The Cherry in CRM Membership Software is Engagement & Participation!

Best Membership Software for Nonprofits helps Engagement and Participation

Do you have the right membership system in place now to handle your goals? If you are a membership based nonprofit (Church, Museum, Association, Society) you likely have big plans for outreach and growth in order to keep your nonprofit on track to accomplish its mission. And, chances are member engagement is at the top of the list of priorities in years to come too. In this article, we tackle how Membership CRM software may help with participation and engagement.

The Benefits of Engagement in Membership Software

Maximizing engagement with members and boosting their involvement with your association has become increasingly important over the past decade. According to the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, the majority of associations consider engagement to be their most important goal, followed closely by membership retention.

Could a Membership System help? To know, you may find value in asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you spend much of your precious time digging through databases and spreadsheets looking for the right information?
  • Do you feel like you never have a full understanding of what is going on to help plan for your association’s future?
  • Do you wonder if you’ll ever have more time for revenue-generating, member-focused activities?
  • Are the systems you have in place now allow you to put forth a solid effort in meeting your member needs?

This may sound odd for some nonprofit executives. But, there are still many nonprofits diligently putting forth an effort to serve their members needs with outdated systems. In fact, it’s amazing for me to find many associations still loading their member data on a spreadsheet. It’s a shame!

Today, Membership Software, can help in so many ways. But, one of the key benefits is helping take member engagement to the next level, by streamlining association processes to make your organization more efficient and easier to manage for sure. But, also keeping track of participation and engagement too.

Today, one of the wonderful benefits of “cloud technology” is the fact that the “cloud” has made strong membership management tools available for even small associations. In the past, perhaps you were limited by options. In fact, you maybe still living in that “pre-cloud” reality but may not realize the value of integration and the possibilities for better engagement with an integrated database and website.

The Power of Integration & Engagement in Membership Systems

I have seen some pretty interesting methods to keep track of members, dues, donations and event registration. These methods range from a Bob Cratchit (remember Scrooge’s clerk?) pen-and-ink ledger to a combination of the aforementioned spreadsheet and database (and hope for the best) approach.

A Membership software solution can “house” all of an organization’s information in one centralized database — from member email addresses and postal updates to social media profile information, preferences, and history. Without the right AMS, associations can end up with a disjointed, incomplete view of their members. With an AMS, though, you gain a 360-degree view your members and the ability to make informed decisions.

Today, an AMS executive dashboard can even offer instant snapshots of member participation, so Executive Directors can answer fundamental questions about what members are doing and capitalize on new opportunities for the association. With actionable integrated business data they can be confident information is updated and accurate. From there, they can make smart business decisions regarding the association’s future, and identify and develop best practices for the organization that align with industry trends including engagement.

The Possibilities of Capabilities in Membership CRM Software 

With membership software today, it may help in so many ways to increase engagement. Here are several quick examples:

  • Provide engagement because it is one central data entry and output location for your membership information.
  • Contain a strong content management tool for managing personalization of content.
  • Seamlessly connect with all existing software applications you use and eliminate duplication and data errors.
  • Manage your entire database and membership website. Integrating the database with your organization’s website is key when trying to present a consistent experience for members resulting in better engagement possibilities (From event registration and membership renewal to dues payments and social networking).
  • Allow your constituents to update their own files, collaborate, & participate with others.
  • Increase engagement because they are now available by members in a mobile environment.
  • A membership system allows Executives to focus on the bigger picture.
  • CRM Software for membership manages allows one to easily gather data on and share information with committee members (whether it is event updates, the latest documents, or day-to-day reports) in order to keep everyone up to date.
  • Taking advantage of reporting tools ensures that associations are given the proper feedback to continually provide meaningful content to members while eliminating the content that falls short.
  • By building events through the central database, communication management can invite members, collect registrations, and even poll attendees for post-event feedback all through one system.

Membership Activity Tracking to Facilitate Engagement 

Tracking the ways in which members are engaging with your organization isn’t just useful for reporting and business intelligence.

Using your membership system to collect these interactions on a per-member basis allows each member to do some of the following:

  • Receive targeted and relevant information consistently.
  • Your marketing and communications team members are able to use a membership system to automate member interactions and ensure that members are presented with events, campaigns, and offers that directly relate to them based on their previous interactions with the association.
  • Through Single Sign On capabilities, marketers are able to reach out to members on all active channels, in one system—making a notable difference in membership engagement.

The output is all about using your member data in meaningful and useful ways – reports, workflow, etc. That output greases the skids to making your association vastly more efficient, productive and successful. And, equally important increasing participation and engagement.

We can help you decide which software tool is best suited to lead your organization into the future.

Contact us and we’ll help get you there. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Online Membership Software for Engagement

Engage Donors with Social Intelligence using CRM Software

Donor Management can benefit from Social Intelligence

You don’t have to worry about Donations or Dues income, Right? Not likely. As donations dwindle due to economic downturns and government officials continue to cut funding, securing donations for your nonprofit is as important as ever. Although most nonprofits are loath to admit it, competition between nonprofits to secure funding closely resembles the competition businesses engage in to attract customers. In this article, I discuss how using social intelligence along with other data (like Financial, CRM, Profile) can used as a competitive advantage in your nonprofit organization.

In order to adapt to this business mentality, nonprofits must get any advantage over competing organizations they can. At a minimum, your nonprofit could obtain an advantage over the competition with the use and practice of customer relationship management software for nonprofits. 

Today, one of the least known components of some CRM software tools is the ability to utilize social intelligence insights. Social intelligence insights identify a potential donor’s digital footprint. In other words, this allows you or your staff to connect with the people most interested in your nonprofit in more meaningful methods through “listening” to their feeds on various social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

The Advantages of Social Intelligence

There’s too much data

Social media is huge, and donors realize this. Many foundations and other large donors utilize social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. And of course, many potential donors such as individuals also use these platforms. The sheer amount of social media users makes it impossible to gain any real insight from social media sites without storing the data in a customer relationship management software program for nonprofits.

Social intelligence insights doesn’t just rely on hashtags

Social Intelligence goes beyond hashtags. While searching for hashtags and keywords related to your nonprofit helps narrow your data, it may narrow your search too much: a 2015 study found that nearly 66% of social media posts during the Superbowl had no hashtags or relevant terms related to the game. Imagine how losing 66% of potential donors could affect your organization.

Location Based Donor Campaigns

Since funds are limited, you want to get the most out of any fundraising campaign. Using social intelligence insights software, you can map out where social media posts regarding your mission most often made. This enables you to target areas for potential fund-raising events to maximize the amount of money your organization raises.

Influencers Engagement

Armed with Social Intelligence, you can find existing influencers based on network reach, topic relevancy, prior interactions. With these tools, you are able to see what your influencers are saying in real-time about your campaigns on social. Further, you may monitor for opportunities and engage at the right time. Also, know which terms, hashtags and media and your influencers use most. With engagement history of influencers you can tie this into your CRM segmented groups such as current donors, past volunteers or recent event attendee. Yes, engagement is real-time value!

A Few Social Platform Players

Sadly, most donor database technologies and membership systems are falling behind in this area. But, there are many best of breed social intelligence tools on the market today which may still help. Therefore, you may find value through using a Social CRM tool like Nimble CRM in your donor or member acquisition efforts which could be integrated into your programs and campaign efforts with minimal effort.

Alternatively, one intriguing announcement, Attentively, is now integrated to Wealth Engine, a leading provider of predictive marketing analytics and audience development services. Through this relationship, Fundraisers will now be able to leverage rich social behavior and proprietary wealth insights to segment donors, personalize messaging and inform donation requests.

In my opinion, the use of tools such as these offer very fascinating and beneficial insights. In a nutshell, Fundraisers and Development Directors could potentially have access to both WealthEngine and directly into an organization’s CRM for Nonprofit platform. Thus, allowing fundraisers to identify the best supporters and create compelling, personalized, and targeted messages to boost the reach and impact of their donors and retention strategy.

For more information about how customer relationship management for nonprofits along with social intelligence can increase your organization’s ability to raise funding contact us. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Free Nonprofit Software Review Guide


The Best Membership, Donor, CRM Software! Really?

The Best Membership Software|CRM|Donor|Databases|The Prob with Lists

What is the Best Membership Software, Donor Software, or CRM Software for Nonprofits? I field this type of question all the time. And, as the saying goes, “If I had a dollar every time I have heard it, I would be a rich man”. So, in this article, I am not going to provide yet another software list. Rather, a rant on the whole notion of “Best of Software Lists”.

What is the Best Database Software for My Nonprofit?

First, a quick story. My 7 year old son loves to play the Madden 15 Ultimate Team on Xbox. And, if you are not familiar with the video game, the goal is to win, of course. But, in order to win, you must build a professional football team comprised of the best players (both current and past). That said, my son often asks to know my opinion about great players for various positions. He wants to know who is “The Best”.

And, my reply is a variation of the following:

Well, that’s a tough question son. The game was different from decade to decade. The system impacted success greatly. And, the coaching certainly enhanced personal and group success. For example, the Dallas Cowboys of the 90’s had the “Triplets”. Michael Irvin (WR), Troy Aikman (QB), & Emmitt Smith (RB) were very good football players. But, the system and coaching truly made the trio awesome together. But, had they each been on a different team, different era, or were asked to do different things, they may not have been so good.

Besides, I rate “Best Players” based on their team success. And, did they help win big games? And, my rating is not objective (now try explaining that to a 7-year-old!). But, let’s look at who you have, what are the options, and then let’s figure out how the game rates the “Best”. From there, we can work with that to figure out how to win your game.

The Ultimate Software Choice?

So, what does my son’s “Ultimate Team” have to do with selecting the best software for your nonprofit? Well, let me explain. My son’s question is similar. He wants to win. He wants a quick answer. And, he wants someone with experience to help him.

With software decisions, most executives simply want a quick answer and oh by the way they want to win too. Unfortunately, one of the challenges with making a software decision is that it’s not a cut and dry scenario, it’s a much more impactful choice, there is no universal scoring system, and everyone’s definition of “winning” is different.

The Psychology of Best Of…

It seems that we are bit fixated on “Best Of Lists”. So, in my thirst for the truth I wondered if there were any psychological principles which explain the need by humans to know what is the best? And, after a review of various psychology authorities, here are a few explanations I surmised on why “Best of lists” are so interesting and prevalent:

  • It’s about helping ourselves.
  • It’s about having an “expert” help us.
  • It’s about helping each other.
  • It’s about helping us compare.
  • We are easily manipulated.
  • We don’t always act in our own best interest.

We love to compare. The need to compare is human nature. In fact, we will go so far to rationalize differences even if there is absolutely nothing different between two objects. Recently, I had the chance to watch a program illustrating that psychological truism. Watch this fascinating video clip below which underscores this point:

Software Buyer Beware of the Best of Lists!

Generally speaking, I believe that “Best of Software Lists” are flawed, usually biased, and tend to be manipulated (not generally with a nefarious intent) information which should at a minimum be used with caution. As my Grandmother often said, “The pathway to hell is paved from men with good intentions”. Well, this may hold true for those responsible for many of these “Best of Lists” on the internet today.

Two Reasons to Punt the Best of Lists

Let’s take a look at one example. I used Google to search for “Best CRM Software for Nonprofits”. Do that search now, if you would like to follow along.

And, on the first line of the search results is from a site which provides their list of 3 options specifically designed for nonprofits. Here they are: Zoho, Vtiger, Microsoft Dynamics. Now, these options are all good Customer Relationship Management Software in the right environment. But, Really! I could go on and on here with all the “wrongness” with the results of this list. But, let me tackle two points with brevity.

First, what type of nonprofit are we ranking a solution for here? There is not one type of nonprofit. In fact, there are many different types of nonprofits such as charitable, churches, associations, faith-based, schools, recreation centers, arts and cultural, museums, etc. which all have different business functions, strategies, and needs. And, for certain very unique missions.

Second, what is the rating based on? There is no mention of how most lists are determined. You would hope at a minimum that some “evaluation” or “criteria” would be provided. But, even with some basis for their ratings this can still be meaningless data. For example, one software advice organization provides a “Best of Membership Software List” based on popularity measured by a combination of their total number of customers, members managed, and online presence. Really!

Suffice it to say, if you are into “Best of Software Lists” you will find a plethora of options to review on the web today. And, as many as there are, you will find as many opinions of who is #1 through #20 as well. The lists are subjective. And, at a minimum best of lists lack any true value in providing assistance in answering the ten million dollar question, “What is the best software for my nonprofit?”.

How do you find the Best CRM Software for Nonprofits?

In my opinion, business requirements are to software selections as foundations are to a home. If they aren’t right, there will be major problems. Further, if organizations don’t know what they want, how will they know when they find it? You won’t successfully be able to! It stands to reason the better the requirements are, the less risk of selecting the wrong database software product.

Going back to the question which led us here. What is the Best Membership Software, Donor Software, or CRM Software for Nonprofits? And, my answer is somewhat similar to my reply to who is the best player for my son’s “Madden 15 Ultimate Team”. Here it is:

First, 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)?”.  Adjust your question slightly and enhance your outcome exponentially. The ultimate product selection is as unique as a finger print for most. To be sure, there is no magical “perfect fit” cinderella shoe to place on here. Step away from basic software features (early on in the search), and rather focus your time on how a particular solution (software & support) will most completely help your nonprofit achieve your unique strategy & mission (winning the game).

I believe there is a better way than “Best of lists” or “15 minute Free Calls” to find the smarter choice for you. Ultimately the software selection comes down to this: how do you measure the gap between your particular requirements and potential software products? Nothing is perfect! And, certainly don’t be so easily swayed by the temptation of “Best of Lists” published by various sources on the internet!

Are you currently seeking the best software option for your nonprofit? If so, please give us a call. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

 We discuss how to find the Best Donor CRM Software for Nonprofits