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Nonprofits Boost Engagement and Impact with Communities

By July 29, 2014

By: Tompkins Spann, Vice President at KELL Partners

Today’s supporters and volunteers want to be part of the solution. Collaboration among your community is key to building alignment and accelerating your mission and impact. When considering ideas for how your nonprofit might leverage this technology, here are two strategies which can converge into a single Community.

(1) Exposing information from Salesforce to your constituents and gathering new data. Let’s call this strategy “Farming”.

(2) Empowering communication and collaboration with and among your staff and your constituents. Let’s call this strategy “Networking”.

Check out these strategies from nonprofits who are creating valuable communities:

Farming Strategies

1. Volunteers are a huge resource, whether your organization is teeny tiny or bigger than Vegas. So create a Volunteer Community that allows you to gather information on their skills, interests, and their availability. Have them complete their waivers within the community and show them upcoming volunteer shifts that match their skills and availability. This way you’ll eliminate the paperwork and have real-time knowledge of your volunteer force!

2. Your members want to feel closer to your mission, so invite them into your community! Inside your “members only” community you can provide exclusive access to a directory of other members, provide links to members only events, program updates, update their profile and register for a sweet new Members Only jacket .

Networking Strategies

1. Advocacy comes in all shapes and sizes. Create a Community for your Advocates and invite them to collaborate with your staff on strategies to influence the decision makers. Whether you’re trying to move legislation or effect social change, you can use Chatter inside a Community to create a two-way dialogue. Create topics, build groups and invite your constituents to get engaged!

2. Let’s say your mission is to save puppies, or maybe turtles, or it could be rivers, parks, historical buildings and much more. Imagine having an online conversation with your supporters about each important item your programs seek to preserve. Use the power of to create a custom object with records for each puppy, then expose the list of available puppies in the community. Allow community members to “follow” a puppy, then post pictures, updates on his health, adoption status and favorite toys. Whether your mission is to save puppies or parks, your data has a story and your Community can bring it to life!

3. Board members can be tricky. Some want to be deeply involved, others keep their distance. How about creating a Board Community where they can easily access the list of key donors, get program updates, view meeting notes from the last board meeting and run reports to assess progress towards key initiatives and goals, all on their own without your staff needing to jump through hoops, prepare presentations, crunch spreadsheets or spoon feed them content. Let your board roam free with a Community!

The amazing thing about Salesforce Communities is the opportunity to converge your Farming and Networking in one place. Consider creating multiple Communities for your different constituencies, expose your program data, allow constituents to update select profile fields and most importantly, collaborate with your staff and each other. To learn more about how leading nonprofits are enabling their supporters and streamlining resolutions to accelerate impact, join us for a webinar on July 31 at 2pm EDT / 11am PDT to learn how AARP Foundation is using Salesforce to engage their supporters through communities.

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About the Author

Nonprofits Boost Engagement and Impact with Communities

Tompkins “Tommy” Spann has been working with nonprofits since he started his own organization in 2000, and has been working with nonprofits and since 2007 when he helped develop a product on the platform while at Convio. He’s achieved the “been there, done that” badge of distinction within our industry and is now a partner at KELL Partners that is focused on helping nonprofits implement Salesforce for their needs. KELL can help a nonprofit navigate the sometimes confusing array of options within the Salesforce ecosystem and find the solutions that align with their current and future needs, as well as, their budget. “There has never been a technology so transformative to the nonprofit industry as since the introduction of the internet and email. Salesforce has the power to affect how every organization manages its constituent relationships, programs, donations, communities, events and much more. I love talking to nonprofits about ways Salesforce can bring efficiency and more insight to their operations.” –Tompkins Spann, Vice President of KELL Partners