Charity has never been an easy arena to work in, and it's only getting more difficult, as the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan (CCSSK) can attest. The organization, which attracts 200,000 supporters and close to 10,000 volunteers in a community of 1 million, had been struggling in recent years to raise funds during its annual Relay for Life, an event conducted by numerous cancer society chapters that supports research and services for those living with cancer. During the event, teams camp out overnight on a running track, taking turns participating in a range of activities.
"Our participant retention has been low, and the number of people who participate and raise zero dollars has been increasing," Catherine Moore, senior director of strategic engagement and platform development at CCSSK, says. "That's obviously a problem."
One issue was that volunteers, many of whom solicit donations through phone calls, were growing resentful of their workload. "Increasingly, [they] have been complaining," Moore says. "It's hard to make a cold call when you don't really know the person."
Most importantly, Moore noticed these callers were struggling to connect over the phone in a way that felt genuine. Without a strong system in place, it would be hard to amend the issue. Seeing that multichannel engagement had successfully helped raise revenue in sales-related streams, Moore decided to apply similar methods to Relay for Life.
After reviewing the available options at Dreamforce 2013, the organization turned to NewVoiceMedia for assistance in engaging potential supporters. CCSSK implemented the ContactWorld Omni-Channel Engagement Centre to prep for its 2014 Relay for Life.
ContactWorld integrates with Salesforce.com and provides callers with information that has been logged into their CRM systems, displaying the reports on dashboards. The program also tracks past calls and logs successful interactions that can be accessed by anyone using the system. With this view, the callers can draw from supporters' profiles to better prepare for each interaction. "The types of information [our callers] might have about those people [includes] past participation, past volunteer [work], where they live, what event they've participated in in the past, [as well as] what their specific connection to cancer is, and, if they're a cancer survivor, what type of cancer they had," Moore says. "That gives people a lot of information to engage in conversation."
Moore says the system is also easy for an administrator to navigate without guidance. Part of the appeal for her was that she can use it herself to perform tasks that used to take time and money. For instance, a change that used to take 10 days to make can now be completed in 30 seconds. "We [once] had to cancel an event because the weather was terrible—there's no way I could have [taken] ten days to change the call routing."
CCSSK implemented a control group consisting of call captains from previous years and a 365-day engagement journey group consisting of four new customer care reps. Each of the new reps used ContactWorld for their calls to talk to participants. Those on the engagement journey track saw considerably better results than those in the control group.
Over the year-long trial, those who received guided coaching calls which relied on the NewVoiceMedia solution raised an average of 225 percent more money than those who didn't. CCSSK also saw a 30 percent increase in participant retention and a 70 percent boost in pledges.
Furthermore, the organization noted an increase in positive sentiment from volunteers, Moore says. "Something like 90 percent were positive about their experience... And that really surprised us because we'd been dealing with unhappy volunteers who didn't like the workload that came with the event and participants who weren't happy with the event itself."
During the first year using the method, Moore says her agency's goal was to test how well the system would work to stimulate engagement. And though the event didn't meet its revenue target, CCSSK has high hopes for next year. "The more engaged a participant is, the more likely [he is] to come back and to raise more money."
In the coming year, CCSSK plans to implement NewVoiceMedia's soon-to-be-released live chat features, as well as leverage its other analytics capabilities to further its fundraising efforts.
Since implementing NewVoiceMedia's ContactWorld Omni-Channel Engagement Centre, the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan has seen:
- An average of 225 percent more funds raised;
- A 30 percent increase in participant retention;
- A 70 percent boost in pledges; and
- More positive feedback from volunteers.