As we join the Blackbaud team, many things are staying constant. For example, our continued commitment to our clients. However other things are naturally changing and will continue to evolve as we form our new team. These last few weeks I’ve taken time to pause and reflect. How am I prepared for change? Can I be nimble and adjust?
When thinking about your organization are you prepared for the unexpected? Do you have a change management plan? Too often development and marketing professionals are focused on getting the gift, pitching the story, making a call, but we need to step back and assess our readiness for change.
So many questions, but if you spend time now outlining the plans, procedures and details you will be prepared and save time when change does happen. And saving time on details like this will ultimately save money, create stability and enable you to concentrate on the mission.
The first step in starting to measure your impact is to identify the major outcomes that you want to examine. In order to be successful in this step you will need full management support and a dedicated key project lead for your team. This person will take the helm on laying out tasks in a sequence, informing other staff of their roles and assignments, and providing assistance to people as they complete their parts of the evaluation.
The standard nonprofit data points come from fundraising, communications, programs, and finance so consider these sources when gathering your team.
The standard nonprofit data points come from fundraising, communications, programs, and finance so consider these sources when gathering your team. For example, a representative from the fundraising department can make sure you consider when your funders’ reporting cycles are so that you are producing outcome measurement results at a time that aligns with their requests for information about your programs. Also, those most directly affected should provide meaningful participation, so don’t forget about your front-line staff directly involved in providing services.
Next you will want to select the outcomes that you want to examine and prioritize them. For each outcome, specify what observable measures, or indicators, will suggest that you're achieving that key outcome for impact. After you have made your selection you can then identify what information is needed to show these indicators.
There are many types of technology and other management tools available to assist in this process, and now is the time to take stock of your technology and the tools you are going to use to track your data. Decide how information can be efficiently and realistically gathered utilizing the different methods that are best for your organization including:
After the data is collected, organize the information into similar categories (i.e. concerns, suggestions, strengths, etc.). From here you can identify patterns and themes to help you categorize and analyze data according to the indicators for each outcome.
This article, originally appearing in NTEN: Change, is by Julie Macalik, Project Manager with KELL Partners, a Convio partner. Prior to joining KELL Partners, Julie worked for Greenlights for Nonprofit Success. Continue reading this article, which includes more resources and tips, when you subscribe to NTEN:Change for free!
Congrats again to All Hands Volunteers who recently received an Innovator Award for the Best CRM Visionary/Use of Common Ground. The organization is a volunteer-staffed nonprofit that’s dedicated to timely disaster response and relief assistance. Historically, like many nonprofits, All Hands Volunteers had siloed data, with volunteer data and donor data housed in three different systems. This made it extremely difficult to personalize and tailor communications to each individual. As the organization grew, the need for consolidation and proper segmenting became more imperative… enter Common Ground.
Since consolidating their data into Convio Common Ground, All Hands Volunteers has developed more effective communications. They’ve created multiple fundraising and email campaigns that are personalized for specific segments of their housefile. These personal communications have paid off too, allowing All Hands Volunteers to build, maintain, and strengthen relationships with their constituents. Common Ground has played an important part in growing the organization’s operating budget from $500,000 in 2009 to $2.7 million in 2011.
In addition to their great success with Common Ground, All Hands Volunteers has also adopted Common Ground Social which is an integrated social fundraising solution. Common Ground Social allows All Hands Volunteers constituents to create and share personalized fundraising pages through different social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). Fundraising activities are then seamlessly captured into the consolidated Common Ground database for All Hands Volunteers, allowing for even deeper segmentation.
Hats off to you, All Hands Volunteers, for leading the way with targeted communications and social integration.
Based on the Summit session she's leading right now, the following blog post is written by Judi Sohn. Judi is currently Vice President of Operations of Fight Colorectal Cancer, an organization she helped start in 2005. She is co-moderator of the popular community-led Nonprofit Salesforce Practitioners listserv and will be joining Convio’s Common Ground team as a full-time employee in January 2012.
Our organization, Fight Colorectal Cancer, started using Salesforce as our primary database in 2006, when we were barely a year old. We adopted Convio Common Ground for better integration with fundraising and email marketing in 2009. While it’s nice if an organization has someone who does nothing but Salesforce tasks all day, many organizations like mine have an administrator juggling other roles. Never fear. If you can move a mouse you can be a very effective Common Ground administrator.
As easy as it is to get around Common Ground, Salesforce can be an extremely complex tool. Even after over 5 years of daily use, I am constantly finding a better way. In my session, “Common Ground Administration Without Tears: Tips & Tricks from the Trenches” I show attendees some of the little things that I wish I knew when I didn’t know I needed to know it. It’s not about features. It’s the easy, small steps any accidental administrator can take that will protect their organization’s data, save time (and when you save time you’re saving precious donor dollars) and make you look like a data rock star to your colleagues.
Here are just two of the many tips I share and demo in this session:
Did you know that every Common Ground instance comes with a testing environment? Curious what would happen if you deleted a bunch of fields? Want to try out some fancy code? No sweat.
A sandbox is a free exact duplicate of your Common Ground production organization without any data. Every field, workflow rule, report, tab, etc. is exactly the same as the environment your users are working in. Add a few sample records and then go to town on your customizations. When you’re ready, you can copy your sandbox customizations to the live organization. You can also use your Sandbox to test new versions of Salesforce and Common Ground before they’re released to the general public. If something misbehaves in Sandbox, you can simply request a new clean copy of your live organization and start over again.
As your organization starts to rely on Common Ground for a 360 degree look at your organization’s programs and measurable data it’s almost too easy to add custom fields and objects in Salesforce. As helpful and wonderful as the Common Ground Resource Center is, you’re going to find that there are times where the screen shots in the documentation don’t look like yours anymore. Or maybe you’ve added a whole new section for tracking data specifically related to your organization’s programs.
The best thing you can do for your users is to provide step-by-step instructions that are customized just for your organization. The easiest way I’ve found to provide this documentation is with ScreenSteps. It’s a desktop application for Mac or Windows that makes short work out of writing software documentation, complete with annotated screen shots and explanation text. I don’t know how I created documentation without it.
Netflix has been getting a lot of attention lately for some recent changes they are making. Just take a look at twitter for a small example of what people are thinking and saying. The nonprofit industry has some lessons to learn from their mistakes, which is why I take a moment to highlight this today.
As a consumer, I was relying on Netflix to fulfill what I saw as their mission - to provide me with programming, regardless of the channel I consumed it on. Sometimes, I wanted a DVD to take on the flight, sometimes I wanted to stream a TV series and sometimes I had to rent by mail because streaming was not an option for the program I wanted.
As a constituent, I rely on the nonprofits I am involved with to work towards fulfilling their mission, which I support. I do this in various channels as well. Sometimes, I will make an online gift, sometimes I will attend an event and sometimes I will volunteer in person.
What I don’t want, from Netflix or from the organizations I support, is for my interactions to be treated so siloed and independently that the left hand doesn’t seem to talk to the right hand. When it works well, it’s just a great experience. (If you’ve ever arrived to volunteer somewhere and been thanked for your recent donation, you know what I mean.) And it keeps me coming back and supporting them for years to come.
So what are some lessons we as the nonprofit community can learn from Netflix’s current challenges?
1. Make it as easy as possible for your organization to understand the full picture of how your constituents are supporting you. This takes a lot of work, but a database where employees can see all different kinds of interactions with your organization is key. Put those pieces of the puzzle together, so you get the full picture of your supporters.
2. Your internal structure (departments, programs, etc.) should not dictate a disparate experience for your supporters. Your donors, activists, etc. see you as one organization, working towards one mission. Help them feel that, even if you are in the midst of a budget battle or some other internal challenges.
3. Allow constituents to opt in or out of certain communication channels. Reach them where they are and how they want to be reached, it will make them happy campers.
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