There’s been a transformational shift in the last number of years in the way that businesses engage with customers. The same catalysts that drive the corporate world to evolve also exists for charities. Whether it be a consumer or a constituent (supporter) one thing remains the same, their expectations are higher than ever. Charities recognise that with increased customer demands and competition they need to create a new type of digital experience. A journey that is both personalised and engaging and perhaps more importantly, differentiates them from the rest.
I’ve had the pleasure to work with many charities leading the way in digital engagement and am consistently inspired by their tenacity and how they constantly challenge themselves to meet the ever changing needs of their audiences.
Trócaire, the overseas development agency for the Catholic Church of Ireland is one of those charities. It’s a great example of a non-profit organisation that is using technology in innovative ways to deliver personalised and targeted communications to their donors without having to hire additional marketing employees.
I spoke to Philippe Magry, Digital Marketing Officer at Trócaire who offered me some insight into how the organisation approached its digital strategy and how technology continues to be fundamental for their donor engagement strategy.
How has Trócaire’s approach to donor engagement changed over the last few years?
It’s changed a lot, and that’s been driven by our leadership. Money is scarce for a lot of our donors. The old way of saying “thanks for the donation” was OK at the time, but now donors are more demanding more, they want a partnership. We knew we needed to provide personalised engagement to our constituents and to do this we needed a technology that could support our global operations. Salesforce is that system - everyone in the organisation uses it and it’s been particularly important in terms of our digital strategy and donor engagement.
How did you kick off your digital strategy?
We’re constantly looking at our competitors and also at market leaders from the commercial sector to see what’s trending, and where we can improve. We pride ourselves as being one of the leaders in the Irish market but we also need to keep our eyes on other markets too, to make sure we’re always on top of our game.
At the start, we did a little segmentation based on information in Salesforce, now we’re using Journey Builder to automate emails and power our donor journeys. There was a lot of work to be done early on, outside of the technology - that’s probably one of the most important things; really understanding what it is you want to achieve and having a framework before launch.
How important is personalisation to your donors?
Very important. There’s so much content and email out there today that unless it’s personalised and relevant, people won’t take notice. We always aim to send our donors messages that will resonate with them - at times we’re segmenting on 12 criteria, which is pretty advanced, when you consider that some charities (and companies too), don’t segment at all. What we’ve found is that people really want to understand the impact of their donation, and we’re able automate the sharing of this information because of Salesforce.
How is marketing automation helping you raise more funds?
Like most charities, we see the biggest influx of donations around the time of humanitarian crisis, like the Syrian Crisis and the East Africa Hunger Crisis, but our development programmes continue long after that. The goal is to turn those one off donations into recurring donations to support our broader work. Having the power to automate emails means we can do this much more easily. There’s only one person in my specific role around digital. If we didn’t have the automations, I would need at least another two people to support me - it’s saving us so much time and allowing us to create better donor experiences.
What impact does technology have on fundraising?
Right now, in terms of importance, technology is at the forefront. When it comes to charity donations, everyone needs to start thinking digital - it’s fast becoming the most efficient way to reach people. Today, digital makes up roughly 10% of our income, and I believe that will double if not triple in the next few years. For us to make the most of that opportunity, we need the technology to support us.