Social Collaboration: Strong Roots for Non-Profit Organizations

Social Collaboration Community Platforms

In the non-profit sector, success is defined by a different set of rules than those that govern most corporations. While money is always useful and needed, it isn’t the gold standard of success; and while reputation is important, it isn’t the only marker of success. For a non-profit organization to be truly successful, it has to utilize a strategy that is social, mobile, local, and collaborative (SOMOLOCO). In this article, we discuss how and why.

Social Collaboration: Strong Roots

for Non-Profit Organizations

Cross-Organizational Collaboration

Non-profit isn’t about competition. It’s about working together to achieve a common goal. That’s why software that supports collaboration between different organizations is so crucial: it can make data-sharing so much more efficient. After all, why have six different people in six different organizations all working independently on the same problem when they can use one integrated program to work together on it?

In-House Social Adaptability

Efficiency within individual organizations can be maximized with a quality social collaboration program as well. The same database that can allow organizations to share information with one another can also enable employees and volunteers within your organization to communicate more quickly and effectively. Whether you are raising awareness or raising funds, effective local communication can mean the difference between a successful event and a nightmare.

Executive Sponsorship

All the best SOMOLOCO software in the world will only do a marginal amount of good if the top dogs in your organization aren’t willing to work with you to change the culture of your workplace. Executives have to give the people who make the organization work on a day-to-day basis more opportunities for productive socialization, and the freedom to take risks and be creative. After all, a tool is only as good as the people using it.

Selecting Your Best Software Fit 

Your definition of success, as a non-profit organization, is more about the lives you can change than the change in your pocket. To achieve that kind of real, lasting success with deep roots, I believe that you have to integrate a SOMOLOCO system (strategy, people, & tools) that maximizes your collaborative efforts.

What does collaboration effectiveness mean to your nonprofit? What software tools are required to help your definition?

SmartThoughts can help you find the software that will get your organization moving and making real social progress — after all, that’s what true social collaboration is about.

Benefiting from Dark Unstructured Data: What It Is & Why You Need It

Unstructured Dark Data in Nonprofits

One of the trends that has completely swept organizations is the massive surge in data. No matter what form it takes, there is no denying that organizations now have more information at their fingertips than ever before. This has been a boon for many, since the data aids in understanding donors and members better and as well as driving insight for maximum optimization. In this article, I wanted to address the need for organizations to understand the value in information which is often times elusive: Dark Data.

Benefiting from Unstructured Dark Data

Data comes in many shapes and forms and understanding the differences between structured and unstructured dark data is pivotal for success. Unfortunately, for many nonprofit associations unstructured dark data cannot be used in conjunction with other information when trying to formulate a customer, member or donor profile. Especially their likes and dislikes, or what they discuss in public social media outlets. Social Intelligence for many is disparate data which is housed in the public domain and remains separate.

Benefiting from unstructured data may seem like a difficult task, but its efforts reap rewards since organizations can use it to make informed decisions. For many organizations, the best way to glean that information is to collect unstructured data from private cloud based communities and leverage that to obtain a holistic understanding of what customers truly care about. Let’s dig into that more.

What Exactly Is Unstructured Dark Data?

The term may seem confusing. But, unstructured data generally refers to information derived from sources such as emails, chat sessions, open-ended survey feedback, social media and other sources of free-form interactions.

Generally, speculation suggests that about 80% to 90% of enterprise data can be considered unstructured. According to Forrester, enterprises leverage about 35% of their structured data for insights and decision-making, but only 25% of their unstructured enterprise data.

Perhaps one reasoning for that statistic is that unstructured data is qualitative in nature rather than quantitative, making it a little difficult to wrangle. Unfortunately, it does not lend itself well when it comes to conforming  to predetermined CRM format. Its lack of structure means that it does not adhere to the realm of names, addresses and other data that are commonly found in CRMs.

Why Do You Need Unstructured Dark Data?

Quite frankly, many associations and nonprofits have access to structured data. For the most part structured data is readily available yet still remains a challenge to use in a meaningful way. For many, this topic of using unstructured data is daunting. But, the goal should be considered nonetheless.

Why? Structured data is unable to provide context and sentiment the way unstructured data can. Activity and information not captured by your constituents provides limited results & misguided action. You need structured and unstructured dark data because it could be the best source in understanding the complete view of your customers on a more personal level.

Perhaps, the big audacious goal for many organizations today is to strive to report on the structured data better. And, introduce various technology to collect data on their donors and members which has not been known before; Dark Data.

Let’s talk about Dark Data.

Social Data Is Priceless Dark Data 

In the context of the data at your nonprofit, Dark Data is anything that is hidden or undigested by the organizations stakeholders who need it most. I believe that social data and the intelligence derived from it for many organizations is elusive and hidden. If it is not collected, it’s unstructured and it is dark.

Granted, many membership organizations and nonprofits have a Facebook page, LinkedIn Page, or use some other public social media device but the value is not symbiotic. In other words, you solve the immediate need to have a place for community. But, the organization doesn’t get the analytics behind what participation is transpiring. It’s hidden.

Data hidden which is found is akin to hitting the lottery. This data may prove to be a jackpot for many nonprofits in the future.

The Illumination of Value when Social Data and CRM Data Are Fused 

When organizations seek to implement CRM’s, many executives focus on the mere operational aspects of what the tools bring to the table: did a member pay their dues, register for an event, or make a contribution. What financial activity has transpired and how many times did we reach out to them. That type of information is critical.

Along with providing a resource for your constituents to connect and develop meaningful relationships with their peers, there is immense value in the social intelligence which can be collected from community engagement platforms.

But, if this community platform is public, your community social data is considered Dark Data. Ultimately, The value of social data and CRM data is incredible. Many organizations see tremendous value in a privately branded cloud based community management software tool to help here.

Do not misunderstand my point here. Transactional and profile information found in an enterprise CRM, Donor, or Membership Software platform is critical. But, the integrated social data is by and large the one of the biggest advantages for building a private community program.

With introducing a private community platform, the following may be recorded by your organization:

  • Overall traffic of groups
  • Member participation
  • Views and popular Topics
  • Announcements
  • Blog posts
  • Community groups
  • Contacts with connections
  • Discussion messages
  • Document uploads & downloads
  • Events and calendar
  • Glossary entries
  • Mentoring opportunities
  • Library resources

The Magical Insights of Dark Data Found Via System Integration 

The magic lies in integration and marrying the structured data and the dark data found in systems like private community platforms.

Integrated data can help you plug in gaps and aid in crafting an overall marketing strategy. Moreover, this information can be used to share leads and opportunities with other departments.

Every department at your nonprofit should be supplied with the right privileges to access the data and use it to bolster their operations. For many, the key is having a solution which provides a solution for “Syncing information”. “Syncing” data back and forth between all key elements of your technology enterprise is imperative. Without it, you are only playing with limited engagement information.

With data being synchronized, the organization is provided a snapshot of it’s overall constituent activities. Activity could be event attendance, webinars or something as simple as accepting community terms of use.  All of these different elements added up can help you create a single, unified engagement score. Plus, you will able to generate monthly/quarterly/annual engagement report cards to track and present to stakeholders.

What Else Should We Know About Dark Data?

Unstructured dark data is only as good as the technology tools and processes behind it. In order to gain maximum benefit from any data, the analysis needs to be customized, accessible, and contain integrity to derive useful insights.

Software vendors with capable analytics and point solutions which capture the unstructured data is a must have. To learn more about how unstructured data & what tools are necessary to transform your nonprofit, trade, or professional organization, please do not hesitate to contact us.

private branded community software list


More Than “Points”: How To Increase Engagement through Gamification Principles

Pointers on Gamification in Nonprofits

Gamification software applies the mechanics of gaming–such as reward, leveling, challenge, and community interaction–to contexts like employee performance and member retention. The psychology behind the movement toward gamification in business is simple: the human brain seeks reward. In this article, I muse on the topic of gamification as it applies to donor and member behaviors.

More Than Points! Gamification Principles

By providing customers and employees with a reward structure, many businesses may realize an increase in productivity and revenue. As a result, industry giants like Verizon, IBM, Target, and Ford use gaming theory. Even the U.S. Army deploys gamification software for recruitment.

It’s important to note–and this is a common misunderstanding about gaming strategy–that “reward” doesn’t just mean a tangible gain like a sales bonus for advertising sales or company branded swag. Your donors and members are more complex than that.

Rather, the brain is “rewarded” with a range of positive emotions, such as the rush of accomplishing a goal or the comfort of feeling like part of a community. Effective gaming software or gaming features found in software generates these psychological rewards.

So how can your nonprofit benefit from integrating these principles to engage your employees, donors and members? More importantly, how do you want to tap in to the psychological need for reward in a way that is sustainable and mutually beneficial?

Let’s take a quick look at this and see how you may encourage and track friendly competition amongst members.

Employee Staff Engagement

The power of a gamification program for employee management may be seen in many ways. For some, the mere fact of having a unified and consistent platform for organizing employee training, recognition, and incentives is huge.

But for others, a solid platform should make every day business practices exciting for your employees. Remember the psychology of reward. Many people find it difficult to connect their daily performance (for example, the number of donor courtesy calls made) with the long-term goals of the individual and company.

By incentivizing daily work ethic, gamification software has been shown to boost employee productivity, retention, and morale. One argument against gamification for employees is that it is not scalable, that over time the rewards must increase in order to keep people engaged.

However, this argument takes a narrow view of “reward.” For example, gamification can also engage employees through challenge. These challenges don’t necessarily need to be competitive among employees. Rather, gamification can stimulate the intrinsic motivation of employees to set and reach personal goals.

Quick example of ideas a Social Intranet:

  • Boost innovation by rewarding the best ideas.
  • On-board staff faster with motivated learning.
  • Encourage increased interaction and productivity.

Gamification for Member and Donor Engagement

For most, gaming theory for customers is often compared to credit card reward points. However, this analogy diminishes all gamification can do for your nonprofit. For example, Gamification SaaS principles infused into a software tool like a community software tool can potentially:

  • Generate important member profile data
  • Build credible and reliable authority in your member community
  • Crowdsource problem solving
  • Educate members, donors, customers on the best authority or speaker
  • Ensure continued relevance of your communities content
  • Increase participation & engagement

Gamification Promotes Participation

Participation is a significant advantage for many associations. And, the tracking of participation is the root of all engagement scoring. Further, with applications like community software you may also leverage daily digests and notifications features to keep members on track.

While on the surface, badges seem like nothing more than prizes. In some regards, many may view them just as a way to “toot” your own horn so to speak. But, it’s more valuable than that for sure. Badges “humanize” the online persona of a member or donor. Certainly, it brings to attention participation as well. But, digging a little deeper it quickly promotes trust of the person and authority.

For example, would you rather ask a CAE or Non-CAE about the CAE Exam experience? Badges are important in providing depth to the understanding of the person. And, they allow others like them to become more connected. This is a fundamental point about how this principal helps engagement.

Where Is Gamification in Software Found?

A company can only yield these benefits when they pick the best gamification system that takes a complex view of reward. People like to have their voice heard, work through problems, learn new things, feel important, and give back.

When selecting any best fitted software, consider what your strategy is for it, prioritize those, and the determine which benefits make the most sense for your nonprofit and your members.

Though some of the initial enthusiasm for gamfication as the “next big thing” has diminished, there are still an over-abundance of options depending on the type of tool you need.

If you’re interested in integrating gaming principles into your nonprofit’s business plan, you may not know where to begin to find the right fit. If so, please reach out for help, OK? Contact us to learn more.

branded community software for cmgr