As WordPress developers that work mostly with non-profits, one of the most common scenarios we run across are organizations seeking to integrate their donation/contribution process into their websites. By now, even the smallest non-profits have recognized the need to include this functionality and many have availed themselves of a wide array WordPress donation plugins to facilitate contributions. There are many to choose from – they vary in terms of capabilities and flexibility – but they can do the trick if the end-result is simply to process a donation.
But what if your organization wants to know whether donors have also attended events, signed up or renewed a membership, signed a petition or subscribed to a newsletter? Donations are only one of many constituent activities the typical non-profit needs to track and report on. Constituent Relationship Management, or CRM, is the natural next step.
As with donation plugins, there are a bunch of CRMs made especially for non-profits running WordPress websites, as well as paid, proprietary software solutions like Salesforce for NonProfits. At Tadpole, we advocate and evangelize the virtues of CiviCRM, on open-source CRM that automatically stores all data around constituent activities into a single, holistic contact record. This eliminates the need to refer to multiple systems to get a complete view of your constituents’ level of engagement; because CiviCRM is integrated with event registrations, membership management, bulk email and more, every interaction is recorded on each contact record and is available for reporting.
The Contribution module of CiviCRM makes fundraising appeals easy to create and track, regardless of whether it’s a general appeal, an annual appeal or a special campaign. Contributions made to the organization via check, phone and public web forms can all be tied directly to constituent contact records to track pledge payments, memorial or in-kind donations, matching gifts or membership dues.
CiviCRM’s Contribution module also allows you to:
- Define custom types for the different contributions your organization receives: cash, in-kind donations and volunteer time, for example.
- Search for contributions by type, amount, date, etc.
- Automatically generate and track thank you notes and offer premiums (thank-you gifts) to your contributors.
- Create as many different contribution pages as you need for different campaigns, chapters, etc.
Add custom fields to track additional information about a contribution or contributor and easily import/export contribution data to/from other systems (for example, your accounting system).
What Kind of Non-Profit is a Good Match for CiviCRM?
Tadpole Collective has worked on CiviCRM implementation projects for non-profits of all sizes, from large to tiny – size is not necessarily a determining factor. What is? Well, there is a learning curve with CiviCRM, and it does require a dedicated administrator and a long-term vision.
Storing and managing CRM data is complex. We find that by starting with one basic CiviCRM component, Contributions, your organization will get a sense of how data that you start to collect via your WordPress website can be used to further support your work and streamline operations.
For example, CiviContribute data can be segmented to allow you to send targeted mailing appeals; perhaps one to target donors that contributed more than $1,000 in the last year and another to target those who gave between $50 and $100.
As you ramp up with CiviCRM, its power becomes evident, and you can start to to build up your recurring donations by developing a Membership program.