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Fundraising 2.0: A New Shine on Old CRM Principles

Fundraising 2.0: A New Shine on Old CRM Principles

Fundraising takes time, effort and coordination. More than that, however, it requires a strong relationship with the donor -- something that doesn't happen overnight. By tapping into peer relationships, fund-raisers can build trust and at the same time streamline campaigns, writes Sarah Hoddinott of Advanced Solutions International.

By Sarah Hoddinott
08/14/08 4:00 AM PT

CRM is not just about tracking and recording names, addresses and standard constituent information. Today, organizations' online presences and peer-to-peer technologies are making it possible for politicians, businesses and non-profit organizations to get personal with their voters, customers and donors. The "R" in CRM may stand for relationship, but in order to best connect with target audiences, "R" should also equal relevance.

Fundraising 2.0 is about just this -- building the right customer relationships at the right time and in the right way. It integrates everything organizations have learned as tried and true fundraising and CRM techniques, and allows constituents to participate in the way they want, when they want. So if what's old is new ... what's new? In a word: approach. Cutting edge, social media technologies provide a host of ways to put a new shine on traditional campaign principles.

The Power of Peers

Peer-to-peer is one of the latest fundraising methods available, and lessons learned have showed organizations that they can't just plunge into new donor pools and immediately create a path for their participation. Cultivating relationships over time is key to converting target audiences into true ambassadors. By following these best practices for integrating peer-to-peer CRM tools, fundraisers will increase donor participation, expand donor pools, and drastically reduce campaign launch time, administration and overhead.

  • Integrate peer-to-peer fundraising into your current campaign strategies. Inventory your current communications tactics (e-mail, physical mailers, Web site, etc.), and examine the messaging. Has it been watered down to reach many different audiences? Through peer-to-peer campaigns, you maintain the core messaging but enable your donors to personalize the message for their own networking and recruitment efforts.
  • Explore the potential of integrated social media marketing. Conduct a CRM data screening, and discover who is active on different social networking sites. All of this information can be utilized to support and grow your organization's own social networking program, such as creating a Facebook or MySpace group for different areas of interest and participation within your organization. In fact, we can all have a presence on social networking sites today. Are you posting your organization's videos on YouTube?
  • Introduce online events to the list of ways a donor can help. A-thon-based events can be launched and managed online far quicker, with less overhead cost, than multi-location physical events. Peer-to-peer, Internet-based events eliminate the need to physically go to an event, allowing participation from across the globe, right from their computers.
  • Identify campaign 'champions,' and give them the tools to rapidly expand the donor network. Take the time to find your top supporters, reach out to them first and show them how to use peer-to-peer tools. Traditional fundraising practices often tie leadership to the amount of money given; however, using peer-to-peer fundraising, you can create new leadership opportunities based on involvement and passion for making a change.
  • Understand, motivate and thank your donors. In peer-to-peer fundraising, you can easily focus on keeping your participants involved in the campaign by quickly sending them personalized automated e-mails that provide fundraising tips, solicitation reminders, encouragement and your gratitude. Traditional means of communicating with donors are costly, time intensive and slow, but online campaigns allow you to automate all of the messages that will be sent on your behalf, even your motivation messages.
  • Create friendly competition, and build individual and team incentives into your campaigns. Create accurate, real-time responsive leader boards that allow campaign champions to see how their fundraising efforts stack up against fellow champions. Offer prizes to the top fundraisers and top teams. Encourage team captains to motivate their team members, and offer them easy ways of communicating within their team.
  • Reduce unnecessary administrative efforts from each campaign. Peer-to-peer tools automate many functions of fundraising programs. Personalized donor Web sites can be created by the donors themselves, and tax records and receipts can be automatically generated and distributed. By using online-based events, the costs and coordination associated with physical venues is eliminated. Peer-to-peer offers all of the benefits of our traditional programs that reach out to the community but removes so much of the administration, training and coordination.
  • Automate your donor acquisition strategy, and take advantage of all the tools your CRM system offers. Peer-to-peer technology will allow you to capture new donor information and donation habits. Donors will also have a network of like minds beyond their own ZIP code. Let them create their own network in support of your cause, recruit new registrants for your event and rapidly build your donor base. Make sure that you have the means to tap into this group -- not just those that are familiar with your organization.

Traditional CRM techniques combined with social media tools can take politicians, businesses and non-profit organizations one step closer to achieving voter, customer and donor personalization. Each donor and each network can unite as a community sharing the same campaign message and successes. Fundraising 2.0 requires integrating innovative fundraising strategies with CRM solutions that maximize the potential the Web has to offer. Reevaluating donor acquisition strategies and giving patterns will not only create more successful campaign programs but also enhance older CRM techniques.


Sarah Hoddinott is a product manager at Advanced Solutions International, a provider of Web-based software for non-profits and associations.


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