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About the Company: 

When a donor sponsors a participant in the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure, Convio's software delivers the money.

Ten-year-old Convio provides fundraising, communications and advocacy solutions to non-profit organizations looking to get more out of their interactions with donors and constituents. For organizations pursing an advocacy campaign, Convio's products allow supporters to communicate with one another, form groups, and mobilize to raise money. For example, Convio drives the Race for the Cure website's ability to facilitate signing up for the race, forming teams and supporting individual participants.

"We do a really good job of covering all of the core competencies that a nonprofit needs to have," says Meg Murphy, Convio's director of marketing and programs.

Where they're concerned, that begins with constituent management. One of Convio's own core competencies is its database software, which tracks donor contact information, preferences, and demographics. That allows nonprofits to reach donors the way they want to be reached, Murphy explains — online, if they'd like, or by mail or a phone call if that's what they'd prefer.

The fundraising-centric approach Convio takes is rooted in the company's origins, Murphy says. Founder Vinay Bhagat was volunteering at a phone-a-thon drive when he was hit with an idea: Technology could make fundraising more efficient. So, after talking it out with over one thousand nonprofit executives, Bhagat founded Convio in 1999.

Software Summary: 

Convio's constituent relationship management software, Common Ground, is targeted to organizations that want a consolidated, streamlined database for all of their donor information, and track all the interactions they have with their volunteers and constituents. It can also track your vendors, program recipients, and so on. Convio seeks to provide additional value through an open API so organizations can develop their own applications with the ability to interact with that central database.

Convio offers separate solutions for advocacy, content management, e-commerce, e-mail marketing, fundraising and donations. There are also packages for personal and team fundraising, such as the set-ups that Race for the Cure uses for people to form race teams, become team leaders and collect sponsorships online.

Convio's event management software allows nonprofits to track who attends or volunteers at which events, so users can identify their most active supporters. Advocacy tools include the ability to create legislator scorecards, generate action alerts, and target messages towards constituents based on what the constituents say are issues that matter to them. Supporters are also "helped" with letters to the editor, and top advocates can be identified to receive rewards.

An e-commerce product allows nonprofits to infer interest from purchases, and target messages to constituents based on those purchases.

An all-in-one package, Convio Go!, offers one year of some products from Convio's marketing, fundraising and advocacy toolbox, technical support and training, and some help with campaign strategy and execution.
Like many shops, the firm will sit down and work out customized solutions for people willing to foot the cost.

Convio is focused forward on the way social networking and mobile applications will become of greater use to the fundraising world. Convio software can already be partnered with other platforms for SMS text messaging.

"One of the things that has really been exciting ... [is the] integration with Facebook and how people are tapping [the] Facebook community, not just for the fundraising area but it's just a way to reach a whole new generation of donors and establish a relationship with them," says Murphy.

Convio is also working on making communications along existing channels — social media, e-mail, mobile and in the real world — easier to use.

All of Convio's software is hosted by the company — clients don't download a thing, and pay monthly for access.

Client Quick-Take: 
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Race for the Cure uses Convio to allow racers to form teams and solicit donations.
  • In June 2008, America's Second Harvest of Wisconsin entered the Convio Go! program, which bundled support and training with web page, e-mail communication and fundraising tools.
Client Close-Up: 

Murphy, Convio's director of marketing and programs, says her clients are taking greater advantage of her firm's software to network and mobilize supporters.

"One of the things that came out of this Obama campaign was this grassroots, youth-driven theme of participation," she said.

Convio clients are taking an increased interest in how they can reach out to people who don't yet have the assets to donate money, but have other valuable commodities to offer: time and energy. Where organizations might not have previously considered taking legislative action, the Internet makes it easier for them to cultivate the necessary support and use it.

Murphy says that customers have had plenty of time to experiment with social media, and Convio expects to meet a demand for the kind of granularity and control in social media interactions that clients already have when they use long-established tools like e-mail.

The firm focuses on making its clients' costs predictable and delivering an easily visible return on investment.

Quick Facts


Subscriber fees from $1,000 a month; Set-up usually runs between $500-$1,000; A basic Convio Go! package starts at $500/month for online marketing and advocacy. Common Ground starts at $100/month per seat. Database migration not included.

Example Clients: 

Susan G. Komen Foundation; Cancer Action Network; NARAL Pro-Choice America

Year Founded: 
345 full-time
For the online market, $57.0 million 2008
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