Background: Consumer Behavior and Nonprofit Technology
Over the last few decades, the evolving technology landscape has transformed consumer behavior. Businesses and organizations have been forced to rethink how they engage with individuals. This is not only true of for-profit companies, but also for nonprofits who compete for donors.
In a recent AHP Healthcare Philanthropy Journal article, From Operations to Outcomes: The Effect of Technology on Fundraising, Stu Manewith, Director of Advocacy and Thought Leadership at Omatic, described the imperative for nonprofits:
Development teams need to provide donors and prospects with the consumer experience that commercial enterprises (typically with far more resources) have been providing: easy online engagement, preference retention, digital communications, and (close to) immediate response, so they won’t be inclined to look elsewhere for charitable opportunities.
To successfully fuel their missions amidst shifting supporter needs and expectations, many take a best-in-class approach to technology. Rather than “forcing” one or two solutions to support all their activities, these organizations incorporate the top solutions for each of their needs. A best-in-class approach allows organizations to choose applications that meet their specific requirements. Typically, these solutions offer deep functionality and expert support staff, leading to the efficient and successful execution of initiatives.
However, this approach can come with some unintended consequences, including siloed data. To gain a complete picture of supporter engagement across a nonprofit’s various activities, it must break down data silos. This means integrating data from all ancillary sources with an organization’s main constituent relationship management (CRM) solution.
Omatic’s latest white paper, Opportunity and Obstacles: Integrating Best-in-Class Nonprofit Technology, details why data integration is an essential component of a nonprofit’s strategy – and success. Below, we’ve outlined a few key takeaways from the paper.
Takeaway #1: Integrate your data for a complete picture of your supporters.
Nonprofit organizations succeed when they leverage the right combination of fundraising, membership, volunteerism, and activism – and when they have the proper technology infrastructure to support their activities. This infrastructure can include software solutions to execute a range of activities, such as:
- Alumni/membership management
- Email marketing
- Event management
- Financial posting
- Matching gifts
- Online donations
- Payment processing
- Peer-to-peer fundraising
- Volunteer management
A 2021 survey of nonprofit organizations conducted by Omatic Software revealed that over 80% use four or more systems, in addition to their main CRM, to collect, manage, and store data. As new technology is added, organizations quickly uncover the need for combining data from those systems with their CRM to gain a complete picture of supporter engagement.
Staci Rice, Founder and CEO of Idlewild Partners, described this challenge in a recent interview with Omatic:
Having a single source of truth for [a nonprofit’s] constituents is essential to raise more money, leverage interest in the organization to increase engagement, and to provide holistic services to their clients. Being able to see that a person in your system is a donor, is a volunteer, attended your gala, opened your last 5 emails, and has a kid who has enrolled in your programming the last 3 years is critical to better serving your constituents…. Building a single database that can speak to your other systems is a HUGE win for nonprofits.
Takeaway #2: Not all nonprofit data integration is created equal.
Recognizing the value of data integration, organizations may turn to native import tools and data loaders. While these tools are often complimentary or inexpensive, using them can be costly in the long run.
Too often, these tools have limited functionality or are cumbersome to use. For example, import tools may require hours of data manipulation in Excel before information can be imported. Some destination systems do not easily accept the format of source data, requiring additional manual work. Others do not allow data mapping to desired locations. Further, their use frequently creates duplicate records or erroneous data in one or both systems.
Even when an expert database administrator can overcome these challenges, the time consumed to do so means that data are not current. Incomplete, inaccurate, or stale data cost an organization much more than the time (and therefore money) spent on integration efforts. Longer term consequences include:
- Internal distrust in the CRM database.
- Missed opportunities to redeploy resources on initiatives that drive mission impact.
- Declining job satisfaction.
- Flawed decision-making from incomplete data.
- Membership erosion and donor attrition.
Best-in-Class Nonprofit Data Integration
As an alternative to native import tools and data loaders, an organization can reinforce its best-in-class approach by also incorporating a best-in-class data integration solution into its tech stack. This solution should:
- Address every data source and destination. Nonprofits require a solution that flexes with their changing organizational needs and easily supports adding new data sources.
- Ensure quality and efficiency in data exchange. At a minimum, an integration solution should not create duplicates or other data errors. However, the ability to clean-up data during the process is even more valuable. For example, a best-in-class solution resolves data inconsistencies, such as names (Jane vs. jane vs. JANE), phone numbers (1234567890 vs 123-456-7890), job titles (CEO vs. Chief Executive Officer), and addresses (Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464 vs. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina 29464).
In contrast to the detrimental consequences of incomplete or inaccurate data, data that is complete, clean, and current through efficient integration positively affects the nonprofit. Benefits include promoting job satisfaction and driving mission impact by freeing time from manual processes, enabling data-driven decision making, and fostering a more engaging – and productive – supporter experience.
A best-in-class data integration solution is not a “nice-to-have,” but an essential component of a nonprofit’s strategy – and success, amplifying the organization’s ability to deliver on its mission and steward donor dollars.
Purpose-built for nonprofits, Omatic Cloud is that best-in-class solution. Over the past 20+ years, we’ve worked with thousands of nonprofits to free up staff-time, enhance data quality, and improve revenue performance – gaining a deep understanding of nonprofit operations and business flows along the way.
If you’d like to explore this topic further, you can download the white paper here: Opportunity and Obstacles: Integrating Best-in-Class Nonprofit Technology, or check out our case studies to learn more about the success our customers have found.
Beth Firebaugh is a Content Marketing Manager at Omatic Software, helping the company tell its story and create meaningful content for nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Omatic, Beth spent seven years at Benefitfocus, where she gained an appreciation for the power of data – and importance of data quality. Having also worked at the American Cancer Society and Camp Hanover, a small nonprofit in Virginia, she was drawn to Omatic’s mission of empowering social good organizations. Beth is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies.