Tips for using CRM/CMS integration to increase donations for charities
Unsurprisingly, every-day web usage has grown to 60% of UK adults (Office of National Statistics). And the steady increase in visitors to websites, coupled with technological development of internet innovation has affected how charities have evolved their digital strategy.
The evolvement of charity websites can be seen to move from simple donor databases to fully integrated websites and back-office systems.
Why integrate systems?
Content Management Systems (CMS) are great for managing and distributing content. They can handle and store large files, ensure constant branding and messaging, they are database driven and often come with "modules" or standard integrations to analytics, email software, e-Commerce or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
CRM systems are used for managing individual contact details and donations. They are also database centric, allow for data to be segmented, can personalise content to the audience and can handle large files.
The similarities between CMS and CRM systems are clear and can be leveraged for maximum impact.
- Store large files
- Organise data in a consistent way
- Allow data to be tagged and categorised
- Allow for a personalised user experience
The extension of this is that the website can become the CRM interface. In fact a charity may have many web interfaces with one CMS. And ideally, everyone (staff and website visitors) becomes a user of the CMS and CRM as they can consume content, and publish to both systems.
Data is content / content is data - its all becoming the same thing and held in a database for publishing. Once your CMS and CRM start to share content and data you can enhance your web presence and create personal web experiences for supporters, staff, volunteers and fundraisers.
Lets look at site visitors another way. We can categorise site visitors by the platforms and services they use. For example visitors to charity websites provide measurable value and support for the charity.
Understanding why visitors come to your site can deliver key insights into how to serve their needs.
The benefits of integrating systems
Knowledge is king and much donor knowledge is held in the CRM, but the interaction takes place on the website. Therefore the aim should be to create personalised "asks", data from the CRM to be published online (such as proportion for gift array, based on past giving, for example £10-£20 or £100-200). This creates a two-way, more targeted approach by the charity, delivering meaningful user experiences for your supporters. This two-way conversation needs to be presented in an intuitive interface, i.e.it does what you expect, and this is driven by user experience.
Integrating the CRM and CMS database is not always simple or straight forward, but does offer a number of benefits.
- You can tailor it how you want
- You can use a cutting edge CMS
- You maintain ease of content creation within the CMS
- You have secure, separate databases
- You can be more innovate
However there are down sides. Integrations require API access to both systems and there is a cost involved in writing the code that joins the systems. When one product is up-graded, additional integration may be required and the system will need regular security testing and de-duplication.
There are several integration options ranging from a manual approach to a full systems integration. All take time and resources to implement; some take ongoing internal staff resources (especially the manual approach). Others take developer resources (integrated). However, the single offering or integrated approach will always be the most cost effective and efficient way in the long run. More can be found on this topic in our White Paper: 5 ways to optimise charity websites to reduce donor acquisition costs.
As supporter expectation rises, charities will need to deliver CMS/CRM integration to ensure supporters are fully engaged with personalised content which they can interact with. And as integrations deepens real business benefits can be delivered.
The ultimate deliverable is for a more connected and personal web experience for your supporters that they will want to share with their network of contacts.