How One Company Used CRM & BIG DATA to Raise Over $300 Million for Local Schools
If you have a healthy skepticism of how the information you share online may be used, you’ll be relieved to hear that the power of BIG DATA is also being used for the individual and collective GOOD. Companies like Salesforce are mining demographics to help non-profit organizations target (and re-target) giving campaign donors in a more personal way, and the access they have to your information is paying off in a BIG WAY at the hyper-local level for classrooms across the country.
History Teacher Made History Using Data Analytics to Solve a BIG Problem (and Raise BIG Money)
When Charles Best was a history teacher at a college in the Bronx, he frequently had to dip into his own meager salary to help purchase classroom supplies and fund educational projects. Well, he didn’t have to do this, but he realized the importance of these things to his students’ education. Since the school budget could not accommodate the items and funding his classroom needed, he—like so many underpaid and overworked teachers in the U.S—put the needs of his students ahead of his own needs and used his own money to fund his classroom (Customer Success Stories: Donors-Choose).
One day, it occurred to Best that this problem was not unique to his classroom and that he wasn’t the only teacher sacrificing personal well-being for the good of the many. Figuring (correctly, as it turns out) that if people realized there was a need in their own community, they would want to help out, he created the non-profit DonorsChoose.org and contracted with the customer relationship management (CRM) platform Salesforce and the cloud-based analytics tool Exact Giving so that teachers in any community could use BIG DATA to make giving “truly personal” and target prospective donors at the hyper-local level, no matter how much money they could afford to give.
“The Salesforce platform and Exact Giving targeting cloud enable us [to target] your interests, favorite author, a sport you played in high school…it’s about enabling someone who may just have $1 to be a full-fledged philanthropist.”
Since its founding in 2000, DonorsChoose.org has raised over $300 million, helping to provide books technology, art supplies, and funding for field trips to 13 million kids and 225,000 teachers. Over 60 percent of the public schools in the United States have already benefited from the organization’s fundraising efforts, and Best says his platform is innovating to expand their vision. For example, they’ve recently partnered with Code.org to provide over a half-million dollars for computer coding instruction in classrooms across the U.S.
“Beyond the supplies we provide, we think we can be a force for education reform,” he says.
Using Effective Re-targeting to Inspire Current Donors to Keep Giving
DonorsChoose CMO Katie Bisbee says she uses the Salesforce platform to maintain an engaging connection with donors and to “…give them a story that’s meaningful and that will speak to them.” Using the Exact Targeting marketing cloud, with donor data from the Salesforce platform, she says they can “customize and personalize” the emails they send. (Customer Success Stories: Donors-Choose)
“If we’re sending a Back-to-School classroom appeal, and we’re sending it in Chicago, we’re able to pull in a classroom project that might be down the street from [the donor’s] home,” she says, adding, “This school year, we’ll deliver 63 million dollars to classrooms. Twenty percent of that will come from people responding to emails we’ve sent.”
Personalize Automated Customer Interactions
By managing donor and customer data and tracking the interactions throughout the life cycle of an organization and its campaigns, CRM software like Salesforce can automate the workflow, keep track of productivity and donations, and add personal touches to the donor experience.
Integrating the marketing and fundraising efforts across email and social media platforms can help organizations get noticed, share their brand message, and increase engagement between the public and the organization. The reporting and analytics features allow organizations to better-target their campaigns, understand their donors, and drive their messages to individual and group demographics that are likely to resonate with it.
Roughly half of the monies raised by DonorsChoose.org comes from crowd-sourced campaigns and individual donors. Partner companies and foundations are responsible for the other 50 percent.
Bisbee says DonorsChoose.org has increased their donor conversion rate by 300 % since enlisting the help of the Salesforce platform - evidence that at least some of the information collected on your online interactions is being used for good.
Do you have thoughts about crowdsourcing or BIG DATA? Share them in the comments below!
Customer Success Stories: Donors-Choose. (n.d.). Retrieved from Salesforce: https://www.salesforce.com/customer-success-stories/donors-choose/
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