UWGC selected Big River as its new online giving platform. Because federated giving is a complex, large-scale fundraising model, UWGC made the decision to pilot the platform with one partner organization to fine-tune its messaging, campaign setup, and overall workflow. During the pilot test, the organization successfully increased its giving by 17% over the previous year.
From here, campaigns were then rolled out to businesses that spanned multiple United Way territories. To keep employees connected with their regional United Way (particularly effective for organizations with a distributed workforce), UWGC tapped into the United Way Worldwide database — allowing donors to give in their own backyard using their zip code.
“The flexibility of Big River was a godsend with this, “Krause said. “We tapped into United Way Worldwide’s database to get the localization we needed, which is all automated through Big River. This is now available to us on-the-fly — no additional coding is needed. We only have to associate the employee with a zip code. People can also give to UWGC itself so we can direct funds based on their communities, but they can specify based on interest. They can earmark funds for our focus areas or designate to a specific charity they have an affinity for.”
Because federated giving is a complex, large-scale fundraising model, UWGC made the decision to transition 50 percent of its existing workplace partners to the Big River platform in 2018 and keep the remaining 50 percent on its existing system. This strategy allowed UWGC to focus on updating internal processes and workflow to ensure that everything about its new fundraising platform was as polished and streamlined as possible.
Additionally, Big River allowed UWGC service team members to transition to a completely distributed model. UWGC associate directors (ADs) and other service team members can now set up their own sites at partner organizations — without the need for a software developer to customize or set up campaigns. This freedom gives UWGC greater capacity to encourage even more businesses to conduct workplace giving campaigns in years to come.
With Big River, UWGC was also now able to give employees multiple options for the method of giving, including payroll deduction, bank drafts, card payments, cash, and check. But more important was that Big River allowed UWGC to completely configure the available giving methods based on the preferences and options available at each partner business. In addition to payment processing flexibility, Big River was also instrumental in supporting UWGC as it transitioned toward more data-driven decision-making.
“We’re learning to decide based on data,” Krause said. “We pay very close attention to the numbers to ensure we’re doing the most good. With Big River, we get flexible and ad-hoc reporting via dashboards for staff and employee campaign managers within the workplace campaign. We can see how things are going in real time. Everything is up-to-date and exportable. Everyone loves the dashboards — they can be used even if you have little or no in-house IT support.”
The Big River platform also allowed UWGC to support events. The organization can now collect RSVPs, provide and capture online ticket sales, and conduct online raffles and auctions. These campaigns and events can be offered privately within the context of a company’s workplace campaign or publicly for Giving Tuesday and other opportunities.
“Workplace giving is the largest way people give to the United Way, but with Big River, we have new channels,” Krause said. “Corporations can give directly via transfers. We can process those gifts and can record the contacts online. A lot of companies have asked for this in the past, but we didn’t have it. We can also put up flexible donation forms that support specific interests like education, fighting poverty, and helping the homeless.”