How phone tech and database smarts has helped lift supporter donations at Canteen Australia

An overhaul of call centre technology and digital and data platforms is helping this charity improve supporter care and lifted employee productivity

Making contact with thousands of prospective donors on Bandanna Day and raising more than $180,000 to support young people affected by cancer is just one outcome of Canteen Australia’s data and technology overhaul.

Like many organisations, Canteen Australia found Covid-19’s arrival on Australian shores the impetus to accelerate digital transformation and capability improvements from a customer and employee perspective.

Thankfully, a project kicked off in 2018 rolling out Salesforce CRM provided the foundations. With a core cohort of young people aged 12-25 to support, all active users of digital and social channels, Canteen knew it needed to build the digital infrastructure necessary to engage better with these individuals.

At the same time, donors are the “concentric circle” around everything the charity is looking to achieve, Friedsam said. Canteen Australia also needed to better connect and harness data and technology to support these supporters.

“Then Covid arrives and told us we really need to amplify this,” Canteen Australia general manager of fundraising, John Friedsam, told CMO.

“What we do well as an organisation is help young people and families dealing with a lot of stress. So with Covid, we looked at how we could use our abilities to get in touch with supporters to ask them how they are going, and to thank them.”  

The initiative, while successful, was orchestrated on archaic, disconnected systems, highlighting the need to lift Canteen’s data and technology game. Historically, the supporter care team had to access multiple spreadsheets to manage workflows and respond to supporter calls.

“For example, depending on the incoming call and program they were calling about, call centre staff had to pull up the right spreadsheet to find the right information,” Friedsam said.  

As Canteen Australia supporter care manager, Dave Nair, explained, the move to Salesforce gave the team additional ability to improve retention activity. But there was still a noticeable gap around phone and customer service technology. Then when Covid hit in March 2020, the team had to contend with remote working.  

“We started off with a basic technology, called Virtual Content, but call quality wasn’t great. So we sat with IT to figure out where to go,” Nair said. “We found Zoom Phone had a tech available for us to utilise, and we created minimal cues and activated teams working from home pretty quickly. It was then we saw the benefit of having a proper phone technology. Zoom was amazing, and we could get onto donors, however, we didn’t have visibility of staff working from home, and didn’t have tools to coach, monitor and assist teams.”

Nair’s team went back to the drawing board to define what was required. It then went to market and looked at four players before opting for the Genesys Cloud CX platform and implementation partner, Beyond CX.

“Genesys had everything and more to take what we wanted to do to the next level. Beyond CX worked with us on putting this together. It was a very daunting process, but we are very proud and happy to have delivered a project that was on time and on budget,” Nair said.

The communications technology overhaul launched in May 2021, first across inbound calls. An outbound project campaign then debuted.

“Whenever we went to them with an issue or question on how to solve this, they [Beyond CX and Genesys] were the experts. Change is a hard thing and old habits don’t die easily,” Nair said.  “The staff embraced it, the transition was seamless and Beyond CX were there to support us in every way we needed.”  

The supporter care information and technology has been synced two-way with the core Canteen Australia database based on Salesforce Non-profit Success Pack, while Lighting and Service Console are used to integrate with Genesys Cloud CX. The Genesys solution is now used for outbound, inbound, integrations and reporting and analytics.

“When a call comes in, the donor drops in, there is a case grid and we can automatically set up emails as soon as we wrap up a call,” Nair said. “Importantly, we have call recording capability, and we can share these conversations across staff to improve their retention rates and ways they are speaking with and assisting donors. We now have true ability to sit down and evaluate calls with the team. This allows our team to grow and improve retention rates.”

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The impact

The impact is already evident. “For example, we didn’t know what the average time of handling calls was. Now we can see that as call rates increase, retention increases as well. It makes sense – teams are having longer, more meaningful conversations with donors,” Nair said.  

“Productivity is high, efficiency is high and job satisfaction is high. Staff can do so much more just by having the technology.”  

Omnichannel support is part of Canteen Australia’s vision, and the team has started looking at how to integrate social channels into the supporter mix. There are also plans to incorporate live chat once the new website launches.

“That was a dream before. Now, new developments and UAT testing on how we respond to supporter inquiries through a social media app, plus when we will push information via SMS, are starting to become a reality. That’s a game changer for a charity like us,” Friedsam said.

“Beyond CX was key here. We have an outstanding data team here and having Beyond CX’s team works with them to make sure all the stuff we’re doing with tech finds its way into the right place was crucial.”

Another example of progress is reducing reliance on external agencies doing outbound fundraising requests. For the first time, the supporter care team is also on calls asking for donations. In the first week of the July campaign, the team smashed targets.

“Three months in, the team are asking when they get to be on the renewal calls,” Nair said. “These are different types of conversations and satisfaction is high on both sides. Staff are making calls to happy donors wanting to donate. It was a successful project that we couldn’t have done that without the phone tech.

“We’re also now doing various outbound activities not just for regular donors, but other parts of the fundraising portfolio.”  

One of these is a bequest program Canteen Australia is looking to grow and has begun putting marketing behind. Through the care team, an outbound bequest follow-up service has now been activated.

“These are people in the database, which synced with the Genesys software so our operators can be part of calling people who have registered interest, asking them if they can help answer any questions,” Friedsam said. “A few months ago, that wasn’t possible. Suddenly the scalability is extraordinary. We have the staff and can put that task into the hands who are professionals at making these calls.

“We also have a massive regular giving program of nearly 70,000 generous people every month. That results in a lot of calls, such as changing credit card details, or email queries. We have added in these outbound nurturing programs for single giving, planned giving and thank you calling.”

Having insight into the types of calls received, ratio of retention plus peaks and troughs of when calls come in also allows the supporter care team to flex resources more effectively while better understanding the ‘why’ behind fluctuations, Nair added.

Bandanna Day success

One of the most significant wins has been around Canteen Australia’s annual Bandanna Day. Thanks to the work on the database, technology improvements and integration, segments of relevant consumers were identified and accessible for calling and ask for donations from. In addition, a matching offer from corporate partner, Chatime, gave the team a fresh offer to push out to social channels. Beyond CX also offered 60 free software licences to use on the day.

“We were able to pull those segments of information, sync them into Genesys as call lists, then scale up calling,” Friedsam said.

In all, 79 staff were on the phones in two-hour shifts to say thank you to supporters and encourage a one-off gift matched by the corporate partner, a 600 per cent increase in workforce. A total of 3895 calls were made on the day, with information automatically fed into the database.

Canteen surpassed its target of $180,000, gaining $93,000 in donations matched with $90,000 from Chatime to bring in $183,000.

“We could not have done this without all these pieces coming together,” Friedsam said. “With the average counselling service about $90, we generated revenue to fund 2000 sessions for young people impacted by cancer, and their mums and dads. Notably, you’re up six times more likely to have significant mental health issues if you’re impacted by cancer.

“Securing this funding for sessions is what this is all about.”  

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You can also follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page






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