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Connecting Homeless Guests to Support Services using Marketing Cloud

Launched in 2010, Sydney Homeless Connect is a nonprofit connecting people who are at risk or experiencing homelessness with services and care providers to help them move forward. This work culminates in a one-day event every year, where the organization brings together volunteers in the community to offer their services and support. Each event relies on Sydney Homeless Connect organizing a network of volunteers and service providers to provide people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness with support and services. With the help of Marketing Could and Sales Cloud, Sydney Homeless Connect is finding better ways to reach and connect with all of its constituents.

One Hundred Percent Volunteer Driven

Sydney Homeless Connect focuses on actions and outcomes that put those at risk or experiencing homelessness down a path toward progress. Each annual event brings volunteers and service providers together with homeless guests to provide whatever services are most needed and can be provided immediately – whether it is a hot meal, haircut, medical care, or access to an agency that can help. While the organization’s staff communicate with and coordinate volunteers throughout the year, the services and support on the day are one hundred percent volunteer-driven.

Roughly ten members of Sydney Homeless Connect’s organizing team coordinate across the 350 volunteers, 80 service providers, and 2,500 at risk or experiencing homelessness who converge at each year’s event. The success of the event relies on year-round outreach and relationship building. Over time, the organization’s outreach and relationship management had become muddled: staff were each storing data and conducting outreach in different ways, while a network of local volunteer chapters added their own tangled web of sites and communication tools.

After deciding to wipe the slate clean on their outreach and storage practices, staff set out to build a new strategy focused on connecting and communicating with all of their constituents in a more effective way. Sydney Homeless Connect started by refocusing on Salesforce as its core CRM.

Building Better Outreach with Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud

To kick-off the organization’s new strategy, Sales Cloud was set up as the foundation for centralizing relationship management, with all information on volunteers and service providers organized on the platform. The previous mismatch of solutions – disjointed data storage and communication tools built adhoc – was now replaced by a simple, organized, centralized system.

Once Sales Cloud was up and running, the team focused on cleaning up communications with event volunteers. To streamline outreach, the organization migrated to Marketing Cloud, which is now driving all of the organization’s communications. Sydney Homeless Connect is now reaching, listening to, and responding to its constituents more efficiently.

Sydney Homeless Connect

“With Marketing Cloud, we can optimize the communication channels that are available to us for the right purposes. And get the right results from each one of them,” remarks Andrew Everingham, Sydney Homeless Connect’s founder and CEO.

Previously, information for the event’s sixteen different volunteer roles was distributed in one email. With the deluge of information, volunteers would show up late, arrive unprepared, or, in the worst case, drop out. By leveraging Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder, the organization is now able to send volunteers role-specific emails, making the message and expectations much clearer. The organization also created 19 content-specific landing pages to better respond to incoming inquiries. Everingham notes, “Retention of volunteers on the day has become so much easier because the communication is clear, they know what they’re expected to do, they know when they’re expected to arrive. And simple things like processing people as they come in the morning to be put into their groups on the day has become so much easier because, using Marketing Cloud, we’re communicating with them in a much more synced and specific way.”

Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio tracks what is happening on social media within Sydney Homeless Connect’s ecosystem. Staff receive critical information about volunteer interest, guest needs, as well as any same-day issues that may arise at the event. Social Studio also tracks interactions with Sydney Homeless Connect’s volunteer communications Staff can identify which outbound communications are successful by tracking volunteers’ responses to email, calls, and SMS, and adapt outreach accordingly. With staff’s newfound ability to gain insights into the organization’s outbound marketing efforts, they are able to adjust campaigns in real-time. “That sort of feedback is making us a lot more efficient. I can’t even qualify how much better it is now than what it used to be, going back to even three years ago,” remarks Everingham.

An Omni-Channel Approach

In order to ensure individuals in Sydney’s homeless community knew where to reach out for help throughout the year, Sydney Homeless Connect organized a list of services and organizations into a pocket-sized book. As staff learned more about their guest community –and the fact that 95 percent have mobile phones and most are smartphones – they realized that their Guide Book had to evolve. Now, guests can either find a digitized version of the Guide Book on the website, or, leveraging Marketing Cloud’s Mobile Studio, send a text to Sydney Homeless Connect for a direct link. This evolution was critical: a digitized Guide Book meant one less thing to carry, but those resources would never be lost and were always accessible online.

Inadvertently, these text services became an important channel to connect with guests. Guests reaching out for the Guide Book link would often follow up with other questions. Over time, Sydney Homeless Connect became a conduit to connect guests with partner organizations that were better equipped to support and respond to requests. Organically, Sydney Homeless Connect’s texting services has closed a service gap that could save lives.

A Simpler, Better System of Communicating

Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud have brought tremendous gains in organization and efficiency, offering a simple yet scalable solution. Where social media marketing used to be clunky and manual, staff now use social media monitoring to respond to needs in real time, helping events run smoothly and improving the experience for all constituents. With the organization’s network of volunteers and service providers receiving more personalized, targeted communications- there has been an increase in clarity of responsibility and a reduction in volunteer dropouts.

Most importantly, these solutions are being provided to all of Sydney Homeless Connect’s constituents through effective channels they use, and in real-time – whether it is getting resources directly into the hands of those affected by homelessness, or offering more opportunities for supporters to create impact. One impressive finding is that guests that Sydney Homeless Connect serves at one event often return as volunteers in subsequent years. According to Everingham, guests’ support for Sydney Homeless Connect is the true measure of their services’ value to the community.

Using Every Resource to Support Sydney’s Homeless Community

Sydney Homeless Connect wants to make sure they aren’t leaving anything on the table. This means continuing to think innovatively about how to reach untapped giving, including offers of support not linked to the annual event. To make these connections, the organization’s SHCiPledge allows supporters to post their interest and offers of support. Sydney Homeless Connect is now exploring ways to automate and create governance around the use of Social Studio to connect these supporters to partnership opportunities in their community. The organization plans to further build out their personalized marketing journeys and communications for supporters. With smarter ways to leverage resources, Sydney Homeless Connect is making sure its homeless community is connected in an effective way to the services and support they most need.