“Having Totem when coronavirus hit was priceless. Being able to have all of our data and donors in one CRM system allows us to better keep track of our giving, communicate with our supporter network, develop marketing campaigns, and thank donors.”– Kim Hill, CEO and Director of Chesterfield Food Bank
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused confusion, anxiety, and rising demand for assistance from those in need. This tumultuous time has placed a heavy burden on nonprofit organizations that have had to work harder than ever to meet those needs.
No one knows this better than Chesterfield Food Bank. With an understanding that the neighborhoods they serve require more help than ever before (they went from serving 10 – 12,000 people a month pre-COVID to serving over 25,000), Chesterfield Food Bank found a way to enhance their fundraising efforts and provide greater assistance to their community by utilizing Totem’s supporter engagement platform.
“Having Totem when coronavirus hit was priceless,” explains Kim Hill, the CEO and Director of Chesterfield Food Bank. “Being able to have all of our data and donors in one CRM system allows us to better keep track of our giving, communicate with our supporter network, develop marketing campaigns, and thank donors.”
About Chesterfield Food Bank
Chesterfield Food Bank is a nonprofit organization and community food bank that serves people in Chesterfield County. They have six different programs: Food on the Move, Kids Summer Food Program, Jefferson Davis Hot Meal Program, No Senior Hungry, Pantry Partners Program, and their Friday night distribution center in Chester, Virginia. In total, their services meet the needs of thousands every week.
Their mission is to locate and help families and individuals who go to bed hungry every night. In particular, they focus on helping those who do not qualify for government assistance such as single mothers, senior citizens, disabled veterans, young couples, and those recently laid off.
And they do all of this with a small eight-person team run by CEO and Director, Kim Hill, who has dedicated her life to helping people in need. To succeed and keep things running smoothly, they rely heavily on volunteers (over 16,000 registered) and software.
What did Chesterfield Food Bank Aim to Achieve?
At the end of 2019, Chesterfield Food Bank realized they needed to improve their fundraising capabilities and do a better job stewarding donors and running their organization. When coronavirus began in early 2020, they quickly realized they needed a way to drastically increase donations so they could better support their community.
What Challenges did Chesterfield Food Bank Face?
Multiple, fragmented systems caused scattered data and poor efficiency
Chesterfield Food Bank was using completely separate platforms to manage their database, volunteers, email marketing, accounting, and donations. None of these platforms connected to one other or shared data, which meant that they struggled with segmenting their supporters between company sponsors and church partnerships, developing outreach campaigns for their segments, and keeping track of how and when they were communicating with them. Consequently, reporting and measuring results was effectively impossible because their data was so scattered.
What Chesterfield Food Bank really needed was a way to bring everything together. They required an all-in-one system that could organize their data so that they could use it more properly for all of their fundraising efforts—from donor communication to better understanding their supporters.
The inability to reach their entire database or develop a cohesive email outreach strategy
Fragmented systems that did not share data also meant that Chesterfield Food Bank was unable to develop an effective email outreach strategy since they were not able to leverage their entire database. This also impacted both their ability to effectively segment their database as well as their ability to develop a consistent recurring gift program.
Too few staff to handle donors, volunteers, and administration
At the same time, Chesterfield Food Bank was understaffed. They didn’t have enough employees or the right systems in place to handle the myriad of different aspects of their organization. And with over 16,000 registered volunteers to keep track of, this was a major issue.
Coronavirus introduced a surge of individuals within the community who needed assistance
Last, but certainly not least, as early as January and February 2020, Chesterfield Food Bank began feeling the impact of the coronavirus. Almost immediately, demand for their services increased, and Chesterfield Food Bank had to find a quick and efficient way to keep up.
Not only did they need to find a way to serve a continually growing list of individuals within their community, but they also had to find a way to fund this increase in support. In particular, the Chesterfield Food Bank team had to come up with a long-term plan to help manage the impact of the coronavirus and then find the funds and finances to carry it out.
What Was Totem’s Solution for Chesterfield Food Bank?
“Just having all of our data organized in one spot is huge. Totem has allowed us to move forward and structure our fundraising plans around strategic data.”– Kim Hill, CEO and Director of Chesterfield Food Bank
Totem became Chesterfield Food Bank’s launching pad for all of their fundraising efforts. It offered them a whole new way of communicating with their donors and constituents, allowing them to structure their campaigns based on segmented categories in a way that made sense to them.
Totem brought all of their donor, volunteer, and event data together into one powerful system that provided them with a deeper understanding of how their supporters were engaging with them. Suddenly, with more data at their fingertips, reporting was easier and more accurate. This provided them with the insight they needed to develop better outreach strategies to their constituents.
“Just having all of our data organized in one spot is huge,” says Kim. “Totem has allowed us to move forward and structure our fundraising plans around strategic data.”
What Results Did Totem and Chesterfield Food Bank Achieve?
Thanks to Totem, Chesterfield Food Bank went from having multiple, disjointed systems that didn’t communicate well and spread their data all over the place to having one single CRM that organized all of their data in one, easy-to-use system. This gave Chesterfield Food Bank the ability to analyze all of their fundraising efforts like never before.
Missed fundraising opportunities and millions of dollars in donations identified
One of the most valuable “aha” moments occurred right after implementation in which Chesterfield Food Bank was able to leverage the advanced data reporting capabilities of Totem to identify specific amounts of revenue from non-donors as well as from lapsed donors to generate an overall lifetime value.
Improved capacity to serve their community during coronavirus
5.2X increase in donations in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019
As coronavirus started impacting the U.S., countless numbers of concerned citizens began to realize how important Chesterfield Food Bank’s efforts are to the community they serve. Such concern resulted in a 5.2X increase in donations in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019. This was essential as, at the same time, Chesterfield Food Bank almost tripled the number of people they were serving on a monthly basis.
Because the need is still great, Chesterfield Food Bank doesn’t expect things to slow down anytime soon. “We’re expecting a 300% increase in participation for our summer program for kids this year,” says Kim.
With Totem, Chesterfield Food Bank was able to organize all of its supporter data into one system, making it easier to communicate their urgent needs to potential donors. They were able to easily set up a range of public campaigns, letting supporters know how they could help and then thanking them for their donations.
Improved technology infrastructure to handle growing donor database
Overall donors increased by over 17X by just the midway point of 2020
Both the number of Chesterfield Food Bank donors and donations dropped from 2018 to 2019. Motivated by their compassion to ensure those in the Chesterfield Food Bank community did not go without food in a global pandemic, donations poured in and the number of overall donors increased by over 17X by just the midway point of 2020.
The Totem platform provided the necessary infrastructure during an outpouring of support that would allow Chesterfield Food Bank to increase its capacity at a time of such great need.
“In addition, recurring giving has definitely picked up,” says Kim. “I’m very pleased with how things are going.”
Healthier, more sustainable fundraising numbers
In 2018, major donors (those who gave gifts of $1,000 or more) comprised 11% of all Chesterfield Food Bank donors and were collectively responsible for 62% of the overall dollars raised that year. In 2019, those numbers grew worse as the number of major donors decreased to 9%, making up 66% of all dollars raised that year. What made matters worse was that 36% of those major donors lapsed in 2019.
The numbers improved significantly in the first six months of 2020, as Chesterfield Food Bank captured 3,551 new, smaller dollar donors in large part due to the coronavirus. These brand new donors are responsible for 66% of all donations thus far in 2020, while major donors represent 37% of all donations.
This is a much healthier and sustainable distribution of small to high dollar donors. With the tools that Totem provides, Chesterfield Food Bank is in an excellent position to formulate an effective strategy that will result in the retention of as many of these new donors as possible.
Better fundraising engagement and assessment
“Totem brings it all together like never before. It allows me to see what is happening within our fundraising efforts and then set up groups/teams to get even better results.”– Kim Hill, CEO and Director of Chesterfield Food Bank
Before Totem, Chesterfield Food Bank had a difficult time successfully assessing the impact of their fundraising initiatives. Data came in sporadically, so finding out if certain groups of supporters were more active than others wasn’t really possible.
“Totem brings it all together like never before,” explains Kim. “It allows me to see what is happening within our fundraising efforts and then set up groups/teams to get even better results.”
For example, Totem has helped Chesterfield communicate better on social media, improving how they reach out and collaborate with their supporters in ongoing efforts. Already, after just six months of implementation, Totem has resulted in a “whole lot more traffic on [their] website,” more donations to their landing pages, and increased volunteer signups.
More effective email outreach efforts
“Totem has been awesome. It integrates really easily with Mailchimp, meaning we’re saving time when we communicate with our supporters, and we’re getting a great response.”– Kim Hill, CEO and Director of Chesterfield Food Bank
Before Totem, Chesterfield Food Bank had only sent one email in Mailchimp to 1,234 people. The small email list size was primarily due to their fragmented systems that did not provide one location for all of their contacts and their actions. Now, with a full, supporter engagement platform in place, they are able to touch nearly 8,000 more people with 9,152 contacts with email addresses in their database.
Chesterfield Food Bank has been able to utilize the data in Totem to quickly and easily segment their supporters into email campaigns that make sense. They’re able to separate volunteers from company sponsors, donors, and more. This has meant that they are able to send out more accurate and personalized information.
“Totem has been awesome,” explains Kim. “It integrates really easily with Mailchimp, meaning we’re saving time when we communicate with our supporters, and we’re getting a great response.”
In addition, it’s saved the Chesterfield Food Bank team a ton of time. Before Totem, the staff and volunteers spent hours upon hours writing handwritten letters and notes. Now, they use Totem to send out the same information in emails with better open and click-through rates.
Totem provided essential insights for reporting and board meetings
“I love the information I can look at through Totem. I have everything I need to report to the Board.– Kim Hill, CEO and Director of Chesterfield Food Bank
After implementing Totem, Kim has been able to go into the dashboard and find all the information she needs for board meetings. “I get to keep an eye on everything and make sure all the money is where it should be, and everything is lined up,” says Kim.
Kim can just look at the graphs on Totem’s dashboard and, in seconds, know exactly what’s going on. No longer does she have to compare data from QuickBooks, her bank, and multiple other systems to figure out what’s happening. Instead, Totem allows her to configure a report to see exactly how Chesterfield Food Bank has communicated with constituents and encouraged donations over the last two weeks.
“I love the information I can look at through Totem. I have everything I need to report to the Board,” says Kim.
Improved staff productivity
After implementing Totem, the Chesterfield Food Bank Team—though small—was able to better handle the many demands on their time. For example, Kim was able to hire a personal assistant to work directly in Totem every day and provide her with all the information she needs when it comes to donations and campaigns.
As for the future of Chesterfield Food Bank, it looks bright. Already the team is in the midst of planning multiple fundraising campaigns using the Totem platform. They’re developing fundraising strategies for the fall and coming up with new strategies to engage their constituents and boost their fundraising.
Chesterfield Food Bank plans to continue to engage with their supporters and donors as much as possible throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. “As we get more comfortable with Totem, I’m looking forward to using it as a ‘sales’ tool at all different levels,” says Kim. “But for now, I’m very pleased with how I can analyze data.”