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The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI)

Nonprofit revamps Salesforce and boosts revenue whilst helping service users access personalised content through Amazon Alexa integration.
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New fundraising channel and AI-powered service supported by Salesforce

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) supports adults and children with vision loss in Ireland, fighting to give them the same opportunities, rights, and choices as everybody else. In 2018, it decided to revamp its Salesforce implementation to generate greater value for the organisation and the people it supports – and incredible things happened. By using data to take a more people-centric approach, NCBI opened new online fundraising channels that generate 75 times more revenue per month and attract 1,500 new fundraisers.

It also put service users firmly in control of their data via a self-service portal and gave them personalised access to a carefully curated audio library of the latest news, e-books, and verified medical content by connecting Salesforce with Amazon Alexa. NCBI plans to offer this as a white-label service to other nonprofits to make advances in AI more inclusive for society’s most vulnerable people.

  • 3x
    more cases handled per agent
  • 75%
    increase in online funds raised per month
  • 100
    new recurring donations, and growing each month

Getting closer to members

Sometimes, having the right technology is only half the battle. How it’s implemented is what really counts.

NCBI has been using Salesforce since 2014. But in 2018, Chief Technology Officer, Kyran O’Mahoney, felt like he’d hit a wall. “We used Salesforce to manage existing service users and report to the Health Service Executive (HSE), but I realised there was a huge opportunity to use our data to create greater value for everyone,” he explained.

The organisation had big ambitions. It decided to improve case management, track service users on its website, and create more self-serve capabilities.

As well as making services more accessible, it wanted to give all users a more personalised experience – whether they engage with NCBI for support, to purchase equipment, or to raise funds.

But even capturing consent for marketing communications was challenging, and data needed to be cleaned up before it could be made actionable.

“Having accurate information on donors is vital for a nonprofit. The last thing you want to do is send a personalised fundraising letter to someone who’s passed away, for example,” added O’Mahoney.

Getting to know users was also important to adopt what NCBI calls a ‘household model’ – working alongside Eyecare Liaison Officers (ECLO) to support blind and visually impaired children and their families both individually and as a household.

There was a huge opportunity to use Salesforce to create more value for everyone.” Kyran O’Mahoney, Chief Technology Officer, NCBI, and Founder & Director of IA Labs
The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI)

Automation and improved processes leading to streamlined experiences

NCBI worked with Salesforce Customer Success, and partners ENCLUDE and Xenogenix, to rebuild its website and connect it to Salesforce.

The myNCBI community – built on Experience Cloud – allows users to manage their own data and marketing preferences. Data around orders, browsing habits, and contact details are captured in real time to build a better picture of each user.

NCBI has automated processes such as case management – using Service Cloud as its ticketing system, with custom workflows to give users a personalised and more effecient experience.

Volunteer management is also smoother with 1,000 volunteers moving from spreadsheets to a central database on Salesforce.

Better visibility of people and processes is helping NCBI to identify and eliminate bottlenecks to give a more streamlined experience.

AI technology supporting digital inclusion

The myNCBI Smart Hub integration is where Salesforce really shines.

“During COVID we saw an increase in demand for training on voice-activated AI, like Amazon Alexa,” said O’Mahoney. “To engage with people living with visual impairment, we need to meet them where they are.”

O’Mahoney partnered with NCBI’s CEO to launch Inclusion & Accessibility Labs (IA Labs), an organisation focused on making the digital revolution more inclusive.

IA Labs developed an Alexa app for NCBI that integrates with Service Cloud to deliver curated audio content for service users and connect them with the support team.

For example, NCBI’s audio library is included, so users can ask Alexa to play audio recordings of newspapers. They can also ask for information about their condition, about NCBI, or request a call back. User information is passed to the support team so they call with their full case history in front of them.

“It’s important that children feel independent. They’re not relying on their parents for information, they can ask Alexa and get immediate access to content that’s been verified by a medical professional,” said O’Mahoney.

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Opening new revenue streams

In just 18 months, NCBI has totally transformed online fundraising. Before, the website didn’t attract new donors, but now, there are up to 2,000 new monthly sign ups. Online fundraising has increased from approximately €200 to €15,000 per month.

“We hadn’t focused onour website as a fundraising channel before, but now we’ve got the data to create more targeted experiences and show people how much we value them,” said O’Mahoney. “The project has paid for itself three times over.”

The service team has also seen efficiency gains in handling cases – going from handling calls to cases to ensure everything is tracked and actioned. myNCBI Smart Hub isn’t just benefitting NCBI service users. The company plans to white label it and offer it to other nonprofits at a low price.

As for Salesforce, NCBI plans to invest more in self-service. Users will be able to track open cases from the community and the team is rolling out online appointment scheduling.

“Eventually, we’d like to launch a social media network for people with visual impairments. The community will be connected to Salesforce and will be a place for peer support and one-to-one conversations with our team,” said O’Mahoney.

For now, Salesforce is providing additional support to help NCBI explore reporting and analytics to get even more value from its data.

Take your nonprofit to the next level.

About NCBI

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) is the country’s leading nonprofit supporting people who are blind or vision impaired. Its ambition is for the 7,000 people it supports to have the same opportunities, rights, and choices as others so they can fully participate in society.