Utilizing good technology can make a world of difference to a nonprofit’s success. Just ask Adam Snyder, Executive Director of Conservation Alabama. When Adam became Executive Director in 2007, Conservation Alabama had a membership of less than 20 people and a budget of less than $50,000 per year. Although Conservation Alabama was small, they were doing great things. The problem was, not many people knew about them. Adam decided something needed to be done.

Fast forward to 2008. Conservation Alabama has grown their email list to nearly 500 people, including a membership base of 150. The Conservation Alabama Foundation, the new 501c3 educational affiliate of Conservation Alabama, has a budget of $150,000 for this year. How did they manage to grow so much in such a short period of time? According to Snyder, “It would not have been possible without our Databank.”

He continued to say, “A strong, comprehensive database is at the core of any successful organization, campaign, or business. You need data on your supporters, and you need a way to easily access that data and keep it up-to-date. At my former organization, we always struggled with the database. I could get what I needed out of it, but I knew I wanted so much more.”

Conservation Alabama became a client of thedatabank in February 2008. They immediately started sending out Action Alerts to their supporters from their Databank. Through the Tell-a-Friend function, they received at least 10 new signups each time.

Their overall open rate was 35%, with about 50% of those people taking action. In three months, their supporters sent roughly 2,500 messages to targets such as the Governor, legislators, and a hearing officer at their state environmental agency. The latter helped propel a reduction in cancer risk for Alabama waters, following the lead of many other states.

Conservation Alabama has used their Databank in many other ways to reach their supporters. Using our e-Marketing software module, with automatic email tracking, they have sent monthly e-newsletters and saw open rates similar to their action alerts. They also sent an e-mail appeal on Earth Day, which was considered a success simply because of the low cost of sending it.

Finally, they have sent two direct mail pieces since signing on with thedatabank, and are seeing response rates of about 6% and average gifts of more than $70. According to Adam, “What that tells me is there’s giving potential in our list – we just need to cultivate it.”

Conservation Alabama is Adam’s second stint at being an Executive Director and he has learned a lot along the way. He offered this advice to other Executive Directors looking to grow their organizations, “You must do your homework and get your systems in place. Don’t let the excuse of “too much program work” get in the way of fundraising and member contact online, in print, and in person. Quite often, I think we get so caught up in what we are doing and always have done, that we trap ourselves from capitalizing on innovative new programs and systems.”

He added, “Take time to stop, breathe, and don’t be afraid to change things up to make your life easier in the long-run. We all have too much to do, but those executive directors who succeed don’t only work harder, they work smarter. That’s what I’m trying to do my second go-around.”

To learn more about Conservation Alabama, visit www.conservationalabama.org or call (205) 533-6178

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