In our work with nonprofits of every size and budget, we’ve encountered a wide array of technology being used for direct marketing. Many nonprofits have stitched together several software packages in order to get the job done using the tools that are at hand.
This usually includes WordPress, Microsoft Excel and Access, MailChimp, and other similar packages for keeping lists of donors and their contact information, as well as sending messages via email and direct mail. These tools also provide the data for their direct mail campaigns.
If you’ve read our blog before, you’ve probably noticed that we are big proponents of using integrated software systems that combine everything into one dashboard. This not only simplifies operational aspects, like usernames and passwords, but brings all your donor information together so that you can truly optimize your campaigns. Plus, it ensures that contact information for every donor matches in all of your direct marketing activities.
Take It to the Cloud
We also like online, cloud-based systems that can free you from the technology, leaving that to the company you’ve hired. It can also make your system available to everyone, employees and volunteers, no matter where they are or when they need access. It also allows scalability to match your growth over time while not burdening you with the associated costs early in your journey, but only as you need it along the way.
If you step back a bit from what can too often be a singular focus on the technical aspects of selecting technology, you need to first clearly define your overall goals. This should be true with any tools used in your organization.
With nonprofit marketing, it’s all about building relationships. In our blog post “Why Donors Give,” we cited acting from the heart and acting from the head. Both of those required the donor to have a clear understanding of and a connection with your organization.
With that background, the question becomes which tools do you need to find prospective donors and then build those relationships? In a simple analogy, you’re making lists. Lists of those you feel would be good donors, those who are donors, and those who’ve donated but that you’ve lost somewhere along the way.
That simple paper list, or perhaps it’s Post-It® notes on a bulletin board, must be replaced with a comprehensive database. That’s really what you’re doing here. Finding the electronic list that everything else can build upon.
Here’s a starting list of what nonprofit marketing technology can provide:
- Contact management (CRM or Customer/Constituent Relationship Management)
- Donor profiling
- Donor segmentation
- Managing volunteers
- Email management and tracking
- Ecommerce including payments and online donation processing
- Website management
- Event registration
- Online store
It’s a whole host of options, not all of which you’ll need for your organization. That’s part of the challenge—selecting what’s needed and what’s affordable for your organization. Ideally, you’ll select a system that can be built upon as your organization grows and adds further capabilities.
With that background, here are our four recommendations for best technology vendors.
Salesforce. This software integrates sales, service, marketing, community, analytics, as well as developing mobile apps. We recommend Salesforce for Nonprofits that includes program management, community engagement, marketing communications, fundraising, analytics, and apps.
They’ve done an excellent job of tailoring their software to fit nonprofits. For example, they suggest starting with their NGO Connect and the Nonprofit Starter Pack. The starter pack pre-configures Salesforce for nonprofits. That can provide a very helpful jumpstart to your efforts as it truly fits nonprofits rather than trying to translate for-profit systems to the nonprofit world.
This software is driven by content marketing. For nonprofits content marketing results in attracting more website traffic, growing the size of your member/volunteer/donor database, and driving the actions that result in success for your organization, including increasing donations.
It does all this by providing a website content management system, blogging platform, email and social media marketing tools, marketing automation workflow, contact database, search engine optimization, and a reporting tool. For further insight, I like “HubSpot for Nonprofits: Brilliant Ways to Market and Generate More Donations.”
Bundling all your marketing together under HubSpot can really serve to ramp up your productivity and ensure that you’re working on the right things, those that will have a true impact on your marketing efforts.
Blackbaud. This software is focused on fundraising and relationship management. There are a number of options across their full suite of tools including eTapestry, for smaller nonprofits seeking a cloud based solution; Raiser’s Edge NXT, also a cloud-based solution but for midsize to larger nonprofits; and Raiser’s Edge, an on-premises hosted solution.
Software Advice notes that Blackbaud has been addressing nonprofit fundraising for more than 30 years and remains one of the most popular fundraising tools. With that kind of user base, there’s quite a bit of support and advice available across the nonprofit industry based on years of experience, including a number of best practices that you can emulate.
Marketo. This provides an integrated system with email marketing, lead management, consumer marketing, customer base marketing, and mobile marketing. And all of that is driven from a single platform.
They’ve done a good job of providing customer stories and case studies. For example, Hero K12 used Marketo to increase website traffic by 201%, open rates and engagement measures up 150%, along with increased marketing-qualified opportunities generated by 200%. Fantastic numbers.
In another story, Connect for Education increased their campus visits by 200% through optimizing online and email campaigns, including better tracking and segmentation of leads. It’s a good story about significantly ramping up their marketing efforts through the application of Marketo’s systems.
Are You Ready?
To help you assess your organization’s ability to make this move, Salesforce has developed a Nonprofit Readiness Survey. It’s worth trying out to help you and your organization gain further insight into making a huge change to your operation.
This is obviously a serious step for any nonprofit. It takes planning, commitment, and resources allocated to the project. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Campaign Now Can Help
Campaign Now works with a wide variety of nonprofits at various stages in their acquisition and adoption of technology across quite a few different systems. With that experience and expertise, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. We can bring all that to your organization, guiding your efforts in selecting the technology vendor that fits your requirements.
Contact us at (855) 329-4327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.