If you have big goals for your organization, the first thing that you need to do is step back look at all of your online properties as a whole in order to make sure you aren’t missing any opportunities to integrate your tools.
Through our affiliation with WebDriven, we have worked closely with Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Government Relations group over the last four years to upgrade and expand their web presence, and at the heart of our work is an integration with Convio, which is serves as their primary database to manage the data of the many thousands of volunteers who support their advocacy. (Convio is one of the world’s largest database vendors, and their software is used by thousands of the world’s largest nonprofits.) Through regular email communications, calls to action and custom web & social media applications JDRF maintains contact and engages its audience.
We were able to integrate the Convio data with six different applications in order to facilitate information flow and to maintain a primary “master” database. And all the applications utilize core Convio services in the background.
Here are three ways custom Convio integration has helped boost JDRF’s advocate recruitment:
1) Registration can be extended to all web properties in a modular fashion.
A primary interface between the Government Relations applications and Convio is the basic registration module which each application uses for gathering and processing new advocate information. One of the primary reasons for contests and sharing stories through applications like Spread the Word is to a) generate interest in JDRF and b) ultimately, to encourage more people to become advocates.
Now, registration is a widget which can be extended to any web property or application.
2) Create a service for your advocates while keeping users on your site.
Once an advocate completes their registration, WebDriven passes the registration information to Convio and then provides a customizable thank you message to the user, all without the user leaving the GR site.
While passing the information we also use the Convio API to check for the email at Convio to avoid creating a duplicate and we check to make sure all required information has been provided. And perhaps as important for the advocate, we can also prefill a form if they are returning but neglected to complete the information from an earlier time — or — automatically log them into web applications that they have opted into.
3) Create ‘easy’ buttons for common Convio functions without requiring users to login to Convio.
One application actually simplifies the top five functions for a group of 150 leaders in order for them to search their groups, send emails and update advocate information. We call these the “easy buttons” after the Staples marketing effort. The goal was to follow the 80/20 rule and make it easy for them to do the most common tasks with just a few clicks.
The application has met rave reviews and utilization is up considerably.
Bringing everything together
Tight integration with a donor management or CRM application — like Convio — may not be possible in every situation. Whenever possible, though, steps should be taken to minimize user experience (UX) disruption caused by a) frequent linking in to and out of these applications, b) little or no central login capabillity for registration, among others.
Organizations of all sizes increasingly rely on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications for core functions like customer or donor management, business intelligence (BI) and eCommerce just to name a few.
While many providers are building robust options for integration, many still offer few options without costly programming through their professional services arm. Regardless of the available options, every organization should have a focused approach to balancing SaaS features with usability to help create more of a win-win situation for everyone.
D.J. Smith is CEO of CiV Digital. He has been building and designing web products for over 15 years.