How CDPs transform donor experience for a nonprofit organization5 min read

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When Christian humanitarian organization World Vision wanted to improve their donor experience, they knew getting a CDP was key.

“To do this work well, we need to identify prospective donors and engage them in a way that feels personalized and relevant,” said Tamalyn Ramsey, World Vision’s digital technology program director, at The MarTech Conference. “The tasks of modern marketing — such as creating insights from data and targeting what we say and who we say it, to personalizing those experiences of a supporter — are no different for a nonprofit than they are for a for-profit organization.”

Ramsay identified four digital marketing trends that World Vision wanted to take advantage of with their transformation, which included acquiring and implementing a CDP.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). There are many more applications for AI and ML than just a few short years ago, Ramsay found. It’s now affordable and accessible to nonprofits.

“The ease of using them can help us leverage the capabilities to understand our donors much better,” Ramsey said.

Deprecation of third-party cookies. As with the larger marketing community, nonprofits are facing serious disruption in the way they identify prospects on digital channels as third-party cookies are phased out by Google and others.

Search and discovery behaviors. Google is becoming more of an end-to-end destination to find answers to queries instead of pushing search users to other destinations.

“We’ve been comfortable in a world for a very long time in which Google and others have acted as search platform providers, giving people a path to find content on other organizations and other companies websites,” said Ramsey. “But they are transitioning into being the content provider now, allowing people to accomplish all that they’re looking to do without ever leaving the Google page. This reduces traffic to our website and increases our dependency on other publishers.”

Rising demand for digital experiences. Current donors and prospects are expecting more robust digital experiences where they can engage with the nonprofit and see the good that comes from their donations.

Read next: What is a CDP?

How CDPs improve donor experiences

Donor data at World Vision was very fragmented before they began their transformation. They discovered four main areas where a CDP could significantly improve not only the organization’s data, but the digital experience for donors.

Data ingestion. Before the transformation, data was left stranded in emails, in a CRM and even across various touchpoints in the digital experience, such as web pages and other digital assets.

“[With the CDP], we want to be able to bring in all different data sources either through batch-based processing or streaming processes into a central repository,” said Carly French, director, technology strategy for customer experience management company Merkle, who consulted World Vision during their CDP search.

Profile unification. Different layers of identity resolution are then used to stitch together data from different identifiers like email addresses and device IDs, so that World Vision can gain a holistic view of donors who contact them on multiple touchpoints.

Audience management. Then, as unified profiles are built out, World Vision can begin to segment their donors and prospects into targeted audiences.

Activation. Once audiences are grouped into distinct segments, the World Vision team can develop the appropriate messaging and activations that make up the digital experience for their donors.


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4 key areas of customer experience helped by CDPs

As World Vision conducted their CDP search, they identified four key themes that they wrote into requests for proposals (RFPs).

Digital data integration. Prior to their transformation, World Vision’s marketing strengths were in live events and traditional print catalogs. The pandemic, as well as the transformation it inspired, changed that. 

“The World Vision team was really lacking the ability to identify anonymous visitors, especially across the website and being able to connect those experiences back to their offline customer profiles,” said French. 

Journey pathing and analysis. When people become donors on digital channels, they obviously have different paths than if they decided to give to a nonprofit while at a live event. These distinct paths that need to be understood and mapped out.

“How do we move customers from an initial donor, or maybe a one-time donor, into a recurring donor?” asked French. “We have to nurture them through several different touch points and put them into different segmentations across our email and our media channels.”

Enabling personalization. A lot of CDPs aren’t content management systems (CMSs), but there are other CDPs that focus on digital experience (DX). This was the direction that Merkle and World Vision took in their search.

“We really wanted the CDP to be a foundation for building out segments that should be personalized…and trigger out campaigns while being able to leverage first-party data and intent signals to inform new journeys,” said French.

Behavior-based segmentation. “We wanted the CDP to help us move into a more real-time response,” said French. 

The CDP allows a nonprofit to deliver different experiences and messages to its donors based on their behavior, including previous touchpoints on their journey. The overall effect is a more personalized and relevant journey.

This is why World Vision put a new CDP at the center of their transformation. By leveraging data and being more responsive at every touchpoint, the nonprofit could be more relevant and helpful to donors, who in turn might become bigger or more frequent donors.

How World Vision and Merkle approach CDP evaluations from Third Door Media on Vimeo.


About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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