Transcript of Video

Customer Success Story

Project: Software Technology Integration
Solution: Andar e-Community, Andar e-Pledge, Andar i-Attend, Andar i-Access, Andar e-Volunteer

Customer: United Way Elgin Middlesex, London, ON
Featuring: Aness Symons, Associate Director, Communications & Donor Experience


My name is Aness, I work for United Way Elgin Middlesex, and I have been here for about eight years now; and I’ve had a number of different roles since I’ve been here. I started out-in Fund Development, I did that for three years, and then we actually had purchased Andar and they wanted somebody with a fundraising background who kind of understood the tool to move into a fulltime Andar position for a couple of years to really look at maximizing and how we were using it. So, I did a two-year secondment, which turned into a fulltime long-term position; and then most recently last year I became Associate Director of Communications.


Which Andar Modules do you use?

We are using just about every module that Andar offers. Obviously, workplace e-Pledge is the one we use the most. We use it with all of our largest accounts. We use it in different ways, so some use the self-registration setup, some have use pre-populate everything for them, others are using the single sign-on (SAML single sign-on), so we are using all of the different options which is really nice; and for a number of our workplaces we actually have all of those options set up. So, even if they’re using SAML and they can log in through their internet, we also have a generic link set up for them, so that if somebody is having problems they can go to that link, self-register; and we’re really working toward a “no wrong point of entry” with e-Pledge which we’re getting really positive feedback on.

This year we did move our individual giving back to Andar, through e-Pledge, which has also been really positive for us because we get that information in real time. The second somebody goes on to give, we know. Likewise, if they go on, they start a pledge and they don’t complete it, we know. So, we can follow up with them that day, and say, “Hey, we noticed you went on, started the pledge process, didn’t finish it, did you need any help? Did the system go down? Did you have questions?” Whereas when we were using another tool, we weren’t getting that type of feedback so we couldn’t be as responsive to what our donors needed.

We’re also doing all of our events now through Andar. So, we’re getting a much broader picture of who’s actually engaging with us, not to mention the data capture that we’re getting. Because now we control what questions are we asking each time somebody signs up for an event. We’re capturing those emails, we’re capturing their interests, all in one place, and we can compare that against, “Have they donated? Have they attended other events?” So, it’s just giving us a much broader picture. So, I would say, having all of those different pieces working together is kind of the real win. We have everything in one spot.


How is Andar’s integrated model useful to you?

We’re such a small shop that, really, even when you look at the time it takes to set up multiple tools, let alone take the time to get that information out of that secondary tool into your system of record, it’s just wasteful. We don’t have the manpower to be doing that and duplicating every single thing we do. Now we’re able to do all of our events through Andar, we’re able to do volunteer management through Andar, our online pledging, and we don’t have to be piecemealing things together.


Do you set up each Andar Module separately?

When you set up the backbone of e-Community, all of the different modules automatically are templated to match. When we set that up for e-Pledge, now it’s already accessible for i-Access, and the volunteer module, and the events module. We don’t have to do it again.


How does Andar e-Community save you time?

It carries over into every area of the tool that we’re using online. So, by setting it up once, it’s now ready for the pledging, for our CB application (investment application, for those who don’t know what CB is), our event registration, and again, it’s all tied into Andar, our system of record, we don’t have to duplicate things. So just by doing it right once, we have it available in every different platform that we might need to use online.


What mistakes have you seen other organizations make?

The things I see a lot is people creating things as one-offs. So, again, going back to the individual giving – I’ve talked to a number of United Ways who I know use Andar and they’re using these third-party platforms to do this, or do that, and then when we get into the conversation of, “Why are you doing that because now you have to manually enter all that information into your system?”

They say, “Oh, we really wanted this function and Andar can’t do that.” “Sure it does. We use that. We have…”

“Oh, well you can’t do perpetual pledging.” “Yes, we have that set up.”

“Oh, well we couldn’t easily do monthly donations.” “Yes, we do that.”

So, I think a lot of times people make an assumption because they don’t have it set up that the system can’t do it, so for me the big thing is ask.

We’re doing things in our system that people have no idea are even possible, but we just asked the question. “Here’s what we’d really like see. We’d like an automated email to go to this person every time this happens.” “Yeah, we can do that.” So, yeah, just ask!


What tips would you give to other organizations?

I would say, take a real look at what you’re already using and what you’re investing in. If you have multiple tools that you’re using to get what you need, I would seriously consider looking at getting the broader modules of Andar. I know even within United Way, there are a number who have the basic Andar, but they don’t have the Executive Plus, they don’t have the e-Community modules and I would say, if you’re spending money on these other tools anyway, it’s definitely worth the investment and the time up front to just get it all in one place. Once it’s set up, it’s done! And there are all kinds of templates, and there’s sharing.

If we’re using this tool over here that nobody’s really heard of, but it’s five cents a transaction cheaper; that’s great, but then as soon as I have a problem, who do I really ask? Whereas, with Andar, there are enough of us using it, there’s a support team; that as soon as something happens, you know you can brainstorm with other people. Whether it’s other United Ways who are having the same issue, or whether it’s customer service coming up with the solution, it just makes sense to have it all in one place. All in one tool that other people are using.


What benefits have you gained from using e-Community?

It has made our analysis of what we’re doing much simpler. We, at one point, were sending emails via Constant Contact, and then directing them to one of our other tools here, or they might bounce to Eventbrite and then back to our system. Now we can trace from the very beginning. So, we send the email, who clicked on the email, who registered, how much did that person give this year, we can get a consistent report for each donor’s experience, which really helps guide how we approach them in the future.

This year, we’ve also implemented surveys into a lot of what we’re doing. A lot of our emails that we send out, even our Thank You email, has a survey on the back end asking people about their experience with us; and we’re able to have that all right on their record in Andar. If they have a preference for getting phone calls as opposed to emails, if they’re particularly interested in one of our impact areas, we have that at our fingertips instead of having to go dig into multiple tools. So, I think it will really be over the next couple of years, as we’re consistently using this information, that we’re going to see that increase.

One of our key focuses right now is donor retention, because it’s the leaky bucket and we’re hearing it everywhere. People are losing donors right, left and centre. So, we’re really looking at, (a) How do we improve the donor experience? So, from the first time that they click on one of our emails, what they see online – Is it easy? Is it intuitive? Down to what do they like? What are their responses and really tracking that, so that year over year we can keep improving it. And really start to cater our communications and donor experience to the individual.