The Importance of Integration

The Importance of Integration

When organizations go looking for new advocacy tools, the emphasis is almost always on features. Does it do patch-through calling? How’s the text function? What kind of conversion rates are people seeing?

Less interesting—but arguably more important—is how your new tools will integrate with your existing technology stack. 

The flow of data between your CRM or AMS system and your advocacy software is vital. It ensures that information about your audience is captured properly and that your database is accurate. It also reduces work, increases efficiency and makes your operation more secure.

It gets your new system up and running faster, too. And usually at less cost.

To learn more about new advocacy tools, download our guide, How to Shop for Advocacy Software

The Value of Existing Integrations

The best way to ensure that your new tools play well with your existing systems is to choose an advocacy solution that is already integrated with your current software. 

Custom integrations add complexity. While it is true that a custom integration can give you more control over your final product, it comes at great cost. Custom integrations are expensive, take more time to execute and—importantly—are not proven under real-world conditions. You are building something from scratch and therefore taking chances. 

A preexisting integration is the very opposite. It’s an integration created by two companies to accommodate large numbers of customers just like you. It’s battle-tested and ready to use. All integrations take some time to implement, but seamless pre-built integrations take far less. They are designed to be setup quickly. 

For example, thousands of organizations use Blackbaud Luminate Online for fundraising and marketing. To serve customers engaged in advocacy, Blackbaud integrates with Phone2Action, giving them powerful grassroots tools that integrate smoothly into their existing system. Effective advocacy organizations like the National Parks Conservation Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement use this configuration.         

When advocates get active, signing a petition or contacting a lawmaker, Phone2Action shares that information with Luminate, including basics like campaign name and date; the type of activity, such as email, tweet or phone call; and key segmentation data, such as tags or custom fields. The integration features a dashboard that shows which records synced today and which are pending. 

The result is a complete system with reliable data flow that can be configured quickly.

Navigating Integration

If your organization is shopping for advocacy tools, here are some ideas to consider in order to integrate easily with your existing technology. 

  • Start with the CRM or AMS in use at your organization and find out what integrations exist. Using a solution with an existing integration can be your quickest and most reliable option. 
  • Get your technologists involved early to assess how a new system will work with what you have in place. If they cannot be fully involved, ask them to make a detailed list of questions you can ask.
  • Look for advocacy solutions that integrate widely. The best advocacy systems integrate with all major vendors such as Blackbaud.
  • Ask your rep about how data flows to and from the advocacy system. Anything that involves manual work should be looked at with a skeptical eye.

Custom integrations have their place. For large organizations with a full tech shop, it may be a viable option. But customization costs money and time, and it must be supported for the life of the system. In most situations, organizations looking for professional advocacy tools can find a quicker and more reliable path. 

As Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action, put it, “Moving to a new system does not have to be a tectonic shift. We see organizations do it every day. It’s one of the few things you can do to energize your program in a way that lasts.” 

To learn more about new advocacy tools, download our guide, How to Shop for Advocacy Software

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