What kind of relationship do you have with your supporters?

When you're working in a nonprofit, make no mistake: You're working with a lot of people all the time. Even if your cause isn't directly affecting somebody, you're dealing with many individuals and groups who have a stake in what you do or your intended mission. You're building connections with people every day. The question is: Is your entire organization capable of making those same bonds and building on them?

What relationships do you have with the people who support you?

I'd say so! Many people across the country have donated to our organization or signed up for our newsletters.

Wait a second. What else have they done?

Ummm…

Exactly. A donor or a mailing list member may put in a fleeting moment of support for your organization's mission, but that's usually not enough to get them to engage with you. What you should be doing is having your constituents bond with your nonprofit while you do the same with them. This requires a two-pronged approach: One is consolidating everything you know about your donors and email subscribers into one CRM system and engage with them directly. The other is improving your social interactions with these people to better relate to them so that they trust you.

Oh dear, CRM. How does putting everything together even help? We keep donors and members separated because it gets confusing otherwise.

Actually, that may not be the case to your members. In fact, it may look like you're disengaged and disinterested in them. As nonprofit consultant Idealware notes, there are often four types of nonprofits that exist based on how they organize their constituents. If you have multiple lists for the different types of members connected to your organization and you only send email and social media blasts, you have a chaotic situation. A nonprofit that has all of its members in a single database but is simply sending out mass calls to action is seen as self-centered.

Having multiple silos to conduct outreach while at the same time actively engaging through targeted messaging and interaction, while an improvement, means you're in an "Enlightened Stone Age" setting. An organization that utilizes CRM effectively will be able to use targeted messaging for each constituent while keeping everything in one place. This allows relationships to grow and gets supporters more involved with your mission in different ways.

Well, that's great, but how do I engage them to build a relationship?

That's where the social aspect comes in. The Connected Cause suggests that building a relationship with constituents can be done by demonstrating engagement. For example, making a good first impression in welcoming new donors and supporters helps immensely. Listening is a crucial step as well, often through reading their emails and social media posts, then acknowledging in some way that you did. When you do respond, keeping in constant touch will show the constituents that you care about what they think. You can even exchange stories that will help them empathize with you. Finally, make sure that you're giving just as much as you're receiving from constituents.

When you master CRM control and social interaction, your nonprofit becomes far more robust through greater connections.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 at 3:55 am and is filed under Online Advocacy, Website / CRM Integration. 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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