Studies estimate that an astounding 3-5% of men and women in prison are innocent of the crimes for which they are imprisoned. Some of the most frequent factors leading to wrongful convictions include government misconduct, eyewitness misidentification, inadequate defense, incentivized informants, false confessions, and flawed forensic science.
The Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) investigates criminal convictions where modern DNA testing was not available at the time of trial. If there is a compelling claim of innocence and DNA evidence still exists, GIP litigates to test that DNA and prove actual innocence. Since its inception, GIP has received more than 6,800 requests for assistance, including 1,400 from Alabama.
Georgia Innocence Project was looking for a powerful, user-friendly donor management system that could replace their outdated and clunky database. “While the database had previously been chosen because it was less expensive, it ended up costing us more in money and time. The database didn’t have any communications features, so we were also paying for a separate email messaging platform, and we were paying for a separate text to give platform, both of which were exhausting to connect with the database. Worse still, it was nearly impossible to run a report,” said Grace Akan, Deputy Director at Georgia Innocence Project.
“In our search for a new database, we wanted something powerful, more user friendly, and with more automation.” After receiving a recommendation for Bloomerang and checking out the website, Grace and her team got excited about the donor cultivation opportunities.
Georgia Innocence Project had finally found a donor-centric database without all of the unnecessary bells and whistles. Grace and her team now had a clear picture of their donor cultivation and engagement efforts. “Unlike the old database, I never worry that I’m missing data, or that someone didn’t get thanked. It gives me a clear picture of what donors we should target by way of the timeline feature and engagement level. I love how powerful the reporting feature is. I love that I can send clean, customized email blasts and see who opened them. I love that letters automatically get copied to the constituent’s timeline. I love that you can go back and edit a letter in case you notice mistakes. The list goes on!”
The people at Bloomerang practice what they preach, and that was another reason why Grace was originally drawn to Bloomerang. “On another level, of all the donor databases I researched and inquired about, Bloomerang was the only CRM that cultivated me like a donor rather than throwing stuff at me and not really listening to my needs.” On top of the knowledgeable staff, the software was designed to be inherently easy to use and learn. You wouldn’t even need to use the staff’s expertise. “I love Bloomerang so much that I’ve caught myself nerding out to it until 2:00 in the morning. I love that it was so easy to pick up and that I can easily train others on how to use it.”
Georgia Innocence Project has seen several fundraising pain points be alleviated since implementing Bloomerang. One such benefit is that the team is now able to segment and send out more personalized communications that resonate with their donors. “With Bloomerang, it’s easy to choose the type of thank you letter the donor should receive. Plus, the email is copied to their timeline which means we don’t have to guess which letters they received later on or go through any hassle of retaining that info. That’s huge because we have so many different segments of donors that must be cultivated differently. Email integration is also great because, once again, it’s copied to the constituent’s timeline and we can see if they opened it.”
Georgia Innocence Project can now spend more time strategically cultivating their donors. “As a result of partnering with a very well known podcast, GIP thankfully acquired thousands of new individual donors in the course of a couple months. Bloomerang allows us to see whether we’re successfully engaging these new donors, whereas before, it was hard enough to identify the new donors, let alone strategically cultivate them. Now, we don’t scramble to figure out whether a donor was thanked. Rather, we now focus on coming up with creative ways to communicate with the donor beyond the thank you.”
At the end of the day, all of this has contributed to Georgia Innocence Project becoming more confident in their fundraising power and increasing productivity and output on what they do best. “Rather than feeling exhausted after using Bloomerang (like we did with the old database), I feel encouraged about GIP’s fundraising power. I spend less time agonizing over how to do something like pulling a report or sending thank you’s and more time actually getting it done and making it to the next step in the cultivation process.”
It’s amazing what a donor-centric tool built for fundraisers can do for the growth of a legal aid organization such as Georgia Innocence Project. “If you’re looking for an easier, more efficient, and powerful way to fund-raise, Bloomerang is worth every penny.”