In May, Twilio released a “State of Nonprofit Digital Engagement” report, which detailed the nonprofit industry’s success in transforming digital communications over the past few years. The entire report is worth a read for being a thorough evaluation of how the nonprofit industry is separating itself from other industries in digital transformation. However, I want to highlight two specific pieces of information that I believe are most responsible for their success.

1) Personalization Means Understanding Your Customers

According to Twilio, 77% of organizations state that personalization is a high or critical priority for 2022, and for good reason. Personalization is used to establish trust and rapport, which is the key to unlocking engagement in a digital world. In a pre-pandemic world, building relationships was done through face-to-face interactions. This is no longer a dependable way to grow a nonprofit or any organization. At first glance, it appears difficult to recreate a personal touch in a digital environment. But really, personalization is understanding your audience and being predictive of their needs, which can be accomplished digitally. In the report, Twilio provided an example of an agent in a call center using data from a participant’s historical experience to better understand their challenges and respond accordingly. This example they provided could be taken even further.

For one of our nonprofit customers, they use an Interactive Voice Response system to help triage why their callers have contacted the nonprofit. Instead of leaving the personalization to begin when a caller gets routed to an agent, we have a webhook set up between Twilio and Salesforce to identify their users right away. Once they call in, their mobile phone number is sent to Salesforce to see if a contact exists with a matching number. They are immediately greeted with their name. “Hi Andrew, welcome back!”

This seems small, but this goes a long way into providing personalization. It’s one of the ways that the digital world can actually be more personalized than the in-person one. For example, when I approach any Starbucks coffee register, they might not know my name or typical order. However, any time I open the Starbucks app, it knows my most recent order and provides a suggestion to order it again.

This concept of being predictive and customer-centric applies across all industries, not just nonprofits. Imagine a case management system that can save your customers time and be predictive of their needs. “I see you have a case open, are you calling about this?” Your customers will be at ease knowing that your company can not only react to their needs, but are proactive about addressing them.

The reason nonprofits are leading the way in this is because it’s absolutely vital they have this approach to survive. Serving a user base and mission properly is the goal of a nonprofit. There is no competitive pricing they can introduce to offset these deficiencies. If their users feel they are not serving them, they will no longer use them.

2) A Flexible Contact Center Means More Volunteers and Access

One of the report’s customer stories highlights the contact center for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI.) NAMI provides free emotional support, resources, and direction to individuals before a crisis situation escalates. They are the largest grassroots mental health organization in the US. In 2020, the pandemic caused them to see a big demand increase for their services. They adapted from a brick-and-mortar call center to a Twilio Flex, cloud-based contact center. This allowed them to recruit volunteers nationally, with a seamless signup process. NAMI increased the number of help seekers it reached by over 75%. Working with our partner WhyHunger for their annual Hungerthon drive, we know this story to be true as well.

WhyHunger is an organization dedicated to ending hunger globally by setting up food-based infrastructures, such as grocery stores or farmers, and providing resources to food pantries and communities. Hungerthon is a donation drive right before Thanksgiving where they receive a major boost in call traffic. Last year Hungerthon raised over $920,000, and doing so required a dependable solution and quality volunteers. Volunteers are necessary to help with the increased call traffic, because carrying a full staff for this annually wouldn’t be practical. Getting quality volunteers can be difficult. This is not because people aren’t interested in helping, but rather logistics can make it complicated. Using Flex, individuals are able to volunteer in the comfort of their own home with a seamless signup process. Flex is also significantly easier on the administration side responsible for activating and deactivating accounts for the volunteers. The combination of these benefits makes it a better experience for both WhyHunger and their volunteers.

Investing in Flex also gives your contact center multiple options for communication, providing flexibility to your users. Nonprofits have widely embraced multiple ways to communicate – such as voice, text, email, video, Facebook, WhatsApp, and others. This variety gives users a way to communicate through what is most comfortable or reasonable for them. This beautifully highlights the benefit of a digital engagement solution, and why nonprofit are an excellent fit for this transition.

What’s next for Nonprofits and others?

While there are many lessons to take away from how nonprofit organizations are strategizing their contact centers, there is still a lot of room to grow. Only 50% of Nonprofits report that their current digital communications strategy is effective. If you’re a nonprofit, or an organization in a different industry, don’t be discouraged by your disappointment with your digital communication capabilities. Many share this belief and now is a better time than ever to reinvest in it. If you’re interested in learning more about Twilio Flex or Vision Point Systems work with Nonprofit organizations, visit our website.