Measuring Engagement With Your Database

Engagement Metrics in CRM Databases for Membership

Both for-profit and non-profit executives are seeking to maximize engagement by their constituents. In the 21st century, Nonprofit executives need to be able to monitor everything from social media, loyalty, & other factors to measure engagement. In this article, we discuss the challenge with measuring the metrics of engagement.

The Challenge with Engagement Metrics 

There are all kinds of ways to engage your members and donors. Unlike revenue, expenses, and member count, there is no standard, quantifiable method for measuring engagement in nonprofits today ( 501(c) 3 or associations). As a result, this critical aspect of many nonprofits is generally unmeasured, and those few who do attempt to measure engagement often rely on a multitude of inconsistently tabulated metrics.

Is it by Facebook likes or Twitter followers? Is it one to one calls or communications with your members? Is it meetings participated in?

While these hard metrics are easy to count, the more valuable metric of consumer buy-in is the most important. For that reason, many agencies and associations are using CRM database software to map engagement and track growing influence. In my mind, a unified database software will assist executives but certainly it’s difficult to do.

Tracking Transactions With Your Database 

The easiest way to track engagement is usually via the measurement of transactions such as sales, dues paid, renewals, events attended, donations, or even things like emails sent/opened etc. When more customers are demanding your product or service, you know that your engagement is increasing. Right? Armed with this knowledge, your association can begin to use that data to pin point where to spend more money etc. But, that’s only the tip of the ice berg. Most associations have been able to do this for years.

Beyond sales, billing, events or donation transactions etc., I believe measuring your communications is important too. It is difficult to measure because many nonprofits (501 (c) 3 and Associations) have to rely on a third party email tool or an email marketing system that is not integrated within their member or donor database. E-mail can use be used for so much more than newsletters which certainly can be tracked in bulk to gain insights with regards to opens, clicks, etc. But, I think a miss is keeping track of the personal one to one communications too. Your staff gets in touch with a lot of members and donors and even reach out quite a bit to various committees.

A miss in measuring metrics is not having email activity recorded within the member database. Certainly, you can record the metrics of bulk emails, but as important is tracking the one to one relationships that are often not recorded in your membership, donor, or CRM database. Those quick follow ups and say hello are important engagement interactions which are valuable to record too!

The Value of Knowledge in Measuring Engagement 

Another metric difficult to measure is simply knowledge about what your members, donors, or constituents care about. It’s hard to believe that even today some commercial off the shelf databases limit the attributes you can store on individuals and organizations in a database.

Take for example, volunteerism or committee participation. There are a number of ways a Nonprofits leverage their constituents for volunteerism, and each forms a possible engagement metric. Do you store information about what your volunteers did or can do for your organization? Number of hours participated? How many assignments they agreed to do? It’s hard to do for many.

Besides the attributes which can and should be stored, your constituents that exchange information with your nonprofit are more engaged. Social media engagement is huge. And, this is where your members, donors, and constituents already are. If you find that you can reach many of them on Twitter, go there! From a numerical perspective, how do you measure this? I suppose you could look at your followers, likes, and RT’s. But, is that enough? I believe that everyone on your staff needs to be curating knowledge about your members and donors. But, it should not be stored in a vacuum where the data is not apart of the organizations domain. Social metrics are important to monitor and measure. It’s valuable knowledge which is elusive but with the proper software tools you can do it!

The Elusive Metrics Of Engagement

Curated knowledge is certainly important, but perhaps try to measure something like loyalty and a sense of belonging. Sometimes the best insights into loyalty come at the sidelines of a conference or through the spontaneous interactions on the web. In most instances, this unstructured data rests in “notes” fields within the CRM database but for many this is tough to find and certainly even more difficult to measure.

For many associations and not-for-profits, a social media strategy begins and ends with Facebook, Twitter, and other public sites. Sure, recognizing loyalty and engagement may be found in public communities such as LinkedIn or Facebook. However, what I see in the membership community is the process of pulling members back into the organizations domain so that they can provide members a vehicle to collaborate inside the confines of their organization.

I believe that this is one of the best ways for membership organizations to drive satisfaction, sense of belonging and ultimately engagement. This helps the organization control and monitor how your constituents communicate, collaborate, and share their expertise with one another in a secure setting they trust. Further, if the community is integrated with your back-end member database, you can join in and help guide discussions, create exclusive members-only access to certain resources, deliver more personalized content, and provide an exclusive networking environment they can’t find elsewhere. While these metrics are harder to measure, they are crucial to the perpetuation of the firm.

In the future, another way to measure the intangibles may be through the use of advocate marketing software tools.

Your Key Metrics Should be Found in Your Database 

Member engagement is at the heart of each of your organizational goals, and to successfully meet your strategic objectives, you need to scrutinize whether your current system is helping you meet the latest member demands — or just holding you back. The old legacy systems that may have worked in the past could now be creating additional obstacles and impacting your ability to move forward.

To successfully engage your members, you need to start with centralized database system. When evaluating a central database, it is critical to look for software with an established track record that make it easy for constituents to connect, communicate, collaborate online and participate anywhere on mobile devices. I can’t emphasize enough the last point of mobility which I believe is so important to engagement moving forward in the years to come.

Do you think you’re ready to measure engagement? Not yet? We help executives select database software that maximizes engagement, both for hard and tangible metrics and intangible ones. For more information, please contact us.

Engagement Database Software for 501(c)3 and Associations

The Unique Needs of Nonprofit’s Financial Management Software


Financial Management Software offers many crucial business money management functions such as, budgeting, banking, planning, reports, tax preparation, etc. For profit based businesses today have readily adopted this time and money saving software, but nonprofits are an ‘animal of a different color’. Their needs are vastly different from regular financial management software capabilities on the market today.

Some of these unique needs of nonprofit financial management software include:

  • Fund accounting capabilities – Fund accounting emphasizes accountability over profitability. Being able to track how money is being spent in the form of financial statements and reports is mandatory for the nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits are solely funded by grants. This requires detailed tracking and accountability of every dollar spent.
  • Fundraiser campaign management functions – Those nonprofit organizations involved in fundraising need financial management software that allows for recording donations, provides receipts, and tracks donors for future fundraising campaigns.
  • Complete transparency – Mistrust of nonprofits has been an issue in recent years and this can reduce donations received by donors. Having financial management software that offers financial efficiency will keep your organization from being flagged by watchdog organizations. Donors want to see that most of a nonprofit’s revenue goes towards its program.

The bullet points above show some of the unique needs of a nonprofit financial management software, but there are other functions that would also be useful to your nonprofit organization.

Scalability is a function that takes into consideration the software’s capability to expand along with the organization. Report export options that can handle FASB and GASB reporting is useful for the nonprofit organization.

According to the NCCS (National Center for Charitable Statistics) there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States. While there are not as many financial management software solutions out there to choose from, the number of options can be overwhelming to select the right fit for your company.

Strong financial controls are important for any organization. An integrated approach to all facets of your organization is important to ensure proper accuracy and “One Version” of the truth for success.

If you are looking to assess your needs for a new system and implement financial management software for a nonprofit, contact us to assist in reviewing options best suited for your needs today and long term.

Use Social Media Software to Make Membership Connections

Social MediaIs your association utilizing Public Social Media sites?  If not, your executives should at least consider the notion that most people today participate online via social media.

And, for the Millennial generation they’ve grown up with the offering. It’s a scary fact in the digital world today that your membership (potential and current) can collaborate with other like minded individuals with or without you.

If you’ve determined that your members are collaborating in Public Sites, perhaps you have begun to consider a Private Social Media Network for your community? If not, you likely should!

Private Social Media Software allows your organization to control the content and community. Your site becomes a member benefit!

With social media software, your membership can keep in touch with your organizations for events, causes, training courses using things like push notifications, twitter posts, and Facebook posts to keep in touch with existing members and build a bigger audience.

Quick Benefits of Using Social Media Software

  • Collaboration: Social media is just that – social.  Members share what they find and their friends can more easily find your organization. More importantly, their friends will remember to find you: the link to your site is usually right there on the post sent by a trusted friend.
  • Costs: A good social media campaign has fewer costs associated with it than, say, a direct mail campaign. In addition, most private social media software (like HigherLogic) includes built-in analytics pages to more easily help you track metrics.
  • Brand: As well as lower costs, practical results like brand visibility and interaction with your non-profit are often higher than the 5% conversion rate that non-profits usually enjoy for direct marketing.
  • Engagement: With private Social Media Software your organization can control and monitor the activity of your constituents allowing your executives to provide more of what your community wants.

How to Find the Right Social Media Platform for your Group

Twitter, Facebook, Forums, Imgur, Tumblr, and even the old MySpace…are public sites which your members may reside today. It’s imperative to bring your community into your office (your website).  The sheer number of private social media platforms available can be overwhelming. It’s important to think about the following questions when planning a move to private social media software.

  • Integration: Can you integrate the platform’s analytics easily with your AMS software? While you can get around this by entering things manually, you’ll want it to be as easy and seamless as possible to keep track of basic member profile information (name, address etc.), participation, orders & event information .
  • Activity Tracking: Does your target audience “hang out” on the platform you’re looking at? It’s harder to track on a Public Social Media Software platform. If you can’t determine engagement, as inexpensive as it may be, the cost won’t be worth the return.
  • Pictures are worth a 1000 Words: Does your audience and membership work primarily more in words or images? Even if they tend to think and respond well to words, if you choose a platform other than Twitter, consider including both in your offerings.

Many of our partner software solutions include ways to integrate social media with Public Sites, your metrics and even accounting processes.

Please Contact us today to see how we can help you better manage your membership’s needs with Private Social Media Software.