First of all there were donor databases, which we later learned to
call CRM. Then came websites. Then came social media. It’s only because
they arrived at different times that we have separate activities,
budgets and systems for them. Those days are coming to an end – and the
convergence of web, CRM and social are now under way.
When the popular social media sites became established - and we're
still only a few years into it - most non-profits got started by
creating a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and possibly a YouTube channel.
And they started posting. News, links to campaigns, often more in hope
than anticipation that someone was listening and something would come of
it. And that’s where many people still are. It soon became apparent that
despite the excitement around it all, the social media websites would
not in themselves open up the floodgates to a new stream of income, and
that is was a channel like any other, albeit with huge potential for
reaching a far wider audience.
But since then, as the online social tools themselves have improved
and some of the initial excitement has dissipated, the role of social
media in non-profits is becoming clearer. While outbound posts and
tweets remain important, there are new opportunities in the social world
for a deeper engagement with your supporters.
When all you had was a donor database, the only way you could
communicate was by sending out mailings – one-way communication. And the
donor services team dealt with the inbound – donations, complaints and
the like. What social media sites make possible nowadays is for there to
be conversations. Not just conversations between the non-profit and the
donor, but conversations between donors, and from the donor to his or
her circle of friends about your non-profit.
With a socially-enabled website and CRM solution you can initiate,
respond to and listen in on those conversations. And your donors can
gossip their love for your cause to their friends and followers. That is
partly made possible by the deep integration capabilities offered by the
recently released Facebook Open Graph. This allows the latest
website-CRM solutions such as iMIS to
associate donors’ Facebook profiles – with their permission – to their
constituent record in your database. That means that they have granted
you access to their social network.
Furthermore, the Open Graph – which is a kind of gateway to Facebook
for websites – also allows you to create apps that let the donor share
what they are doing for your cause. So for example if you allow
volunteers to sign up on your website they can automatically share their
volunteering activities on their Facebook pages – which of course
spreads the news to their friends. If they reach a certain level of
support they can post “gold supporter” status to their page – or
whatever you want.
So, to leverage the power of the social web and get beyond a few hopeful
tweets, you need to consider web, CRM and social as one. As blogger Seth
Godin says: “How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage
of the greatest shifts in our generation? How dare you settle for less
when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?”