ISSUE FOUR · DECEMBER, 2011      chanGe       A Quarterly Journal for Nonprofit Leaders  inside                           ...
inside:                                                     ISSUE FOUR · DECEMBER, 2011                                   ...
WELCOME      by ANNALIESE HOEHLING                                                                                managing...
naviGation tipsGetting to Articles Online:• Click on the titles in the table of contents to go directly to  those articles...
FEATUREFromOutcomesto Impact A bird’s eye view of the nonprofit sector gives us a two-dimensional view only: inputs and ou...
OUTCOMES TO IMPACTEfficiency and effectiveness are indicators of success, butthey cannot replace true impact. Outcomes foc...
OUTCOMES TO IMPACTexample, a representative from the fundraising departmentcan make sure you consider when your funders’ r...
OUTCOMES TO IMPACTDevelop a PlanNow that you’ve gathered and analyzed your data, you canbegin to develop your strategic pl...
OUTCOMES TO IMPACT   Implement in increments. Planning for your organiza-tion’s future can be exciting, and often organiza...
OUTCOMES TO IMPACTthe organization itself, and accordingly asked Greenlights toconduct a comprehensive evaluation and asse...
THE NEXTREVOLUTION ISREVOLUTIONTHE REVOLUTION    REVOLUTIONOF FREE.   FREE.      FREE                                 FREE...
FEATUREMultiple ConstituentGroups, One Database?How to Track EveryoneWho’s Anyone to You               By Laura Quinn, Ide...
TRACKING EVERYONESINCE MOST ORGANIZATIONSDON’T TRACK JUST ONE TYPE                                          there may not ...
TRACKING EVERYONE          NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 14
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011
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NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011

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NTEN "Change" is a free resource from NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network. Subscribe for free to access the interactive version (with live links, plus video and a podcast) at http://nten.org/ntenchange. This version is in PDF format and missing the fun "extras"! My contribution to the December, 2011 issue is found on page 26.

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NTEN Change Issue Four: December, 2011

  1. 1. ISSUE FOUR · DECEMBER, 2011 chanGe A Quarterly Journal for Nonprofit Leaders inside Feature: Multiple this Constituent Groups, One Database? How To Track edition: Everyone Who’s Anyone to You PAGE 12 Tracking CASE STUDY: Constituents in One System Fight Colorectal Cancer PAGE 18 Tracking CASE STUDY: Constituents in Two Systems Sarah’s... An Oasis for Women PAGE 20feature story: from CASE STUDY:Trackingoutcomes to impact Constituents in ManyPlus: A Case Study from Greenlights for Nonprofit Success Systems[ PAGE 4 ] Earthjustice PAGE 22
  2. 2. inside: ISSUE FOUR · DECEMBER, 2011 plus: What’s Hot/What’s This?: Google+, Theory of Change, Livestreaming pages 16, 19, 21 Infographic: Mapping Your Website Ecosystem page 23 Leadership Cheat Sheet:DIY Nonprofit Technology Tech Across Your Org Calling Dr. Nerd? page 43NTEN experts translate Inspiration and examplesbest practices into step- for the expanding role of Community Question:by-step directions tech at your org Is Your Org Failure-Friendly? page 41 PAGE 29 PAGE 25 Feedback: How Are We Doing? page 30 Infographic: The 2011 Nonprofit Industry page 45 Video: Cloud for Nonprofits page 35 Tech Tips for EDs: 5 Must- Have Tools page 40 All content is producedThe “Ask Deborah” Podcast Leader Profiles and submitted independently from,The CTK Educational How do you lead your org and without influence by, sponsors orSeries presents Deborah through change? advertisers. All content is published under the Creative Commons License: Attribution-Elizabeth Finn NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. PAGE 17 PAGE 36
  3. 3. WELCOME by ANNALIESE HOEHLING managing change at their organizations, and you won’t want to miss the Leadership Cheat Sheet. Find inspiration in our Techfrom the editor Across Your Org articles, and give your eyes a rest while listening to the askDebo-There has been a lot of talk lately about how much data rah podcast. And there’s even more!the world is producing and consuming now—in this year Thank you for subscribing to NTEN:alone, we’ll have created the equivalent of 57.5 billion Change, A Quarterly Journal for Nonprofit Leaders – and if you have a few minutes,32 GB iPods worth, according to Mashable. please tell us what you think of it.And we’re doubling our data every two years. This issue of If you found your way to this journal onNTEN:Change provides some strategic guidance for how the web or from a friend and want to learn more and sub-your nonprofit can turn all that data into impact. scribe (for free!), please visit us online here: In our feature article from Julie Macalik and Greenlights http://nten.org/NTENChange NONPRO FIT TECHNO LOGY LEA DER PROFILEfor Nonprofit Success, you’ll get direction for, well, turning S Each parti cipating orga Annaliese Hoehling, Publications tive Dire nization is ctor technology-re (or non-technica represented by the l Leadersh Execu-your data into direction. The article tackles the questions: from Acad sponsible ip staff ) emy parti staff pers and one cipan on. In this QUESTIO ts in their section we N: How own word hear organiza much of s. tion is the tech mission focused nology vs. on help at your What obst just keeping inghow can you make sure your organization is achieving your Director, NTEN, annaliese@nten.org I THE NO NPROFIT help you acles are in the t’s diffic running. We achieve ult to your miss ing us mee say how much tech t our miss our website depend on email your orga you meet you way of ion? ion vs. just nization technolo running? gy that nology is focu can r keeping our sed on help- organizat LEADER TECHNO for day works. Our and social media keep to day operating ion SHIP AC LOGY organization’ s us , while ADEMY I’ve come s operating in touch with ourdesired outcome? How can your data help you make better WEEK ON to realize budget is net- IS A since we that finan minimal, LIN E TRAIN 9- homes, it are a 100% volunteer ce is not the limiting but DESIGNE ING PROG is orga growing orgatime that is the limit nization working factor— D TO RAM ing facto from our HELP NO use of tech nization, and we r. We are LEADER NPROFIT nolo need that one cruc gy. The Tech Acad to constantly evol a young, S UNDE MANAGE RSTAND new tech ial factor is training, emy has helped me ve our HOW TO nolo our organizat gy, and ensure therewhich will help adop realizeorganizational decisions? And Idealware’s feature article FEATURE L MEET TH NEEDS TECHNO EIR BA AND ME LOGY TO SIC OP ET THEIR BOTH ERATION AL MISSIONS CASE runn STU ike many DY BY CHR Educate others, our IS BER Kate Skeg Dare to d! Latina tech NARD, IDEA ion to take g, Social Dream: Confere nce Get responsib are more ility Media Man for our technolo ager tion skilled peop of le in gy use. . futurtheir ing. cleswe build foun nology mainly keepwill help you work through the tough decisions about col- Measuring e arti As “In my LWARE for tech ’ how man nolo URLs and dation we y peogy that can then trac are looking ple clic ked improve our se link to the k the about the mind, I need on them. systems,scomsee s the org to mu- Your Socia percen press and buil lots and lots of Discover NTEN: Change t,” d NTEN: watchin she said. “Ho that audienc people to care CHANG g our foll e to get 2011 E · SEPTEM Success l Media nestly, BER to · PAGE 28 at this What owers point we’ that 10 them, or content is wor go up.” re justlecting and tracking data about your constituents: who do click to kin depth, the org see mo g to inspire peo by com anizatio re? To ple to foll par n assi analyze ow and Twi ing the SF Pub gned an inte that more in- Discover a wealth of tter wit outlets h that of lic Press’s acti rn to research . similar vity on it By Andrea “We wan organiz Fac Berry ted to wat ations and ebook Director of term loo media ch Part how man sely—to see how our competyou need to collect data about? Who else? Should you track valuable information for and Learning nerships for Idealwar e retweeti y times they wer many times s—I’m usin found that traffic. to some ng others’ For wha oth con top e retweete itor like tha they wer hot-button tent, things d, how often posting, tever reas ics and open-e t,” she said others wer er topics. I on, people don d polls got “We what we e doing, and wanted nde to sort ’t seem to resp e e they wer . mor g that e the info to try to rmation out wha figure t be the would tho the of qua ond balance best The org ught was hap numbers we reco ntify whatthem all in one place? You’ll even get an exercise to use for nonprofit leaders the dat on our anizatio a that’s soc been gath pen n is still ing.” trying to dec convers ial media team ered. “We hav ide how to act ers do, atio erently,” we are she said to help e to do diff ns about that , and I’ve ask a couple of peo on ed them us decide doing alre . “A lot of wha what we’re rded rein the to have forced ple some point do We don While —at wh people ’t want much mothis is a good at get con fuse to overwh d about wha star elm our said. “Bu had a better sen ld be trackin she kn t’s followe com wish we re data she cou t, LaHood said rs.” it a littl t it’s pur se g and mea e. going ely reso of what andyour own organization’s decision process. ady. We t we’re more.” “On Tw just may see In been pos itter more be need ing oth- ure how particular, it urces how to tha to tweak many peo would be that keep us tities we ting content from n Facebook, nate—w ho fou ple com particu larl fr think wou other new for examp “We exis nd the org e to events— y useful ld be of le, anizatio or ulti interest s orgs or other we’ve public t bec O Read Online: Bookmark this ,” she said loca interest ause we’re servn through soc ma . “We’re l en- withou t journa lism ing this ial m using give.” funding. We wan ,” she said mission t the con , “but we The data theme continues in some of the other sections page in your browser now! NTEN CHANGE SEPTEMB ER 2011 · PAGE 14 NTEN tent to : CHAN inspire GE · SEPTE can pe MBER 2011 · PAof this issue as well, including the DIY articles on taking O Download & Print: Find the button to downloadcontrol of your data and turning data into stories about your the issue to PDF, or use the button to print up!cause; and don’t forget to read the case studies of how threeorganizations are collecting and tracking data. O Access on Your Mobile: Open the url on your smart- phone or mobile device—use “zoom” mode to help with But this issue isn’t just about data. Be sure to read what readability!our Leadership Academy graduates have to say about NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 3
  4. 4. naviGation tipsGetting to Articles Online:• Click on the titles in the table of contents to go directly to those articles• Find the drop-down menu in the upper-left of the top navigation bar to jump to articles from anywhere in the journal• You can also use the arrows in the center of the top navigation bar to advance a single page or to jump to the front or back of the issue (click on the page number display in the middle to select a page number to jump to).Reading Off-line:• Use the to the right to download to PDF• Or use the to print selected pages (or the entire issue)Interacting with the Articles Online:• Use the button on in the top navigation bar to zoom in on text for easier reading• You can also use the sliding zoom tool in the upper-right to increase and decrease the zoom by increments• You can switch to single-page view for easier reading—just click on the top navigation bar• Some text will “flash” when you first turn to a page. That is a live link to more information on the web. bonus tip: right-click those links and choose to open in a new window or tab, so you can keep the article open as well.Share with Colleagues:• Use in the upper-right on the top navigation bar to open the drop-down menu of your share options NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 4
  5. 5. FEATUREFromOutcomesto Impact A bird’s eye view of the nonprofit sector gives us a two-dimensional view only: inputs and outputs. Raising money and spending money. If we dug deeper, however, we would see that there has been a shift in emphasis on whether nonprofit programs are really making a difference. By Julie Macalik Plus: A Case Study provided by Greenlights for Nonprofit Success NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 5
  6. 6. OUTCOMES TO IMPACTEfficiency and effectiveness are indicators of success, butthey cannot replace true impact. Outcomes focus onwhether programs are really impacting the community. more on the degree to which the meals served by the foodOutcomes measurement is an excellent tool to measure bank reduced hunger in the population served by the foodprogress toward meeting your mission, but what if you were bank and partner agencies. The output is what the nonprofitable to take that one step further and position your organi- agency did; the outcome is the ultimate result they achievedzation for long-term success? at the end of the day: in other words, how the world is dif- A nonprofit can track its outputs by counting the num- ferent because they exist.bers of people served or the numbers of units of service pro- This type of measurement allows organizations tovided. While critical and valuable, outputs tend to focus on increase their capacity to evaluate the extent to which theythe actual “outputs” that come from organizational activi- are achieving their intended results and create a plan toties (e.g. numbers served) and are only one type of metric. measure their programs. Outcomes evaluation looks at theThese are the most basic measures of what a nonprofit does. impacts and benefits to clients during and after participa-An example of an output is “48,000 different individuals tion in your programs.receive emergency food assistance from the Capital Area Measuring ImpactFood Bank in any given week.” The first step in starting to measure your impact is to iden- There are many uses for the data generated from output tify the major outcomes that you want to examine. In ordermeasurement; however, many organizations track this to be successful in this step you will need full managementinformation because they are required to and because it is support and a dedicated key project lead for your team. Thisfairly simple to collect. Nonprofits are often accountable to person will take the helm on laying out tasks in a sequence,foundations and other grant-making organizations that informing other staff of theirmeasure this information for program reporting require-ments. But in order to better tell your story, everyone in output is roles and assignments, and providing assistance to peo-your organization should understand how these numbers WHAT YOU DID. ple as they complete theirare related to the overall effectiveness and quality of your parts of the evaluation. Theprograms. OUTCOME IS standard nonprofit data An example of an outcome for Capital Area Food Bankmight go something like this: “Our programs and services WHAT HAPPENS points come from fundrais- ing, communications, pro-reduced the number of families who went hungry by pro-viding food and grocery products to more than 355 Partner AS A RESULT OF grams, and finance, so consider these sources whenAgencies in 21 Central Texas counties.” This metric focuses WHAT YOU DID. gathering your team. For NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 6
  7. 7. OUTCOMES TO IMPACTexample, a representative from the fundraising departmentcan make sure you consider when your funders’ reporting Interviews and focus groups - The desired outcome ofcycles are so that you are producing outcome measurement this type of method is to solicit data without any influenceresults at a time that aligns with their requests for infor- or bias. This also allows you to develop a relationship withmation about your programs. Also, those most directly clients or other key stakeholders and get a full range andaffected should provide meaningful participation, so don’t depth of information. One benefit of focus groups is theforget about your front-line staff directly involved in pro- ability for participants to feed off each other’s energy andviding services. bounce ideas off one another. Consider using an outside Next you will want to select the outcomes that you want facilitator to help develop questions and protocol and toto examine and prioritize them. For each outcome, specify help identify themes from your data.what observable measures, or indicators, will suggest that Documentation Review - Looking at internal recordsyou’re achieving that key outcome for impact. After you like applications, forms, procedures, and finances allowshave made your selection you can then identify what infor- you to get an impression of how programs operate withoutmation is needed to show these indicators. There are many interruption and identify new methods of collection.types of technology and other management tools available Databases - Nonprofitsto assist in this process, and now is the time to take stock ofyour technology and the tools you are going to use to track can use these tools to track O read this articleyour data. Decide how information can be efficiently and data in real time and report about creatingrealistically gathered utilizing the different methods that on results. Internally they your nonprofitare best for your organization including: can assist in managing per- dashboard formance at the departmen- O view this recorded Surveys - Consider what fea- tal or affiliate-level using webinar abouttures you will need. If you’re just O find out more dashboards and benchmark data, dashboards,looking to get your feet wet with about online progress over time. and tracking anda quick survey, one of the many survey options After the data is collected, reporting on yourfree or low cost online tools will here. organize the information outcomesdo the trick. In fact, a more into similar categories (i.e.sophisticated survey package could be considerably more concerns, suggestions,difficult to use. On the other hand, if you’re looking for sur- strengths, etc.). From here you can identify patterns andvey software to support rigorous research, the more themes to help you categorize and analyze data according toadvanced packages are more likely to have the features you the indicators for each outcome.need. NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 7
  8. 8. OUTCOMES TO IMPACTDevelop a PlanNow that you’ve gathered and analyzed your data, you canbegin to develop your strategic plan. When it comes to Goals that are specific are far more likely to bebrainstorming goals, keep it simple. Four to six meaty,well-defined goals will be plenty to keep your organiza-tion busy (with meaningful, impactful work, of course)over the next three to five years. It’s healthy to dream bigwhen goal-setting, encouraged even, but when it’s time to S Specific achieved than general ones. Know the answers to the following questions (among others): What resources will be needed to accomplish this goal? Who will be involved? How will this impact other programs and services?put pen to paper (or perhaps more accurately, fingers to For each goal, include specific criteria for measuring Mthe keyboard), SMART goals are best. your progress and ultimately, achievement. ConcreteImplementation metrics help reassure you that you’re headed in theWith your strategic plan in hand, teeming with SMART right direction and, more importantly, give you agoals, you’re now well-positioned for the implementation Measureable clear indication of when a goal has been accom-phase. In short, implementation equals action. This does- plished.n’t mean that you have to lose the thoughtful, intentional A Set goals that you can actually accomplish in a finitequality of the planning process. A plan that outlines spe- period of time, but don’t sell your organization shortcific objectives and tasks toward achieving your goals is aplan that will position your organization for long-term when it comes to goal-setting. Encourage “stretchsuccess. The process of data gathering and long-term Achievable goals” that will require you to grow and develop inplanning can be an intense one, but there is an opportu- order to achieve them.nity to build on that momentum during the implementa- Realistic goals are closely linked to achievable ones.tion phase. Below are several keys to success forimplementation Hold each other accountable. Many nonprofits chargea subcommittee of people with leading the planningprocess. This group is not responsible for all of the plan- RRealistic Think about the likelihood of your goals actually being completed in the timeframe you have designated, not only in terms of resources available, but also con- sidering your current board and staff capacity.ning; rather, they are responsible for keeping the process If your answer to, “When can we realistically accom-moving forward. Implementation is no exception. A smalltask force gives board and staff a primary point of contactfor both questions along the way and progress reportingtoward your goals. T Timebound plish this goal?” is, “Someday…” then your goal is not timebound. Set goals with a specific target end date, as well as check points along the way to maintain excitement and momentum. NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 8
  9. 9. OUTCOMES TO IMPACT Implement in increments. Planning for your organiza-tion’s future can be exciting, and often organizations findthemselves tasked with completing 80% of the work fortheir 3-year plan during the first year. Don’t be a hero! CASE STUDY:Strategic plans are long-term for a reason. Space out your IMPACT IN PRACTICEobjectives and tasks in a way that makes sense, and imple- As organizations continue to recognize the increasedment incrementally. Also, consider sequence when plotting importance being placed on demonstrated impact, they areout tasks related to your goals. For each objective ask: responding to this shift by rethinking the way they do things.“What needs to happen first before we can move forward? One example is Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, a Man- Stay flexible. Long-term planning is valuable, but the agement Support Organization (MSO) in Austin, TX, thatreality most of us face in the nonprofit sector is one that serves a five-county area in Central Texas. A nonprofit itself,includes frequent change and many moving parts, from its mission is to strengthen nonprofits for extraordinary per-grant funding cycles to legislative changes. Know that your formance and impact.plan is a blueprint for moving forward, but just as you’re In its own strategic planning process in 2010, Greenlightsfree to decide that you don’t really need that fourth bath- developed a priority goal of increasing the impact and effec-room, so too are you free to update your organizational tiveness of individual nonprofits and the Central Texas non-blueprint to accommodate changes that come your way. profit sector. As a step toward achieving that goal, the Measure success as you go. Keep track of your progress organization has begun developing a consulting practice areaalong the way, both in qualitative and quantitative ways. in performance measurement and impact evaluation as a wayThis is helpful for keeping your board and staff engaged and of helping other nonprofits measure and communicate theirinspired along the way, and it’s also a great way to commu- impact to key stakeholders.nicate with your funders, the community, and other key Explore Austin, a recent client of Greenlights, is an organ-stakeholders. ization that immerses at-risk inner-city youth into a six-year The bottom line is organizations need to set aside time to program that combines mentoring with outdoor explorationgather data, learn from the results, and reflect on the meas- to build confidence, character, and a sense of responsibilityure of progress. Doing so will help the organization achieve for themselves and their communities. Their consistent focusbetter results and assist in future planning. Preparation and on program success had led to success for participants quicklyplanning is a key part of the outcome measurement process. after its 2006 founding, but the organization’s own opera-The better the planning, the more impact the outcome tional excellence was not on their radar.measurement will have on your organization and your orga- As Explore Austin matured and started reaching more youngnization’s impact. people, it recognized a need to begin focusing on developing NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 9
  10. 10. OUTCOMES TO IMPACTthe organization itself, and accordingly asked Greenlights toconduct a comprehensive evaluation and assessment and makeaccompanying recommendations to provide objective, usefuldata upon which to base key decisions that could strengthenthe program model and guide the development of infrastruc-ture that needed to be in place for future growth. Greenlights presented a diagnostic report, logic model, andproposed evaluation model to Explore Austin, which usedthese materials as a guide moving forward. Within months,they drafted and approved new board member roles andresponsibilities prior to recruiting new board members. Alsobased on the recommendations, Explore Austin implementednew risk management policies and procedures, redesigned itsWeb site and promotional materials, and created a formal com-munication structure with its partners. Explore Austin hired new staff, moved into a new office, andadded database/fundraising infrastructure and necessary pro- ONLINE RESOURCESgrams. In addition, the organization created a comprehensive, • More overview and resources from Civicbuilding-block curriculum and enrolled staff in appropriate Partnerships on Strategic Planning and Measurementtraining. All of these decisions were based on the data and the • More resources on measuring outcomes from Theplan they developed through the assessment and strategic Nonprofit Outcomes Toolboxplanning process. • Free Assessment and Planning tools from the Explore Austin now has over 65 boys in the program, a 90% Innovation Networkincrease from previous years, and the board has also commit- • Understanding the difference between Outcomested to starting a program for at-risk girls. In addition, the num- and Outputs (a diagram and overview fromber of volunteer mentors has increased by 30%; the board of University of Wisconsin Extension)Directors has doubled in size; and donations have increased by • An Example of a Strategic Plan (Managanceover 50%. Consulting) Most importantly, however, parents, teachers, and studentsreport a higher level of confidence, satisfaction, and effec- • Another Sample/Template for a Strategic Plan (fromtiveness in the program. That is impact in practice. the Strategic Planning for Dummies book) NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 10
  11. 11. THE NEXTREVOLUTION ISREVOLUTIONTHE REVOLUTION REVOLUTIONOF FREE. FREE. FREE FREE FREE ONLINE FUNDRAISING TOOLS DONOR MANAGEMENT SOCIAL NETWORK FUNDRAISINGWelcome to the new generation of online fundraising. A generation that demands more for less. Over 35 free onlinefundraising tools, one central access point and free merchant bank account set up. Free changes everything. www.ClickandPledge.com | 866-999-2542
  12. 12. FEATUREMultiple ConstituentGroups, One Database?How to Track EveryoneWho’s Anyone to You By Laura Quinn, Idealware NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 12
  13. 13. TRACKING EVERYONESINCE MOST ORGANIZATIONSDON’T TRACK JUST ONE TYPE there may not be enough of an upside to a single database to make it worth your while. For many organizations, multi-OF CONSTITUENT, THE IDEA ple systems can be a better fit.OF A SINGLE DATABASE FOR But how do you determine which is the right solution for your nonprofit? We’ve designed a short exercise to help youALL OF THEM — DONORS, decide.VOLUNTEERS, CLIENTS, EMAIL Know Your Audience The first step is to identify all the constituents you deal withSUBSCRIBERS, ADVOCATES on a day-to-day basis. These are the people you need toAND EVERYONE ELSE — IS track. It’s likely you’ll have not just donors and clients, but volunteers, alumni, event attendees, partners, press con-SOMETHING OF A HOLY GRAIL. tacts and other groups. Include them all. Then, choose the constituent group that’s most impor-The ability to easily see how all your constituents interact tant for your organization to track—we’ll call them yourwith your organization, and with each other, makes for an “Critical Constituent.” For most organizations, this willattractive, ideal vision of what a database should be. probably be either donors or clients. (If you have two or In reality, a single constituent database usually means three key constituents, you can repeat the exercise for each,some sort of compromise. If your nonprofit tracks a wide but choose one to start with.)variety of constituents but doesn’t need very deep func- For each of the other constituent groups you identified,tionality in any particular area, it’s feasible. But if you need determine:to keep tabs on more complex data—like tracking stock gifts • Their relationship to your Critical Constituent—how likelyfrom donors, matching volunteers with volunteer opportu- are people in one group to be in the other? Might theynities based on interests and availability, and the case notes, move between them?histories and outcomes of the mental health services pro- • The complexity of the data you need to track for them invided to clients—you’re not likely to find a single system to addition to what you’re already tracking for Critical Con-fill all your needs. stituents—the basics, like name, address and contact infor- If there’s not much overlap between particular con- mation, is probably the same for both, but there’s likely tostituent groups (for example, your clients aren’t likely to be be additional information.donors, and your donors aren’t likely to become clients), Using donors as the Critical Constituent for our exam- NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 13
  14. 14. TRACKING EVERYONE NTEN: CHANGE · DECEMBER 2011 · PAGE 14
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