The Right Technology Approach Can Save Time and Money for Multi-Chapter Nonprofits - Heller Consulting

The Right Technology Approach Can Save Time and Money for Multi-Chapter Nonprofits

Most nonprofits are facing financial pressures in today’s economic environment. It’s in every nonprofit professional’s best interest to find ways to work more efficiently and effectively.

In our work with nonprofits here at Heller Consulting, we’ve found that federated and multi-chapter or affiliate nonprofits (those with a central office and multiple affiliate offices or chapters) can streamline their use of digital marketing software to save money and work more efficiently.

It just sometimes requires a new way of thinking about their technology strategy.

Streamlining the use of technology for multi-chapter nonprofits

It’s not unusual for a multi-chapter nonprofit to have multiple tools that serve the same purpose, or even have multiple accounts for the same software across the organization. This approach to technology is often focused on meeting the needs of a localized business unit or department.

Tools and accounts often aren’t connected to each other. They typically each require their own administration. Often, they lead to duplicate as well as inconsistent processes and content across the organization. This situation can result in inefficiencies, a lack of cohesive branding and messaging, and mixed experiences for supporters.   

If any of this sounds familiar, you can get more bang for your organization’s buck by streamlining roles and responsibilities and using technology that can support the unique needs of multi-level organizations. Consider the following two-pronged approach:

  1. Consolidate as much as you can, such as use of your organization’s national or global branding, messaging, and key processes, to keep things consistent and reduce the need for duplicate work.

  2. Support the ability for local, regional, or affiliate offices to focus their efforts where they can add the most value, such as through local campaigns and events, relationship management, and communicating impact.

6 features to look for in digital marketing tools for multi-chapter nonprofits

Here are some things to consider as you look for digital marketing software that supports a more efficient technology approach while continuing to support and empower affiliate offices:

1. Flexible account and access control model

Every organization’s governance model and skill sets are different. So, it’s important to be able to deploy and manage access to your software in a way that aligns with your unique Look for the ability to:

    • Set up sub-accounts for your chapters or affiliates. With tiered licensing, this feature can often be found in enterprise-level packages. iDonate, for example, has a distributed package that addresses chapter issues and helps unify branding across all giving experiences.

    • Limit access of individual users to see and edit only the data that pertains to their office and their role.

    • Manage which users in which offices can manage which event details. For example, TeamRaiser by Blackbaud gives you the ability to provide individual volunteer event managers with access down to a granular level so that you can give them only the access they need to manage certain aspects of specific events.

2. Templates

Look for solutions that allow you to offer a consistently branded experience for fundraising campaigns and events. This can apply to things like email messages, donation forms, and websites for fundraising events. Look for the ability to:

  • Control the look and feel of the email, form, and page to align with your organization’s brand. For example, AKA Raisin’s peer-to-peer fundraising tool has a multi-location events feature that supports having a single campaign for an event that is taking place in multiple locations.

  • Lock in standard content while allowing for the addition of local content, such as contact details, local fund designations, and messaging about local impact.

3. Constituents

Determine if the solution allows you to associate constituents (or members, if your organization is membership-based) with the appropriate affiliate office. This will help to ensure your central office and affiliate offices can segment your constituents and target them with the right messages at the right time intervals. For example, Everyaction’s enterprise solution provides functionality for national organizations with association, affiliate, and chapter structures to easily manage data privacy and sharing.

4. Merchant accounts

If your organization wants to maintain separate bank accounts for different revenue streams, make sure the tools you consider allow for multiple, separate merchant accounts to align with various donation forms, events, and campaigns as well as various regional or program-specific accounts. For example, Fundraise Up offers the ability to license their product for the central organization and set up sub-accounts that can link to your centralized bank account, have their own account, or have a mix of the two.

5. Reporting

Look for software that allows your chapter offices to easily report on their performance while supporting the roll-up of results at a regional, national, or global level. For example, Classy allows you to connect accounts from various offices through a Connected Accounts feature so you can look at aggregate results.

6. Multilingual and multi-currency capabilities

If your organization has offices in markets where there is more than one language spoken, or if you receive donations from out of country, look for tools that support multiple languages and currencies.

The ideas in this article might seem like a lot to consider. But remember that Team Heller has worked with numerous national and multi-chapter nonprofits on technology strategy and implementation projects – helping them centralize their technology systems in a way that works most effectively for both their central and branch offices. We’re ready to help you, too. Contact us today to learn more and get started.

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About the Author

Mike Kirkpatrick
Prior to joining Heller Consulting, Mike spent over 20 years in strategic and technical leadership positions in both nonprofit and higher education organizations. Drawing upon years of experience at the Canadian Cancer Society in marketing, online fundraising and digital, he... Read More

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