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Constituent Lifecycle: Why System Integration Matters

Your supporters don’t appear out of thin air. In fact, they’re cultivated.

When it comes to cultivating donors, nonprofits consistently turn to Blackbaud’s suite of technology solutions. As you may have heard, we recently announced VolunteerHub’s integration with Blackbaud CRM, The Raiser’s Edge, and eTapestry. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about partnering with an industry leader like Blackbaud.

In addition to providing best-in-class software, Blackbaud is also known for its thought leadership via its npEngage blog. If you follow VolunteerHub on Twitter, you’ve probably seen us re-tweeting this article, titled “It’s Not Magic. It’s Your Complete Guide to the Donor Experience.” Our followers absolutely love this post, because it boils down some important facts about the constituent lifecycle.

In this blog article, we’ll take a closer look at the constituent lifecycle and how system integration makes it all possible.

The Basics of the Constituent Lifecycle

According to Blackbaud, there are three major concepts to keep in mind when discussing the constituent lifecycle.

  1. Supporters want to feel appreciated.
  2. Supporters want to feel “in the know.”
  3. Supporters want to feel included.

Before going any further, take a couple moments and click through the following eBook from Blackbaud. Keep these three fundamentals in mind when reviewing the slides.

The Constituent Lifecycle: A Complete Guide to the Donor Experience from Blackbaud

Now that you have reviewed these slides, it’s time for a little pop quiz. Can you name the four stages of the constituent lifecycle?

As pointed out in the eBook, they are:

  1. Discovery
  2. Engagement
  3. Solicitation
  4. Endorsement

Let’s examine each stage and identify how system integration can help you achieve better results.

Stage 1: Discovery

The first step in the process is to get potential donors to notice you. While the inclination may be to take a “shotgun approach,” Blackbaud suggests first defining a “target constituent.” This involves taking a look at who is attending your events and who is volunteering.

By synchronizing VolunteerHub to a Blackbaud CRM product, it’s easy to drill down into key demographic data and identify the supporters you wish to target. If you use siloed databases that do not “talk” to one another, it can be extremely difficult to extract meaningful information about your supporters. Having a synchronized infrastructure offers greater visibility and more powerful information, allowing you to easily identify target constituents.

Stage 2: Engagement

“Engagement” is more than simply asking for money. In many cases, it may be effective to instead ask prospects to invest something other than money. This could be something as simple as signing an online petition or donating their time as a volunteer.

If you decide to ask prospects to donate their time, what’s the best way to get their attention and capture their information? You surely don’t want them all calling your office, right?

The good news is that VolunteerHub allows organizations to create event-specific landing pages, which can be customized (logos, images, engaging content, and more) to attract the personas you are courting. Landing pages allow individuals to see your volunteer opportunities in an experience that appeals to them. Prospects can register online anytime from their computers or mobile devices.

Now that VolunteerHub integrates with Blackbaud’s donor databases, all volunteer contact and event information synchronizes into your CRM. In other words, your volunteers instantly become donors (according to your CRM). Now it’s up to you to figure out how to grow their donation history!

Stage 3: Investment

The key to getting financial buy-in from supporters is three-fold. Your approach must:

  1. Be consistent
  2. Show impact
  3. Appeal on a personal level

This can be achieved through an effective blend of technology. Your CRM and email marketing tools will help you keep tabs on interaction and also track important information such as interests, demographics, and relationship history. In addition, your volunteer management software can serve as a front-line tool for measuring constituent involvement and preferences.

Stage 4: Endorsement

The process isn’t over after a supporter begins contributing financially to your cause. It’s important to send a personalized letter that shows gratitude and also illustrates the donation’s impact. Use concrete language, such as “Your donation provided meals for 20 people.” You may also consider offering donors a tangible sign of your appreciation such as publicity, personalized bricks, or a plaque.

At this point, your supporters are engaged and invested, so they will naturally want to share their enthusiasm with others. They will become your “ambassadors.” Again, be sure to make it simple for them to tell friends about their involvement with your organization, via: social media, offering peer-to-peer fundraising, including a “forward” option at the end of your emails. As alluded to in Stage 1, it may make sense to encourage ambassadors to share non-monetary requests (such as a volunteer opportunity landing page). This action can help you appeal to an even broader group of new supporters.

Also remember to create synergy by striving for “super supporters” – ones that donate and volunteer. With integration between your volunteer management and donation software applications, this is a snap. We’ve spoken at length on this topic via the GuideStar blog.

The Constituent Lifecycle is More than Asking for Money

This fundraising approach may require a greater time investment at first, but it will prove to be more efficient and effective in the long run. Your supporters are more likely to become advocates for your cause and organization. In turn, they help you get the word out and initiate the cycle all over again on your behalf.

Ready to streamline your constituent lifecycle? Click the button below to learn more about connecting your volunteer and donor management initiatives.

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Headshot of Fonda Kendrick

About Fonda Kendrick

Fonda Kendrick has over ten years’ experience in the nonprofit sector, a portion of which entails coordinating volunteers. She also enjoys researching and blogging for VolunteerHub.

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