Social CRM will never replace traditional fundraising but it will change the way we do it.
Many commentators have predicted the impact of the online social revolution. Business and government embrace the opportunity, yet online fundraising still only amounts to 10% of voluntary income. What is holding us back? Steve Thomas, our managing director shares his thoughts.
Many commentators (me included) have predicted the impact of the online social revolution. Businesses and governments are embracing the opportunity, yet online fundraising still only amounts to 10% of UK voluntary income. What is holding us back in the non-profit sector where, ironically, our supporters are more engaged and committed to our causes?
At Purple Vision we describe social CRM as “monitoring and engaging in online exchanges and developing these into meaningful relationships”. In other words, just broadcasting tweets or posting appeals on Facebook isn’t social CRM. Ken Burnett’s principles of relationship fundraising – written before the advent of the web – still apply, especially in the online world where integrity is everything.
For social CRM to work, we must be open and patient. It’s a three stage process – Attention – Conversation – Conversion – which doesn’t work if you skip straight to the end where the money comes in!
What’s stopping us doing social CRM?
1. Regarding social as just another channel Social media is so accessible that it is intrinsic to the communication of your entire organisation. Supporters don’t distinguish between service delivery, campaigns or appeals – they are all part of one relationship. This means fundraisers cannot own social media and should be wary of exploiting it without regard for the bigger picture. By contrast, if you build relationships across the whole organisation the fundraising benefits will be significant.
2. Reluctance to become ‘digital first’ Does your CEO blog? Do they do it themselves? In our experience this is the best indicator that your organisation will develop a digital culture. This change has to include senior management and only happens when led from the top. Engaging personally with supporters online builds trust as well as providing the example and permission for everyone else to follow.
3. Disconnected strategies and technologies Social media highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to CRM. If you engage using disconnected tools and separate departmental plans, the impact of your work is seriously reduced. Today, accessible and affordable technologies exist to help join up your relationships and achieve the elusive 360-degree supporter view. However, technology will fail to deliver unless you give equal attention to people and process by embracing digital and social in each departmental plan.
So, how can you do social CRM better? Here are some ideas based on the timeless but vital principles of relationship fundraising:
1. Understand and communicate your case for support • Test messages from the recipient’s perspective. Why should they care? • Use online communities as a research tool – ask open questions • Try online polls or quizzes to test ideas and see which ones work best
2. Identify and empower advocates – they amplify your message • Follow the online “buzz” – use a monitoring tool to track key topics • Set aside 20 minutes every day to respond to online questions and concerns • Encourage opinion formers to speak (tweet, blog etc.) on your agenda
3. People give to people • Personalise e-communications both to and from a real person • A thank you, prompt and personal, matters • Use blogs to connect supporters with the people that deliver your services
4. Don’t forget to ask (politely and repeatedly) • Send e-appeals up to three times, excluding those who already opened • Include a clear call to action – like a button that links to a web form • Share content that colleagues can easily re-use, such as footers, web parts or hashtags