Salesforce customer communities: a powerful tool for nonprofits

ECHO Technology Solutions

Salesforce customer communities: a powerful tool for nonprofits

Even though it started as a business tool, Salesforce has quickly become part of the standard operating system for all kinds of organizations.  Just as businesses use the big data and workflow management tools of Salesforce to reach their customers with maximum efficiency, nonprofits use it to manage donors, build campaigns, and expand their networks.

Both traditional sales organizations and their nonprofit donor management counterparts are focused on a single goal:  continuous, meaningful customer engagement.  Unlike traditional sales organizations, however, the goal of that engagement for a nonprofit advancement or donor management team is not always just the money.  For a nonprofit, “support” can come in many forms, making engagement with customers a more complex affair.

This is where Salesforce-based “customer communities” come in.  The concept is relatively simple:  give the customers of a business the ability to communicate with one another, and they will reduce support and sales costs by answering each other’s questions.  Even better, those same communications can produce data which result in additional sales leads.

While forums and chatrooms are as old as the internet itself, the concept of using them in a sales context is a relatively new idea. When properly conceived and nurtured, customer communities become more than a forum on products or services – they become forums for ideas and places where an organization can generate excitement about its goals.

Even though they started in traditional sales organizations, the nonprofit world has quickly repurposed customer communities to fulfill the multifaceted kinds of engagement they require.

It’s about creating momentum.  In an industry where donors are often cultivated through connections and networks, it is in an organization’s best interest to encourage as much interaction among those networks as possible.  Organizations which depend on their members to mobilize (on things like political issues, for example) are even more likely to generate tangible benefits from a customer community which is active and responsive.

Customer communities can also serve as a handy barometer for non-profits.  Gauging levels of enthusiasm for new initiatives, testing the willingness of donors to engage on a project – these kinds of things can be hard to do.  With a ready chorus of forum contributors, however, any organization can bounce ideas off of its supporters easily and quickly.

And let’s not forget the data part!  Just like their counterparts in the business world, nonprofits can easily use Salesforce customer communities to generate and convert leads.  The tools available in Salesforce can help discover the discussion trends and individual donors which might drive a nonprofit to pursue new donor campaigns or adjust its priorities for existing capital drives.

Of course, the most effective customer communities are those which are tailored for the audiences that nonprofits want to cultivate and nurture.  Customizing Salesforce to match the goals and aspirations of a nonprofit yields a strong return on investment – one which gives organizations the ability to adapt to changing engagement goals over time.

Want to use the power of customer communities for your nonprofit?  Contact us to learn more.