We <3 our customers

(and they love us, too)

A lot of the discussions we had with Emma, especially with our Customer Success Manager in the earlier days, made Emma feel like a partner, not just a vendor. That’s a big deal to us.


Shriners Hospitals for Children, founded in 1922, is a network of 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America specializing in pediatric care for orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palettes. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, the hospitals follow the slogan of “love to the rescue,” a phrase undoubtedly associated with their mission to provide a compassionate, family-centered and collaborative care environment.


Providing services to more than 1.5 million children since its founding, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay, Shriners Hospital relies on the generosity of their donors. So you can imagine when faced with the challenge of managing more than 600 thousand emails per month, the primary focus was to pull all 21 agency accounts under one parent account. With Emma’s ability to facilitate brand consistency, segment audiences and create custom templates, Shriners Hospitals for Children now saves time and energy across the entire network.


More importantly, the Shriners Hospitals for Children headquarters team can now relieve hospital staff of the somewhat daunting task of email, an effort best performed by a specialized team. Without the pressures of compliance and brand consistency to worry about, due to the intuitive automation features of Emma, they’re able to focus on fundraising and creating captivating content.


Tailored campaigns through well-balanced branding

“Prior to Emma, we didn’t have a very good way to manage unsubscribes and other features, which really put us in some precarious predicaments when it came to subscribers receiving emails from the hospitals and from HQ because none of these systems talk to each other. The hospitals were using Outlook, Mailchimp, Constant Contact…so we had a big problem,” said Martin Quessenberry, Director of Digital Projects and Innovation at Shriners Hospital for Children. “I’m a huge stickler on reputation and deliverability scores. I don’t want to be blacklisted. I don’t want to put our organization in a situation where our emails aren’t getting delivered.”


Reputation, delivery scores, open rates…all of these have one common denominator-brand consistency. With Emma HQ’s tiered accounts feature, the Shriners headquarters team has been able to create branded templates that each hospital can edit to fit their individual campaigns and fundraisers. All of the templates have been built to make it simple for each of the 22 hospitals to drag-and-drop content into a template, while keeping all of the organization’s branding—colors, fonts, font sizes—locked. This gives each Donor Relations department  the space to create emails that speak directly to their individual efforts, while building a consistent and unique brand for the entire organization.


“Each one of our donor relations departments now have their own agency accounts, they have their own login credentials and at HQ, we’ve created and developed templates that they can pre-choose in their account and are locked so that they can’t be changed, creating a well-balanced branded email environment.


The streamlining of their email marketing by using standardized templates also ensured that the organization stayed in compliance with CAN-SPAM laws, which allows email recipients the opportunity to opt out of communications with the organization.


Cultivating a healthy email list with Blackbaud

With the heavy lift of more than 600 thousand email recipients under their belt, it’s no secret that the Shriners staff, both on-location staff and headquarters staff, have email marketing and cultivation at the top of their priority list. However, according to Quessenberry, the maintenance and hygiene of these email lists are at the crux of their goals as they head into the next fiscal year.


“Outside of revenue goals and emails, our biggest goal was to get our systems to talk to each other. If someone makes an action in Emma, no matter what location-agency account, or HQ account-we need that to communicate back to the CRM to notate that record. That’s the final piece of the puzzle for us when you look at our email program holistically,” said Quessenberry.


This is a common goal amongst Emma users. They’ve collected a list of email addresses and subscribers, but the challenge comes in keeping that list clean and healthy. The best way to go from simply collecting an email list to cultivating an email list is to take advantage of Emma’s integrations, which is currently underway at Shriners. By combining the power of Emma and Blackbaud, Quessenberry and his team can look forward to a more seamless and cohesive email marketing experience.


Once fully integrated with Blackbaud via Emma HQ, the Shriner team will be able to:

• Integrate data from any Blackbaud object

• See Emma Email responses within Blackbaud and create powerful reports & dashboards by combing email metrics with your Blackbaud data

• Use Blackbaud subscriber data to deliver 1:1 personalized content

• Keep good email hygiene with automated updates between Emma and Blackbaud


Year-over-year growth, year-over-year success

When looking to implement a new ESP across its headquarters and all 22 hospitals in the network, Shriner Hospitals for Children had a few goals for their new ESP that they determined would best benefit them as a team:

• Continued year over year revenue growth

• To nurture the 88% of subscribers who don’t donate

• To better maintain list hygiene

• Provide Donor Relations Reps easier use by providing a set of brand-ready templates


Quessenberry’s main focus, though, was to relieve their donor relations professionals from all things email. He explained that by bringing Emma on board, Fundraisers are able to focus on what they enjoy and do best-fundraising, and at no loss of control of their content and individual efforts. Since doing so, they’re now reaping the benefits of the hard work that went into the ESP transition. The hospitals can now see how important streamlining the process was for the overall well-being of the Shriner Hospital for Children network. The organization is now communicating better, both internally and externally, with better deliverability and reputation scores as well as year-over-year growth.


“We know email is finicky with open rates, then you have deliverability and reputation…,” said Quessenberry. “I think the biggest fear in doing this project from their [donor relations] perspective is that they would have no control; headquarters would tell them what to do and that’s just the way it is. But, in fact, what we were doing was making it easier for them to do email marketing by allowing them to just focus on content… don’t worry about anything else.”


Emma: A partner, not just a vendor

Let’s be honest, new systems are scary. No matter the department, no matter the organization, transitioning from one system to another takes teamwork and patience, but most importantly, everyone must be on the same page about the goal of the switch. Emma’s number one differentiator is the team’s dedication to customer service and support, which makes a transition at least a little bit easier.


“It was just the way that Emma treated us. The care they gave to us with our questions. I say this a lot—I do panel discussions at events, I have a lot of discussions with my nonprofit peers—there’s a big difference between a partner and a vendor,” said Quessenberry. “You can pay monthly to any vendor and get a service. The difference between a vendor and partner is, a partner wants to see you succeed and to continue to see growth. A lot of the discussions we had with Emma, especially with Mary [Emma Customer Support Representative] in the earlier days, made Emma feel like a partner, not just a vendor. That’s a big deal to us.”


Along with attention to customer support, the Shriner team also benefited from Emma’s:

• Brand consistency offerings including a controlled image library, locked colors, and custom templates

• Tiered account structure and user permissions

• Easy-to-use analytics dashboard

• Ability to duplicate past email sends and save templates

• Availability of both a drag-and-drop and HTML email builder

• List management and segmentation processes

Whether dealing with the issue of list hygiene and brand consistency, such as Shriners Hospital for Children, or in need of strong A/B testing features or just a better collaborative work space, Emma has a solution to help your nonprofit organization’s email marketing go from better to best. To learn more about how nonprofits are beating the odds with Emma, click here.

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