Engaging Veterans with CRM

If you’re into using technology to engage people in a mission, you’ve gotta check out this very impressive video. This is a friend, Sam Dorman describing a project he worked on with the folks at Biro Creative and Etherios for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). It’s a very sophisticated front-end website that’s built on top of IAVA’s Salesforce.com database. The goal of this Rucksack project was to automate and thereby dramatically scale up IAVA’s ability to distribute various partner organization rewards to the IAVA’s membership of US veterans.

Warning: Geek alert! You gotta be at least a little bit into the technology thing to appreciate this one. From my perspective though, it’s very cool and gives you a real sense of what’s possible when nonprofits get serious about using technology to be of real service to constituents.

This is an example of a technology project that makes a difference. The Rucksack project enables IAVA to:

  • Scale their service offering to a level of outreach that would have been otherwise unachievable
  • Automate their business processes, which leads to improvements in staff efficiency and increased quality of service through minimizing human error
  • Improve flexibility and responsiveness – the ability to quickly tweak the system in response to veteran member needs, and do so without a degree in rocket science

But these are all just some of the intermediary outcomes. The real impact is in the organization’s increased ability to serve its constituents – veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. IAVA has already seen a nice uplift in signups from veterans around the country, but even that’s not what really matters. What matters is that IAVA has used the new site to distribute thousands of new suits to help veterans, hoping to be more polished and professional in their job interviews. If you were unaware, unemployment for veterans is extremely high right now. The Labor Department just announced that unemployment for veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afganistan now stands at nearly 21%! So this is hugely important. What matters also is that the website has given away thousands of free tickets to sporting events around the country, and acting as a catalyst for reconnecting veterans, who may not have seen one another in years. It’s helping to build community and bring a little bit of happiness and connection for this community of people who have given so much in service of their country.

This is best practice in engagement and CRM. Well worth looking at…



  1. Sam Dorman and this entire collaboration are know for delivering very innovative products. This type of innovation is the future. When you think about how well this tool works for IAVA’s mission it is inspiring to all of us who dream of transforming social missions with well thought out technical solutions.