UNICEF Australia Gets Ahead of COVID Curve with Digitisation
UNICEF, which stands for United Nations Children’s Fund, grew from the aftermath of World War II to support vulnerable children around the world. Funded by voluntary contributions, the world’s largest children’s charity aims to improve the lives of every child, everywhere.
Many don’t see COVID-19 as a children’s crisis. They’d be wrong. “It’s one of the worst global crises to impact children in UNICEF’s 75-year existence,” says Sarah Grattan, Chief Operating Officer of UNICEF Australia, adding: “And it’s far from over.”
The secondary impacts of COVID-19 on the young include lost schooling, increased malnutrition, and child labour resulting from poverty. Therefore, UNICEF wholeheartedly accepted the role of key implementation partner for a multilateral initiative to achieve global vaccine equity: COVAX. The initiative, co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), is the largest and fastest vaccination program in human history.
COVAX is just the latest in a long list of examples of UNICEF’s critical reliance on donations, acutely felt by its team here in Australia. It’s why Grattan decided to digitise UNICEF Australia’s entire technology environment with Salesforce – from donor acquisition to supporter care. It was a bold move, requiring thorough planning and execution, and the hiring of new staff. But one that left the non-profit more than ready to face an accelerating number of crises.
75 yearsIt’s one of the worst global crises to impact children in UNICEF’s 75-year existence.
$30 millionraised for COVAX and COVID-19 responses worldwide.
Old Tech Was Holding Back Growth
Fast fundraising is something Grattan says couldn’t easily be achieved via the old fundraising platform, which she calls “clunky and mostly manual.”
“I didn’t see why, in this day and age, I couldn’t run everything from my phone,” she says. UNICEF Australia’s fundraising software, popular 20 years ago, was no longer capable of supporting campaign creation at speed.
Years of reporting told the story. For several in a row, UNICEF Australia’s growth line was flat. Yet world crises continued to arrive thick and fast. UNICEF Australia looked at key drivers for modernising, including getting new donors, retaining them, engaging existing supporters, and reducing costs and risk.
“In the old world, a website donation might take two or three weeks to end up in our database. If we missed the cut off day for downloading data for the mailing house, it could be another week or two before donors received an acknowledgement,” says Grattan. “None of this was conducive to long term supporter relationships.”
If we didn’t do this, we surely would have lost donors. Instead, we have kick-started growth.” Sarah Grattan, Chief Operations OfficerUNICEF Australia
Going All-In On Digitisation
You are only as strong as your weakest link – Grattan knew that. She wanted more than an automated fundraising solution. “We decided to do it all at once. Crazy stuff,” she says. UNICEF Australia engaged cloud systems specialist Mike Peppou as Australia’s new Head of Business Solutions, and got to work.
They brought in Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud, combining Salesforce Sales Cloud and a Nonprofit Success Pack, including fundraising accelerator. Suddenly, an average response time of 10 days was less than a day, instantly elevating the organisation’s ability to delight donors and keep them keen. It also helped to create the ideal data model for fundraising.
The Supporter Care team got access to complete donor histories in Salesforce, plus a knowledge bank of information for answering questions. “The majority of inbound queries can now be answered on the first call,” says Peppou.
Introducing the Salesforce Marketing Cloud for engaging supporters on social media improved donor retention rates. Since it sits on a single Salesforce platform with real-time access to Sales and Service data, market feedback is immediate and customer journeys are shaped in real-time. Relevance is bringing cancellations down.
Data analytics have become a growth superpower for UNICEF Australia. “We’re using Salesforce’s analytics platform Tableau CRM for data insights that are very near real-time,” says Peppou, adding: “You don’t see much Excel around here anymore.”
Segmentation is a primary purpose for analytics. “We are calculating all sorts of market segments in Tableau CRM and pushing them back into Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud, to ensure we are targeting our communication to the right supporter at the right time through customer journeys,” says Peppou. “Ultimately, we want to transition from appeal-based fundraising to always-on fundraising. The ability to individualise the treatment of supporters at scale and automate communications to them based on their personal attributes is the key to achieving that.”
Speedy Access To Data Drives Fast results
The management of recurring donations used to be a multi-team affair that shut down the entire system for several days: “It was like a pinball machine going across the organisation,” Grattan says. The automated process in Salesforce now takes one person only 45 minutes.
In May 2021, a dreadful crisis in India shook the world and UNICEF Australia responded. Almost overnight, nearly half the daily global cases of COVID-19 were reported in India. Hospitals were overflowing and there was a dire lack of oxygen. “We were able to activate a campaign and communicate critical messages incredibly quickly,” says Grattan. “As a result, we raised a significant sum, which went into vaccines, testing, and oxygen equipment. A large portion of this response came from new donors. Because we had these new automated systems and processes in place, it was all very straightforward for us to issue tax receipts efficiently too since this was all happening just before tax time,” says Grattan.
“The speed at which data flows through the new system and into detailed analytical dashboards gives instant feedback and analysis of what aspects of digital marketing are working, allowing for speedy optimisation in the short duration of the emergency,” says Peppou. “Our digital marketing team has all the information they need at their fingertips.”
Ready for Anything
Urgent appeals are likely to be the status quo with COVID’s new variants, according to Grattan, who predicts enormous impact to the world’s children at the mercy of this crisis. However, UNICEF Australia is ready for them with the Salesforce platform uniting Marketing, Fundraising, Customer Service, and IT with a single data view.
Still, the most satisfying result for Grattan is: “I can run the whole business from my iPad. A 360 view of donors means we can get almost anything moving at a moment’s notice, from anywhere. The productivity savings are fantastic,” she says.
“If we didn’t do this, we surely would have lost donors,” says Grattan. “Instead, we have kick-started growth.”
More about UNICEF Australia
UNICEF, also known as the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. The agency is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories.