April 12, 2011 | Categories Donor Management, Nonprofit Technology, Social Fundraising

Why Social CRM is a Terrible Idea for Nonprofit Organizations

I was pretty sure this subject would attract some folks!  If you are new to the blog, Welcome!  If you are returning and wondering why I haven’t posted anything about Fundraising software or Donor Management software since January, your RSS feeder isn’t kidding- this really is a new blog post.

Recently, I was asked by Laura Quinn (Director at Idealware) my opinions about “Social CRM”- the definition (I believe) is that it’s a process of knowing all the social interactions (as well as the more traditional CRM data points) of your constituency base.  Here’s what I wrote to her:

Hi Laura,

No problem.

The current “Social CRM” thought process is very much in its infancy.  In fact, I would compare it to the same period about 12-15 years ago when people/constituents first started using the Internet and email.

The real problem right now is the overwhelming vast majority of the constituents of your average non profit are not active members of any social network.  This is especially true of what most people consider their most important constituency- major donors.  By their very nature, major donors are much older, and adopt new technology much slower.  While this may be the ‘fastest growing segment’ on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked-In, this important group is still very under represented on any electronic social network.

As for DonorPerfect, right now we do have the ability to track and link to the constituent’s identifying social network (Facebook id, Linked-in id, Twitter name, even MySpace  😉  ).  In addition, through our very close relationship with Constant Contact, we can track how people are following, liking, and tweeting a particular non profit’s cause or even specific campaign.

While I can’t go into too much detail, we do have plans for broadening the data non-profits track for their constituents, including the depth of their social networks and the ability to monitor their constituents’ interactions with the organization.

Even today, online donations only account for less than 5% of total giving, and most of that is driven by disasters, email appeals, and ‘traditional’ friends/family asking friends events (Think Walkathons, Races, etc.).  Facebook and Twitter account for just a fraction of that total as well, and it’s not surprising- the average active Facebook user is simply too young and not in the same demographic as your average donor.

Clearly, this is going to change- just like email adoption started very small and grew over time (and according to this article has reached 94%+ (http://www.magillreport.com/email-dead-nope-not-even-gasping/)) Social networks will have the same or similar growth curve.  I just looked on-line, and there are a ton of various studies that show social-network use among older adults is still less than 50%, and drops to only about 25% for those 65 or older. (See http://www.wlfi.com/dpp/news/local/more-older-adults-using-facebook)

To be candid, I cringe when I read the various stories explaining how a non-profit spends 20 hours a week for months at a time trying to get the most votes to win some $5000 prize when at the same time they do not have a fundamental annual or major donor campaign plan.

Social CRM is just going to be one of the many tools nonprofits will be able to use to grow and sustain their organization, and the time spent on it should be proportionate to both the near and long term returns.  Right now those returns are tiny- but growing.

I hope this helps- feel free to bounce back with any questions you may have.

– Jon

Social CRM May Be Right for Some Nonprofits

PS: So I guess I will need to amend the subject of this post to “Why Social CRM is a Terrible Idea…”, if that is your only focus at the moment.  Combined with a solid plan for Annual and Major Donor Giving (among others), it will likely drive your organization’s success.

Oh, and never forget about the fundamentals – it doesn’t matter if your organization is liked by 7,658 people if no one donates.

Written by Amanda Foran
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS