American Cancer Society wants to be the Amazon of the nonprofit sector—in its online presence, anyway.
It makes sense. American Cancer Society is huge—Forbes ranked it as the 10th-largest U.S. charity in 2015—and as it has grown, it has significantly expanded its online footprint. So it's a smart move for the organization to model its user experience after that of the world's largest online retailer.
CIO has a great look at how American Cancer Society is working toward that goal. In an article published last week, the site explored the charity's recent adoption of ID management technology, which helps the organization track user-interactions across all of its websites. The cloud-based software lets users access any American Cancer Society site with a single login, allowing the organization to better compile information on demographics, preferences, relationships and more.
Via the article:
American Cancer Society's community of volunteers, donors and participants has grown significantly, straining an existing hodgepodge of identity management tools from Microsoft, Oracle and other vendors. Some users who had cultivated multiple relationships with American Cancer Society had created multiple login identities, as relay fundraisers, donors and caregivers, and as survivors for the organization's relayforlife.org and cancer.org websites. The duplicate identities made it difficult for American Cancer Society to get a 360-degree view of each member, often counting members with multiple roles and stakes as different people.
The new system helps the organization assemble a more complete portrait of each user, collecting data after each registration and compiling it into a single profile. It effectively eliminates the noise.
"If they log into Relayforlife.org as a team participant, chances are they interact with us in other ways," Jay Ferro, chief information officer for American Cancer Society, told CIO. "We didn't want them to have multiple accounts to interact with us.”
Ferro is the man behind the organization's online overhaul. And his ultimate goal is even more ambitious than what he's already accomplished. He wants the charity to mirror Amazon not just in the way it collects user information, but in the way it puts that information to work. Or, as Clint Boulton writes for CIO, American Cancer Society wants to make "personalized content recommendations based on consumers' purchasing and viewing histories."
The article describes a scenario where the system would identify a three-time Relay for Life participant and alert American Cancer Society. The organization could then contact that participant with a suggestion to become a relay captain, in the same way Amazon suggests a related product or Netflix suggests a similar movie. Most of the process would be automated.
It's powerful stuff. And while the early results are promising, American Cancer Society had to clear a number of technological hurdles to even get to this point. It first had to overhaul its independent divisional structure into a unified organization. It also had to transform its information technology (IT) department from afterthought to strategic leader, able to deliver measurable business results.
That's no small task, but it's possible. How did American Cancer Society do it?
Join us at the NonProfit PRO Leadership Conference, May 11 in Washington, D.C., to find out. There, Ferro will explore in his keynote presentation the state of American Cancer Society's IT capabilities prior to the transformation, the challenges it faced from a technology perspective and the IT strategies it has developed for success. He'll also discuss best practices for driving and sustaining change in an organization going through a major transformation.
Click the image below for more information and to view the other great speakers, or click here to register. (Nonprofits only, please!) Register by March 18 and use the code NEWS50 for $50 off the already-low price of registration. We hope to see you there!