World Wildlife Fund
How one of the world's largest conservation groups conserves its own precious marketing resources
Don't let the cute logo fool you. The giant panda has some serious teeth behind that endearing smile and fuzzy black-and-white face. Likewise, the nonprofit it represents thrives in a competitive environment, proving time and time again its ability to stand the test of time.
With FY05 annual revenues of $123.9 million in the United States, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is one of the world's largest and most successful conservation organizations, protecting endangered species and their habitats around the globe. While scientists and other staffers get their hands dirty working on conservation projects in more than 100 countries, support offices in some 30 countries are the backbone for this field work, from championings conservation causes in the corridors of government to keeping the organization connected and informed through the latest technology.
In WWF's Washington office, SAS software is one of the behind-the-scenes players, putting teeth into the organization's U.S.-based membership and marketing programs. Like any successful organization, savvy marketing is key to WWF's overall success.
"I'm proud and I respect the wonderful conservation work our organization does, but to me, the only difference between World Wildlife Fund and any well-run, for-profit company is the mission and the tax status," says Gregory Smith, vice president of information technology and CIO of World Wildlife Fund. "We run IT like a business and strive to get the biggest bang for our technology investments so that we can make a difference in the field." And run it like a business they do.
A world-class solution
"Just a couple of years ago, there was not a separate marketing analysis group, and the marketing analysis that was done was not done on the same level as the private sector," remembers Smith. The organization's marketing staff had no easy way to know specifics about contributors, nor could employees easily understand the impact of any given marketing effort. Before they had SAS, says Pilipczuk, many queries were sent to an outside contractor. "As a result, turnaround time and the cost were both substantial."
In that same time frame, Pilipczuk was hired to head marketing for the U.S. arm of the organization. "When I came on and learned that we had SAS, well, that was great. I was excited to have the use of a world-class tool."
This world-class tool puts power into the hands of the marketing analysts themselves rather than keeping it isolated in IT. Smith explains why he believes a partially decentralized approach works best: "There's no IT bottleneck! Technical staff no longer holds up the information flow when too many ad hoc requests come in. IT staff can focus on maintaining database integrity and the data management infrastructure, while marketing analysts can turn and burn on the data that's been made available to them."
SAS power users
At WWF, Smith says, the two sides already work as a team, looking into new technology together and always building a business case before any new technology is implemented. In this case, technology from SAS is being put to good use on a daily basis, providing the access and answers needed to make smart marketing decisions. "The staff sees more and more data. They ask more and more questions. And because they get good answers, they're asking better questions," says Pilipczuk. "This means we're making better marketing decisions and yielding increasing ROI on our marketing efforts."
Recently the marketing team sent a request to the printer for more WWF calendars. "It's a fairly expensive piece that we send to major donors, Partners in Conservation and other key constituencies," says Pilipczuk. "The printer needed the print quantity the next day, but I wanted to refine the mailing list and make sure we sent the calendar only to those who would respond to the mailing. So I asked our marketing analysis team to do some quick ad hoc analysis using SAS to see how people had performed after receiving the calendar in past years. I concluded that we had been printing and mailing too many copies. Between paper, printing and distribution costs, we saved about $40,000 on one direct mail project – with one quick query."
Panda or polar bear?
Individual communications, too, are enhanced by easy access to information. Transactional membership data can be combined with data overlays to determine if one particular member has an interest in tigers, for example. "Once we know what members are interested in, we will be sure to make every effort to get information pertinent to that interest to them. Members who receive communications concerning issues in which they are interested are more likely to maintain their relationship with us for longer periods of time, and support us not only in finances, but also in advocacy efforts. That's basic member relationship management," says Pilipczuk. "I like to think of SAS as a force multiplier for common sense."
Smith adds that WWF can predict membership attrition and growth rates 12 months out – in the near future, possibly up to 24 months ahead – so it can be proactive rather than reactive. "That information allows us to play 'what if.' We know if we need to work more on retention or more on acquisition," Smith says.
Savings crucial for nonprofits
While for any business, seeing a significant return on IT investments is crucial, in the nonprofit arena it may be an absolute necessity. Especially since any financial savings can be used in other areas. "There is plenty of conservation work that can be done with any leftover money," says Smith.
Add to the equation the fact that World Wildlife Fund – as well as other nonprofits – relies on donated funds, of which there is a limited supply and ample competition, and WWF is very careful in how it spends its funds. "The millennial generation tends to look at charitable giving as an investment, and needs to know that donating is a smart investment. We spend an absolute bare minimum so that 83 percent of World Wildlife Fund donations go to the programs," says Pilipczuk.
"After all," says Pilipczuk, "when your product is intangible, as is ours, your members have to know that you are using their gifts wisely. They ask: 'What am I getting for my dollar?' And we can answer: 'A bright future for our living planet.'"
WWF works on the ground, around the world
The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.
Copyright © SAS Institute Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Vice President of Marketing, World Wildlife Fund
World Wildlife Fund
Increase effectiveness of marketing and membership programs while saving precious resources.
SAS provides the access and answers needed to make smart marketing decisions.
WWF saves on direct mailing costs, pinpoints attrition causes and sees substantial IT savings with SAS.
“ I like to think of SAS as a force multiplier for common sense. ”
Vice President of Marketing, WWF-US