Oct 2007 - Special Edition

Revolutionary Ways for Organizations to Collect Data and Personalize Feedback

by Michael Cervino, Vice President & Co-Founder, Beaconfire

The potential of the Convio Open initiative is tremendous. We are excited about the revolutionary ways we will collect the data we need and personalize the feedback we can give to constituents — all embedded within user experiences that demonstrate how fun, easy and fulfilling it is to engage with our organizations.

It's not just our staff who is excited, our clients are chomping at the bit to start playing with Convio APIs. The ideas for how to leverage these direct connections to and from the Convio system are popping up in discussion nearly every day. As we've been sharing what's coming, we find more and more sentences starting with, "When Convio APIs are ready, can we do something like this?"

I thought we might share some of the ways we are thinking Convio APIs will improve the list building and fundraising opportunities for our clients. The key concept that we are most keen on rolling out is the ability not just to write from a separate application into Convio, but the powerful ability to pull data and conditional content back from the system. This kind of tailored communications occurring within micro-applications, on third-party sites, and all without disruptive page reloads is a real benefit we see coming from the Convio Open initiative.

Embedded personalization — Many of our clients have used form POST methods as the workaround for sign-ups offsite or in non-Convio form sign-ups. For example, Conservation International's Stop the Clock Petition effort uses this tactic to keep the users fully embedded in the campaign experience. But, what we lack is the ability to use Convio data to personalize acknowledgement within the micro-site or widget interaction. With Convio's Open initiative, we won't have limits on how we can differentiate current constituents from new constituents. We will be able to target immediate follow-on asks appropriate to someone's profile. An opportunity we are already working on is using the API to bring back from Convio conditional thank-you content tailored to the person's relationship — new sign-ups will be presented a second action to engage, donors in their renewal cycle will be asked to renew and major donors will receive an alert about a special online briefing just for them.

Interactive fundraising experiences — Children's Health Fund's "Build-a-Mobile Clinic" campaign is a stellar example of using Flash visuals and interactivity for online fundraising. The visitor is presented with items they can drag and drop into The Blue Bus — a mobile medical unit. The "shopping cart" dynamically builds as you drag and drop items. The front end user experience is delightful. When this Convio API unveils, the transaction experience should be less disruptive as the user could contribute directly the Flash piece as opposed to being passed onto a Convio contribution form.

Going where they are: event and fundraising widgets — Wouldn't it be great if you could offer your bike-a-thon, walk-a-thon, dance-a-thon and other volunteer fundraisers a widget they can drop right on their blog, Facebook, or corporate intranet personal identity page? Convio Open event and transaction APIs will enable what is a rising demand in the market. Why make your supporters create yet another personal page on the Web when you can give them the tool to integrate your fundraising where they are already invested in? The APIs will let us put our organizations where our volunteer's social network interacts with them.

Donation flows that make sense — Everyone seems to struggle with how to set up their "Donation" sections and pages so users can find the right donation form for the type of gift they want to give. For various reasons, organizations have to guide users through to one page for new member joins, another for renewing members, a different page for major gifts or capital campaign gifts. The Convio transaction API will allow us to build user-friendly donation experiences where a few simple questions in a Flash or AJAX interface will guide donors to in language that make sense to them while also helping us categorize their gift correctly for our backend processes. Imagine a potential donor clicking on "Donate Now" and seeing (without page refresh) a window slide open asking, "Is this your first donation?" then proceeds through how much they want to give, if they are a member of a special giving club (or want to be!), whether they would like to make their gift monthly gift, and then closes with an upsell to increase their donation with a picture of what the "next level up" will get them. We see a future where we can collect all the information we need (including credit card) in a much simpler user flow than "hunt for the right form we need you to use." Convio APIs will make this and more possible.

Guided event setup — Just this week, we discussed with a client the potential to use Convio APIs to create a more user-friendly way for volunteers to set up personal events or pages. Coming soon will be the ability for us to create a "guided setup" interactive video for volunteers. "Click here for help" begins a Flash video that walks the user through setting up their form with the form fields embedded right into the video. The guide on the video can say, "Now type in your name and the title you want to appear on your Web page in the forms on the right. Your title could be your name, something fun like 'Mary Runs for Fun and Funds.' When you are done, click next." With Convio APIs, we can experiment with all sorts of new interactive guidance approaches.

Third-party fundraising — The opportunity we are most intrigued by is using Convio APIs and extensions to externalize fundraising and actions to third-party properties. Just recently, we discussed the opportunity to create a corporate employee fundraising campaign for one of our clients. The campaign would entail a combination of daily news, positive environmental actions, and fundraising challenges for employee departments and office locations. The challenge is that the corporate partner needs the total user experience to occur within their corporate intranet. Sure, we can use POST and other workarounds to deliver on the campaign, but it is much more work and costlier than using Convio's Open initiative tools.

We look forward to working with our clients and Convio's team to drive the experimentation of these new approaches. And, we look forward to sharing with and hearing from the Convio community what we all learn works best.

Revolutionary Ways for Organizations to Collect Data and Personalize Feedback | Convio