5Ways Nonprofits Can
Leverage Social CRM to Drive
Interaction & Relevance
Imagine a typical donor within your organization or association — let’s
call him John Jones. Where is Mr. Jones spending time these days?
Whether it is a workday or a weekend, on a desktop computer or a
smartphone, at home or on the go, you’ll likely find him somewhere in
the vast, frontier-like universe of social media. He may be commenting
on a news story, watching a video, sharing a photo, posting a status
update or participating in a host of other activities, but these days,
according to Nielsen Research, social media accounts for at least a
quarter of Mr. Jones’ time spent online or using a mobile device.
With Facebook on track to hit 1 billion donors this summer, 100 million
currently tweeting on Twitter, and LinkedIn connecting 150 million
professionals, Mr. Jones’ social media activities should come as no
surprise to association professionals. It’s clear that a strong majority of
people of all ages and backgrounds now interact with their personal
connections and professional network through a variety of web-based
and mobile social networks, as well as blogs, gaming platforms and
community forums. In addition, people can choose their interactions
based on what is relevant to them — where they live, who they know,
what their interests are and what their priorities are in the moment.
So what does that mean for
nonprofits and other donor-based
organizations, which want to
stay engaged on many levels
with Mr. Jones — both in terms of
interactions as well as relevance?
Social media certainly provides
powerful opportunities to send donor
engagement soaring, thanks to the natural connections arising out of
posting, sharing, linking and “liking.” But in order to best take advantage
of these new ways to develop a two-way dialogue with your donors and
boost their loyalty to the organization, you’ll need to develop a strong,
clear strategy. That strategy needs to help you navigate this new social
universe as well as integrate it into your current constituent relationship
That’s because the rules guiding the “relationship” part of CRM, or
constituent relationship management, have fundamentally changed
— for good. And donors such as Mr. Jones are the ones writing the new
rules of this ever-evolving game.
Nonprofits are changing — thanks, most of all, to the changing attitudes,
needs and desires of its donors. Today’s active donor wants to engage with
their organization on their own terms, based on their needs at the moment,
as opposed to the passive participants of the past, who simply opened their
mailboxs or email inboxes to receive the latest message.
The rise of social media has put donors in the driver’s seat when it
comes to engagement — they can speak up when they want, share
thoughts with others, or opt-out of any connection. Traditional “push”
and “pull” marketing and communications tactics are no longer
enough to connect with donors. Simply measuring and analyzing
donor engagement through their transactions will mean you miss many
valuable opportunities to gauge connections, encourage participation
and build long-term, two-way relationships.
Instead, if you want more from your donors, you must connect with them
where they are and how they want — in a personalized, relevant way.
Furthermore, donors also want to be able to interact with others who have
similar interests within the communities and organizations they participate in.
They assume you will be aware of the conversations happening about your
organization in the social sphere and that you will respond promptly to what is
being said — again, in a personalized, relevant way.
Sounds like a whole lot of
effort, right? However, if
you invest the time, energy
and expense to develop
interaction and engagement
with donors through social
media, you will get a
significant return. First of all,
your donors will be more
likely to engage in various
ways that count — including
attending events, spreading
the word about important issues and contributing to your group’s overall
mission. In addition, you’ll have the chance to build the kind of long-term
loyalty that leads to organizational growth and boosts bottom-line results
when it comes to education, networking, fundraising and the exclusive
donorship community value that all nonprofits strive for. That can make
your efforts a worthwhile win-win.
Developing Authentic Engagement
All of the above leads to what has become an inarguable fact: Getting
on the social media bandwagon is no longer a “maybe-we-should” option
for nonprofits and other donor-based organizations. Instead, it is a “must-
do.” Simply put, those that don’t will be left behind by the progressive ones
working to meet their donors’ current wants and needs.
However, taking advantage of the potential of this new, “social” donor
isn’t just about slapping a page up on Facebook or Twitter or posting
daily on LinkedIn or Pinterest. Over the past few years, nonprofits and
organizations have experimented in different social media environments,
but now, it’s clear that social media tools need to be used more
thoughtfully and strategically, through the gathering, measurement and
analysis of social data, in order to provide a clear donor view that is
useful and actionable. That has led to the rise of “Social” CRM.
In the same way that traditional CRM has been used to manage an
organization’s interactions and relevant relationships with donors through
data gathering and analysis, campaign automation and customer
service support, a comprehensive Social CRM strategy is essential in
order to integrate and evaluate social data (ranging from social media
profile information and logging social inquiry responses to keyword
tracking and social conversation monitoring). It offers valuable feedback
that can help inform future decisions about brand-building, recruitment
and marketing messaging. By using the right tools and tactics, combined
with an organization-wide, donor-centric philosophy, an organization
can use Social CRM to provide a clear understanding of what donors
need, which in turn can inform decisions that drive long-term loyalty and
The Rise Of Social CRM
Getting on the social media bandwagon
is no longer a “maybe-we-should” option
for nonprofits and other donor-based
organizations. Instead, it is a “must-do.”
Social CRM is already becoming an essential piece in the entire
constituent relationship management puzzle: MarketingSherpa, a
research firm and online resource, reports that integrating social data
into CRM systems is an emerging practice that is becoming instrumental
to companies and organizations of all sizes and across industries.
According to analyst firm Gartner, the worldwide social customer
relationship management (CRM) market is forecast to reach over $1
billion in revenue by the end of 2012, up from approximately $625 million
But Social CRM is not just about technology. At its heart, it is a philosophy
that is, in turn, supported by the right technology tools and tactics.
According to William Band, an analyst at Forrester Research who writes
regularly about these topics, the most important issue facing today’s
companies and organizations is “determining whom you’re trying to
reach, what you’re trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change
your relationships with your customers.”
The good news is, donor-based nonprofits already have real relationships
with their constituents and any social efforts to increase interaction and
relevance are really just an extension of that core mission. Social CRM
takes a broad, holistic view of the donor-organization relationship and
is designed to encourage a collaborative conversation that is mutually
beneficial and evolves over time. The more you can learn about your
donors and how they want to be communicated with through the many
layers of social data, the more you can anticipate their needs and
work to meet them. This can drive donor engagement through social
platforms, providing additional social data, fostering more data analysis,
and on and on through a layered, evolving, long-term relationship.
An Era Of Collaborative Conversation
Social CRM takes a broad, holistic view of the
donor-organization relationship and is designed
to encourage a collaborative conversation
that is mutually beneficial and evolves over
So how can your organization leverage Social CRM toward increasing
donor engagement? These are five ways to turn your current constituent
relationship management efforts into social success:
1. Manage the donor lifecycle.
Traditionally, the typical donor lifecycle was linear and predictable.
Let’s go back to the imaginary donor John Jones: In the standard
model, Mr. Jones would be recruited into the organization and efforts
would be made to retain his donorship, market to him and interact
with him regularly. The success of that effort would be based on and
measured through transactions: Have we asked for a contribution to
an annual fund drive? Has he registered for the autumn auction or the
holiday party? From a traditional constituent relationship management
standpoint, as long as you supported, managed and fostered that
transactional-based lifecycle, you enjoyed donorship success.
Today, however, the donor lifecycle is no longer linear or predictable
— it is messy, multi-pronged and may seem difficult to measure. Mr.
Jones may not respond to emails, but is connected to your Facebook
Fan page. How do you distinguish that kind of communication? He
has spoken up on Twitter, shared photos of your last event on Flickr
and he is “friends” with other donors, but how will you know that if
you only measure donor engagement by his traditional transactions?
Also, how can you make sure your interactions with Mr. Jones are
relevant based on his interests and where he spends his time? You
may recognize social media as a way to increase relevance, but
without the right social data you can’t take advantage of the
Through gathering and analyzing social data and layering it onto
traditional data streams, organizations now have the chance to
engage with donors on their terms in an ongoing, meaningful,
relevant way. Problems that might have gone unnoticed through
traditional channels can now
be highlighted and dealt with
immediately through social
media — and analyzed for future
reference and action. None of this
would be possible if you weren’t
willing to meet your donors where
they are in the social space, and
use the social data to build a
meaningful dialogue throughout
the donor’s evolving lifecycle.
2. Increase participation via a
Donor-based organizations are unique in that there is a strong
common bond that ties the donorship together — a thread that
tends to bind participants together closer than, say, fans of big
brands such as The GAP or Trader Joe’s. How can you harness that
powerful connection between donors, as well as between those
donors and the organization?
A private, dedicated online community offers a singular opportunity
to increase participation in ways an outside network cannot. You
control the look and feel, the messaging and the access. You can
observe, analyze and sometimes steer the conversation to resolve
issues. You can add value in terms of what is relevant to your donors
instead of letting outside social networks control the conversation,
the commerce and the data.
For donors, a private, “gated” community offers them the opportunity
to participate in a smaller, password-protected environment, while you
can improve their donor experience by easily being responsive and
transparent. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming prospect to build a
dedicated community from the ground up. The right technology tools
can help you easily set up and maintain a private space that drives
social data right to a single dashboard.
Nonprofits are facing a relevance crisis. Including yours.
Do something about it.
DonorFuse™ , an online community and professional networking solution,
unlocks your network’s true potential and is your organization’s own social
networking website where you control the look, messaging, community and
group access based on donor data stored in your database.
Engagement: Give your donors a way to engage with each other and the
association from anywhere 24/7.
It’s YOUR Community: Not Facebook or LinkedIn. You get the benefit of being
the community owner, including the rights to potential advertising dollars.
Internal vs. External: The social web can be a risky place. With a DonorFuse
community, you remove some of the risk. Give yourself a home field
advantage. You set the agenda. You control the topics.
Relevance: Your donors zero-in on what’s most important to them and follow
Individualized: Your donors configure their own personalized community
dashboard and email alerts.
On-demand Knowledge: Your organization’s answer to Google, Twitter and
LinkedIn. Official association content and donor-generated content exist side-
by-side, giving donors 24/7 access to organization vetted information and peer-
to-peer knowledge. And it’s all easily findable with site-wide search.
Collaboration: Give committees, task forces, special interest groups and
communities of practice their own online group collaboration spaces to
organize their work, develop documents, organize events, share resources, take
polls and hold discussions.
3. Provide new networking models.
A dedicated, donor-only community can be considered a significant
benefit by a donor — a value-added experience all its own. Here, the
relationship is not just between you and your donors, but between
the donors themselves; creating not just a dialogue between the
constituents and the organization, but a layered, multi-directional
communication where you interact with your donors, they interact with
you, and they interact with each other. And in all those directions, the
communications become personalized and relevant to your donor’s
specific needs and wants.
Thanks to new social tools, this is a new model of networking that
highlights your donors and the relationships between them as your
most valuable asset. You don’t need to give that value away to an
outsider — instead, you can offer a safe space for your donors to
connect and collaborate by sharing documents, discussing opinions,
and networking. At the same time, the social community becomes
integrated with the organization’s CRM database, allowing the
opportunity for ongoing analysis, measurement and reporting —
which helps you stay relevant to donors, offer targeted and pertinent
information, and anticipate their future needs.
The social community becomes integrated
with the organization’s CRM database,
allowing the opportunity for ongoing
analysis, measurement and reporting.
4. Monitor the conversations taking place on social channels.
Haven’t you ever wanted to
be a fly on the wall during
an important conversation?
Well, more and more of
your donors’ interactions
are taking place on social
media platforms. Don’t let
them happen without you
— because today’s donors
are savvy and they want you
to be aware of what is going on. Serving your constituents is central
to your future. By monitoring social comments and interactions, you
can be more personalized in your response, and your donors will be
better served over the long haul.
Whether those social conversations happen peer-to-peer or donor-
to-organization doesn’t really matter — you still need to know about
them in order to respond in the most relevant way. Just think about
folks who post complaints on Twitter or Facebook: They may not go
straight to the company to complain. Instead, they might sound off
to their friends and connections. You want to be aware of that peer-
to-peer communication, so you can respond promptly and efficiently.
The same is true if they do reach out to your organization through
social media outlets; you want to be there to meet their needs and
then keep track of and analyze those interactions going forward.
Capture compelling data with one dynamic tool.
The Avectra Social Console, a Social Media Management System (SMMS),
combines tools for listening, engaging, publishing and scheduling with powerful
analytics in one robust tool.
Using a SMMS that integrates with your CRM unlocks a powerful new level of
understanding about the preferences, attitudes and engagement of your
donors, prospects and other stakeholders. Benefits include:
• Track down lapsed donors who have moved on to a new address but
failed to notify your organization.
• Discover prospective donors, donors, advertisers, sponsors, authors and
• Monitor your annual convention’s social media buzz, allowing you to make
adjustments on the fly if necessary.
• Attach social content to donor records and discover which stakeholders
are advocates or detractors.
• Create your own scoring system, enabling you to determine who are the
most influential in your organization’s social media environment.
• Record social media interactions between donors and staff like you would
record a customer service call,
• Decide how to engage with a new and growing LinkedIn group that is
critical of your organization.
5. Automate & measure donor engagement.
The sheer amount of social data, as well as the vast amount of social
sources, can seem overwhelming when it comes to measurement
and analysis. But what if you could consolidate all of that donor
information into one single dashboard, and produce a single score
based on qualitative and quantitative analysis, which is easily visible
and simple to decipher? What if resulting responses and campaigns
could be automated and triggered to handle various donor questions,
problems or communications? Your staff executives and board of
directors will likely sit back in their chairs with wide smiles — happy with
the increased focus on the bottom line, boosted efficiency and cost-
savings, and freed-up resources for other projects.
That is the power behind today’s Social CRM technology — the
ability to consolidate and measure social data, combine it with
traditional CRM data, and turn it into personalized, relevant
information that can be measured and shared easily and quickly
with the organization and with donors, both to use now and for
future decision-making purposes.
Avectra’s proprietary A-Score™ measures the engagement level
of individuals and organizations on an ongoing basis, providing
qualitative insight for calculating and measuring the health of your
constituents, your services and your overall business. By distilling the
ever-increasing amounts of data available about your donors into the
A-Score, It is the ultimate tool to enhance, optimize and automate
new and existing programs and services to encourage engagement
and fuel the success of your organization.
“Imagine the ability to determine if and how donor
engagement correlates with the success of your organization
and the individual success of your donors? The A-Score
confirms that nonprofits help donors succeed and that their
programs are working — just the validation nonprofits are
seeking with their donors and to fuel future organization growth.
That is the power of A-Score.”
—Patrick Dorsey, Avectra, Vice President of marketing
There’s no doubt that the world of social media can be overwhelming,
with new sites popping up all the time and confusing tools requiring time
and effort to decipher. It can be scary to make decisions surrounding
unproven platforms when it feels like you’re just figuring out last month’s
Still, you have to start somewhere, and you can start slow, with trusted
tools and tactics that move you in the right direction. With the right Social
CRM strategies, you can accomplish some very concrete objectives to
meet your goals of increasing donor engagement: You can recognize
and reward donors who influence others in the social sphere, for example.
You can reach out to donors at-risk of leaving the organization. You can
recruit potential donors by building budding relationships in social spaces.
You can be aware of trends and topics donors are currently discussing.
And, you can better target and automate marketing messages that
reach the right donors at the right times.
Social CRM is not just about content, it’s about developing conversations
that grow and evolve and transform into long-term relationships. Then,
it’s about using feedback from social data to make decisions about how
to improve donor service. It’s a layered and ultimately circular effort that
is based on a simple, straightforward philosophy.
Certainly, nonprofits have had to evolve as their donors have changed
and the overall universe of engagement has changed thanks to social
media. But the basic foundation and principles of what you want to
accomplish remains the same: You want to improve and increase donor
engagement. You want to build and boost long-term loyalty.
While you need to tread carefully when it comes to new social trails, you
want to take your organization toward a successful, growth-oriented
future. Social CRM can help you stay true to your organization’s values
and overall mission, while still moving with the times, without fear, into the
new and exciting social frontier. Mr. Jones, and your other active donors,
will thank you with trust, communication, long-term loyalty and ongoing
But the basic foundation and principles
of what you want to accomplish remains
the same: You want to improve and
increase donor engagement. You want
to build and boost long-term loyalty.
Follow Patrick on Twitter
For almost 20 years, Avectra has translated the business needs of nonprofits, not-for-profits
and donor-based organizations into market-leading software and award-winning services.
We automate your business, so you can focus on serving your donors. And with Avectra
Social CRM and an array of social business solutions, our mission is simple:
Enable organizations to engage both internal and external audiences in more sophisticated,
relevant and transparent relationships to promote advocacy, community and action while
driving business value.
7901 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, VA 22102
Phone (703) 506-7000
Fax (703) 506-7001
Patrick Dorsey is Avectra’s vice-president of Marketing and is responsible for the
company’s worldwide marketing, including demand generation, product marketing
and corporate communications. Asked to describe his role in 140 characters, he replied:
Build great products, relentlessly focus on customer success & create an army of Avectra
evangelists. Unapologetically Purple.
Patrick has published articles with Marketing Profs, Destination CRM, Direct Marketing
News and numerous association- and nonprofit-industry publications. A member of the
American Society of Association Executives, he writes and speaks about constituent
relationship management (CRM) , donorship and the role of data management,
analytics and social technology in the nonprofit community and society.