Obstacles to Rapid Response

For more than 20 years, War Child Canada has been committed to protecting and supporting children affected by armed conflict. War Child’s unique focus is on delivering acute aid and assisting with long-term development of struggling communities in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Jordan, and Uganda.

By focusing on education, opportunity, and justice, War Child’s programs create sustainable peace for generations to come. With a recognition that every community is unique, War Child uses a locally-driven, long-term approach tailored to meet the specific needs of each community that champions local people as the drivers of change and peace—ultimately impacting more than 500,000 people every year.

War Child Canada has recognized the need to grow more agile in creating opportunities for donor support. Traditionally, War Child’s philanthropic efforts have focused on pre-planned campaigns—often targeted at larger organizations—to meet the needs of these communities throughout the world.

However, over the past several years, it has sought to more directly and effectively engage individual donors in its cause.

While War Child Canada’s traditional fundraising efforts built effective partnerships with larger corporations and agencies, its relationship with individual donors had not been maximized. Previously, the organization was using 15 different systems to create, execute, collect, and maintain donations, donor information, and marketing programs. Employees spent more time trying to manage back-end processes than engaging in outreach efforts. Data was often lost during this process, which led to issues in future statistical and  relationship-building tasks.

War Child also wasn’t as agile as it wanted to be in responding to campaign opportunities related to increased awareness provoked by news coverage.

Media coverage that increases awareness of crises impacting War Child’s target communities creates an opportunity to engage interested individuals. However, its existing processes and technology could not support a rapid response to these unpredictable moments of increased media attention—preventing War Child from successfully leveraging public interest and, subsequently, donations that would enable it to serve people in need.


Focusing on Fundraising Now

With the implementation of Blackbaud marketing and fundraising solutions, War Child’s fundraising efforts have dramatically evolved and improved. “Implementing Blackbaud’s best practice solutions helped us feel confident in our marketing investments and programs,” says Brock Warner, director of community giving and innovation. “We can actually focus on fundraising now.”

Increased efficiency has allowed War Child to take advantage of its positive relationship with the public when a moment of increased need strikes. Brock and his team saw first hand how responding rapidly to media coverage with effective technology solutions in place could make all the difference.

In February of 2017, Brock saw a headline news story on TV covering the famine in South Sudan. While War Child employees had been aware of these conditions due to their existing involvement in the area, Brock realized he had a brief window of opportunity to reach the public on how they could help.

Using his Blackbaud marketing solution, Brock immediately set up a custom donation form, created an email, set up basic conversion event tracking and analytics, and sent the message to 17,000 contacts—in just a few minutes.

Driving Impact with Agility

The response spoke for itself. No one else had reached the public with a clear call to action as quickly as War Child had in this situation. The result of this campaign, which would last approximately three months, returned nearly 100 times the initial marketing investment Warner made that weekend and in the following days after the news story ran. Because greater capability and integration was in place, Warner and his team were able to act with agility—resulting in an increase of 185 percent in new donors and an increase of 205
percent in total donors.

Thanks to the support of War Child’s donors, 1800 farmers received assorted seeds and training on effective farming methods; 50 households received ox-ploughs and training; 75 farmers received goats; and another 200 farmers were trained on livestock management.

Continued growth in the individual private philanthropy space is what Brock is most excited about. “When we’re able to effectively engage with the public and they are able to easily contribute to a cause they care about with an organization they trust, it makes all the difference in our ability to operate and fulfill the promises we make to the children and the families in need throughout the world,” says Brock. “The implementation of these solutions has helped us do this—and we’re just at the beginning of reaching our potential in this area.”

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