Four reasons to track both client and donor data in Salesforce

One emerging approach we’ve witnessed in the nonprofit space is the manner of Salesforce adoption within organizations. Many organizations are taking a segmented approach to adoption with one department electing to use it and others not. Often the split falls between program and fundraising teams.

There are obvious reasons for this. Legacy systems are involved that vary from department to department. The reasons inspiring adoption by one team will not necessarily apply to the other. Change is difficult for one department let alone an entire organization. And Salesforce adoption is often driven by a key champion within the organization affecting a single department first rather than the entire organization.

Data silos
Photo: dsearls on Flickr

While the reasons for segmented adoption are clear, here are four compelling reasons why organizations would do well to push further to more comprehensive adoption and break out of their data silos:

1) Good philosophy

Clients are people, too, to harken back to the 70s Saturday morning kids’ show. The best organizations take this to heart by fostering an ethos that recognizes that clients are not merely passive recipients of services but active co-conspirators in their own transformation and the social good the organization is attempting to foster.

As such, they can and do interact with your organization in all the myriad ways any donor, volunteer, advocate, or supporter does.

The great strength of a constituent relatlionship management system like Salesforce is that is recognizes this by providing a 360 degree view of all the ways an individual interacts with your organization. In the end, they are not clients. They are not donors. They are not volunteers. They are people – and those people can chose to participate in services you offer or donate money or offer volunteer time or sign up for your newsletter. Being able to track these interactions in one place recognizes this fundamental philosophical reality and gives a view into the full way an individual interacts with your nonprofit.

2) Sound change theory

This good philosophy is more than sematics. It has speciifc and concrete outcomes that can signal the success of your organization’s mission as expressed in your change theory.

Let’s say you’re a workforce development organization. You provide job training services to individuals. Your change theory then would suggest that, by providing these services, these individuals become more marketable and will secure new and better jobs. These jobs will earn them more money and possibly grant them more free time, allowing them to contribute back to your organizing by donating and volunteering.

How powerful a story would it be to share with potential funders that a given percentage of folks using your services went on to donate and volunteer? How compelling would this picture be for demonstrating both the effectiveness of your programs for acheiving concrete outcomes as well as the goodwill they are fostering in the folks partipating in them?

3) Clear efficiency gains

You could, of course, determine if individuals donating or volunteering had previously received services even if you were using different systems but I wouldn’t envy you that task. Not only can technology make this task much more manageable through comprehensive Salesforce adoption, it can also facilitate the ongoing relationship with individuals receiving services to include them in future communications including donor appeals that can increase the odds of them donating.

4) Power, flexibility and affordability through Salesforce make this possible

The flexibility and power of Salesforce represents a clear opportunity for organizations to tear down the silos separating departments and systems and have their knowledge management approach recognize individuals as complete people rather than as segmented interactions ghettoed within different systems. Discounts available from the Salesforce Foundation make this flexible and powerful service afforadable for even small organizations. Apps available on the AppExchange facilitate common use cases and customization options within the platform can support unique ones.

And services like Soapbox Engage that integrate websites with Salesforce and Soapbox Mailer that turn Salesforce into a mass email  service can extend that power, flexibility and affordability to your web presence and mass email communications so the walls between you and the outside world are torn down just as those between departments are.

To be sure, all this promise doesn’t come without effort or cost. There is no magic wand to waive. Affordable does not mean free or without the need of staff time . But the promise is there and it offers the opportunity to transform an organization from its philosophical roots to its day-to-day bottom line.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 13th, 2012 at 1:23 pm and is filed under npsf, nptech, Salesforce.com, Soapbox Engage, Soapbox Mailer for Salesforce, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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