The interaction between a nonprofit organization and its constituents is different from a for-profit company and its customers because no sale is involved, explains Convio's Founder and CEO Vinay Bhagat. Nonprofits not only want constituents to contribute, but also to help further the causes they support. However, they "still need to communicate through many of the same channels" as for-profit companies, Bhagat says.
An integrated platform also will allow Easter Seals to cross-market, for example, to those constituents who act as advocates but don't necessarily give, and to reinforce the loyalty of donors who give but don't necessarily engage in activities.
"The Internet is a low-cost channel that allows [nonprofits] to communicate with donors in ways other than strict appeals for donations," says Bhagat.
Convio's software also integrates online activities with offline communications. If someone donates or changes an address online, the information also will appear in offline communications. This is important because donors recognize they have relationships with nonprofits that aren't necessarily channel-specific. Activities across all channels need to reflect that perception and be consistent.
Ready to Roll
Easter Seals will re-launch its national site using Convio's software this September. At that time, 10 affiliates will be integrated with Easter Seals' Internet infrastructure. The organization plans to integrate 10 additional affiliates every two months until the entire organization is running on the new system. This will allow the organization not only to raise funds online, but also to collect data about constituents' interests into a single database that will build its relationships with non-donor advocates.
The next step will be the integration of Easter Seals' databases. Internet data will be integrated with direct mail and donor databases, which total 16 million records.
Along with the launch of its Internet-based CRM system, there will be a heavy call to action on all Easter Seals Web sites. Front and center will be its e-mail newsletter, according to Sexton, for which Web site visitors will be asked to register.