At my wedding rehearsal a couple years ago, the minister asked my groom-now-husband and I if we had any final adjustments to the ceremony. I had just one: “I don’t want to be announced as Mr. & Mrs. Ross Black. I want to be Ross and Cheryl Black.”
I took Hubby’s last name but then and now I feel very strongly that I have my own name and prefer not to be “Mrs. Husband’s Name.” Everything, from our mortgage to our cutesy return address labels reads “Ross & Cheryl Black”; nothing says “Mr. & Mrs. Ross Black.” Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
When I get mail addressed to “Mrs. Ross Black” I throw it away without even opening it. They clearly don’t know me. Similarly my grandmother used to politely but quickly end any phone call that began with the caller asking for her by her first name. She’s always gone by “Mrs. Husband’s Name.”
Imagine that Grandma or I are your donor. How bummed would you be to learn that you didn’t get to so much as ask us for a donation because you called us by the wrong Mrs.? Wouldn’t that just kill you a little?
It’s just one of the many reasons why you can’t trust your brain or your co-worker’s brain, to house all your donor information. There are simply too many donors (I hope) with too many eccentricities to rely on a human brain. You need a tool to help you manage all those constituents and relationships.
That’s why there’s (enter the heavens opening up, sun shining down between the clouds, other-worldy music playing) the CRM.
Did you really just read that?? Is this woman crazy? While I do admit to being a little nuts at times (my mother would say all the time), on this point you gotta trust me.
When it comes to becoming an organization focused on delighting constituents (i.e. constituent engagement), implementing and optimizing CRM (a constituent relationship management system), is the easy part if you work at an organization whose culture isn't constituent centric. And chances are that if you work at a nonprofit that's been around 10+ years, has 10+ employees, and 10+ constituents, that's you.
Organizational change and evolution from a business unit, process, and progran-centered culture to one that revolves around the constituent and donor experience is a hot topic, with lots of advice being dispensed from very reputable sources. Consultants like myself are full of helpful advice on just how to do that. “Pivot toward constituent engagement,” we like to tell you. Or, “management must embrace and imbue a constituent centric attitude throughout the organization.” Last time you were at the pharmacy, did you pick up the constituent engagement attitude dispenser in the specialty item aisle?
My point here is not to down my own kind. Rather, I want to acknowledge that the change required by an organization to transform to make meaningful use of CRM is more difficult than we'd often care to admit.
Here are a few observations on ways to start thinking about how to make that change.
So, step 1: figure out who at your organization is in a position to say “we are doing this and that's that.” See what you can to get them on board. Use case studies, board members, major donors, promises of home-baked goods, to champion your cause.
Could be. But look at your internal structure and ask yourself: how are my employees incentivized? Does our culture and reward structure support collaborating to engage constituents?
Let's say your development director owns offline marketing and your director of communications owns online marketing and online giving. How would you behave if you were the development director with $100K lying around as the fiscal year winds down? Would you give it to the marketing person to use for an online stewardship effort that they could claim the “benefit” of in their bottom line, or would you pre-pay some of your future production costs to make your own future bottom line look better? I bet the answer would depend on how your performance would be measured.
So step 2: Ask yourself: How do we measure staff performance? Do they each have a number to meet? Or, are they collaborating toward an organization-wide goal and everyone wins if the goals are met?
So Step 3: Change what you can.
In fact, even if you don't have that problem, you probably don't want to swallow the whole constituent engagement cake whole. Start with digestible bites. That's how we do it when we're working with our customers to move to CRM – in phases.
Maybe you can bring together the events and advocacy folks, and get them to create a combined calendar--sort out the “this name is mine” business (let's say we can all agree that during a legislative session, advocacy wins if someone has to).
Or, bring together your communications and development teams to align offline production schedules with online message planning. Yes, your offline folks need to know 4-6 months in advance. How do you make that happen?
Your daily affirmation:
A final point here, and I want everyone to look in the mirror and repeat this until you believe it:
Unless you've never heard the word CRM, you are not behind yet.
Constituent-engagement is the holy grail of our industry. Yes, there are the leaders and the laggards, but, if you are thinking about it, dreaming about it, trying it, you're in the race. Don't feel like you are lagging behind because everyone else has it figured out. They don't. Even the fancy pants commercial folks don't have it all figured out. For proof, ask one of their CMOs or CTOs about social media interaction attribution (and duck).
Interested to see how fellow nonprofit are measuring up (and rating themselves) in the CRM race? Check out Convio's Integrated Multi-Channel Marketing Report.
Howdy, Connection Cafe readers!
Have you ever wondered who else works at Convio? Behind the mysterious software curtain? I mean... the people who actually engineer our products. Or those helpful folks who you've only ever spoken to by phone and always wanted to meet? Well, today is your lucky day. As a staffer working out of our DC office, I decided to relocate to Texas for a month and spend some time working from Convio's Austin offices (eating breakfast tacos, getting to know my colleagues and such). Along with our trusty marketing intern, Sara (Hi Sarah!), I put together a little video about two of Convio's behind the scenes superstars.
So pull up a chair, marvel at how good my hair looks, and get to know Convions Chris and Bonnie!
Convio and eleven other organizations recently joined forces to create the first-ever Integrated Marketing Advisory Board (IMAB) for the nonprofit sector. Organizations participating in IMAB with Convio are: Amergent; Avalon Consulting Group; Barton Cotton; CDR Fundraising Group; Donordigital; Grizzard Communications; hjc; Merkle; Russ Reid; SCA Direct; THD. Now, you may look at that list and say, “Wow, don’t they all compete?” and the answer would be, “Yes, we do”. But that’s the beauty of this group—we are leaving that at the door and really working together to try and advance what ALL of us feel is a critical factor for success for our nonprofit clients. And we recognize that the sum of our knowledge is far more powerful than each of us as individual organizations.
As IMAB Chairman Michael Johnston of hjc says, “Integrated marketing is quickly emerging as an essential approach to constituent engagement for nonprofits. With the advent of social media and mobile technologies, more and more donors, volunteers and advocates are using multiple channels to interact with the nonprofits they support. It’s critical for nonprofits to understand those different channels, the relationships across those channels and to engage with their supporters across multiple channels.”
Convio’s recent survey, Integrated Multi-Channel Marketing, supports Michael’s statement. In the survey we found that organization size and integrated marketing sophistication do not correlate, and that leadership focus, the right metrics, processes and technology are essential to success.
A main component of IMAB is our blog. There my fellow board members and I aim to foster discussion and dialogue across the sector, and provide insights into integrated marketing and outline the tools and channels to get the job done. At the end of the day, we want it to be the go-to resource on integrated marketing for the nonprofit sector.
My first IMAB blog post is the tale of two retailers: one that can’t remember that my husband and I have different last names and one that can. You guess which one my Visa bill is more loyal to. The lesson, as I state in my post, is: “a commitment to building an integrated marketing experience and really understanding your buyers or donors is the best investment you can make in long term marketing return and customer loyalty.”
Read more and start sharing your ideas about integrated marketing by visiting the IMAB blog.
This morning I have the good fortune to be presenting to a sold-out crowd at the Social Media for Nonprofits Conference in NYC. I’m excited – I think it will be the largest audience I’ve presented to and the company I’m in is nothing shy of spectacular.
While I know we’d all love to be hanging out in NYC together, unfortunately it’s just not feasible. As what I hope is the next best thing, I’m sharing the content from a few of my slides for today and a some notes on them.
There’s a frequent misconception about social marketing that if you say something, anything, you are being proactive. Not so my friends! Celebrities, athletes, mere mortals like you and I say stuff on social networks all the time but that doesn’t mean it’s truly proactive. Did we think about it for more than 10 seconds before writing it? Probably not. We’re probably just posting about how delicious that QuickFire on Top Chef looks.
To be really and truly proactive with you social marketing, you need goals, a plan and the tools to do it.
Subscribe to receive posts via email:
Get answers to product questions, join "Birds of a Feather" discussions and more. Join the Online Community
Alltop - Nonprofit
A Small Change
Bob Ottenhoff's Blog
Donor Power Blog
Future Leaders in Philanthropy
Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog
Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog
Nonprofit Law Prof
Pamela’s Grant Blog
Sea Change Strategies
Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology