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i on Fundraising Technology: Integrating Your Web Site and Database for Greater Donor Engagement

February 16, 2010 By Robin Fisk
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Technology, properly applied, can be a great enabler. But having glimpsed the possibilities, the challenges of achieving it can be frustrating to fundraisers, who want to provide their supporters with a smarter online experience.

One such possibility is the seamless integration of your Web site with your donor database. By having a Web site that can speak to the database, you can open up many possibilities for improved engagement. For example, a Web site that can recognize and get information on its visitors from the database can present tailor-made homepages, and offer content that is relevant to specific donors based on the projects they have supported in the past and their interests. This enables us to treat donors as individuals, and thus, increase our chances of greater engagement and deepened relationships.

Integrating the Web site and the database also makes us more efficient; the donors effectively take on the administrative burden of maintaining their own records on the database, albeit through an interface that is designed for consumers, not office workers. This means less time spent by staff maintaining database records and more time spent on more strategic activities.

We can learn a lot about donors’ interests by what pages they visit online and their participation in any online forum you may have — all of which can go back into the database to inform even more precise targeting in the future.

But according to a recent nonprofit technology survey conducted by Advanced Solutions International, there are significant challenges that prevent seamless system integration from being a reality for most nonprofits. Approximately 60 percent of respondents stated that integration of their database systems was an important or very important challenge; consequently, it was no surprise that some three-quarters of nonprofits surveyed said that their database and their Web site were not integrated.

So, how can it be achieved?
Some have tried to import data from the database into the Web site and vice versa. On the face of it, this seems to be a relatively low-cost, if somewhat low-tech way of achieving the solution. However, it is notoriously difficult to keep both systems in sync, and there is always a "lag" between an update being made online and it being imported into the donor database. So if donors make any changes to their addresses online, while others make changes to their records from the office, the two changes are in conflict when the synchronization is attempted, and often one change is dropped as a result.
 

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Most Recent Comments:
Robin Fisk - Posted on February 22, 2010
Barbara - no, it wasn't. As I understand it (and I'm from the UK where it's not available), Constant Contact is an email marketing tool. I'm talking about donor database software that is also a web content management solution - i.e. not distinct packages. Although I believe they will become more commonplace they are not yet that common in the non-profit sector - iMIS from my own company ASI is one that is specifically for non-profits.
Barbara Abbott - Posted on February 19, 2010
Is your article "i on Fundraising Technology: Integrating Your Web Site and Database for Greater Donor Engagement" referring to services such as "Constant Contact?"

Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Robin Fisk - Posted on February 22, 2010
Barbara - no, it wasn't. As I understand it (and I'm from the UK where it's not available), Constant Contact is an email marketing tool. I'm talking about donor database software that is also a web content management solution - i.e. not distinct packages. Although I believe they will become more commonplace they are not yet that common in the non-profit sector - iMIS from my own company ASI is one that is specifically for non-profits.
Barbara Abbott - Posted on February 19, 2010
Is your article "i on Fundraising Technology: Integrating Your Web Site and Database for Greater Donor Engagement" referring to services such as "Constant Contact?"