Thursday, November 16, 2017

4 Ways to Better Understand Constituents with CRM

Constituent relationship management (CRM) software is an incredible tool to help you better understand your constituents and reach them on a more personal level. By providing a holistic view of interactions, preferences and behaviors, you have the information you need to deliver targeted, customized experiences that will serve to strengthen your relationship with constituents.
Here are 4 ways to better understand your donors through CRM:

Giving History & Habits
If you are paying attention to a constituent’s giving history, you can develop appropriate and consistent interactions with them that make their journey with you a meaningful one.
Since following up is critical to the donor experience, we’ll use that example. Whether a constituent donates $1,000 unexpectedly or sends $10 monthly via automatic payment, receiving a generic thank you message can make them feel disconnected. With a little customization (“your incredibly generous $1,000 donation will make a difference….” OR “we simply cannot express how much it means to us that you’ve committed to making a monthly contribution”), personalized thank-you notes feel more genuine and have a greater impact on a donor’s perception of your organization.
Communication Preferences
Understanding if donors prefer email, phone calls, direct mail or text messages – and their tolerance for how frequently–is crucial to building a more personalized experience.
You know that friend that despises phone calls, but if you send a text, she’ll text you right back? Communication channels can be a very personal choice. By respecting their wishes and communicating with constituents on their terms, you build trust and loyalty.
Online Behavior
CRM technology can track search and click habits, time spent on your website, your blog, emails opened, social media networks constituents are active on, etc. Understanding how your constituents are behaving online, allows you to develop more effective engagement strategies.
For example, social media is an excellent tool for driving awareness and engagement, but it can be time-consuming. If your constituents tend to be on twitter more than any other channel, you know where you should be prioritizing your time.
Relationships & Special Interests
In addition to giving history, online behavior and communication preferences, CRMs can gather a range of information about your constituents, including demographic information, corporate relationships, event attendance, interests and more.
By knowing your audience and creating segmented lists of constituents with common characteristics, you can ensure that they are receiving the right information at the right time. Let’s say a new donor just contributed to your capital campaign. His profile tells you that he works for an organization that offers corporate matching. You can follow-up with a thank you email that provides him with everything he needs to receive the corporate match. You’ll build credibility with your donor and he’ll be elated that he is able to double his contribution.
Today’s donors want to have authentic connections with the organizations they support. CRM technology provides the kind of valuable insights you need to create those connections. The stronger the customer profiles, the better you’ll be able to develop more meaningful messaging and experiences. (You can’t measure what you don’t track!) By keeping your data up-to-date and accurate, you can create more customized interactions and build deeper relationships with your constituents.

Monday, October 30, 2017

3 Ways To Increase Fundraising Results

How to stand out and show your cause is worthy of donors' time, attention, money

Nonprofits spend a lot of time raising money to fund their important programs. Of course a number of different ways are available to get the funding you need--applying for grants, soliciting major gifts from individuals or companies, and using direct mail to make an ask to a larger number of donors and non-donors.

Leveraging a direct mail campaign, like an annual fund appeal, allows an organization to make a case for the needed funds and multiple ways to donate. But the equation is not that simple. You are fighting against other organizations soliciting donations and shorter attention spans from your donors and prospects. How can you stand out and show that your cause is worthy of a donor’s time, attention, and money?

Let’s take a look at three ways to jump-start a campaign using your current nonprofit CRM database as the foundation for acquiring new donors.


Your database of current donors is your first and best option for a quick jump in results. They are the people that have already shown a commitment to your cause and mission. There are a number of ways to keep them active as donors:

  1. Ensure you have your donors’ information correct. A misspelled name can cost you a donation.
  2. Make donating as easy as possible. Give recipients options such as a reply envelope, number to call, or web page to visit. Check-boxes to select a donation level on the tear-off form helps as well.
  3. Develop attention-getting copy. Your letter copy shouldn’t be the same story as your last letter, and, please, no begging. People will be more engaged with a short story of a success than a page full of "we need money."
  4. Make your ask in the beginning of the letter and in the close.
  5. The entire package should be extremely personalized to make that connection with the donor to help them feel linked your cause.

A package of a standard closed-face #10 envelope, #9 reply envelope, and an 8-½ x 14” letter has proven over the years to be a very successful medium.

The bottom three inches of the letter should be perforated so the recipient can easily tear off the reply and put it in the reply envelope. Pre-print all of the donor’s information so that all they need to do is check a box for the gift amount. The fewer steps you can make the process, the more likely the recipient will make a donation.

Don’t forget to send a second letter three weeks later to those who donated last time but have not during this campaign. Thank them for their gift if the two letters are passing in the mail, and make the letter brief. Use the same package so you can do all the print production at once. Some organizations have seen renewal rates as high as 89% with this strategy. Many organizations do not use a second mailing to save on costs, but the second mailing can contribute nearly half the donations to your campaign.


Tracking gifts at the individual level for every mailing is extremely important. This data will prove paramount in raising more money from current donors. The ask levels should be variable and based on previous giving history. Build an ask matrix for all previous donors.

If you are thanking donors for their previous gift in the letter, do not mention the amount of their last gift. People tend to give what they gave before, and that tactic won’t help raise the average gift. Simply thank them for their generosity. This strategy can increase the average gift by as much as 12% to 15%.


When looking for acquisition lists, you should plan to lose money the first two to four times you mail to the list. It can take a few mailings before a non-donor decides to become a donor. An understanding of your donor’s life-time value will allow you to determine how much you should invest to acquire a new donor. For example, if your research shows your average donor contributes $600 over 10 years, what should you spend to get that $600? There are many ways to arrive at this number, and it may differ among different types of nonprofits.

Multiple list testing is important. Testing smaller quantities of multiple lists will not only improve your odds of finding a productive list, but also give you the ability to compare results, find commonalities, and use the data points for targeting additional lists purchases.

Efforts like annual campaigns can be significant contributors to the financial well-being of every nonprofit organization. The path to success takes patience and solid planning. The right plan and focus will help create long-term success for your cause.

This post was written by SofTrek colleagues Compu-Mail, experts in direct mail marketing. To find out more visit

Friday, September 29, 2017

Nonprofit Feasibility Study

Nonprofit Feasibility Study: 3 Tips to Know Before You Begin

As you start thinking about undertaking your nonprofit’s next fundraising campaign, you may be tempted to dive in head first to get the ball rolling. While this enthusiasm is great, completing some groundwork before getting started is important.

What kind of groundwork, you ask? Before starting any large-scale fundraising campaign, nonprofits should always begin by conducting a feasibility study.

Nonprofit feasibility studies are assessments designed to determine an organization’s readiness to take on a fundraising campaign. They reveal your organization’s strengths and weaknesses (in regard to development) and clarify opportunities for improvement.

A comprehensive feasibility study will reveal how key stakeholders feel about your upcoming campaign, the types of fundraising strategies they respond to, and what resonates with them as supporters. Ideally, you will use study results to shape campaign elements and strategy—or focus on areas of improvement before embarking on your campaign.

Nonprofit feasibility studies are informative tools that can help nonprofits avoid fundraising catastrophe . . . yet many organizations elect to skip them. Big mistake!

Start your next big fundraising project off right by taking time to conduct a thorough feasibility study. Read on to learn how you can make the most of this important assessment.

In this article, we’ll go over:

  1. How conducting a feasibility study will benefit your nonprofit.
  2. Ways your nonprofit can misstep during your feasibility study.
  3. How hiring a fundraising consultant will improve feasibility study effectiveness.

Unfortunately, some organizations see feasibility studies as extraneous undertakings that cost too much money and waste too much time before their team jumps into requesting donations from supporters.

That couldn’t be further from the truth! Feasibility studies are standard procedures that provide valuable information and connections for every nonprofit that commits to the process.

Consider the following benefits of conducting a feasibility study: 

  • You gain valuable preliminary feedback. One of the most fundamental ways a feasibility study can help your nonprofit? Gathering preliminary feedback on the project and goal from important stakeholders—including donors, clients, volunteers and community members—which will tell you exactly how key supporters feel and what you can do to strengthen the proposed project. 
  • You begin building bridges with important supporters. During the feasibility study, your team will reach out to stakeholders for feedback on the project and ask if/how they would like to support the campaign. This early involvement builds understanding and buy-in. If well cultivated, these prospects may serve as significant leaders and donors to your effort. 
  • You identify fundraising blind spots early on. You may be counting on supporters who aren’t there, have set too high of a fundraising goal, or plan to fundraise during the wrong time of year. Sometimes, your nonprofit could benefit from added perspectives to help your team identify blind spots in your fundraising plan before it’s too late. 
  • You have the opportunity to reevaluate fundraising goals. After receiving feedback and identifying blind spots, your nonprofit will better know whether or not your initial fundraising goals are realistic. Perhaps the support is not yet in place to fulfill your goals, or maybe you’ll determine that you simply need more time to carry out the campaign. 
See? A feasibility study offers many ways to equip your nonprofit with the perspective and information needed to conduct a successful capital campaign.

Even though feasibility studies can be powerful resources for nonprofits, the fact is they are too often misused, underused, or otherwise improperly conducted.

While conducting a feasibility study is important, taking the right steps to implement it properly is equally important.

Be wary of these common mistakes that nonprofits make when it comes time to conduct a feasibility study:
  • Not involving team members from across your organization. Be sure to involve team members from all departmentssuch as your marketing chair and development directorin your feasibility study. This way, there will be voices in the mix who will know what’s important to assess for success across your organization.
  • Not involving a range of supporters. Bringing in all kinds of supporters during your study is critical. Include community members, clients, grateful families, volunteers, recurring donors, corporate partners, and others to glean insight from people with a wider perspective.
  • Disregarding the results. Heed the results of your study! It can be easy to gain a sense of false confidence in your organization’s initial approach and disregard undesirable results. But, if you interview relevant people, you can be sure the data collected is solid and reveals real strengths and weaknesses. Address those weaknesses now, or you will confront them later when it’s too late to salvage the campaign.
  • Coming in with preconceived notions. Similarly, if your team comes in with preconceived notions about which prospects to approach, the timeline of your campaign, or other factors, you may blind yourself to other opportunities. Although having a basic idea of how your campaign will play out is necessary, be open to changing course.

Essentially, when you conduct a feasibility study, due diligence is more important than ever! If you overlook important items, your team runs the risk of causing problems that will affect your fundraising campaign (and support for your organization) in the long run.

However, with the right practices in place, your nonprofit will be able to walk away with the data it needs to improve your fundraising plan and raise money more effectively.

Your nonprofit can misstep in numerous ways when it comes to conducting your feasibility study. However, one key move can serve your nonprofit well: enlisting the services of an experienced fundraising consultant.

Fundraising consultants are helpful partners in all areas of your nonprofit’s fundraising operations, and they can provide your team with additional guidance during the feasibility study process. They take the reins during this process by interviewing stakeholders and analyzing the data you collect.

Bringing on a fundraising consultant is beneficial to your feasibility study because: 
  • Interviewees can be more forthcoming with their feedback. When a fundraising consultant interviews stakeholders, individuals feel they can respond with more openness and honesty regarding issues and suggestions. 
  • Consultants can provide additional skills and perspectives. Consultants can provide skills and perspectives that members of your staff may not possess. Fundraising is their profession, after all! They have the benefit of working with a diverse client and project mix and know what has and hasn’t worked in the past for other nonprofits. 
  • Consultants can continue to advise your nonprofit in the long term. After building a relationship with a consultant during the feasibility study, your team may find it beneficial to continue the relationship after the study ends. (However, you are not obligated to hire the same consultant for the campaign; for a consultant to suggest otherwise is unethical.) They might advise your team how to build your donor base, develop your board, or even hire a development director. 
With these benefits in mind, bringing on a fundraising consultant as your nonprofit moves forward with your feasibility study is an obvious choice.

However, with all of the fundraising consultants out there, deciding which firm will make the best partner for your nonprofit can be difficult. Check out DonorSearch’s guide for an overview of the top fundraising consultants before making your decision.

--Want to learn how to maximize the findings of your nonprofit’s feasibility study? Visit Aly Sterling Philanthropy for 9 tips to help your team make the most of your feasibility study’s results.

This informative post comes to the ClearView CRM blog from Giving Institute colleague Ally Sterling, an accomplished speaker, active board member and proud leader of Aly Sterling Philanthropy, a national consulting firm based in the Midwest. Her expertise includes fundraising, strategic planning, search consultation and board leadership development for organizations of varying sizes and capacities.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Nonprofits, what's your problem?

Do nonprofits have a problem?

You know that selecting, buying, and implementing enterprise software is a complex task requiring detailed technical knowledge rarely part of the “day job” of the people making the decision.  Furthermore, the process could take months to a couple years (or more).

That’s not the problem.

The stereotype of software salespeople as predators is often true. Many, especially those working for large, publicly traded companies or venture-capitalized start-ups, are on quota. They’re not bad people, but if they miss their quota, they risk losing their job; closing the deal, makes them money. It’s easy to see how this zero-sum game might lead one to gloss over complexity and nuance.
Companies design a veil of confusion around their products, contracts, and pricing for a key reason: they are beholden to revenue estimates for which Wall Street and VCs hold them accountable. Failure to meet estimates can mean lower stock prices and loss of shareowner trust.  

That’s not the problem either, because--honestly--who trusts salespeople, anyway?

The key issue is nonprofits themselves. You’re too nice. Organizations deal with punishing sales experiences all the time. Some even wind up happy. How? If your nonprofit wants to make the process of selecting, buying, and implementing enterprise software work, you need to become knowledgeable, demanding, cynical.

You need to be a tough customer. 

Here’s how:

  1. Have staff knowledgeable about the business operations and technology help make the right choice. Free up their time so these people can focus on the process and engage with the details before a decision is made. If you have staff whom can drive the process, you have to make sure that their other responsibilities are reduced so they can give this process their undivided attention. Consider devoting internal staff to the project or working with a consultant familiar with the organization’s needs.
  2. Software can only improve a situation when it aligns to an organization's strategic plan and goals.  How many nonprofits actually get specific goals and expectations from senior leadership before researching and selecting software? The best projects have someone from senior leadership (CEO, COO) as engaged project sponsors, setting direction, removing roadblocks and holding everyone accountable. If the CEO can have an intelligent conversation about what’s going well and what’s not working during the process, her/his level of involvement is about right.
  3. Get staff buy-in. Dictates from on-high rarely survive ground conditions. Project owners or managers should find out if the software will work for staff and give them what they need. The result is that staff will actually use the product when the switch flips on.
  4. Boards usually carry fiduciary responsibility for an enterprise software decision but are rarely involved in selection. If the board has to approve the funds, they might consider appointing a member to get involved and stay involved. You don't want to have to ask the board for money more than once.
  5. Consider the alignment of the vendor with your market and their track record of successful long-term relationships with clients like you. My belief is smaller, privately held firms are most willing to go the extra mile for their clients.
  6. Hold vendors accountable to terms of contracts, statements of work, and deadlines. If something feels wrong, it probably is. The time to address a problem is early. If this makes your salesperson or project manager uncomfortable, that might be an indication you found something that will make your life difficult later. It is okay to push back early–you are the customer, after all.

Friday, April 15, 2016

ClearView CRM comes to Android

iPhone users shouldn't get all the ClearView CRM Mobile benefits, should they? We think not. That's why the mobile app is now available for your Android smartphone.

As with the iOS version, ClearView CRM Mobile for Android is free for ClearView users in the cloud. Just visit the Google Play store for your download. 

If you're an Android device owner and had the chance to view the SofTrek's special webinar on Mobile for iOS, you should know that using the app on Android is a nearly identical process. If you didn't see the webinar, you can view it for free at your convenience.  

If you're a frontline fundraiser, in many respects ClearView CRM Mobile makes your PC or laptop obsolete. Remember, below is a high-level view of everything you can do in Mobile:

  • Work with your prospects. You can create and track opportunities, capture meeting notes with your phone's voice-text tools and prep for meetings.
  • Stay connected with your key donors. You can make calls or email from right in the app, update donor data when you learn new info, and import that info to your device contacts file.
  • Quickly handle tasks like creating and tracking actions to take, sending notifications to colleagues, and capturing and connecting pictures to donor files.
If your nonprofit uses ClearView CRM in the cloud, you can go mobile. Ask your organization's ClearView administrator to configure your system. Once the configuration is complete,  visit Google Play, download, and you're ready for the road.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Go mobile on the go

If you're a frontline fundraiser who's often on the road, you have a powerful new ally in the mobile version of ClearView CRM, available for iPhones and iPads. 

Anyone who spends a lot of time on the go knows that being efficient and effective can be a real challenge. That's why ClearView CRM Mobile helps with the kinds of activities that are keys to fundraising success. With the new mobile app, you can:

  • work with prospects by creating and tracking opportunities, capturing meeting notes with their phones’ voice-text tools and prepping for meetings.
  • stay connected with donors by making calls or emailing directly from the app, updating donor data as soon as they learn new info, and importing donor info to a device contacts file.
  • immediately handle tasks like creating and tracking actions to take, sending notifications to colleagues, and capturing and connecting pictures to donor files.
ClearView CRM Mobile fundraising software The app offers even more support for your out-of-office solicitation efforts. For instance, you can easily plan your strategies for those all-important prospect meetings right from within ClearView CRM Mobile.
If you're already using ClearView CRM in the cloud and have an Apple device, you can go mobile. Your first step is asking your organization's ClearView administrator to configure your system, which is a quick and straightforward process. Once the configuration is complete, simply visit the iTunes app store, and download ClearView CRM.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Soup up your prospect summary screen with simple tweaks

Did you know that, with a few simple tweaks, you can soup up your ClearView CRM prospect summary screen to make your work-life more efficient?

Tweak 1

Pare down tabs. You can easily create new prospect view screens that include only the tabs you want. Consider making a “quick info” screen that has only the Prospect Info, Touches, Memos and Prospect Tags tabs. You can also think about screens that focus on a specific topic. If you often analyze donor giving habits, make a new prospect summary view that includes the Giving Summary, Giving Summary with Soft Credits, Giving Breakdown and Giving Breakdown with Soft Credits tabs.
     To make your changes, go into Settings -> Application -> Manage Prospect Summary Views. Once you create a new view, you see the option to switch views in the Prospect Summary View for any donor. There, you can add the tabs you want. You can also set the default view of your choice in Settings.

Tweak 2

Streamline the Go To menu. The Prospect Summary View Go To menu by default contains so many topics. If you or your organization isn’t using some of those topics, you can quickly delete any of them from the menu. Paring down the number of menu items helps you find the menu item you need more quickly and can clean up the screen considerably. To do this, go into Administration, choose Go To Menu Configurations, and choose the menu items you want to see.

Tweak 3

Customize tables for any Go To menu item. Technically speaking, this tweak isn’t for the Prospect Summary View but for the views of data you get when you click on many Go To menu items. Say you click on Actions in the Go To menu. The table that you see with detailed data by default likely contains more columns than you use regularly. To customize the columns you see, use Settings on the Actions page to eliminate some of the columns or add others. You can also choose the number of rows you can see on each page of results, up to a maximum of 100. You can make similar changes to any of the Go To menu items, giving you exactly the view of data that you prefer to see.