CRM for Nonprofits: Balancing Data and Human Interaction in Fundraising
Team Rubicon’s development team has a saying that we live by: “Data is critical, human interaction is king!”
In October 2012, Super Storm Sandy ravaged the Eastern seaboard of the United States. All said, it claimed over 280 lives and caused $68B in damages. At the time, Team Rubicon launched its largest operational response to date, sending all 7 staff members, along with 300 volunteers to New York and New Jersey, where they managed 10,000+ spontaneous volunteers in mucking homes, conducting post-disaster assessments and establishing health and wellness checks.
Like most nonprofits, we depended on the tremendous outpouring of support from our community of donors to finance this mission. During our 37 day operation, 3,200 donors contributed to Team Rubicon’s relief efforts and in response, we called every one individually to thank them for their contributions.
What do you mean you called every donor individually? How is that scalable?
The truth is, it wasn’t.
Soon after we wrapped up our mission, we got together to discuss what went well and how we could apply what we’d learned to future efforts. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that we needed a way to scale what we’d done. We needed a way to manage our relationships with donors, and a way to communicate with everyone in the way they wanted to be engaged – without tripling our staff. In short: we needed a CRM system.
After evaluating the available platforms, we decided Salesforce was our best CRM option, but we needed a way to easily incorporate the donor and fundraiser data coming in through Classy into our Salesforce instance. That would allow us to streamline our reporting, while linking donations coming in online with past donor behavior, and identify opportunities for larger contributions down the line. We approached our friends at Classy, and as luck would have it, that’s exactly what they were building. More importantly, they were willing to collaborate with us to further integrate the best solution for our needs.
Within a few months, the integration was complete. We now have the capabilities to capture data in real-time. We can analyze trends, and establish personas to help us better understand our supporters. This has made it easier for us to create targeted campaigns and follow up with meaningful donor engagement. By helping our development team operate more efficiently, and by building on what we started during Hurricane Sandy, we’ve been able to cultivate our base of supporters, and maintain double-digit year-over-year revenue growth.
So what makes a CRM system critical to your operations? By capturing donor data in a central location, you can report revenues quickly and accurately. You can identify donor trends, as well as opportunities to solicit major gifts. You can manage the relationship between online and offline fundraising strategies, and communicate with donors in more personal, meaningful ways. Perhaps most importantly, you can use that data to drive strategic decisions from a fundraising, marketing, and operational standpoint.
The integration between Classy and Salesforce has allowed us to take the crazy idea we had to understand and connect deeply with each supporter- and scale it. It has allowed us to operate more efficiently, and eliminate much of the guesswork around optimizing our communications strategies. Simply put, leveraging the connection between Salesforce and Classy has allowed us to use data to drive our decisions while improving personal communication with our donors. It’s allowed us to operate more efficiently, helped us prepare for the next phase in the growth of our organization.
This is a guest post by Matt Scott. Matt is the Donor Engagement Coordinator at Team Rubicon and has recently joined the Classy team to help develop partnerships within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Photo Credit: Hanna Irblinger Fotografie
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