Technology transformation and change management help non-profit organization reach donors and improve fundraising
United Way of Greater Toronto (UWGT), with an overriding mission to eradicate poverty, has successfully mobilized volunteers and financial resources to care for the needy in its communities since 1973. Today it’s the largest non-governmental supporter of social services in the region with a network of 300 agencies that meet urgent human needs and improve social conditions for more than two million people.
Despite its extensive experience as a fundraiser, grant maker and systems connector, UWGT was losing market share to competitors, making it difficult to meet its mission in the years leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization’s leadership decided a refreshed strategy toward revenue growth was needed, with a focus on its legacy donation platform for corporate partner employee fundraising. The organization reached out to Protiviti for help transforming the platform in technology, functionality, services and donor experience.
A global nonprofit that cares for the needy and fights for health, education and financial stability in greater Toronto
Losing market share in contributions due to outdated donor platform and poor donor experience
Transformed platform in functionality, services and donor experience; implemented change management
Improved connection with donors led to greater fundraising success and achieving community-impact goals
UWGT’s legacy donation platform, @work, introduced in 2012, was leveraged successfully by the organization’s corporate partners to accomplish their employee fundraising goals. But over the years, as the platform’s technology aged, several new corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environment, social and governance (ESG) platforms were introduced into the workplace. Many of UWGT's corporate partners adopted these new platforms to meet broader needs and provide better user experiences. With this change in how employees were making donations, UWGT began losing direct access to donor data, creating barriers to making the donor experience meaningful. The new CSR and ESG platforms created consolidated "anonymous" data from the corporate partners, posing a significant challenge for an organization built on personally connecting with donors to show how their contributions directly impact their local communities.
UWGT leadership initially planned to decommission the @work platform. But in April 2021, the organization instead embarked on a strategic initiative to transform the platform’s functionality, services and donor experience. In a year-long project, UWGT and Protiviti analyzed the legacy platform’s functionality to identify existing pain points and gain a better understanding of the technology’s limitations. The team also leveraged blue-sky design thinking sessions to assess future technical and functional capabilities. The new platform – renamed @work4u – would put UWGT on the leading edge of charitable giving technology. It also would attract another 20 branches across the United Way movement in Canada to use the system for their own fundraising campaigns, with more expressing interest in adopting the new platform in 2023.
The team decided to strategically roll out the implementation of @work4u, adopting key elements of agile project management to approach requirements gathering and determining what features to include in the new platform. The project moved forward in practical and achievable phases, initially targeting a minimum viable product (MVP) that the organization could continue to build on. (Functionalities outside of the MVP were also scoped but were tabled for deployment at a later date.) Critical functionalities and business requirements for the MVP were prioritized in a strategic road map detailing the release of each function. As new design ideas forced the reprioritization of requirements and proposed features, updates were clearly communicated through daily touch points between Protiviti and UWGT leadership. Proactive management of the MVP’s scope kept the team engaged, even in the virtual work environment created by the pandemic.
Technology and automation were incorporated into every facet of the design and implementation. Increasing processing capacity and scalability was key, as was ensuring the security of donor information. UWGT and Protiviti collaborated to build a solution that would safeguard donor data and meet privacy requirements throughout the donation process while ensuring a refreshed user experience.
At the same time, leadership recognized that the project’s success would require critical change management activities and cultural transformation. Although the legacy donation platform was cumbersome and demanded time-consuming manual effort to operate, the team had become accustomed to using it. UWGT leaders addressed this challenge by elevating the core users of the system so they could shift their focus toward boosting digital capacity and transformation. As employees learned to adopt an innovative agile approach to the design and implementation of the new system, they were better able to leverage the organization’s internal and external data to drive better decision making in service to UWGT’s mission.
Since its launch in July 2022, the transformed platform has positively impacted the nonprofit’s ability to reach prospective donors. Corporate partners who previously used other CSR and ESG platforms have successfully migrated onto the new @work4u platform, and the streamlined user experience and enhanced functionality have substantially improved fundraising campaign management. By implementing @work4u, UWGT became more competitive, reached a new generation of donors and empowered staff to be excited about the future of donor relationships. As of February 2023, the UWGT and Protiviti teams are working on the rollout of new functionality and features for the fall 2023 campaign season.
UWGT leadership made a strategic decision to invest in @work4u because they saw the negative impacts their outdated legacy technology platform could have on their business model, donor relationships and donation revenue. Today, UWGT is leading the way in innovation and digital transformation in the nonprofit charitable sector. The organization’s leadership views digital transformation as a critical enabler for its improved fundraising success and community-impact goals and for helping UWGT leadership better prepare for any disruption or donor demographic change that could affect its mission.
The new solution would safeguard donor data and meet privacy requirements throughout the donation process while ensuring a refreshed user experience to reach a new generation of donors.