Salesforce is changing the face of NGOs  

Author: Heidi Ojamaa

It is hard not to notice people’s love for charity. Charity TV programs collect millions and millions of euros every year, and the interest in donating keeps growing. However, from the point of view of non-profit organizations, it is important that donors still reach them. We recently talked about how NGOs can make themselves more visible in digital channels and manage their processes at an event organized in our Tallinn office together with Salesforce.

A non-profit organization is one of the most complex organizations by nature. They have an insane amount of different processes side by side. NGOs have a number of stakeholders, they have a number of private donors, usually also state grants, they need to train and manage volunteers. Once they have collected the grants, they have to start distributing them. Occasionally they offer other services for which they charge money.

On average, NGOs need to manage and monitor at least ten different processes. Reports are required at each point, as each party wants to see what has actually become of their contribution.

As it stands today, most of them still have this whole mess in Excel or on an email, where all the agreements are written. Or on that white sheet of paper that the cleaner throws away on the wrong day.

NGOs carry the burden of the past

At LeverUP, we help companies and organizations adopt Salesforce every day. Salesforce tracks very closely what is happening in each industry and what the degree of digitization is. Today, it can be said that NGOs are in the worst position: if you evaluate how digitally traceable and transparent an organization is, then in the case of NGOs, this level is globally at 20 percent. More and more people turn to LeverUP because they see that digitization is urgently needed.

We have one burden that we carry with us from the past. It is expected that every last donated euro will arrive in a targeted manner. At the same time, it is forgotten that besides charity, money is also spent on administrative activities. Due to this expectation, attempts have always been made to cut corners at the expense of administrative activities.

Today, we have reached a situation where salaries have increased, and even if we use volunteers in the work, their management is also a separate process. It can be seen that really all organizations are starting to reach a point where they understand the need for customer management and marketing software. In the case of NGOs, marketing is actually like stakeholder management, i.e. the management of all interested parties. Only one part of it is related to money and donations, the other is the constant promotion of the worldview.

How to get people to donate?

For NGOs, the customer journey is very similar to any purchase journey. First of all, you feel like you want to improve the world. Then you start looking for information, which is the best place to donate – in which organization you will see the most benefit. Once the decision is made, a situation is reached where the shortest route is chosen for donation. This means that the donation process needs to be made so easy that it can be done digitally with more or less a few clicks. This is the first pain point that needs to be addressed – if a person wants to donate, how can they do it easily?

Once the donation is made, the heart will not be satisfied until you know that your support has been useful. Therefore, the organization needs to announce what has been done with this money. If people are kept informed regularly, they are more likely to become repeat donors. It is much easier for NGOs than for ordinary companies, as donors are usually really interested and want to know what is being done and how. Communication is much more open.

In fact, it is not enough to involve people just to keep them informed about the activities of the NGO. People are most involved when they can put their hands on it themselves – when they see with their own eyes how their help arrived. This is the next important part of marketing – organizing events and how to invite people to them. During each process described above, we have collected enough information about people that we can start sending them personal invitations. Whereas it is not even necessarily important that every donor comes to the event – above all, it is necessary to inform them that we do such things as well and that there is an opportunity to actually come. There are certainly people who do not find time to come, but it is important that they realize that there is such a great opportunity.

“Physical” events are also useful because people are much more likely to share their information on the spot. Digitally, it’s always a bit tricky – people are suspicious and think they don’t know what’s going to happen to that data. If they are really there, everyone will see that we are out for a great cause.

Automation is not only convenient, but also effective

In Salesforce, we have a tool like Advertising Studio. The eight most important social media platforms are brought together there and through it we can start targeted advertising on social media. We already have a hypothetical knowledge of who we are targeting – we know who should see the ad, who will click. Depending on which ad you arrive at, we form different segments of you and collect information about what you’ve clicked on. Thanks to this, we can already send you the following messages much more precisely. A personal email will be generated for you according to your profile. All this activity is automated, there is no human involved. I believe that all activities that are repetitive and boring in the long run should be automated. The quality of life increases if these processes are eliminated.

Automation not only makes work more convenient, but also more effective. Just recently we worked on a series of events: we automated marketing, sent letters, SMS and later a photo gallery. The number of regular donors increased by 70 percent compared to previous events. It is not a question of not being able to organize events before – what is important is a more broad-based campaign that reaches people according to their wishes.

The role of volunteers is also very important at NGOs. If you want to keep your volunteers properly, it means that you have developed a whole program for them: how you train them, how you keep them informed, what you ask them to do. Salesforce offers a separate solution designed for NGOs (it is also suitable for various associations and foundations, there is no difference in essence). Your entire contact network is saved on the sales platform. This means that contacts are created in a way that exactly meets the needs of your organization. If we talk about volunteers, in some cases it is important to know whether he has a driver’s license, what language he speaks, whether he has been vaccinated, etc. – this information is all available in one place on the platform, and the right person can be contacted immediately.

You don’t have to know everything yourself

Everything starts with people’s awareness – there is a lot of different knowledge in the world and you can’t have all of it at the same time. Therefore, it is important to involve the right person in order to achieve the best result. The financial side of involving a specialist is often feared – since it costs money, it is thought that we should do it ourselves. In fact, you don’t need the best digital platform at all to take the first steps. In the beginning, it would be necessary to involve the people who will help you design these processes. We represent the largest and strongest platform, but in fact there are also all kinds of smaller tools, and the first steps can also be taken with a simpler solution.

When we go to our customers, we listen to them, take apart all the processes, see what we can do better. Some things remain a distant dream, some others can be done quite quickly. Salesforce has created a separate product line aimed at non-profit organizations. Best of all, its core services are free for NGOs with up to ten employees.


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