Why Technology is More Important Than Ever for NFPs
2 February 2016 at 9:55 am
Technology is enabling an ongoing transformation in the Not for Profit sector, from the way supporters engage with charities to the way they fundraise, market and manage relationships with their constituents, writes Andrew Hill, Not for Profit Account Executive at Salesforce.org.
Technology has empowered consumers to redefine the way they interact with brands. Cloud, social and mobile technologies have fuelled new rules of engagement based on transparency, immediacy and 1:1 relationships.
This is no different for Not for Profits. Now more than ever, technology is enabling an ongoing transformation in the sector, from the way supporters engage with their favorite charities to the way NFP organisations fundraise, market and manage relationships with their constituents.
These organisations, charged with addressing some of the world’s toughest global, social and local problems are often not armed with the best tools and technology to solve them. For a long time, NFPs have been stigmatised for being inefficient, non-transparent and ineffective.
But things are changing. Having been part of the NFP sector for the last 10 years, I have seen dramatic changes from the way NFPs have embraced innovation to the way technology has improved efficiency and operations within organisations and, most importantly, the difference technology has made to the lives of those who rely on these important services.
When our founders established Salesforce in 1999, they also created a new philanthropy model called 1-1-1, in which the company gives 1 per cent of our time, equity and products to NFPs.
From this, Salesforce.org was born, and it is today a self funded social enterprise that conducts all of Salesforce’s philanthropic activities. NFPs choose to partner with us because they share the same ethos of giving back and improving the communities they operate in. Driving the success of the NFP sector is a major focus for Salesforce.org.
The ways in which Salesforce technology can support NFPs can be broken down into six key areas:
Raise more resources: Cultivate lifelong relationships and secure support.
The number of newly formed NFPs has skyrocketed in the last few years, which means more charities are competing for philanthropic donations. Establishing and growing relationships is essential to leading a successful NFP. Salesforce provides NFPs with a 360 degree view of their organisation and helps manage relationships with donors, frontline fundraisers and volunteers.
Communicate more effectively and connect with individual constituents at scale.
In addition to establishing long term relationships, being seen as a relevant and important NFP to new donors, fundraisers and volunteers is also important. In the same way that brands must invest in marketing to attract new customers, so too do NFPs. Salesforce gives organisations a powerful 1:1 supporter platform to deliver highly personalised digital communications to any supporter, across any channel, be it email, social media or mobile.
Engage, strengthen and collaborate with the community.
Today’s supporters and volunteers don’t want to be passive observers. They want to be part of the solution. Collaboration among staff, donors, members, volunteers and other supporters is key to building alignment and accelerating an organisation’s mission. Salesforce creates secure environments to build communities that share the same interests, purpose or mission. The technology can be leveraged to build an army of advocates who engage and collaborate via social intranets, member communities and partner communities.
Deliver better programs and services.
In many instances, NFPs spend a significant amount of their time on admin involving spreadsheets, manual workflows, approvals and reporting. Salesforce automates these processes, freeing up time for NFPs to focus on managing and improving value-adding activities and services including case management, call centres and client service, program management and grants management.
Insight and transparency across the organisation.
Supporters want transparency – they want to know how their donations and volunteer time are making a difference. Salesforce connects information and data across entire organisations and enables them to provide accurate updates to constituents, find and share answers instantly, turn insights into collective action, and measure the impact of programs.
App development: Make impact faster and more broadly.
NFPs are increasingly building apps to spread their mission and reach a broader audience. In some cases, organisations are building apps to make their research more accessible to those that need it most. Salesforce enables NFPs to support their programs with custom apps by providing the platform, tools, integration and management required.
Two of Australia’s most effective NFPs have partnered with Salesforce to achieve many of the outcomes mentioned above.
Women’s Subscription Enterprise at The Big Issue.
The Big Issue is a Not for Profit social enterprise that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives. Since its inception in the UK in 1991, The Big Issue has grown to become the world’s most widely circulated street magazine. The profits from each copy sold go to the individual street vendor, providing them with work opportunities, income and, ultimately, a path out of homelessness and disadvantage.
In 2009, a study by The Big Issue in Australia found some women were reluctant to sell magazines on the streets, including those escaping domestic violence or caring for young children. The Big Issue designed a special enterprise to provide women with an alternative way to earn an income from the magazine – by working in subscription centres.
In 2014, Salesforce.org provided a grant for the Women’s Subscription Enterprise. The grant covered running costs for a subscription call centre in Sydney for one year, and includes funds for software, support and training.
The call centre is powered by Salesforce and is fast and easy to use for people with little call centre experience. It’s a safe, supportive environment that is helping disadvantaged women get their lives back on track. Call centre employees receive a casual wage to sell subscriptions over the phone to business and corporate customers, and pack magazines ready for sending. Salesforce staff also volunteer at the call centre on a regular basis to help employees sell more subscriptions.
The Women’s Subscription Enterprise runs in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
Foodbank Australia and its fight against hunger.
Foodbank is one of Australia’s largest relief organisations. Its aim is to get the most food to the most people in the most efficient way. In addition to providing 166,000 meals per day, Foodbank gathers surplus product from farmers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers, which it redistributes to more than 2,800 welfare agencies across Australia.
The problem is, Australia is a large country, which means cash donations are also critical for covering the cost of transportation.
There are a variety of touch-points between financial donors and the volunteers who interact with them. With no way to keep track of these interactions and their assigned owners, Foodbank was sending out a series of generic communications that were not always relevant to all audiences.
Foodbank partnered with Salesforce.org to underpin the donation process, giving the organisation the ability to send the right messages, to the right people at the right time. People can now engage more easily with Foodbank around their specific area of interest, whether it’s donating food, money or volunteering.
With clearer insights into volunteers and donors, Foodbank now coordinates efficiently between state offices and national headquarters. On an operational level, this means no more doubling up of effort, and more dollars channeled into the program. In partnership with Salesforce.org, Foodbank is realising its goal of ultimately ending hunger in Australia.
Innovation is enabling unprecedented transformation for NFP organisations. Unlike any other sector, this is where technology can play a fundamental role in improving the state of the world at both the micro and macro levels.
To better understand how your organisation can leverage Salesforce’s technology via our 1-1-1 model, please contact us here.