Jul/Aug 2007

Dinosaurs Beware! The (R)Evolution of Integrated CMS for Nonprofits Provides a Better Constituent Experience

by Jim McGough, Senior Product Manager, Convio

Scientists tell us that nonprofit organizations once roamed a primitive earth, stuck in an un-digital age with no Internet to share their stories, recruit volunteers and raise money. Then, over a vast expanse of time (the past few years), nonprofits evolved, from having relatively static Web sites to having more dynamic, interactive destinations on the Web. Ambitious organizations saw the opportunity presented by Web site applications to manage an ever-expanding body of content, contributors and users. CMS, or Content Management Systems, became part of the nonprofit ecosystem.

But is a CMS still enough? Or is it time to take the next evolutionary step, to adopt an integrated CMS that leverages constituent experiences and preferences to create highly tailored content that recruits, engages and retains supporters in ways a generic Web site never could?

From a constituent's perspective, there's quite a difference between visiting a site full of compelling content, and one with compelling content tailored to that user's specific demographics, activity history and preferences. Such personalization says to the constituent, "We understand you. We pay attention. We acknowledge what you've done for us, and we'll notice if you do more."

For example, consider the difference between a random Activist Testimonial, and a Testimonial focused on the one social issue that a constituent really cares about. Or maybe you want to restrict access to some "premium" content based on membership in a particular group. You ought to be able to promote that content, then redirect unqualified visitors to take the action that adds them to the group, and then grant them access to the restricted content, and do it all seamlessly and dynamically, in the same session and without manual intervention.

But even more important than what your organization says to your members is what your members are saying to you! Your constituents are trying to tell you something, by their donations and letters to decision makers, yes, but also by submitting a form, posting a comment or even merely following a link. With an integrated CMS, you can learn from your constituents at every turn (or every click), and engage with them more effectively from that point on.

When thinking of the benefits of an integrated CMS, you should consider the future. Convio CMS is developed exclusively for our nonprofit clients in a way that adds value back to Constituent 360™, so that every constituent action in CMS can potentially enhance the member record. 

Of course, there are also some nuts-and-bolts benefits of a single, integrated CMS-CRM solution, including:

  • Single sign-on for members and administrators;
  • Easy, automated promotion of CRM campaigns and content within CMS pages;
  • Link integrity as assets on either side are moved or modified;
  • Easier inter-departmental and inter-affiliate content collaboration; and
  • A single vendor relationship, with unified training, support and documentation.

Your organization is putting tremendous time, energy and resources into your Web presence. Why not do it in such a way that minimizes hassle while maximizing your ability to understand and speak to your constituents on a personal level?

It's not just a good idea. It's (r)evolutionary! 

Dinosaurs Beware! The (R)Evolution of Integrated CMS for Nonprofits Provides a Better Constituent Experience | Convio