Keeping The CRM in Social CRM

Further to my previous planned relevance posts, today I’m addressing the value of taking an holistic approach to social Constituent Relationship Management (CRM). Often I notice that organizations focus on one or the other (either the “social” or the “CRM”) and divide responsibilities among departments accordingly. For example, Membership and Support may be responsible for customer relationship management but Marketing is responsible for managing the community. In another example, you may find that Membership is responsible for the community as a member benefit, but the database is the realm of the IT department.

No matter what your organization’s structure looks like, I urge you to stop and re-evaluate the purpose of your technology and how it relates to, and serves, your organization. Here are my four recommendations for jumpstarting a more cohesive approach to Social CRM:


  1. Data is Data – No matter how you slice it, data is data. As your members participate in your gated community, a trail of data is being left behind. That data can be collected and used, or it can be wasted in a lonely repository. Remember, if you want to provide a social outlet for the masses, you don’t need a Social CRM. The value of a Social CRM is the ability to collect data from various sources and bring it together for a specific purpose.
  2. Purpose is Universal – Talking of purpose, in previous posts I talked about the importance of having a purpose for your community that is connected to your strategic goals and your mission. If you’ve done this, then making the logical (and practical) connection from the purpose your CRM serves to the purpose your social facilitates is clear. The social element of your technology facilitates the marketing, product management or networking benefits offered by your organization and tracking them in CRM provides Dollars and Sense needed to validate the offering.
  3. Dollars & Sense – Social CRM offers an organization the opportunity to blend the objective (dollars) and subjective (sense) to enhance their overall purpose. In your CRM you are able to track buying-power, transactional history, product management, etc. This is where you run reports and take the pulse of your organization. With social you are able to gauge policy enthusiasm, product receptiveness, and overall community engagement and make sense of the numbers. Keeping them separated makes the holistic understanding of your purpose and its success that much more difficult and, by extension, the market responsiveness that much slower.
  4. Seek First to Understand and then to React – When you’re able to gauge the appropriate value of your offerings through the sales numbers and utilization rates that are tracked and correlated them with community engagement, your understanding of market trends is heightened. With that understanding a decision about retiring a product, restructuring a service or developing a new offering is made with strategic knowledge and value and as such the likelihood of success is far greater.

In the end, while organizations push to create a social connection with their constituents (members, donors, registrants, exhibitors, etc.) it is only by understanding the purpose of your organization, that of your community and your offerings, will the organization succeed or fail. A Social CRM is not two products to be split down the middle; it is one product that facilitates a customer-centric approach to Customer Lifecycle Management.

Avectra’s Nonprofit News – Week of September 10, 2012

With the official start of football (and, to some people, fall) last weekend, take the time to consider what you can do to make a difference. Whether it is participating in one of the local golf tournaments, 5k races or walks for an organization, or donating your fantasy football pool money to charity, now is the time! Here at Avectra, our staff gives back to charitable organizations, and we frequently organize teams for local fundraising events.

(Photo Credit: Millennial Impact Report)

It seems everyone has a different take on millennials, whether they are too narcissistic, or helping to save the world with technology. No matter where you fall, millennials matter to fundraisers. The Huffington Post launched a new series this week to tackle that issue, and answer the question of why the nonprofit world needs millennials. Follow along, and while you’re at it, the Millennial Impact Report might change how you ask millennials for money. 70% prefer to give online.

Of course you mean well when you donate, but can you guarantee your money is going to the right place? Charity Navigator helps to expose some charities whose money may not be in the right place, including some 9/11 charities. Following the terrorist attack, the IRS fast tracked more than 300 9/11 related charities. As of 2006, Charity Navigator found one-third of those couldn’t be found and 38 were out of business. About one charity, Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator, said, “We think it’s terrible…We think it’s a real waste of money when these kind of expensive events seem to cost so much money.” Follow the money, and make sure you know where your donations are going.

Association CEOs Who Excel at Social Media: Dave Phillips of PAR

Instead of listing reasons why CEOs should consider using social media, I’ll let Dave Phillips, CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, tell you in fewer words:

“Social media is optional and so is being relevant.”

Maddie Grant of Socialfish agrees. She recently wrote, “One good tweet from a CEO is worth more than 100 tweets from other staff.Her post inspired me to interview several association CEOs who enjoy the personal and professional benefits of social media.

Building a social staff

I “know” Dave Phillips from following him on Twitter and reading his blog. When I visited PAR’s online staff directory, I was astounded to see the entire staff had social media profiles.

Although PAR started developing a digital presence before Dave came along, only a few of them were using social media themselves. Once Dave was on board, they increased their social media efforts, both organizationally and individually. PAR even has a full-time community and social media manager on staff now.

Changing perspectives and habits is no easy task, but Dave said an early breakthrough came from their Twitter-skeptical governmental affairs director. “One of her goals was to do a better job with social media. As she live-tweeted a debate, a freshman assemblyman sought her out because he had seen her tweets and wanted to introduce himself to her.” No longer was there any doubt: social media could help break the ice and spark relationships.

PAR’s advocacy team has experienced other social media benefits. The average response rate for political calls to action is 10% nationally. Because they supplement traditional tactics with social media, PAR’s is 18%.

The personal/professional line

Dave’s had a blog and Facebook profile since, well, forever. He doesn’t spend much time on LinkedIn, but loves Twitter. “I resisted Twitter when it first came out because I knew I’d become completely addicted to it.” I’m happy to report Dave’s found balance with Twitter.

He decided long ago to have only one social media profile, not separate personal and professional profiles. “I have one face, the same face. I’m not as fun to follow as I could be, but I also don’t accidently post things in the wrong place. One account keeps it simple.”

Dave believes the line between personal and professional, particularly with the younger generation, has blurred. “It’s almost become nonexistent.” He says, “The true value, the genius of social media, is engaging other people. That’s my main thrust in social media. That’s our business.”

Whom to follow?

“You get what you follow,” says Dave. Find and follow quality tweeps — thought leaders, press, policymakers and their staff, members, prospective partners, and your peers. Use Twitter lists to organize the flow of tweets.

How to manage?

“One, you need to have two 22” monitors — one for social media and one for work,” says Dave. Because most people are drawn to association work because of the extreme variety of tasks and issues, he says that shuffling back and forth between social and work should be a natural for the ADD set. I had never thought of us in that way, but I think he has a point.

“Two, find your social media primetime.” For Dave, it’s first thing in morning, especially on Mondays, when people catch up and post updates before settling into work. He also likes to check in at lunch and at the end of the work day. “Understand the peaks and valleys. There’s no use posting business stuff at 8 p.m. on a weekend when no one’s there.”

“Social media is optional and so is being relevant.”

Dave says, “If you’re not doing social media, you’re not being relevant to a large part of your membership. You can’t afford not to do it.”

“I wish everyone had to be on Twitter and think in 140 characters. I enjoy it. It keeps me fresh as a professional, and keeps me in touch with younger members who are going to be our future.”

For Dave, social media is another way to connect with members. “That’s job number one,” he says. “If I walk down the hall and see someone on Facebook, they’re not penalized, they’re applauded. They’re connecting with members on a personal and business level. You have to do both. Take advantage of the blurred line.”

Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer who blurred the line many years ago.

Simple Steps To Keep Your Financial Data Trustworthy

One of the most valuable assets any organization has is its data.  Your data is the foundation for telling your organization’s story, setting strategy, making decisions, and providing proof of program success and financial solvency.  Yet many nonprofits simply don’t pay enough attention to their data until a problem is detected.

Data corruption or inconsistencies are a common risk with any database and there are a number of steps your organization can take to keep your data trustworthy.

My top tip for Sage 100 Fund Accounting users is to regularly run the data integrity check process.  What’s that?

Data integrity checks are not a complete catch all to detect any abnormalities in the database. But , when used properly they can alert users to the fact that data has gotten out of sync before too much time goes by. They can also serve to help diagnose and troubleshoot certain reporting problems that seemingly have no explanation.

Data Integrity Checks (DIC’s) are accessed by launching the Sage 100 Fund Accounting Administration module and going to Organization > Data Integrity Checks.  See the screen shot below.

One gotcha is that all users have to be logged out before the DIC’s can be run.

For the most part DIC’s check the integrity and relationship among tables and transactions in the database. When information is written to the database it is often spread among several tables. DIC’s make sure that the individual transactions contain all the info they need in all the tables and that it all sums up together. If a transaction didn’t properly write or your database has some corruption these checks will detect the inconsistency of the records and report on it.

DIC’s are broken into several groups and given numbers. When running DIC’s its best to run all of them at once. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 10’s of minutes on average. When done the DIC’s will display a report about what passed and what failed.

Failure of data integrity checks doesn’t automatically mean things are horribly wrong or you need to call the DBA. It depends on which ones have failed:

  • Some DIC failures (AP17/AR26) are usually because the user has mis-posted a document in a closed year and is easily fixed through data entry.
  • DIC failures 12/13 have to do with the use of Interfund Transfer GL codes and the way they close (or don’t) into fund balance and may not be a problem at all.
  • Many of the other failures can be fixed with a simple script available on the knowledgebase that will re-index tables.
  • In some cases failures will be beyond what the user can correct and you will have to contact support.

Data integrity checks should be run frequently to assure the health of your database. There is no set schedule but running them on a weekly basis is a good guideline. Doing so will help you catch a problem before it become too serious.

Thomas Tweedel
Sr. Customer Support Analyst, Customer Support
Sage Nonprofit

7 Deadly Sins of Private Online Communities

The more private communities we launch, the more we learn about how to make them successful, and how to make them fail. There are as many don’ts as there are do’s. Here are a few don’ts that rise to the top for us:

  1. Don’t have a strategy: This is the big daddy. Some communities launch with a plan that isn’t linked to their organization’s strategic plan. Even worse, some launch with no plan at all. This leads to a lack of focus for your community, which can deal it a death blow.
  2. Don’t have a community manager: A small, but very visible number of communities seem to grow all by themselves. Most don’t. Someone needs to be working behind the scenes to ensure that progress is being made on your community plan.
  3. Don’t have a procedure to ensure a quick response time: One of the best ways to get people to never come back to your community is to let their posts go unanswered. We recommend implementing a 24 hour response procedure.
  4. Don’t have a process for welcoming new members: Imagine going to a party and there’s nobody at the door greeting you. The same principle applies in an online community. There must be some kind of welcome process for new members.
  5. Don’t have a reporting structure: This is linked to the first don’t. How will you know you’re making progress on your community plan if you aren’t tracking statistics about your community engagement? Identify about 10 key metrics and track them on a monthly basis.
  6. Don’t have an editorial calendar: Especially in the early days, you need to post proactively post questions or topics in the community to help stimulate discussion posts. We recommend having a three month calendar.
  7. Don’t promote your community in outside communications: Your organization probably has a bevy of other communications vehicles to talk about what’s happening in your community. Our favorite is an association’s e-mail newsletter.

Avectra’s NonProfit News – Week of September 3, 2012

Well, it certainly was not a slow week in news, even with the long holiday weekend! With the news breaking late last week that Blackbaud was discontinuing Common Ground, the nonprofit industry has been looking for answers. Our own Jay Love provided some of his initial thoughts, as did Heller Consulting and Groundwire. We’re going to keep a close eye on this, and please feel free to share your thoughts below.

Some other articles that caught our eye this week…

Beth Kanter is always a great resource for nonprofit and fundraising professionals. She had two recent posts that provided interesting examples for nonprofits using social media. The first – Does Your Nonprofit Have a Social Media Strategy? is a wonderful reminder to approach social media with a plan. Also, your nonprofit might use Pinterest, but Is Instagram Useful for Nonprofits? Yes! Many charitable organizations are using Instagram to provide a new hue to their heart-warming photographs.

It came and went quickly, but many are still cleaning up after Hurricane Isaac. Charity Navigator reminds us of their tips for giving in times of crisis. Among them, make sure you’re giving to an established charity, avoid telemarketers, and don’t send supplies.

Everybody loves having a celebrity endorsement, but make sure that your reasons for giving and supporting your cause are aligned. Colleen Dilen Schneider shares the Top 5 Mistakes Nonprofits Make When Attempting to Engage Celebrities.

(Photo Credit: Crowdrise)

Have you wondered whether online giving matters? A recent report by Network for Good says that the online giving experience matters, and they have the data to prove it. Check out the report, and think about how your organization’s branded donation page is creating a great giving experience for your constituents.

Razoo gets it. (As evidenced by their raising $100M this year for 14,000 organizations) This post shows how fundraising is really all about People First, Dollars Next. It’s the relationship, not the money.

Speaking of the fact that it’s all about the people, Humanize co-author Jamie Notter has a new post about the blurring line between nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Is it true? Are nonprofits becoming more like associations, and are for-profits becoming more like nonprofits? Is the world just all mixed up with social good for all? What do you think?

Be informed about the nonprofit sector in America, with this new report (and infographic) on America’s nonprofits.

And finally, we’re glad that other people are seeing the link between using social media and CRM together as a new way to segment constituents. As a follow-up, make sure that you know how to strategically select a social CRM for the future of your nonprofit.

Common Ground Grounded by Blackbaud, But Why?

During a meeting with Robert in person last week, as part of my new SVP role with Avectra, he pointed out his blog post on Blackbaud killing off Common Ground and stated there just might be some interesting and thought provoking comments.  Robert, you sure hit that nail on the head!
I cannot sit on the sidelines and lurk any longer, especially since I have been very personally involved with two key products for this sector which I love so dearly.   

First, back in 1997, Fund-Master – with nearly the identical number of customers as Blackbaud had – was sold without my knowledge by Epsilon to Blackbaud.  In that case, no planning for what was to happen to the customers, employees and the product was undertaken.  Because of that lack of foresight and discussion, virtually all of the employees lost their jobs, the customers were forced on to RE or other products and Fund-Master is just a memory and an old user manual in my attic along with some great group pictures of the wonderful staff.  Please keep in mind there were other aspects there too, like the fact the product had not been ported fully to Windows yet and the margins were not as good as RE.  Those factors might have influenced the decision to sell to Blackbaud, and in fact, were later verified to me.
Fast forward 10 years to 2007 when eTapestry was sold after much careful planning and discussion.  The product is still being updated and sold by Blackbaud.  More employees work at the eTapestry office, then when the company was sold, and as far as I know the customers still log in and use the product daily.  Not all of this is due to the pre-sale discussions.  Other aspects as to why eTapestry continues to shineare: the innovation in the product, the market segment being served, the profit being generated, the ease of maintaining it and perhaps the fact that key technical talent stayed in place to move the product vision forward.
Please stop and weigh all sides of what is happening with Common Ground.   I am betting there are a multitude of factors leading to the decision.  Compare the aspects I just mentioned above and perhaps some insights will arise for this situation.  
Consider the backlash when two charities merge and some overlapping programs are either cut back or eliminated.  There can be an uproar, but usually careful thought (often with the involvement of key board members) was part of the decision making process as to what stays and what goes.  
I have evaluated just about every product in this market since 1984.   There are certain key processes that must be in place for a non-profit fundraising office to be successful.  Just think of the gift processing alone, which includes households, memorials, soft/hard credits, matching gifts, pledges, event registrations, split gifts, premiums, tie backs to appeals and campaigns, interfaces with accounting funds/budgets and more.   In my evaluations, the ability to handle just this part of the overall fundraising function is not something you can bolt on to a commercial system like, which was created for marketing campaigns and invoices.  The underlying data objects were not built for such details and nuances, such as gift processing alone.   If so, I would have tried to alter ACT!, which at the time was the most widely used CRM ever.   When my technical team and I evaluated doing that, we decided there would be too many shortcomings.  (I wonder if our minds would have changed if ACT! would have given 10 free seats away to any charity…  )
That’s not to say that is not a remarkable product, it is!  It is used by more commercial businesses than almost anything else.  I have used it at my last two companies.  However, it was not built from the ground up to be a fundraising system and if used as one, compromises will be made.   

Perhaps, no maybe I should use a better word, PROBABLY this was a big factor in Blackbaud’s decision to eliminate Common Ground from its offerings.  Since I have joined a competitior, Avectra, I doubt Marc or Jana at Blackbaud would answer my email asking what those factors were, so we could verify this.   Until then, I hope it is food for thought and debate by the rest of us!