This past week, the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival hosted a panel on nonprofit organizations, called “Activism At Its Best.” In it, the main question was: What can organizations do to increase online engagement among potential supporters? This is an especially big question when it comes to the one demographic that everyone likes to talk about but nobody seems to grasp: millennials. You can’t just coast on your name anymore, especially because there are so many organizations out there that are trying to do what you’re doing. Instead, your cause is the focus, since their interest in you is often based on that alone. You have to reach out to them, rather than the other way around. Nonprofit CRM software can assist by giving you better ways to effectively communicate with them.
Go for the connection
When building up that connection, it’s important to have a strategy that invokes the cause as much as possible. At the SXSW panel, Hilary Gridley of DoSomething.org noted that her organization’s template for drawing in supporters is defined as, “Know it. Plan it. Do it. Prove it.” This model of thinking taps into the ideal of actions taking a personal agenda, according to The Nonprofit Times. Similarly, you should have a strategy for your nonprofit’s mission that is built on people doing things for their own sake, not just for the greater good of the cause.
Another way to interest millennials is direct communication and support. Young people, who have grown up on social media, feel a need to be more connected to the cause and people that influence their beliefs. Lori Painter of PETA turned her nonprofit’s site into a source that coaches people who are interested in supporting animal rights, but aren’t sure how to really do it. While you don’t need to overhaul your site and staffing to reflect how to help with your cause, you can be supportive by simply answering emails or social media posts.
“Even if you don’t have full time staff, just take the time to respond and listen, that’s the way to build relationships,” Painter said.
Provide a more direct way to give
Just as much as your organization develop a more personalized agenda among supporters, donors should be treated in a similar manner. According to Network for Good’s Millennial Donor Playbook, you should determine if you’re doing enough for your organization to create a connection with potential donors. Millennials can be an impulsive bunch, acting in the moment. Playing to that aspect through pictures and video can help push these people to contribute to your cause in some way.
More importantly, you should be able to give these millennials the means to explain themselves when they act on the cause. This includes explaining where exactly their donations went in a way that is transparent and succinct. For example, after the contribution is made, send the donor a video that shows your organization conducting a mission backed by monetary gifts. After seeing who benefits from donations, millennials can share the cause with others, making your more compelling to people everywhere.
As a nonprofit, why would you need a “sales” database and a customer relationship management software solution? CRM software, such as Salesforce, and integrated technologies can help you not just run your organization more quickly and effectively, but also help you grow and sustain relationships.
Simplify your operation – and make your life easier – by consolidating processes
Tal Frankfurt, founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, shared a personal anecdote with Beth Kanter, author of Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media, that captures what nonprofit life may look like for many in the sector: As a nonprofit resource manager, he inherited a hodgepodge of project management and data-management tools, ranging from Excel to Constant Contact.
The result? A vast, unruly donor database that gave the organization very little actionable insight into their constituent relationships. Sounds like quite the headache.
Using the Salesforce Foundation’s philanthropic model (allowing a number of free Salesforce licenses), Frankfurt was able to not only consolidate data using Salesforce, but track every donor interaction as well – giving them an “institutional memory,” enabling personal communication with a diverse range of constituents.
Instead of spending time maintaining parallel databases and interacting with multiple interfaces, Salesforce empowered stakeholders to spend more time nurturing relationships. By no stretch of the imagination, Frankfurt’s organization doubled its donation-related income within the first year.
Crowdfund your own campaign without the scary cost
Groundwork Opportunities (GO), a nonprofit charity that invests in health care, education and environmental ideas, seeks out leaders in neglected communities around the globe and provides them the support they need to bring their ideas to life.
According to Bart Skorupa, GO’s executive director, crowdfunding platforms were originally used to raise funds online, which was OK – at least at first.
During one of their first projects, as outlined in a Salesforce Foundation e-book, GO raised $12,000 for a biogas plant in Uganda. The drawback? Crowdfunding platforms charge fees – and depending on how much money you raise, those fees could be significant. Very significant.
“So suddenly we owed $850 for the privilege of using the platform,” Skorupa cited. “We thought at that point, how hard would it be to build our own crowdfunding platform?”
GO learned that, utilizing Salesforce‘s campaign feature, it didn’t need to use crowdfunding to receive donations. Instead, the nonprofit could run its own crowdfunded campaign directly from its site – without fees – by connecting the site with the CRM via a simple data bridge. That meant more of the money raised would go toward the causes it was intended for instead of supporting a third-party crowdfunding platform. Sounds like a win to us.
There are many integration tools available to nonprofits to streamline and automate Salesforce operations. Some solutions involve complex coding challenges that nonprofits may not be suited to tackle or have the budget for which to pay. Luckily, platforms like Soapbox Engage exist so you can easily create and build online engagement tools that integrate with Salesforce at a nonprofit-friendly price.
Ignite cultural shifts across your organization
According to Hopeworks N’ Camden Executive Director Rev. Jeff Puthoff, the No. 1 benefit of switching to a Salesforce CRM is the meaningful engagement it makes possible with constituents, as cited in the Salesforce Foundation e-book.
Before, Puthoff said his staff used an Excel spreadsheet, which was time-consuming to update. Nor could it track specific information. Puthoff explained this disorganization made it difficult to locate information, much less use it effectively.
Now much of the organization’s operation is automated, pushing volunteers to new levels of engagement. Surprisingly, however, something else began happening, too.
Using Salesforce’s Chatter feature, employees began to communicate much more effectively with one another, increasing collaboration and sharing.
“Chatter is ultimately a cultural change,” Puthoff said. “It’s about understanding data, and defining opportunities, and grasping the importance of transparency and power structures. It’s a new kind of stream, much different from email, and learning how to use it can take some time…Culturally, as an organization, we need to understand that we have relationships with each of our volunteers, our donors, our trainees, and those relationships need to be managed with care. Salesforce and Chatter are helping us do that.”
Employing Chatter, Puthoff and his team organized a “reduce the murder rate” campaign. By sharing information and data across the organization, the nonprofit was able to successfully campaign an effort to combat the city’s murder rate.
Be it consolidating data, making data more actionable and flexible to the needs of your nonprofit or igniting a shift toward a more socially engaged organizational culture, Salesforce is a powerful ally when it comes to nonprofit management. And everyone needs allies.
Large nonprofits often have passionate volunteers who are eager to help out. There are a lot of different ways to engage and inspire those volunteers. With more young volunteers looking to their mobile devices for information, it may seem like social media is the key to success. However, good old email can be enough to get people going, assuming you follow some best practices. Nonprofit CRM software can help make this happen through automating many important processes.
If you work for a charity or nonprofit, chances are, there's a day in the calendar year that's dedicated to your organization's cause. According to NP Tech for Good, 64 known cause awareness days take place throughout the year. With two months worth of causes, it's a lot of recognition to go through. That's not even including some of the awareness months out there. The cause days are so frequent that some causes share the same day. Consider our personal favorite, World Penguin Day, which shares April 25 with World Malaria Day. Okay, it's not the best, but we'll take it.
So how do you play up your cause over the course of that day? Preparation helps, but here are a couple specific ways of going about it.
Embrace the hashtag and push the cause through social media
Over the past few years, social media is making a strong impact on how nonprofits engage with members, donors and other constituents. About 47 percent of people polled by nonprofit firm Avectra said that they found out about a cause through social media and other online channels. Social networks amazing results, according to communications firm Weggener Edstrom: 55 percent of people who engaged with a cause on social media undertook further action in the form of giving a donation or volunteering. There's meaning to that #WorldPenguinDay hashtag, after all.
But how do you leverage the hashtag? The best way is through storytelling. That's your strong point, after all: When you speak about a cause, you're spinning a yarn about something that has gone wrong and you want to fix. By telling a story, you get people interested in what you have to say and, more importantly, what you do. A powerful tale will stir the right emotions – feelings of joy, sorrow or anger – that will spur people to action. It's so effective that 56 percent of people who read a story on social media will be inspired to do more and take some form of action, according to the Weggener Edstrom survey.
Bring out the cause champions to preach the news
While using an awareness day can raise your profile significantly, you need cheerleaders who aren't from your organization to spread the word, too. Consider the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014: Families of ALS victims were the ones who started the viral phenomenon, with the ALS Foundation only joining in later.
These cause champions – people who support and preach the mission to others - are the ones getting the word out on your behalf, and not because they're a part of your organization and feel obligated. They do it because they truly believe in the cause. Combining social media with these champions can transform them into bullhorns for your cause.
Engaging with cause champions can help you in many ways. And you can help them better spread the word. If they have an event planned, you can use it as a springboard to make your day a more engaging one for constituents and visitors. Either way, these people will help you both directly and indirectly in getting people interested in your cause before, during and after its awareness day.
You know that Facebook is one of the main resources for developing a strong rapport with your constituents. With more Likes attached to your page, there's a chance more people are looking at your mission and cause, increasing the potential for additional volunteers as well as donations. A lot has changed in recent years, and as Business Insider notes, the recent restructuring of the news feed has resulted in significant challenges for nonprofit organizations. But that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel when it comes to that social media channel. Here are some ways to make sure you're still reaching out to customers through the feed and beyond.
Talk to your members and donors directly
As Hootsuite notes, developing a list of your constituents on Facebook can be really helpful. Matching this list with members found in your nonprofit CRM database can also assist you in making meaningful interactions. Another important aspect to consider as you have this list is to read what your members are saying and respond to them. By being involved with your supporters through direct communication, you show your organization is part of the larger community.
Recently, Facebook added a new feature where you can directly reply to comments, rather than have the comments form a single thread. This is very advantageous to your nonprofit for two reasons. For one, when you speak directly to someone, they'll feel like they're important and that what they're saying has relevance, helping you foster a relationship with them. Secondly, you can better isolate and capture this interaction for use with your CRM software.
Share your members' stories
You shouldn't just see your Facebook page as a way to raise money. It's also there to build awareness for your cause. In this environment, you should be on the lookout for people doing so because they care about the cause, especially if they have something to share.
Remember that you're storytellers, first and foremost. Look through the list of donors and, when possible, peruse their personal pages. They may have a story to tell either in text or video form. By utilizing the share functions, you can take advantage of Facebook's emphasis on sharing information to generate interest in your mission to both regular members and visitors who happen to like your page. Nonprofit executive Liz Strauss, in speaking with NTEN, suggested that's the best route.
"Let the folks who give be part with their hands and minds – not just their hearts and wallets," she said. "We're not the only ones with great ideas."
Every nonprofit, including yours, are likely still envious of the ALS Association. Last year's Ice Bucket Challenge campaign not only raised a significant amount of cash for the organization, but brought a huge amount of attention to the condition also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and its overall lack of research funding. Can you imagine what would happen if you could knock out two birds with one stone like that for your cause?
What’s your plan for the new year? What do you have in store for your nonprofit organization?
Well, we’ve got some balloons, silly hats and flat champagne…
No, what are your plans in terms of operations? What are you doing to further your mission in the next 12 months?
The same we’ve always done: raise funds and bring more people into the fold.
Perhaps you should look into more specific goals, since everybody does that. If you have specific goals for your nonprofit, you can actually achieve those results. Developing some resolutions around constituent relationship management (CRM) can help you do that successfully.
Well, then, what would you suggest?
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?