Go Beyond the Typical To Reach Your Base

Post by Matt Metten - 6.10.2010 - Follow me on Twitter

For any nonprofit, trying to keep constituents (members, donors, attendees, etc.) informed and engaged can be challenging, with potentially devastating consequences if unsuccessful. The use of a database or CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) software is an essential tool for helping manage this challenge, but is that all you need?

CommunicationThings a CRM Can Do: 

  • Provide a scalable platform for robust record management

  • Help query, sort, filter, target your base

  • Allow for smoother, more secure collaboration – no longer passing around a spreadsheet!

  • Provide detailed reporting on any level needed – donations, communication, attendance, participation, volunteering, history, etc.

  • And more … (there’s no way I could cover it all in a bulleted list)


Things a CRM Cannot Do:

  • Enter the data itself (though sometimes it can integrate with a website to save on double-entry!)

  • Solve all your problems or find you more money

  • Connect at a personal level with your supporters

  • Grow your organization just because you’re using it

You can use your CRM to collect and manage data, but going beyond data collection and management to connecting and communicating (i.e. relationship building) is where the magic happens – that’s how you will elevate your organization beyond the typical.


Here are 3 tools to help you build relationships once you’ve got the data:


1. Content Management

Having access to your website at your leisure to update articles, links, images, videos, etc. is critical to getting your message out. A website that is not updated regularly will discredit the organization behind it and fail in bringing back return visitors. Using a system that makes this manageable is the key.

If you’re not already using one, make sure your website is built on a solid Content Management System (CMS). Long gone are the days when we built our websites one page at a time using static HTML so don’t be afraid of using a CMS. A CMS can be your best friend. If you can use Word or send an email, you can update your own website once the framework is in place.


2. Email Communication

By utilizing E-Newsletter software (hopefully already integrated with your CRM and CMS!) you can take advantage of the ability to send targeted, unique and powerful messages to your supporters. 

  • Go beyond the “text-only”. With most systems you can create an HTML template so that it matches your overall brand. 

  • Make sure your template has at least one image section that you can swap out. This will allow you to craft a custom email experience for any event, promotion and/or need that comes up.

  • Create a clear call to action (i.e. “Donate Now” or “Tell A Friend” or “Follow us”) in your template so with each communication you have the opportunity to make an impact, but don’t always ask for money. 

  • Make sure your messages are concise, with the option to “Read More” if needed. Most people don’t have the time to read War and Peace.

  • Track your email, links and conversions! One of the greatest values of the HTML email is being able to see how many emails were opened, what links were clicked, how this affected your site traffic, how much money you raised, etc. Essentially you want to know if your efforts are successful.


3. Social Media

Remember, it’s about connecting to the people who are 1) already supporting you, 2) looking for you and, 3) friends of #1 and/or #2! You have to be where the people are. You could achieve this by simply setting up a Facebook page and engaging with people there or sending updates and interacting on Twitter. Maybe it’s starting a channel on Youtube where you post interviews, recaps of your events or even testimonials. However you go about it make sure you consider social media as part of your digital strategy. There’s no on-size-fits all approach, but it’s pretty obvious these days that if you are doing things online social media should be a part of the mix! The bonus is making sure your CMS is already set up to integrate with the other social tools you are using!

Also see:


Technology is essential to the growth of organizations in todays world. Finding a way to connect at a human/personal level is what elevates you above those who are simply using technology to gain efficiencies. Starting with a CRM, mixing that with the power of a CMS, email communication and social media tools you can leverage technology available (some even for FREE!) to grow your organization and reach farther than ever before.

Photo Credit: gsherman


Get free updates of the the blog articles sent to your inbox by entering your email address:

Make sure to check out our Social Media for Nonprofits resources section or browse by topic ...

Popular Posts

Recent Posts

Nonprofit Tech Featured Blog