At this juncture, Sexton admits it's tempting to ask for a good deal of information up front. However, she firmly believes in permission marketing and asking for minimal information to begin a dialogue with constituents. Web site visitors will be asked only for their e-mail addresses and ZIP codes at the time of registration. The organization, however, can get good mileage out of this information. The nonprofit will use a registrant's ZIP code to locate its local affiliate and include information on its activities in the content of the e-mail.
All newsletters will include a call to action, whether it's subscribing to the advocacy newsletter or making a donation. For each call to action, constituents will be asked to give more information. For example, constituents who write letters to their representatives in Congress would need to supply their addresses.
Just the Beginning
Establishing a dialogue with its constituents is only the beginning of Easter Seals' online plans. According to Sexton, the organization will do some testing with segments of its direct mail base to see if it can convert these constituents to the Web, which will save money by replacing some direct mail communication.
"As direct mail becomes more expensive and constituent relationships harder to manage, nonprofit organizations are realizing that the Internet constitutes a powerful new channel," Bhagat says. "Online constituent relationship management is about the cycle of attracting supporters, engaging them to contribute or take action and fostering an enduring relationship."