People are everything to the American Red Cross. Founded in 1881, the country’s leading emergency relief and preparedness organisation offers assistance, training, and preparedness services to hundreds of millions of people each year. Much has changed since its early days when the telegraph was the main method of communication. Today the organisation uses Salesforce to build closer connections with both the individuals it helps and the volunteers that are critical to its operations. According to Ronnie Strickland, CIO, "Salesforce is a critical part of our community outreach. We work together to help the public." The Red Cross started using Salesforce when it wanted to more effectively manage relationships with volunteers, financial donors, and blood donors and recipients. It consolidated information from 150 national partners and more than 500 local field units in Sales Cloud to make it easier to build relationships with supporters and volunteers, thank them for their efforts, and get the word out during a crisis. "Donors and volunteers are the heart and soul of our organisation. The closer we can stay with them, the more we can do for the public at large," says Strickland. Because operations are now in the cloud, volunteers can get up and running quickly during a crisis. With Salesforce, volunteers can bring and use their own smart phones and iPads to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Not only does the organisation save money, but it can onboard new volunteers with minimal IT involvement.
The Red Cross is also taking advantage of social media to get the word out during emergencies. A recent survey sponsored by the organisation revealed that nearly a quarter of the general public and a third of the online population would use social media to let loved ones know they're safe in an emergency. It also found that people use social media during disasters to get updates, seek and give help, and connect to others. With this data in mind, The Red Cross unveiled its Digital Operations centre, a command centre dedicated to monitoring and staying in touch with the public using social channels. The innovative centre uses Marketing Cloud to listen to social media conversations—gathering invaluable information during a disaster, or monitoring public preparedness for a serious situation. Data gathered in the Digital Operations centre can also help determine where to position workers on the ground. "Marketing Cloud gives us ways to measure the effectiveness of our community outreach," says Laura Howe, Vice President of Public Relations. "It helps us to gather and analyse information so we can focus on turning what we learn into actionable strategies."