The upcoming virtual event “CiviCRM for COVID-19 Response” scheduled for June 25, 2020, at noon (EDT) brings together nonprofits organizations and consultants to discuss how they have used CiviCRM and discuss their solutions for service delivery and crisis response. The event will be free of charge.
“Whether you are new to the open source CRM for the civic sector, evaluating solutions, or an experienced user, there will be a mix of presentations and workshop discussions. Sessions will explore needs-mapping, crowdfunding, staff rotas and volunteer registration, using CiviCRM with both Drupal and WordPress. With speakers from Calgary to Cologne, it is scheduled for the daytime in the Americas, Europe and Western Africa. For the rest of the world, videos of the presentations will be available afterwards.”
Beginners’ guide to CiviCRM with Rose Lanigan, Ruza Solutions | Bradford, UK
Using WordPress & CiviCRM with Kevin Cristiano & Dana Skallman, Tadpole Collective, New York, USA
Present at CiviCRM for COVID-19 Response
People, who are using CiviCRM as part of a response to Coronavirus: be it medical, community support, fundraising, Mutual Aid or anything else, and would like contribute with a presentation can connect with the organizers in the #covid-19 channel on CiviCRM Chat.
The worldwide pandemic is providing you with an opportunity. Many people will come through this with a keen understanding of what is important to them as a human being and the world. You are in a unique position to contribute to your visitor’s journey to have an impact and provide real life experiences to do good in this world. Show your visitors the value of volunteering, donation or just applauding. Invite your visitors into their imagination.
The web is not your mother’s internet anymore. In today’s nonprofit world, it’s not enough to simply have a website to connect with your supporters. Your website is the direct representation of your company to the public. It is your brand — your first and eternal impression. It serves your needs just as much as it needs to serve your supporters. And in the nonprofit world, “need” and “willing to serve” are familiar, welcoming words.
As website viewers ourselves, what we look for in a website is what others look for as well. It’s not a “big ask.” In order for your site to provide limitless support for your viewers, what does it need?
It needs to captivate, navigate and inform.
It needs ease of comprehension, so your visitor can accomplish tasks swiftly.
It needs quick, intuitive navigation for today’s short attention span.
Each page needs to be well written with great imagery.
It needs to tell a story formatted for readers on the fly.
It needs mobile optimization and fast loading. Research shows you have only 3 seconds to draw people into your site.
It needs to incorporate shared links to articles and information posted on social media.
It needs to be accessible for all visitors including the elderly or those with disabilities.
And naturally, it needs to be affordable. Maintaining your site shouldn’t strain your budget.
Most people learn about a nonprofit organization through social media or at local events. Research reveals that approximately 85% access Facebook from their smart phones and ergo discover your site initially using a mobile device. They open your email the first time on the mobile phone to come back later again using their desktop.
So what does this mean for the modern website of a nonprofit organization?
These 9 tips will send you on your way to a successful online impression.
#1 Keep the number of navigation links between 5 and 7.
More than that can paralyze your visitor trying to figure out where to look next.
Submenus are allowed, but just a few.
These should be easily accessible using a keyboard as well as a mouse.
#2 Make the donation button a main navigation item.
Many visitors want to do just that — donate. Make the donation button standout from the navigation in a complementary or cross-complementary color.
The best practices for ecommerce sites apply also to online donations.
#3 Keep visitors on your site to process an online donation
Maintain the trust pact you have built with your viewer. As opposed to having a third-party accept donations, your donation pages should be part of your website. This inclusion raises 6 times more money than when the donation button or link leads the donor off to another site, even if it’s a subdomain. Leading a donor away from your trusted site breaks the trust pact you’ve already established. Some potential donors hesitate with this method. If online donation is an impulse buy, any hesitation costs you money.
To avoid the extraneous data handling effort, you could use a self-hosted open-source software like CiviCRM with events, membership, donor, contact management and email marketing – all built in.
Disclosure: Pauli Systems is a CiviCRM partner.
#4 Keep your donation process simple.
Forego large forms. It comes back to the impulse buy. Generally you don’t need the donor’s address to manage a successful payment process. You can make it a secondary contact opportunity to give a donor incentive to provide an address.
We are fans of the GiveWP plugin. You can be up and running with a good donation process in a couple of hours.
Implement a simple donation process with Form builders. We install this on most sites to enable a Volunteer Application or Event Registration. Coupled with a payment gateway like stripe, you can make an easy to use donation process and add it to any of your organization’s landing pages, or as a Call to Action in your blog posts.
#5 Include a second ask on your “Thank You” page and email.
Several plugins can instantiate monthly giving. Once installed, you can ask the donor: “Do you want to make this a monthly gift?” and use an easy checkmark box to make it a subscription. If that’s not yet feasible to implement, make the second ask something like “Tell your friends” and “Share on social media” using functional social sharing buttons.
#6 Thank you notes make and break your donor relationship.
Do not neglect the last essential piece of the puzzle: the thank you note/email. Just because an expression of thanks comes from a computer, it’s best not to make it sound automated. You can send a very personable email with your confirmation, and you can even link a “Thank you” video from a board member or one of the beneficiaries to let the donor know about the impact the donation makes. Do not use the default email of any plugin you use. Customize it.
#7 Use WP Mail SMTP Pro to process your transactional emails
The WP Mail SMTP plugin allows you to connect your website with your email service provider rather than using the built-in Mailer configuration. It’s an added cost to hook it all up, but it’s worth the money. Your emails arrive at the recipient’s primary inbox instead of in spam, promotion or updates tabs. Make it part of the requirement documentation for your consultants. Most of my clients only realize this after GoLive.
#8 Find a good versatile form plugin.
Though only 8% of the donations by individuals in the US are made online, it has grown into double-digits in the last four years. It’s a surprising number considering how much time we spend optimizing the process.
Plugins are available to streamline your administrative processes and reduce duplicate data entry for Event Registration, Volunteer applications, etc. Most form plugins also integrate with third-party tools like your email marketing provider, your Google Drive account and others. You might need to test a few to make sure you are able to handle any new form creation in house.
Here is a list of plugins with great documentation and support:
Earlier, I mentioned CiviCRM as a comprehensive tool to organize your contacts, applications and forms in one space. Once you know how your organization’s administration is digitize, a CiviCRM implementation will help you streamline your processes and handle all your data in one spot.
You can test CiviCRM as a hosted solution for less than $15 a month, unlimited users, 2000 contacts and 5,000 emails pro month. Check it out here: CiviCRM Spark
#9 Keep your homepage simple.
Many studies have shown that most people come to your website not through your homepage but through a Google search, a social media link, or an email you sent. What they read and see at this entry point is more important than your homepage design.
I have seen technology teams discuss the homepage over and over again. Discussions should focus on content strategy or donor/volunteer experience. What are the goals of your website? Unless you already have a content-rich site, that topic needs to bubble up to the front burner — content strategy and production are king.
How much of the fancy frontpage design will make it to the mobile view? Use a small logo on the top and have a few menu items. Everything else is content on a small screen. Fancy frames and shadows get in the way of a clean layout.
When we design a website, we revise the homepage design many times throughout the project. After the initial mock-ups, we talk a lot about information architecture, content strategy, landing pages with forms, and registration processes. Form follows function.
Keep in mind your main goals for your website: maintain your current supporters and attract new donors. And like anything worthwhile, a company that invests time and energy into an appealing site will reap the rewards it seeks.
Schedule a Site Review with Birgit Pauli-Haack
If you feel your organization’s website needs a site review, schedule a video conference call with screen sharing capabilities with us. We’ll go over the site with you and give at least five immediate action items you can implement with your consultant or freelancer. Interested? Fill out the form or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What does that even mean? Lighthouse is a performance testing tool that measure your site for load speed metrics like “First time to Interaction”. Also, part of the test are accessibility how good is your site accessible also for people with disabilities and then also test pages for best practices on search engine optimization.
Stats relevant to your website’s user experience
20% of US population has some form of disability.
You have only 3 seconds before a mobile user navigates away from your website.
60% of user browse the web on their mobile phones
Google uses Site Speed as ranking factor
Google now only indexes mobile content for you website.
We will run a performance test on your site and give you the detailed report. The performance test uses Google Lighthouse tools and measures overall performance, accessibility, best practices, search engine optimization and PWA requirements. The last part is only interesting if you are working on a Progressive Web App or on a mobile first site.
Theme migration huge performance jump
Here is an example test before and after we made some site changes. We migrated a site from theme published in 2006 to a more modern theme and spruced up the home page navigation.
The overall score went from 71 to 76 so the old site wasn’t that bad. However the details show some astonishing outcomes. The overall Accessibility went from 74 to 96 and the SEO score from 69 to 100.
This was quite remarkable. After the first day, the site owner also sent me an email that when he searched his name on Google, he saw for the first time that his own website actually showed up before any of the social networks or news sites, which normally have a much higher authority that any single topic site. Once can not know for sure but with the SEO value going from 69 to 100 percent, I definitely wasn’t surprised by that outcome.
After a week or so, the site owner realized that we didn’t bring over the advertising he placed on his older site. When we added Google AdSense areas to the footer of the site, the performance went way down again. How disappointing….
So it’s not only important to measure the performance of your website and each single page, it also is necessary to monitor the performance over time, or at least test is again, after you make significant changes or start using 3rd party systems.
Image Lazy-Loading coming to WordPress Core
The biggest problem with page speed is image loading with the site. They are most of the time the largest files and many content creators don’t optimize images before upload and employ all kinds of additional plugins.
Zoom makes is very easy to create different links for different marketing channels. In this case study, we concentrated on the channels that were the same for the first six events. We started with the Gutenberg Developer and Design leads on November 30 and ended with Site Building w/ Gutenberg on February 8th, 2019. ( We use Zoom to support the publishing and promotion of Gutenberg Times )
First we looked, how many registrations we received from visitors coming from the four channels: Facebook, Twitter, website and our weekly eNews.
Registrations by Marketing Channel
In Figure 1 we can see that the ratio of registrations is fairly well distributed with Facebook and the eNews slightly under 20% and Twitter at 27% and the Website at 34%. So far so good. All four channels contribute considerably to our Webinar audience.
What does this really mean? We know for each person, who registered through our Zoom registration page came through a link they saw on the respective network. We don’t know how often a visitor saw us promoting webinars, we also don’t know if those coming through Facebook, are not also twitter followers or saw it first on the website.
Use Conversion Rate to determine Return on Investment
To determine Return-on-Investment or ROI, we also would need to know the conversion rate of those visitors who came from those channels and then actually converted to a registration. In other words, how many visitors out of 100 visitors actually registered for the webinar?
When we crunch the numbers visitors / registration, we see a total different picture:
Figure 2 shows us the conversion rate for all for networks. The highest conversions rate have subscribers from our eNews. We also see that we need 10 times more visitors coming from Twitter to get the same number of registrations. Visitors from eNews are also the most faithful readers of our content and we are in contact with them on a weekly basis. Clearly aiming for increasing the numbers of subscribers should always be one of the focus for your marketing.
With the followers on Twitter we don’t have a close connection and the engagement is rather fleeting.
Narrowing down the audience seems to help with our conversion rate, too. On Twitter it is more the broadcast approach via the various profiles we control, on Facebook, we post the information about the Live Q & A only in three WordPress Groups. So the narrower the target audience the higher your conversion rate. Feels like stating the obvious, but it’s always good to confirm our instincts once in a while.
The visitors from the website are in between. We needed about 2 times more visitors from the Website to have the same amount of registration of our subscribers list.
Calculating return on investment (ROI)
The ROI could be calculated, by measuring how much time and effort ittakes to create content for weekly eNews to augment the promotion of the Live Q & As, compared with the amount of time and effort it takes to update the website to provide the context for the promotional graphics and how much effort it takes to distribute the posts around Twitter and Facebook. Metrics are time spent and or money spent. And then set it into relation to the money gained. We don’t have any money numbers for this project.
In one of my next posts, I’ll share the tools methods and processes to create the Gutenberg Live Q & As from speaker recruiting, to collaboration on the content to social media promotion to the show and the post-production with YouTube space, transcripts and publishing on the Gutenberg Times for the archive.
How to improve ROI for promoting webinars or other online events?
To improve the ROI it might be worth looking into methods to streamline or automate processes and to reduce friction especially for twitter promotion. For Gutenberg Times purposes, we decide to add additional scheduled Tweets to promoted the webinars. This step is the easiest to do, it is free, and might catch followers and friends, who missed the announcement the first or second time.
Another approach could be to schedule the webinar more than two weeks out to give the promotion a little bit more time. Many people, have a 10 day lead time to get on their schedules, so if you are not there early, you might not catch a free time slot.
Another advantage of a longer planning period, is that we could reach out to other WordPress publications and alert them to the upcoming webinars so they can mention it on their eNews and social networks. This coordination takes time, though, but it’s well worth it. The highest numbers of attendees, would show up after the WPTavern added a post about it.
For other websites, it could be to increase interaction on Facebook, and schedule events, make sure you also include the panelists as co-hosts, which might help with distribution there.
This case study only covers, what is called last touch attribution.Neil Patel has lots to say about why only tracking last touch attribution is a bit defeating. Tracking all touch points is quite complex, and for a site like the Gutenberg Times, not feasible. If you are thinking about reaching a much larger audience (over 10,000 monthly visitors) creating a analytics framework that covers all touch-points your visitors, customers, followers have with your company would probably be worth the set-up and maintenance costs.
What online analytics framework is feasible for you?
Connect with Birgit Pauli-Haack and find out what analytics framework would be worth your while for your website and social media efforts.
Aside from its fully integrated system which manages all contact information and activities around all people involved in your organization, CiviCRM is also state of the art technology with a very attractive price point as open-source. There are no licence fees. It’s all installed on your host if you’d like to stay in control of your environment, data and security. As with any software system, it needs its fair share of set-up, configuration, maintenance and training.
I have been burned with open-source software quite a bit in the last decade but working with open-source has also been the biggest delight. There are open-source software communities that stand out and CiviCRM is definitely one of them.
How to judge an open-source software and avoid the pitfalls?
As with any technology project you have to look from three different angles: the technology, the processes, and the people involved.
For most mature technology projects, the technology is sound. The engineers put their hearts and souls into it and gave it their best. I always assume it’s really good.
Most technology projects don’t fail because the technology decisions were wrong. Most of the time, it’s the people and the processes which become the hardest to align.
CiviCRM has been built with PHP probably, the most used web programming language. It runs on a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). It is an open-system for developers. It has a managed public API and maintains an infrastructure for custom extension. If a software has been around for almost 10 years and successfully installed around ten-thousand times, it’s safe to assume most of the bugs in the core were already discovered and fixed.
Both the maturity of the CiviCRM system and the managed infrastructure for developer contributions make for an excellent basis upon which to build organization’s core administrative tool for employees.
Next step on my CiviCRM journey was to dive into the processes of the CiviCRM community.
In this case, processes mean to me: where to find documentation and discover how current it is; find out how can I ask questions, what is the process to report bugs or errata in documentation; discover how forums are run, how was the wiki assembled and how does the issue tracker work.
I witnessed first hand how the community came together and jumped through hoops to become an official Stack Exchange public forum and sunset the existing forums on the site. This was a major effort. You need to prove to Stack Exchange there is a sufficient enough community to support a forum on the site. Stack Exchange doesn’t want ghost towns. The process opens up the community to even more users and also allows for many more people to help each other out while relieving the core contributors from the vast amount of forum posts to be answered and moderated.
I read through all the documentation and successfully installed CiviCRM on top of WordPress, in our company’s test server.
Again, a pleasant surprise. I did not experience a single hiccup or mismatch between the documentation and what I saw in reality. Until this experience I found it quite normal that complex systems would not always behave like the best case scenario in the documentation.
I don’t normally get it right the first time. Nine out of ten times, luck would have me hit a roadblock or surface a bug no one else had found. With CiviCRM I didn’t encounter any of it.
The developing contributors did a fantastic job testing the code before is was released and thoroughly documented the phases of installation and configuration. We all love when a plan comes together. But when you have been around technology long enough, you really don’t expect it to go smoothly right off the bat.
While testing the systems and diving into several different use cases and requirements for the my first project, I received plenty of assistance through the people volunteering on the forums. When I read through the documentation I mostly found the necessary additional information on how to handle special cases of events or a so-called household memberships.
For fun, I also read about scheduled reminders and scheduled jobs. Of course, at this point I was set-up with higher expectations but CiviCRM did not disappoint at any level of my self-paced, fast-paced education. I tested the membership module, events module, the email mass mailing software and the contributions module. Nothing brings more knowledge and lets me test drive a system than when applied to a real life project. So later that year, I took on migration of a membership organization from Filemaker 7.0 to CiviCRM.
Equally important to technology and process, if not more important for its success, are the people who run the software and the community around it. Who are the people involved? How large is the community? Who are the leaders? How approachable are they? How welcoming is the community to newcomers? How can normal everyday users get help? Is there a network of consultants available to do the heavy lifting for organizations which don’t have their own IT departments?
I started interacting with the CiviCRM community about 15 months ago, when I was searching for a speaker for the local Tech4Good group.
In my search, I reached out to Donald Lobo, CiviCRM’s founder, and David Greenberg, co-founder, got back to me. What a delight. Although as I mentioned I didn’t know any of them, their status in the community soon became quite clear. Both were very helpful – I felt quite welcome. Unfortunately, we didn’t find an evangelist for CiviCRM in Florida. If there is a need, and my interest is peaked, I normally run with it and research some more. Donald and David definitely planted the seed.
After a few months of testing and documenting some of the lessons learned, I started to get even more involved with the CiviCRM community. I signed up for the CiviCRM User Summit in September 2014 (Check out scheduled CiviCRM Events ) and was really amazed about the climate of collaboration and community. The CiviCRM User Summit started with a social showcase gathering the night before in an art gallery with four presentations in which implementers and nonprofits showed-off their use of CiviCRM or discussed new modules or extensions.
The presentations and presenters at the User Summit the next day were outstanding. I was totally intrigued by the versatility of CiviCRM software and the generosity of the consultants, implementers, contributors and community managers.
The CiviCRM community radiates a genuine spirit of making this world a better place with the best tools available and that spirit enables better software and collaboration.
After working four years extensively with WordPress, I learned to embrace the community driven software. I have the choice to work with open-source vs proprietary software, open-source wins every time.
Fill out below form to learn more about our Implementation Services for CiviCRM and we schedule full demo session with you.
“So how is business?” a friend asked me quietly the other day. I could see the barely disguised fear in her eyes at the prospect of having to hear in reply another devastating story of how the Great Recession has turned yet another business into … let’s say a non-profit entity. Imagine her delight when I told her that I feel blessed and business for Pauli Systems has been fantastic. “People are now coming with bigger dreams to our boutique web development and design shop on Radio Road,” I added.
Once upon a time we were seen as a mere office supply store, where one just buys something to put up on the web and is forgotten until something new is needed on the web. Gone are the days when one hops from web developer to web developer, who invariably rip up an old website and installs a new one, which then an instant small business website & ghost town.
I never cared for those cookie-cutter web site shoppers who only want a Number One spot on Google Search and want it with a single key phrase, like “real estate” (in a town with 7,000 Realtors) and want it instantly, without any sense of content or context. “Water removal,” “pet grooming.” .
The conversation has changed and I am very happy about that.
Business owners and managers realize today that “being online” is part of their business and content is king. High demand for story, data and image sharing online have become a strategic part of savvy business plans and daily operations. And the savviest business owners come to us looking for a partner to take them beyond single parts and who offers a broad spectrum of tools, services and guidance. We share our experience to help build systems flexible enough to grow with the business’ and customers’ needs but also stable enough, scalable enough to integrate into operational processes of a growing business.
We don’t have a chinese menu, from which one picks and choose. Online presence and online marketing has so many different moving parts that picking one over the other is like asking which pencil an architect might use to design a structure. As with building a house, we first need to better understand your vision, goals and budgetary outline.
Our motto is “Form follows Function” or “Form follows Content”, all depends on what you want your web site to be or do and what you think your various groups of visitors would want to see or do on your website; and in which context will they interact with you.
Similar to architects, we will find the right combination of software, tools and services that would best fit your overall content strategy, internet marketing plan and budget. Then we will oversee implementation, acquire resources (software, developers, graphic designers, services providers) and manage the configuration and assembling process.
Most online systems integrate with APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the trend now goes to single purpose apps. That’s what mobile phones and tablets brought us but as an enterprise you depend on the best integration of systems. You need a consultant who has a good working knowledge in many systems and is able to weigh advantages against trade-offs and manage the gaps between systems or innovations.
Within the new paradigm, there are, however, challenges. One of those is to keep fresh content filling a content management system, content to share over the social webs, keeping it fresh and real. As most of you know, I founded two years ago, with journalist, author and friend, Steve Hart, a new company, Relevanza, to integrate all aspects of online technology with the ongoing need to produce relevant content and meet customers on their terms and within their own context.
Business communication is not driven any more by corporate speak, no-one wants to speak to a 501(3)(c) any more (waving at Kivi Leroux-Miller). On the other hand, businesses need to tell the stories of their products, how they are produced, what’s in them and how to put them to use. Business news editors do that for industry publications and that’s what your business needs to do, too.
Each organization needs to develop an online community to be reachable, approachable and transparent. The biggest challenge now is to understand what a business has to say and say it with authenticity, integrity and honesty. That’s part of the contract with your customers. They chose you because you are able to build a relationship of trust.
Businesses now have plenty of data about their customers and can meet them on their own terms and within their own context. Yet most businesses are still not able to put the data to the best of their knowledge.
It’s still hard to connect the real life interaction in the store, in the restaurant, in the classroom or in your office and continue your online relationship. But how much richer does the business interaction become when you get personal and meet your customers as individuals. Most business schools don’t teach that kind of interaction and most corporations discourage that kind of approach to customer service.
But, as a consumer yourself, how much do you like, perhaps even expect, personal interaction, personal services and customizable experiences? Your customers and clients are just like you.
This week I received notice that a talk on the same topic has again been accepted for this year’s NCDevCon.
As time passed by and 12 months is like eons in web/online technology, I will update the talk with more CF-related information as CF10 provides a few more tools and the other products also have a new version released.
Please feel free to submit questions you’d like to see answered in this year’s presentation via e-mail to email@example.com or in below comment section.
I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the conference!
Presentation, Recording, Resource
A well organized, most inspiring and content-rich conference has ended but the collective knowledge, ideas and solutions live on. Through the competent and quick crew of volunteers and with the incredible support from the NC State University, College of Textiles, the sessions were recorded and are already available for consumption. I am very grateful for it, as with four tracks the decision which session to visit was excrutiating and sometimes a toss up among great topics.