Digital transformation results in greater membership retention and revenue for The Nature Conservancy

Deployment of SAS Customer Intelligence 360 results in more efficient fundraising and increased donor retention

In 2020 amid a pandemic, environmental conservation may not have been at the forefront of most people’s concerns. So how did The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental nonprofit, achieve its best year ever for membership revenue? And increase donor retention by 10%? The Nature Conservancy attributes a lot of its success to an exciting digital transformation project, involving SAS Customer Intelligence 360, that helped it make smarter decisions about engaging its audience of more than a million members and potential donors.

“Prior to implementing SAS Customer Intelligence 360, we didn't have everything in-house, and this limited our ability to communicate effectively with our members,” said John Blackwell, Director of Strategic Analytics at The Nature Conservancy. “We’d have great ideas to improve audience targeting or segmentation, or to develop a new model to help with audience selection or optimization, but we’d have to work with outside partners to get these ideas implemented. That meant we couldn’t integrate things on the fly or be dynamic. We had to fix this. Our digital transformation has been about increasing our speed to market, agility, and improving member communication. SAS has put us in the driver's seat in that regard.”

Prioritizing Supporters

With SAS, The Nature Conservancy no longer has to outsource to various marketing technology vendors. All data sources are organized in SAS’ customer data platform, which further enhances The Nature Conservancy’s ability to prioritize its supporters’ data privacy and security.

“Having all our data in one place gives us clear, actionable and timely insights,” said Katherine Bowen, Director of Journey Management and Marketing Automation at The Nature Conservancy. “We now have a 360-degree view of what our constituents are doing. We know who's opening emails, who's responding to phone calls, and who’s responding to direct mail, so we can more accurately identify the best people to contact for any given campaign.”

Personalization is one area where The Nature Conservancy is particularly excited about deploying SAS® Customer Intelligence 360. Whether it’s an email, text or direct mail piece to potential donors, personalization increases engagement and thus donations. Its monthly newsletter, for example, now includes additional personalized content tailored to the individual for select global regions, including Canada, the Caribbean and Africa. With SAS, the Nature Conservancy will be able to marry donor interests and topics with other personalized data fields such as region, prior gifts and membership length to deliver more engaging content.

“Most nonprofits do personalization at some level, but we’ll be able to do more of it and in a more sophisticated way with SAS,” Bowen says.

Producing the emails can also be more streamlined. Since switching to SAS 360 Engage: Email (a module within SAS Customer Intelligence 360) for email production, marketers at The Nature Conservancy now have enhanced tools for building effective campaigns themselves. The component library of SAS 360 Engage: Email, for example, gives marketers the building blocks for successful email campaigns, including brand guidelines and mobile-optimized design templates.

Future Plans for Next-Gen Marketing

The Nature Conservancy is only scratching the surface of what it can do with SAS Customer Intelligence 360. As the organization dives into more advanced automation and embedded AI marketing capabilities, it plans to create efficiencies that beget more forward-thinking and strategic projects, such as customer journey optimization and trigger-based, real-time communications.

The way Bowen sees it, every step toward next-gen marketing is a step toward a healthier natural world. The broader organization has taken notice of early marketing wins and plans to expand its usage of SAS Customer Intelligence 360 to increase its impact.

“By helping us maximize our fundraising, SAS is helping us advance our mission of building a more sustainable future,” concludes Bowen.

The Nature Conservancy uses SAS 360 Discover and SAS 360 Engage, components of SAS Customer Intelligence 360.

For more information visit SAS Customer Intelligence




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The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental nonprofit, achieved its best year ever for membership revenue and increased donor retention using SAS Customer Intelligence 360.