Donors have different expectations for nonprofits than they did just a few years ago. Today, supporters are interested in organizations they see making a difference in their communities and spreading awareness about their cause online. After all, one of the easiest ways to fuel a movement around your cause is with technology.

From virtual events to social media campaigns, technology allows your nonprofit to connect with more supporters, boost participation, and make a difference through online advocacy. Of course, there are many worthwhile causes marketing themselves online, and building a community of passionate supporters takes more than a few emails. 

To help your nonprofit better leverage its technology and build connections with supporters, this article will explore five strategies for building a movement around your mission. 

1. Remove data silos to improve engagement. 

If your nonprofit uses multiple software solutions, you may have encountered situations where essential data stored on one platform isn’t synced to another system. For example, data about which supporters attended a recent event may not be transferred to the donor profiles stored in your CRM. 

This occurrence is known as a data silo or an information accessibility barrier, and eliminating them is an essential step for creating a cohesive experience for donors and boosting engagement. A few options for preventing and removing data silos include:

  • Scheduling regular data migrations. Nonprofits can remove data silos by routinely scheduling data migrations. While this solution may work for low-tech organizations, larger nonprofits should consider a more technically advanced solution to reduce the labor associated with manual migrations. 
  • Investing in an all-in-one platform. Rather than using multiple solutions, where data can get siloed in various platforms, nonprofits can choose an all-in-one solution. Be aware that all-in-one solutions will vary in scalability and customization options. For example, smaller nonprofits often choose to invest in all-in-one solutions with out-of-the-box features. However, these platforms lack flexibility. 
  • Using integrated software solutions. To account for all of your nonprofit’s needs, consider choosing a flexible software solution with various apps and integrations, like Salesforce. For example, Salesforce offers multiple donor management solutions that nonprofits can purchase individually or use in combination with other Salesforce apps, like Volunteers for Salesforce, which provides volunteer management tools. Then, a nonprofit using Salesforce could easily see which donors are also volunteers and if there are any volunteers who have the potential to become donors. 

For a real-life example of Salesforce in action, consider the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The WCS used Salesforce to get a 360-degree view of each constituent, allowing them to remove data silos and create deeper engagements with their supporters. 

Jonathan Palmer, Executive Director of Strategic Technology at the Wildlife Conservation Society, shares his experience with Salesforce:“There are so many ways supporters can engage with WCS: visit the zoo, sign a petition, make donations, make a post on Facebook. And, you know, we’ve always had these anecdotes about how people are touching our organization in different ways or how, how families are touching the organization in different ways. But only with Salesforce have we actually been able to bring that together into one place and understand, ‘Wow, this person is, is not just a one-off visitor to our organization but this one is, this person is deeply engaged in our organization,’ or this family cares so much about conservation that they’re all supporting our mission.’”

Eliminating data silos provides a more comprehensive, dynamic picture of your supporters, allowing you to more accurately identify their interests. 

2. Personalize your approach to each donor. 

Donors are far more likely to form connections with nonprofits that send them messages relevant to their interests, recognize their unique support, and address them as individuals. By personalizing your donor engagement strategy, you can build more meaningful, long-lasting relationships. 

The more data you have about your donors, the more you can personalize your communication approach. For example, along with recording supporters’ names and email addresses, you might also take note of their preferred communication channels, average donation amount, whether they’re remote or local, and campaigns they’ve shown interest in.

Debbie Schneiderman, Executive Director of Customer Relationship and Channel Marketing at WCS, shares how personalization impacts nonprofits’ ability to connect with donors:“We’re not cookie-cutter managing two million relationships. We are able to put in place flags and journeys that are very specific to the reasons that the customer wants to connect with WCS. So, maybe they’re a zoo goer who wants to know more about our conservation work. Or maybe they don’t, maybe they just want to know what’s happening at other zoos. We can create profiles and journeys that take them on an individualized path. That helps them uncover their relationship with wildlife in a very personal way.”

If your nonprofit lacks information about donors, consider investing in a data append. NPOInfo’s guide to data append services lists the main types of appends you can potentially purchase: contact information, demographic data, geographic data, and wealth screening information.

Using this data, you can take a more targeted approach to donor engagement. For example, you might purchase a geographic data append and use it to divide your donors based on whether they live locally or remote. Then, you can customize your messages to ensure that only local supporters receive invitations to in-person events, whereas remote supporters can learn about hybrid and virtual experiences. 

3. Demonstrate the impact that your supporters can have by taking action.

Your supporters will happily join your movement if you provide them with the right motivation. Specifically, let them know how taking action will advance your cause. Doing so will not only provide you with the funds and resources necessary to fulfill your mission but demonstrate that your nonprofit is making a difference and can you help you improve donor retention. After all, donors will want to continue supporting causes that they know produce results. 

You can use technology to demonstrate impact by:

  • Creating shareable reports on your latest program data
  • Sharing stories about your volunteers, supporters, staff, and any other supporter else who may have a meaningful story to share
  • Showing results in real-time using fundraising thermometers or syncing data from your CRM to appear directly on your website

The more closely you can connect a specific donor’s contributions with their impact, the better. Use your CRM to track which campaigns supporters donate to, which initiatives those funds went to, and what the end results of their programs were.

4. Pick a software partner that cares.

Your technology partner should also care about the issues you care about. When investing in a software solution, you are investing in the technology itself and your provider’s expertise in implementing and leveraging it to meet your goals.

For organizations interested in Salesforce, Fíonta’s guide to Salesforce partners walks through how to find a consultant you can work with long-term:

  • Research qualified candidates. You can explore Salesforce partners and learn what types of projects they usually work on by checking their portfolios, researching certifications, and browsing the Salesforce AppExchange. 
  • Get recommendations. Reach out to other nonprofits in your network to learn what Salesforce partners they’ve worked with and if they had a positive experience. If you ask a partner for references, be sure to follow up with them and ask what type of project the partner worked on, whether it was successful, and if they are still satisfied with the work today. 
  • Consider long-term compatibility. Research each potential Salesforce partner’s work process to determine if they are someone you can reach back out to for future projects. When you work with the same consultant long-term, you can speed up future projects by minimizing time spent familiarizing them with your current technology. 
  • Determine your budget. Budget can be a significant factor for many nonprofits. However, prioritize choosing a quality consultant with the technical expertise needed to complete your project successfully the first time. 
  • Begin outreach. Once you’ve completed your research and assembled a list of top candidates, begin reaching out to them about your project. Introduce your organization, ask questions about their methods, and discuss whether they would fit your project well. To learn more about potential partners, submit a request for information, which explains your project in greater detail and gives consultants the opportunity to respond with specifics about how they would approach it. 

By working with consultants who are committed to your nonprofit, you can ensure that your technology is developed specifically to support your mission. 

5. Provide strong customer service on every channel.

Whether your supporters reach out to you via email, phone call, or social media, they should interact positively with your nonprofit. Improving your customer service practices creates a more cohesive experience for your supporters, demonstrating your nonprofit’s professionalism and reinforcing your brand identity

To improve your customer experience, consider what tools and services you provide supporters. For example, can a recurring supporter only update their credit card information by calling someone at your organization, or do you provide self-service tools that allow them to do so online?

Solutions like Experience Cloud allow you to create online spaces that can transform your approach to customer service. For example, many nonprofits use Experience Cloud to build spaces where members can openly communicate with one another to answer each other’s questions about your organization. This allows supporters to solve problems themselves while also encouraging them to reach out and build a community around your nonprofit.

Building a movement requires passion, knowledge of your audience, and the right resources. Leverage your technology to streamline your operations, gather data, and get your message in front of new supporters. Explore comprehensive solutions like Salesforce to set your nonprofit up for growth and begin forging a community dedicated to your mission.