Crafting a Constituent Relations Technology Strategy with CiviCRM

New technologies are giving us more ways than ever to connect and engage our constituents. The Rhode Island Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to civic leadership, is on the front lines of a wide-reaching effort to improve nonprofits’ access to and use of technology. On August 28th, the foundation invited Ginkgo Street Labs to give a free training on Constituent Relations Management (CRM) to a group of nonprofits. After a brief presentation on CRM strategies, participants broke out into groups to complete an exercise; using one of the real organizations represented in their group, participants:

  • identified the specific “asks” the organization makes of its constituents
  • mapped out the organization’s engagement opportunities
  • identified obstacles and opportunities in collecting data about constituents
  • used data to target, engage, mobilize, and empower their volunteers, members and constituents.

In the second half of the training, participants were guided through putting those strategies into practice using CiviCRM, the leading open source CRM for nonprofits. Ginkgo Street Labs recommends CiviCRM because:

  • it’s free, as in beer (it costs nothing)
  • it’s free, as in speech (you can do whatever you want with it)
  • it’s highly customizable
  • it’s built by and for nonprofits, so its feature set covers the spectrum of nonprofit’s needs (e.g., email broadcasting, donation processing, event management, and much more) without creating data silos*

* Data silos are what happens when you’ve got multiple data sources that don’t talk to one another, leading to lost productivity, loss of data integrity, and an excessive amount of time exporting and importing data.

With a well-thought-out constituent engagement strategy and a capable tool like CiviCRM, nonprofits can convert their CRM from a passive data store into an engagement platform capable of sophisticated segmentation and extremely targeted actions.