A software integration may be the solution you’ve been searching for
from our friend Anne Guillen
In a perfect world, your organization’s software would be seamlessly connected, allowing data to flow back and forth. Your constituent relationship management (CRM) platform, ticketing software, volunteer platform, and fundraising platforms would communicate with one another, creating a 360-degree view of your data that’s easily accessible and endlessly functional—which means you can do even more to meet, retain, and mobilize those who support your purpose.
But if you’re like most nonprofits, your tech stack is understandably far from perfect. You probably have important information spread across several systems. At first, this seems like nothing more than a pesky problem, but divergent data can quickly overwhelm nonprofits, decreasing your efficiency and putting you at risk of burning donor dollars.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like that. Software integrations can sync your tools in a way that makes sense for your organization, saving you from the chaos of disjointed data and helping you make the most of all the information you’ve collected about your supporters.
What is a software integration?
Technology tools are innovating, fast. Still, there are limits to what any one tool can do. This is where software integrations can make all the difference.
Using open APIs, developers can build integrations (sort of like a bridge) between tools. This allows databases to “talk” to each other, creating one clean set of data for your donor outreach, volunteer management, reporting, and more.
Integrations can range from standard to highly customizable. Organizations can choose to set their data to flow in a single direction, or their integration can create a bidirectional exchange of information. We can even control the intervals at which your data syncs and updates. Ultimately, it’s all about matching the data configuration to meet the unique needs of your organization.
Building integrations creates a positive ripple effect across entire organizations, and the return on investment (ROI) more than justifies the work up front. Whether a nonprofit is looking to spend fewer precious hours of staff time on reporting, send more personalized supporter outreach thanks to more detailed and more accessible data, or even see better fundraising outcomes thanks to an improved ability to craft data-driven donor appeals, configuring data to flow correctly across your tools can be an important step.
What are the benefits of software integrations?
There’s plenty to think about when it comes to the nuts and bolts of nonprofit fundraising and technology, but it’s important to remember that nonprofits don’t just exist to raise money; they raise money because they exist in pursuit of their mission.
Coming from the nonprofit world myself, I know that when directors of development comb through reports, they don’t just see money donated or numbers of donors retained; they see people whose hearts are being touched the deepest. To identify these allies, you need a full picture of their support presented in your data, and the right integrations help nonprofits do just that. When an integration is successfully implemented, nonprofits can expect to see improvements in three major areas:
- The functionality of your tech stack. Software integrations overcome and enhance the limited native capabilities of most software, allowing you to connect your data automatically and effortlessly.
- The financial return on your technology investments. Software integrations allow you to more efficiently connect to donors, which should increase your ROI. Investing in technology can be expensive—make sure you’re seeing the full benefits.
- The impact on your mission. By saving you time and money, integrations will free up resources and energy so you can focus on what really matters.
The possibilities within your CRM
EveryAction, currently becoming Bonterra, already comes with a robust array of native integrations that can accelerate your fundraising pipeline. Just as native integrations can seamlessly improve your ROI, imagine what other integrations could do for your organization—and since any tool with an open API can be integrated into EveryAction, the list of possibilities is a long one.
Your major gift officer may already be reaping the benefits of popular wealth screening tool integrations like WealthEngine or DonorSearch. But what about your volunteer or events staff? Do they have the same ease of use working between their niche tools and the CRM?
As an example, here are three different types of integrations that might be worth considering:
- Point-of-sale (POS) tools. Today, POS software is commonly used by nonprofits to sell merchandise or event tickets. But if that data isn’t seamlessly integrated with your platform, you’re missing an important opportunity to home in on supporters who love your mission.
- Ticketing and events tools. If you use an advanced ticketing software, your staff might be struggling to bring attendees into your database to properly thank and nurture them. An integration can automatically send contact details, attendance/purchase history, and membership information from your tools into your CRM.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) tools. Strong peer-to-peer strategies can do wonders for your fundraising. For example, 2021 data from GiveGab, which is becoming Bonterra, shows P2P efforts help organizations raise an additional 20% more when running a 24-hour Giving Day event. Centralizing supporter data in your CRM with an integration means you can ensure all those warm contacts are funneled immediately into your database and ready for cultivating.
I get that investing in software integrations might seem like a “nice to have” rather than a necessity. As someone who’s spent her career working for mission-driven organizations, I understand the value of being choosy with donor dollars. That said, annual investments in best-in-class tools mean nothing if they don’t help you drive holistic results and increase your ROI. A one-time integration investment will magnify the results of your best-in-class tools, almost immediately. As nonprofit professionals, our work is already challenging enough. It’s time to work smarter, not harder.
About the author
Anne Guillen, MPH, is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV) who served in Zambia and worked as a nonprofit impact director in East and West Africa for over five years. Since 2019 she has contributed to the nonprofit technology field working for fundraising and CRM tech companies in an effort to promote and build more efficient and effective operation options for nonprofits. Contact her at AlreadyAnne@gmail.com.