3 Reasons Cookie Cutters are for Baking: Not CRM

Nonprofit CRM develops unique relationshipsEvery person who makes a gift to a nonprofit does so for different reasons.  Some give to reduce their taxes and others for pure altruistic reasons.  None of them have a desire to be treated like a cookie cutter. Being unique, and doing more than churn out plain sugar cookies is prudent, don’t you agree? In this article, we discuss how CRM software for nonprofits can be the secret ingredient in making donors eat your message up.

Using CRM To Bake Up A Unique Donor Experience  

This past holiday, I was blessed to have the opportunity to spend some time with my children. During that time, we spent a lot of time eating. Yep, didn’t we all, right? During this, as a family we usually bake special cookies which tend to be a little different than your average one. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find all shapes sizes and ingredients. I would definitely say that they are usually quite unique. And, my children make one special cookie just for my wife and I to enjoy which is tailored for us.

It’s something about those cookies which despite their imperfections are the best. This experience is similar to what I believe that each nonprofit should try to achieve for their donors. Certainly, this is a lofty goal but each and every time you pick up the phone, accept of donation, or help a member the experience should be unique. It certainly should be different than the mundane “break and bake” cookies which are often bought at the grocery store. While that is ok for some situations, it doesn’t fire me up or get me excited. There is simply no emotion to the experience.

Well, to me those “break and bake” cookies aren’t what donors or members expect from a relationship with your nonprofit. Rather, today’s donors demand individualized desserts tailored to their tastes.  And, for most nonprofit executive’s today this unique experience can be enhanced by Customer Relationship Management Software and solid relationship driven processes to help set their experience apart from all the others.

The game has changed. No longer can any organization, including a nonprofit, maintain the status quo. With more than 1.5 million non-profits, you need a competitive edge. Philanthropists want to see a return on their investment.  No way can you send the same appeal to every investor in your database each and every year.

The goal is to encourage a person to move from a casual observer, to an engaged donor.  It takes work managing relationships.  Donors smell inauthenticity from miles away.  With the right approach and the help from the right technology, you can avoid cookie cutter methods and become a gourmet chef in three areas:

Meet Donor’s Expectations:

Contact Management components of CRM software can help you keep track of trends and predict what may be important to donors now and in the future. Everyone has some kind of an expectation when they enter into a relationship – including a donor.  You have to mind those details, or it will appear like you do not care.

I read an article online the other day which shed some light on this. The Luxury Daily is working with a software management system to meet, and even exceed, the expectations of a specific crowd.  Their plan is simple: Keep in mind future client expectations, understand the consumer journey and identifying opportunities for Chanel to strategically serve its consumers across target segments. The end goal was to identify key tactics needed to create “a personalized, yet consistent experience along the continuum of the lifetime customer journey. After studying expectations, they then began the use of technology to expand brand awareness, strategic partnerships and travel and hospitality experiences. Brand can be enhanced if you store pertinent information about your donors and use it to market appropriately.

Listen Closely to Donors

CRM Software for Nonprofits can help you be a better listener. It is amazing the kind of information people will share on social media channels today.  The good news is this: you can track it through many CRM tools.  Your non-profit can monitor your reputation and provide timely responses to criticism (fair or otherwise) through man CRM tools today.  Social listening is a key to understanding what your donors are interested in today. Also, it is important to track the kinds of events and charity events your donors engage with online.  It is amazing what you can learn, when you really listen.  Good listening is one crucial to relationship management. Store and record in your CRM so that it become the intellectual property of your nonprofit.

Maintain Transparency With Donors:  

Nonprofit CRM can help you keep track of communications, activity history, & even financial data. Sometimes, a non-profit appears shady when numbers and reports are not readily available.  Or, if the non-profit is not accurate in reporting to donors in a year-end document.  In a world where fraud is rampant, accuracy is a must.  You will be grateful for a robust and powerful CRM if a major donor does not believe you are not transparent about how his or her money is spent.  It is not wise to skimp on a CRM with poor reporting features.

While we do not sell software, implement, or train on any particular CRM Software technology, we do believe in the value which they can afford almost any organization who has a sincere desire to do more with less and values the development of sincere relationships with their constituents.

I believe that CRM software along with the proper processes is critical to the success of any type of organization. In a non profit, it can make the difference in reaching a fundraising goal, membership campaign drive, and ultimately reaching your mission or not. There is no greater way to show someone that they are important than by treating them like they are unique. The cookie cutter approach to relationship development doesn’t work.

If you would like to explore CRM software for your Nonprofit or you’d like to place your order for a special cookie please Contact Us.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Can Your Membership Management Software Do *This*?

What If your Membership Management Software could?

Nonprofit membership managers have a unique juggling act to perform: first, retain members; second, grow the membership; and third, unhealthy keep up with trends in association membership in order to accomplish the first two goals. After working with many association executives, for many the key to accomplishing all three goals is an integrated, cloud-based membership management software that enables you to keep up with any new trend while not breaking the bank. In this article, I discuss some interesting trends in membership management to spark your mind to contemplate; What If?

3 Trends in Membership Management  

Let’s take a look at three 2016 trends and how the right membership management software can support your association’s success in embracing these trends.

Managing members as valued customers

Let’s face it: explosive growth in online communications, from social media to a barrage of email marketing, has made it both easier to reach members and simultaneously harder to help members feel like they are special and appreciated.

A recent white paper published by Abila, the nonprofit software firm, cites a study which concludes that “38 percent of those who don’t renew their association memberships site a lack of engagement with the organization.”

After all, who really can feel special when you receive an email blast that you know has gone to thousands of others—even if it has your name embedded near the top.

So, what will it take for nonprofit associations to attract and retain members going forward?

  • Generally, it will mean targeting both online messages and marketing to segmented demographics; for example, managing relationships with Gen Ys differently than Boomers. Perhaps your association will create not one member portal, as is typical, but multiple portals based on targeted member segments. Can your membership management software do that?
  • Specifically, it will create new opportunities to help members connect virtually with the association in ways that the members themselves perceive as value-added. Added value could mean anything from the levels of membership to the timing and/or type of communications. It could mean increased opportunities for interactive communications. Perhaps personalized algorithmic suggestions would make the difference: “Joe, there’s a webinar you may be interested in next month.” What would your association members perceive to be added value? Ask them. Then link their answers to their e-file and create action steps for them.

Can your membership management software do that?

Creating new alliances to share resources and ideas

Amanda Myers, senior product marketing manager at Abila, developer of Avectra Membership Software, predicts that more associations will pivot to developing partnerships of all stripes, including linking up in some fashion with for-profit entities and other nonprofit groups whose missions may be aligned with or complementary to their own:

“Many organizations will also look more closely at revenue channels and partnerships as hybrid membership models continue to emerge, revenue from certification programs grows, and associations will form new and different partnerships. … All avenues, channels, and opportunities will be explored to connect with potential new members and customers.”

The numerous upside to alliances, beyond the increased visibility and access to new members that Myers points out, is also that it enhances member management by being able to offer members a wider array of membership perks. You now would be able to offer, for example, a free pass to an event or webinar, or ten percent off your next meal at Joe’s Grille when your members renew their membership.

Can your membership management software do that?

Offering certifications

Myers alludes in her statement above to the fact that some associations already offer certifications as a revenue stream. But everything an association focuses on should have, as its ultimate goal, ways to attract and retain members. Appropriate certification programs that would boost your members’ careers falls squarely within that ultimate goal.

In fact, I venture to suggest that an association’s ability to offer training-based certifications will be more than a trend—it will become vital to the association’s sustainability in the near future. As Abila’s white paper points out, “Millennial members … will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2020.” The Gen Y and Gen Y populations won’t be far behind. These generations have grown up with the Internet and will place a high value on e-learning platforms that aid their career growth.

E-learning opportunities abound: there are webinars, online toolkits, events, and more. As a forward-thinking association, then, you might start now to create customized certification platforms and/or partner with organizations whose training programs align with your association’s membership needs.

Can your membership management software manage do that?

Identifying the best fit software package

If your current software falls short of supporting the work your association must focus on, there is good news: an integrated, cloud-based package that fits the size and needs of your association already exists.

As I noted in a recent blog post, “your question should not be solely product focused. Rather, the question should be, “Which software program is best for my nonprofit organization (our culture, our budget, our processes, our people, and our goals and objectives)?” Is it CRM you need or a traditional proprietary membership platform?

At SmartThoughts, our laser focus is the answer to those questions. Contact us for help with identifying that best fit package to support the key work of your association and its members.

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