United Way gets local branches marching in time on digital engagement

Jessica Twentyman Profile picture for user jtwentyman December 12, 2019
Global non-profit provides shared services for digital-campaign technology and content to far-flung branches, so that they can concentrate on making their impact felt locally

United Way logo

Think global, act local. For a non-profit with a reach like United Way, it’s the best way to make a real difference in delivering health, education and financial stability across an incredibly diverse set of communities. It’s work that has recently included training 8,000 people for in-demand jobs in Cincinnati, Ohio; building 600 classrooms in the Philippines; and distributing 50,000 mosquito nets in Uganda.

In the US alone, there are some 1,200 local United Way offices - and the job of helping them to ‘flex their digital muscles’ when it comes to reaching out to supporters falls to a team led by Amy Floryan, director of digital engagement on United Way’s digital service team.

One side of this team gives employees working in these local branches one-on-one support to implement digital campaigns and the content they need to make them as effective as possible, she explains; the other side supports the tools it offers them, on a shared-services basis, to implement and track those campaigns, namely Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Social Studio. Says Floryan:

More and more local United Ways are now onboarding to get digital services support. We do this by centralising the technology and the expertise, but extending it to them, so that they can take advantage of them without needing dedicated staff on their own teams. Our goal is to create efficiencies for our local offices so that they can concentrate on the impact and work in their communities.

We provide six digital campaigns per quarter for them to customise and engage users on a variety of platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email marketing and deliver content for all of those campaigns across all of those channels. They can take those campaigns and customise for their own communities, so they can insert their own individual programmes, and stories, and impact numbers so that these resonate in their local areas And the technology platform gives them an enterprise architecture to be working from, without having to invest and implement their own tools and technology.”

Single contact record model

The segmentation of Salesforce is such that, when an administrator from a local United Way logs into Marketing Cloud, for example, they only see their own branch’s data, but an overarching contact record model means that supporters who live in one area and work in another, for example, get a consistent experience of engagement by various relevant United Way branches. That shared contact record is a work in progress, but with a very important end goal, says Floryan:

We’re always looking at new ways to create automated journeys within Marketing Cloud, so a lot of times we look for how we can integrate donation forms and email sign-ups by volunteers and event registrations to reflect that people can interact with us in all sorts of ways. A volunteer can be a donor and an event attendee, and we want to be sure we’re capturing all data that relates to them and enriching that contact record so we can then automate the appropriate messages to those persons.

Floryan’s team provides monthly training sessions for local United Way branches on how best to use Marketing Cloud and Social Studio, as well as a wide range of tip sheets and other learning resources. And a case management system is implemented, also based on Salesforce, so that local branches can access the assistance of a digital services specialist if they run into specific problems.

But aside from this, her team has also been engaged more recently in a big push on email marketing, via Marketing Cloud, with a view to making these communications richer, more personalised and more compelling for recipients. Results have included a 90% increase in open rates when targeting new donors and a 42% increase in click-to-open rates targeting new leads, she says. They’re now using Journey Templates to save time on implementing campaigns and reduce human error by being able to copy pre-built journeys and share them with United Ways around the world.

That’s important, because building and deploying email campaigns can be incredibly time-consuming if you’re doing it from scratch, each and every time, and then manually checking them for accuracy. So Salesforce’s Journey Templates automate much of the work around building and deploying a campaign that is perhaps part of a nationwide events programme, but needs to be targeted to a specific audience and specific times and locations. Here, the company’s Einstein artificial intelligence capabilities are increasingly playing a role in providing recommended content, text or journey paths. Says Floryan:

Really, everything we do comes down to delivering efficiency, so that our local United Ways are able to concentrate on the real work they do in their communities every day, without the distraction of technology concerns. We’re an extension of their team - and we’re proud to be able to support them in this way.

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