Joshua and I have just returned from our second year attending and exhibiting at the National Religious Broadcasting Convention in Nashville, TN, and what a year it was! It was very inspiring to be surrounded by so many passionate and engaged community leaders! I have returned feeling refreshed, invigorated, and excited about what the future holds for us. I found myself thinking over and over, as I met some of the most amazing people, "This is what it's all about. This is why we do this."
We really enjoyed the opportunity to meet with some of our new customers from last year, as well as customers who have been using FundRaiser for years. At one point, Joe Emert and his lovely wife, Jenny (both pictured at right, along with myself), from Life Radio Ministries were chatting with us, when Eric Jingst and Aaron Darr from WLMB-TV40 walked up. Joe said he remembered reading their recent Case Study (published in February's newsletter) that they were using some parts of FundRaiser which he hadn't explored yet, and he'd like to talk with them about that some more to see if it could work for his organization.
This may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was a pretty special moment! You see, one of my goals here at FundRaiser is to build a "user community" where our customers can network with other customers and similar organizations, and really learn from each other's experiences. The fact is, even if we could offer the best technical support and training in the world, nothing trumps the experience of an actual customer who has really mastered a certain area of the software.
Over the years, we've put several things into place that with the intention of building this user community, but seeing it happen right in front of me was pretty wonderful!
If you're curious, here are some of the things we've implemented to try to foster a FundRaiser community:
- Monthly Newsletter: at first glance, a newsletter might not seem like a community-building tool, but consider that we nearly always include a Case Study featuring one of our customers, as a way to introduce them to the FundRaiser community, and we also craft our Tech Tip to tie-in with the Case Study.
- FundRaiser Forum: we introduced our User Forum in the Customer Portal several years ago, and, unfortunately, it has not seen the traffic that we hoped. It was built with the idea that customers could have direct access to each other, and help with ideas for problem-solving, fundraising, and more. Our tech support staff also monitors this forum to answer or assist with any technical questions. It's not too late to start using this valuable resource!
- Case Studies: we have dozens of useful Case Studies published on our website and available at all times. They can be sorted in a variety of ways, including program feature, type of organization, and role in the organization. The thinking here was that you could seek out other organizations with similar challenges and read about how they were able to solve them.
- Facebook Fan Page: last year, we launched our new Facebook fan page with the goal of creating a place where customers can engage with each other, with us, and even with potential new customers by "liking" the page and starting a conversation or getting involved with an existing one.
- FundRaiser Staff: yes, we consider ourselves to be part of the community-building process. We are always glad to help connect our customers with each other! We often receive calls from customers who are looking for other users in their area, or other users who are working with certain features or aspects of the software, and we are very happy to spend some time mining for that information and passing it along (with permission, of course).
- Tradeshows and Conventions: while we can't go to all of them, or even very many of them, these events play an important role in our strategy. There is nothing like the opportunity to meet our customers face-to-face, and we are committed to maintaining our presence in this space. Know of an event in your area that you think we should be involved in? Let us know!
- FundRaiser Blog: even this blog plays a part in our master plan! For now, it is a good resource for learning more about what's going on in the world of FundRaiser Software, but we anticipate being able to open it to comments and inviting guest bloggers to help start a conversation - so keep reading!
So, you can see that we have been working toward this, and will continue to do so as long as we keep hearing from you that it's working.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to come by our booth at NRB this year. (That's Shawn Rames from WLMB pictured at left with Joshua Shirley). As much as I enjoyed the show, I'm also glad to be home again, sorting through my notes and business cards, and starting to reach out to some brand new friends. I hope to see you all again next year!
If you are new to this blog, and maybe even a new friend from NRB, welcome! We invite you to become part of the FundRaiser community by liking us on Facebook, or signing up for our monthly e-newsletter, checking our library of Case Studies, or just Contacting Us to learn more about who we are and what we do.
Oh, and you can see a few more pictures from NRB 2012 on our Facebook page. While you're there, please let us know what you think of the page or any other comments or suggestions you have about FundRaiser.
Autumn Shirley is the CEO of FundRaiser Software. Outside of work, she enjoys raising her daughter, exploring new chocolate and dessert recipes, and learning ballroom dancing with my husband, Joshua, who is CFO of FundRaiser Software.