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The customer revolution has changed the way companies interact with customers. In fact, no industry is immune - even nonprofits. That's why both for-profit and nonprofit organizations need to listen to customers/donors.

In our recent webinar, World Vision - a well-respected international Christian humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization - revealed how engaging with donors for feedback helps drive fundraising and engagement strategies.

Webinar speakers included Vision Critical CMO Tyler Douglas and Elias Hadaya, Insight Director at World Vision Canada. Before joining the nonprofit world, Elias led insight teams in the finance and telecommunications industries.

Just like many industries, World Vision is dealing with key shifts that have led to increased competition and the need for more personalized marketing. Despite the many challenges facing nonprofits today, World Vision thrives because it has found the key to better customer engagement. According to Elias, better customer engagement begins by elevating the role of customer intelligence in the enterprise. By approaching insight more strategically, companies can tap into the voice of the customer (or, in World Vision's case, donors) for competitive advantage.

Whether you're a nonprofit or a for-profit organization, here are four ways customer intelligence can drive business insight:

  1. Treat the insight team as a true business partner.

Typically, customer intelligence resides in the insight research team, which often sits in a silo in the organization. But that's not the case at World Vision Canada, where the insight team works closely with the rest of the organization to achieve strategic goals. The team challenges and helps other departments to apply data-driven insight into what they do.

For example, when World Vision Canada launched the provocative "No Child For Sale" campaign, it did so with confidence because the insight team worked closely with marketing. World Vision engaged its insight community called My World Vision Opinion to gather feedback, ensuring that the bold campaign didn't alienate current donors and supporters. The community, which already has attracted 2,500 members since its launch in 2013, was critical in getting the messaging and tone right for the campaign. Not only did the insight team provide tactical advice, it also recommended strategic ideas related to the campaign, including overall awareness of child slavery (the issue the campaign addressed) and how Canadians feel about the topic relative to other social issues.

  1. Produce insight rather than data.

Research teams typically deliver static, outdated data. But Elias thinks that needs to change. Instead of delivering bulky reports, the insight team should be empowered to deliver evidence-based recommendations.

World Visionuses its insight community to learn more about its brand. This is critical since a nonprofit's brand influences people's decision on whether or not to donate. Recently, World Vision found that while its brand awareness was high, people's intention to donate was low. The organization's community gave (and continues to give) insight on how to close this gap through hard metrics. Additionally, ongoing conversations with donors allows World Vision tounderstand people's motivations for donating, the donation experience, and other aspects that build the World Vision brand.

The insight team should be more than just number crunchers. Insight teams can become a source of strategic insight by being more proactive. At World Vision Canada, the insight department helps guide the development of new fundraising and non-fundraising strategies. The team is this agile and nimble because it already developed a relationship with the 2,500 people in its insight community, so if it needs feedback quickly, it can easily tap into the community for input.

  1. Provide a holistic view.

Elias shared that World Vision Canada's insight team has implemented a "4Cs" approach, requiring answers to the following questions for each of its projects:

  • What is the impact of the culture on charitable giving?
  • What is the consumer (donor) point of view?
  • Communication: What is the message? And is this message compelling to Canadians?
  • Who is the competition and how it will react (e.g. new product)?

By answering these four questions, the insight team captures a more complete picture that takes into account the external charitable-giving landscape.

The bottom line.

To provide the most value, insight teams need to consider different sources of data and information. They also need to monitor and capture trends effectively. That's why having a customer intelligence platform is so important: it not only lets you see what people are saying on social media; it also allows you to validate the trends you see directly with your donors, customers and other stakeholders.

Vision Critical and World Vision at Customer Analytics & Intelligence Summit

If you're heading to the Customer Analytics & Intelligence Summit in San Francisco, California and would like to learn more about how World Vision engages its donors, check out Tyler and Elias' presentation at the conference on July 30 at 11:15 AM PDT.

For more information on our webinar, please scroll down for top tweets from the event or watch an on-demand recording.

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