There’s a CRM revolution happening in the nonprofit sector. Constituents are demanding ever-greater personal engagement, and leading NGOs are responding. For the first time in our nearly 20 years, organizations are being enabled to substantively move towards the integrated systems and processes that support the unified engagement their constituents require. For too long, nonprofits all of types and sizes have been forced to focus too much of their effort internally, struggling with siloed systems and departments. Poor coordination resulted in communications and engagement with their constituents that was far below their own goals. Mixed messaging, duplicative messaging and ignorance about one’s own constituents was the norm. All of this has stymied innovation, growth and the impact our clients’ missions could have in the world.
Now, leading nonprofits are making a change. And they aren’t just switching technologies. The best nonprofits – and those that we believe are setting themselves up for long-term success – are recognizing that their CRM journey has to start with strategy. The true transformation they require includes adaptability and innovation – changing their business processes, how people and positions relate to each other, and even the fundamental orientation of their team members to their constituents as whole – their clients, partners, donors, advocates, volunteers and stakeholders across the spectrum.
Nonprofits are most successful when they begin by establishing a “CRM Vision”. They start a dialogue within their organization – at all levels and including all stakeholders – about the experience they want to deliver to their constituents. Quite often, one of the primary goals that emerges is to deliver a “customer service experience” that spans the entire organization so that each constituent feels treated like a “whole person” by anyone they speak with at the organization. After years of experiencing the difficulty of working in operational silos, nonprofit teams often unify around the ideal of ensuring that the “right hand and left hand are working together” to serve their constituents. This CRM Vision is a crucial element in their success, supporting change management through the typical ups and downs of complex software implementations. In difficult moments, teams can rally around what they want for their constituents and for how they themselves work together.
And what was the core of their CRM Vision? Connecting. The most common elements we see in a nonprofit’s CRM Vision is to connect with their external constituents in meaningful and impactful ways, developing personalized relationships that help those who benefit from their mission and fully engage their supporters. To achieve this, they recognize they need to connect internally their people, processes and technology. To provide the rich and seamless experience outside, they have to collaborate and communicate in a unified manner internally.
Having established a CRM Vision, nonprofits are using the Salesforce 1 for Nonprofits platform to actualize their CRM Vision and become a Connected Nonprofit. They usually start by leveraging one or more of the four pillars of the platform to enable their organization:
- Program Management – to engage with their clients and deliver their Mission
- Community – to collaborate internally, with partner organizations and with their constituents themselves
- Communications – to engage supporters, advocates, donors, prospects – all of their stakeholders
- Fundraising – to cultivate the people, funds and overall resources that make their work possible.
This last pillar has seen substantial enablement recently with the unveiling of NGO Connect and a substantially updated Nonprofit Starter Pack to support fundraising at every level of nonprofit.
Never has there been a time of greater change in the nonprofit sector and never has it been more important for NGOs reconsider their strategy, vision and staff roles. Failure to do so – and to leverage the powerful technology now available to support this new vision – will inevitably lead to incremental change in a time when nonprofits are tasked with exponential impact. The four pillars of Salesforce1 for Nonprofits provide a breadth of possibilities, a vast opportunity for innovation and depth of connections with constituents which is key to not only enabling most nonprofits CRM Visions but ultimately realizing their goal of expanding the impact of their invaluable missions.
About the Author:
Keith Heller, CEO, Heller Consulting
Keith Heller is a nonprofit veteran and founded Heller Consulting to help nonprofits utilize effective strategies and technology to advance their missions. Keith’s efforts to connect nonprofit strategy, systems, and communities have helped hundreds of organizations to establish and nurture lasting relationships with their constituents.