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When your nonprofit started using email to reach your donors and other contacts, your team most likely signed up for one of the many basic email marketing tools out there like Constant Contact or Mailchimp (among many, many others). And while I am sure there have been a few hiccups along the way, this system has mostly served you well.

But now your organization is growing and your donor base is getting bigger (yay!) and you find yourself in a technology dilemma — is it time to upgrade my email marketing tool?

There are many benefits to using basic email marketing tools like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor. Things like easy set up and access, design templates, and general ease of list management.

There is also generally less of a learning curve to use these products so more people are able to manage it on their own without the help of a specialist.

Marketing automation platforms like Salesforce Pardot, ClickDimensions or Active Campaign are typically the next step up from these basic tools. These platforms come with direct connections with your CRM which allows for flexible, powerful, and fully-automated lists and processes.

Another key feature of these platforms is data. Marketing and fundraising data can be analyzed together in the same system. This means fundraising staff have more insight into what their donors have received and opened, and gives them tools how to move forward with their campaigns.

So when should you upgrade your marketing platform?

The biggest indicator that you need to upgrade is when your email marketing strategy and analysis needs become more nuanced and sophisticated than the platform (and your staff!) can handle. Do you need more automation? What about list size? How well is your email tool working with your CRM?

Moving to one of these marketing automation platforms is a substantial undertaking for both the organization and the implementer, so of course this change doesn’t come lightly. There are list rules and other automations to configure. There are also templates to design and set. However once all this is complete, the data and lists can manage themselves—even with highly complex, multi-branch timed or action-dependent email flows.

There is also a cost involved in this upgrade. For many organizations, this is definitely a huge factor to consider and can be a decision breaker. However, many times the benefits of upgrading can actually provide a decent return on investment by growing your online donations and outreach efforts.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not your nonprofit is ready to make this big switch, our team at Tackle would be happy to share our insights. We have worked with a lot of marketing automation systems, especially using these specifically for nonprofits, and would be more than willing to help guide you to this next phase.

When deciding on a technology consultant firm for your nonprofit, there are many things to consider. One of them is whether or not the consultant firm is focused on one particular system, like Salesforce, or one that has knowledge working with multiple systems.

Being an expert in one system means the consultant has spent an extraordinary amount of time learning about all the technical features of the system and how business processes can be set up. This can be extremely beneficial if your organization needs help with that particular system, especially for a short term issue.

However, there are setbacks to this specific system expertise. This can mean the consultant has fewer tools in their toolbox for fixing problems, as the consultant most often sees problems and solutions within that one system’s lens.

At Tackle we take pride in being efficient in multiple digital systems. So why is this important?

Most organizations use multiple systems and will likely change to new systems in the future. When a consultant has experience with multiple systems, they can very effectively create solutions using the best tool available.

Similarly, you can create solutions tailored by system depending on who in an organization uses which system. That can be invaluable for minimizing learning curves.

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With news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading into even more communities, talk of the need to work from home is high on everyone’s minds.

While some offices are easily set up with the flexibility to work from home, there are many organizations that are not. Can your organization continue with “business as usual” if everyone is working from home?

In cases where closing an office altogether isn’t possible or practical, maybe consider reducing the in-office headcount. This could mean maintaining the minimal amount of in-house staff while allowing others to work from home. Or rotating work from home days or staggered 4-day work weeks. There are definitely options for reducing social contact.

Now for any organization facing the possibility of transitioning your employees to remote work, there are many things your organization should be doing NOW to prepare.

Start with a clear communication plan with your employees about what your plan is if they are not able to come into the office, and check out our guidelines below on where to get started.

Hardware & Software

What is your organization’s existing policy for staff working from home and/or using personal equipment? Start there. And note that you might have to make some updates or temporary exemptions for this situatiton.

If possible, try to avoid having your staff attempt to work using their personal equipment. Besides being a data and security risk, this is also likely to lead to support challenges for your IT team.

This means you will need to figure out how to provide the necessary hardware and needed software for your employees, especially if you do not have enough laptops for every employee. Now is the time to look into purchasing some more laptops. Or, at the very least, figure out how to help your employee set up their office desktop computer at their house. Although if that is the case, please keep in mind that not everyone is tech savvy so you will need to have a technical person on staff prepared to help with this—before the need to work from home is necessary.

It is also important to make sure the software your employees use are up-to-date and ready to go. Is Microsoft Office loaded on their laptop? What about any design programs? Email accounts?

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Did you know the Tackle team is spread out across the country? That means we do a lot of remote work, so we are basically experts at working from home.

I personally have been working from home in various roles now for over eight years, and I absolutely love it. In fact, my husband also works from home so we are like the ultimate work-from-home power couple. It took a little bit of trial and error to figure out how to productively do this, especially adding a couple kids to the mix, but I truly think it’s a great option that employers should genuinely explore (but more on that in another post).

If you find yourself new to the work from home club or struggling to get your work done at home, I thought I would share some tips on how to be as productive as possible while working from home.

Have a designated work space

Make a desk space in your house, whether it’s a small table tucked in a corner of your living room or an actual office in your basement, make sure you have a space that is designated to get stuff done.

And no, your bed doesn’t count.

I would probably also take it one step further and say to designate this space ONLY for work. When you know your desk is set aside for working time instead of say, watching movies or posting on social media, you will less likely find yourself doing those things in this space during working hours. Besides, I think only using this space for work helps with tax write offs, although I am no tax expert.

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