The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is the world's oldest animal welfare charity. Founded in 1824, the RSPCA successfully rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes hundreds of thousands of animals every year in England and Wales. The charity also provides information and advice on caring for animals, and campaigns to change laws that will protect them. The RSPCA receives no government funding and relies primarily on a donor base of 500,000 supporters, whose donations exceed £100 million annually. Employing over 1600 staff, the wide scope of the RSPCA's work includes its inspectorate, animal centres and clinics, legal prosecutions and support for volunteer-led branches across the UK.
As a well-established and growing organisation, the RSPCA recognised their technology needed to adapt accordingly. Communication was evolving to be more dynamic and collaborative, and historical methods of presenting information across a one way channel were very much out of date. The existing content management system was complex, and business processes were slowed down by technical limitations. New developments formed a bottleneck in the IT unit so the business community was unable to react quickly to changing requirements.
The new priority was to engage with the public in ways they wanted and expected. A fresh approach was taken to creating an online experience built around the user journey which would increase traffic, deepen engagement and encourage return visits. Employees and the branch network also needed better ways to collaborate and share valuable content. The right solution would empower the RSPCA with business agility and great opportunity for innovation and income generation.
In 2010 the RSPCA adopted Liferay initially for the public website, based on the platform's rich user experience and its integration and extension capabilities. Several microsites were created to meet the demand of multiple business users, enabling them to easily set up and manage their own campaigns. The users were then able to generate local content which would be visible on the main website, increasing exposure and value.
With a successful public facing website in place, the RSPCA added more features month by month. One of Liferay's most valuable aspects is that features can be built on the foundations of previous development, so that the organisation is constantly adding value to its platform. They now have responsive design through the entire website and all their microsites are scalable to desktop, tablets, mobile and more. This year after this development was completed, over half of their visits came from mobile devices, markedly improving accessibility and overall engagement.
As the organisation grew and matured, Liferay was able to scale according to their needs. The RSPCA has now started a new branch extranet system, which is used by their branch network so they can manage the data for the animals they care for and create microsite content locally.
Business Value Added
The RSPCA's ability to deliver has improved significantly. Development can now be done in a matter of days rather than months, so cost and time to market have been drastically reduced. New functionalities are added to the toolkit every month. Better internal engagement has led to better sites and more effective relationships with employees, branches and supporters overall. Business units are now empowered to react immediately to changing requirements, which has a clear impact on income as campaign awareness and donations increase accordingly.
There are several planned extensions of the Liferay platform, including the supporter portal, My RSPCA. My RSPCA currently provides a secure communication channel for enquiries, newsletters and other information. There are thousands of registered users, and plans for future releases to get even better value out of Liferay include user-generated content, forums and greater overall public engagement.
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