Taking Engagement Seriously – The CRM System
Nonprofits are continuously presented with opportunities to engage with constituents – partners, volunteers, advocates, donors, the beneficiaries of the mission and more. While some organizations rise to the challenge and provide a rich engagement experience to those seeking to connect, other times organizations miss an opportunity to meet constituents with the right type of engagement at the right time. Those missed opportunities can translate to loss of connection, loss of dollars, loss of goodwill and loss of motivation to do more with the organization. To help nonprofits understand the impact this can have, Heller has created the paper Taking Engagement Seriously to explain how to develop an Engagement Strategy, and clarify how it can influence how your organization approaches all of your constituent engagement efforts.
A strong CRM system is crucial for carrying out your engagement strategy. When we refer to your CRM system, we don’t just mean your technology, although that’s clearly an important component. We’re also referring to your people and your business processes. When you align your internal people, processes and technology you’re optimally able to engage your external constituents.
Fortunately, over the last few years there have been significant advances in both CRM technology and the business practices that enable sophisticated engagement strategies. Much of this is driven by the commercial sector, which is setting constituents’ expectations much higher regarding engagement and communication channels. They expect to be know and recognized the same as on their favorite websites and services.
We also benefit from the commercial sector’s technology investments, which “trickle down” to the nonprofit sector at a fraction of the cost. The primary benefit is the evolution of true cloud-based, nonprofit-centric CRM solutions that have become widely available and strongly supported. These CRM solutions are not simply “point solutions” but full “platforms” with rich ecosystems of application developers delivering a wide array of software solutions that can “play well together” to meet each nonprofit’s unique needs.
Finally, early nonprofit innovators have paved the way, learned and are sharing lessons, and are experiencing success. Collectively, these developments mean that an ever-increasing number of nonprofits can move towards their CRM vision with lower risk, lower investment and as part of a larger and growing community of like-minded peers.
But one fact remains the same across the commercial and nonprofit markets: The best technology in the world won’t make a difference if it isn’t put to use properly. The basic truth is that beyond all the numbers and data, the very core of what all nonprofit organizations do is bring people together to help others. We come together to interact and engage with our community and share our experiences. Organizations that focus on planning rich personal engagement and interaction are the ones that develop lasting and devoted constituencies.
Today’s CRM technology is designed and built exactly for this purpose, but before you can put it in place, you have to develop a plan for what you want to achieve. A CRM roadmap defines this plan and vision, and helps to focus the goals an organization. How and where do you want to interact with your constituents? How should they interact with you? How will your internal teams manage the inevitable departmental overlaps? How will your departments work with each other to provide the best experience for your constituents as you deliver your mission? To further refine and clarify the details of the CRM roadmap, every organization needs to develop an engagement strategy.
To learn more about CRM Systems and how they tie in to an effective engagement strategy, download the full paper from Heller Consulting, Taking Engagement Seriously.