic.

Knowing which contacts have purchased works or made donations, and which are still idling, gives you important information about the next steps you need to take in order to increase revenue, engage targeted groups within your network, and become more efficient.

Take action against your analytics

Your nonprofit collects artworks but also a lot of data. Don’t let all of that crucial information spread out in different platforms or desktops. Keep your valuable data in one location so you can gain actionable insights. Know who your largest donors are, engage supporters with the most potential, hire art professionals with the best track record.

Track contact information, important details like purchases and donations, upload files, share reports, and set reminders -- all from your Artwork Archive Contact page. 


Curious about Artwork Archive’s CRM? Here’s what is included:

  • Contact Profiles: artists, donors, art professionals, members, etc.

  • Contact Groups & affiliations 

  • Connection between contacts to artworks, locations, exhibitions & more

  • Seamless web integrations

  • Intuitive reports & querying

  • Document storage

  • Communication tracking 

  • Reminders & scheduler

  • Mailing lists and address labels 

  • Data visualization


Already have a CRM that you are happy with?

That's great! Seamlessly share information from Artwork Archive with your donor management system. 

We work with clients that have curatorial/exhibition staff that works with a separate development team. Consider an academic institution with a museum staff and a college advancement team. With Artwork Archive, all your art-related data can be easily shared between the two teams. Create reports to share out and get aligned across departments. Import contact information from your organization’s existing CRM. House it in one centralized database for your art team. 

Artwork Archive is passionate about supporting the arts ecosystem and the work of nonprofits. Spend less time on your database and more time on your mission. We’re happy to connect.


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