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United Way and Salesforce Are Making a Global Social Impact

United Way Worldwide is all about improving lives, focusing on health, education, and income in challenged communities. That’s a humanitarian mission of course, not a commercial one, but when it comes to reaching advocates, volunteers, and above all donors, around the world, a sophisticated marketing operation is called for.

A global digital vision

I spoke with Amy Floryan, United Way’s director, digital engagement, about strategy, technology, and her team. “My team supports local United Ways to strengthen their digital muscle, and we do that through shared services: a shared team, a shared technology platform, and shared content as well. There are two arms to my team. One is the customer success side that directly works with local United Ways to implement their digital campaigns; and the other side of my team supports the various marketing platforms that we have, including Salesforce Marketing Cloud.”

The primary targets for the marketing efforts are new and existing donors. “We are reaching out to acquire new leads that we are looking to convert to donors,  we want to engage our current donors on an ongoing basis, and we’re also looking to reach out to lost donors and win them back.”

There are 1,800 of these local United Ways around the world, working directly to mobilize local communities. Currently, Floryan’s digital services team works with a sub-set of those locals, primarily in the U.S. and Canada. That means, of course, that many local United Ways are still responsible for their own digital marketing efforts. “Our goal and our vision for the future is to scale our shared resources so that we’re supporting the whole network.” The aim is to send out the same message with the same branding, and engage users across the world.

Leveraging Salesforce

Although United Way has a multi-channel digital marketing operation, email remains core. “Email is our primary driver of conversions and donations, so we do put a lot of work into a robust email program. We also leverage, for example, Salesforce Social Studio, so that local United Ways can implement our campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.”

United Way uses not only the Marketing Cloud and Social Studio, but also deploys Einstein Analytics, and is closely involved with the Salesforce.org Philanthropy Cloud. “We started using Salesforce in 2016 when the digital services team was created here at United Way Worldwide. Salesforce Marketing Cloud is attached to our Salesforce CRM instance so all of that data is flowing seamlessly.” Profiles of donors are stored and updated within the CRM, the integration with Marketing Cloud allowing delivery of relevant content.

“The only way we’re able to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time is through our integrated technology solution. Having our Salesforce CRM directly connected with Marketing Cloud, so all of that data is flowing between the two systems in real time, allowed us to move our email marketing program from solely batch and blast to a more automated program, utilizing specifically Journey Builder within Marketing Cloud. We’re able to build journeys to target our leads, our donors, and our lost donors, to meet our goals.

Being able to engage in real-time is another benefit. “For example, if we have a lead in our system,and it syncs over to Marketing Cloud, we can put them automatically on a ‘welcome, lead’ journey, and tell them how they can engage with their local United Way. If they choose to take that next step and convert and donate, we’re able to capture that information in real time in the CRM, so it syncs into Marketing Cloud, and we’re able to take them off that lead journey in an automatic manner, and put them on a donor journey, where we thank them for their donation and show them the impact on the community.”

Journey Templates complement these efforts. “Before Journey Templates, we had the journeys built out and tested, but then my team had to implement them one by one for each of our business units within Marketing Cloud. The Templates have saved us that time, and have allowed us to implement these journeys quicker for local United Ways.”

On the roadmap for Floryan is the deployment of Mobile Studio within Marketing Cloud. “That will allow us to truly deliver an omnichannel marketing approach in an automated way” — a move which makes a lot of sense when it comes to reaching audiences beyond North America.

Philanthropy in the cloud

Launched in 2018, Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud is a venture by the company’s non-profit arm, Salesforce.org, in partnership with United Way Worldwide. It’s described as a “corporate impact platform” designed to allow employees access to a global network of opportunities for giving, volunteering, and advocacy. The Philanthropy Cloud is available to any organization, not just Salesforce customers, through United Way, currently the exclusive reseller.

The partnership was built on United Way’s existing network with over 60,000 companies worldwide, with the aim of creating easier, more streamlined, and more flexible ways for employees to be involved.

This is a platform for engagement with individuals in the workplace, Floryan explained. “A vast majority of our donations come through workplace giving. Salesforce allowed us to partner with them to deliver a platform so that users within the workplace can engage with United Way. What’s great is that it’s connected again with the CRM, and with Marketing Cloud, so that any donation that happens via Philanthropy Cloud can [let us] engage those users.”

Outreach at global scale

I am rarely surprised to learn that teams responsible for global marketing efforts are amazingly small. Floryan’s team is no exception. “Currently we have, on the customer success side, four full-time users working with local United Ways. Right now we support around 60 locals, and we’re growing that number.” There are also four members of staff on the other part of the team, supporting the platform. “We also of course work with our IT team to help us with pieces.”

It’s a small team looking to make a big impact. “Right now, within Marketing Cloud, we have over five million donors that we’re engaging with. Again, that’s only the 60 local United Ways that we are supporting. So that gives you a sense of scale. Once we scale up to support the whole network, that number is going to grow.”


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