Hillel International (Hillel) is the world’s largest and most inclusive Jewish campus organization, supporting and inspiring more than 150,000 Jewish students at 850 colleges and universities each year. With more than 200 college affiliates across 16 countries, Hillel maintains a global mission to enrich the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world.
Over the course of its 100 years in operation (the organization celebrated its centennial in 2023), Hillel International has impacted the lives of millions of students. While the organization’s mission has remained largely the same over its century of service, the tools and technology helping deliver on that mission have steadily changed over the years.
Paving a Pathway for Progress
Etan Harmelech serves as Hillel’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, leading a team of thirty staff members overseeing everything from digital and direct fundraising to strategic communication and direct-to-student and alumni marketing. Hillel had migrated from Blackbaud to Salesforce shortly before Harmelech joined the organization, allowing him to start fresh and hit the ground running to impact the direction of the organization’s new technology.
“Initially, the thought was that Salesforce would only be used for donor management, but when I came aboard, we invested heavily into lead generation and contact acquisition on both the donor and student side,” explained Harmelech. “When I arrived, we had about 40K donors in our database, now we have around 900K total constituents, ranging from donors, prospective donors, parents, and students from high school level to college alumni.”
With such substantial growth made possible by Salesforce, the organization sought out Cloud for Good to better harness the technology. Specifically, Hillel was looking for a way to create exceptional engagement experiences through a combination of Salesforce for Nonprofits and Marketing Cloud for fundraising, constituent management, and engagement.
Using Salesforce to Power Programs
These solutions would serve to provide a scalable system capable of accommodating a database holding roughly 1.3M contacts (and climbing) comprised of donors and students who participate in Hillel. This solution was able to create precise segmentation and personalization for constituents. Additionally, marketing automation was a large priority given the amount of time staff had been spending on manual marketing processes.
For example, Hillel sends about 5K students to Israel each year on free, sponsored, 10-day trips. Before these students fly out, 60-, 30-, and two-day reminders are emailed to keep the students informed and ready for their upcoming voyages. Prior to Cloud for Good’s Salesforce services, every single reminder, at each time interval, was created and sent out manually for each student.
“You can imagine the volume and the strain such an undertaking puts on our staff,” explained Harmelech. “These trip reminders are now all automated thanks to Cloud for Good.”
Using dynamic content created in Marketing Cloud, Hillel can now segment emails into distinct, granular groups that are customized to the unique needs and characteristics of each constituent group. As building a recurring donor base is a continual priority at the organization, Cloud for Good has helped build email journeys and drip campaigns that promote fundraising and target constituents in a way that deepens their relationship with the organization and creates a seamless experience.
“The ability to maximize our integration is huge,” said Harmelech. “I think of Marketing Cloud in a similar way to the human brain, in that we only use around 10% of its actual functionality. There’s so much we’re still learning about the solution with help from Cloud for Good.”
Reimagining Processes + Accelerating Development
In addition to the modern digital experiences created through Marketing Cloud, Hillel utilizes Salesforce for Nonprofits to track and accommodate a staff of over 1.2K members worldwide. With a reliable, single source of truth created through Salesforce, Hillel is able to segment staff according to the executive directors of each campus, all of which are equipped with separate communication paths made possible through the combined power of Salesforce for Nonprofits with Marketing Cloud.
“Our business processes have been reimagined in almost every conceivable way through Salesforce,” Harmelech revealed. “Our online giving has increased 500% over the past five years as we’ve focused on contact acquisition and getting better at creating journeys and being smarter with our asks.”
With Salesforce’s suite of technology solutions accelerating evolution across the organization, Hillel has been able to drastically increase the effectiveness of programs across the board. Harmelech made a point to highlight a particular scholarship program launched by the organization several years ago that provides funds for students with limited financial means to attend college. The entire application apparatus of this program is built through Salesforce, making it possible for each submitted application for financial assistance to be entered into Salesforce in a matter of mere minutes.
In 2022-2023, over 2K of these applications were submitted into Salesforce, helping Hillel make quicker decisions during the scholarship process using clear, actionable data organized intuitively. “It’s been really transformative,” said Harmelech on the impact Salesforce has made on this scholarship program. “The cost of college isn’t going down, so it feels good knowing we can distribute more scholarships through the ease with which Salesforce allows us to grant them.”
Promise for a New Generation
Salesforce also empowers Hillel to continue its vast support once the students begin their collegiate careers. One key component of Hillel’s outreach is predicated on finding out where incoming college freshmen will be attending school, then connecting those students with Hillel’s established Jewish community on their campuses.
When the program began, the names of 300 incoming freshmen were passed along in an effort to strengthen Jewish life in those respective Jewish academic communities. In 2023, Hillel will assist over 15K students in finding a home for Jewish life on their campus of choice thanks to the power of Salesforce technology.
“Cloud for Good came to us with an understanding of our organization that most companies simply don’t have, and the efficiency in which Cloud for Good works is incredible,” said Harmelech in closing. “I love working with Salesforce and Cloud for Good; I can’t imagine our operations without them.”
To learn more about Hillel International, visit hillel.org.