Australian Red Cross creates a seamless digital experience for supporters and volunteers using Okta

5 months

to launch the self service portal

7 months

to launch integrated e-commerce platform

Unified platform

offered to 200,000+ customers and supporters

  • No consistent or central user experience
  • Digital transformation for an improved user experience
  • Searching for an easy-to-implement identity solution
  • Fast implementation, improved user experience
  • Okta provides the building blocks for future expansion
No consistent or central user experience

Australian Red Cross has hundreds of thousands of donors, volunteers, members, and customers. But the organization had no way to keep track of user data or how individuals interacted with its website. With no single source of truth and no way to know and understand its end users, Australian Red Cross was missing huge opportunities for engagement, promotion, and effective action.

Digital transformation for an improved user experience

Australian Red Cross realized it needed to embark on a digital transformation to better serve its many supporters and improve operations. Key to that transformation was designing and implementing My Red Cross, a secure, streamlined portal. My Red Cross would allow end users to more easily interact with all facets of the organization, enable self-service, and offer Australian Red Cross a 360-degree view of its volunteer, customer, and member base.

Searching for an easy-to-implement identity solution

The organization turned to the marketplace to find an identity solution that would be easy to use, secure, fully supported, and customizable. Okta Identity Cloud offered the functionality and easy integrations Australian Red Cross wanted, as well as the ability to completely customize the platform as Red Cross. The organization worked with Okta Professional Services to design and implement a phased deployment.

Fast implementation, improved user experience

Within several months, Australian Red Cross deployed My Red Cross to thousands of users. Users can now log in to one portal to purchase, donate, register as a member, or volunteer. And the organization has data it can use to target communications, cross-promote, and more effectively engage customers. The organization also worked with Okta to develop and securely launch a new integrated e-commerce platform.

Okta provides the building blocks for future expansion

As Australian Red Cross continues to roll out My Red Cross to volunteers and members, the organization is strategically creating the building blocks for future expansion. The organization plans to use Okta workforce identity solutions to secure and integrate departments, including HR, across the organization as a whole.

We’re really getting a 360-degree view of our users thanks to Okta. By integrating our various efforts, we’re able to consolidate customer information, which lets us cross-promote, be it for volunteering, donations, retail, first aid, or training. Through this platform we can now target those messages and engage our customers.

Donna Jiang, Senior Project Manager, Information Technology, Australian Red Cross

Better serving supporters and volunteers through digital transformation

Australian Red Cross has been providing humanitarian aid and community services across Australia since 1923. In times of crisis, the organization is ready to launch disaster appeals, and mobilize volunteers and supplies. It also runs online and in-person stores where anyone can buy new and used products, gifts, and emergency supplies.

The organization encompasses over 25,000 volunteers, 80,000 monthly donors, and hundreds of thousands or more donors, supporters, and customers. However, Australian Red Cross didn’t have a streamlined way to connect with all of those people, or even have a clear picture of who was using or supporting their services. As a result, there were opportunities to improve volunteer deployment, and the organization was missing important opportunities to engage its base.

“Our volunteers and customers are our lifeblood, and many have dedicated years of service to Red Cross, and while their customer experience was positive in so many ways, from a technology perspective, there was no consistent experience or personalization,” says Australian Red Cross’s IT senior project manager Donna Jiang. “You could be someone who donates regularly or someone who donates to emergency disaster appeals; you could be a volunteer; you could be a member; you could be a customer; you could be all of the above. And every time you interact with the Red Cross, it's an isolated transaction from a technology perspective—we don't know who you are. We had no centralized data, no single source of truth.”

Australian Red Cross realized it was time to embark on a digital transformation journey to better serve their supporters, stay relevant, and inform marketing programs. To get started, the organization worked with a consultant to develop their strategy. The flagship initiative was called My Red Cross.

Australian Red Cross envisioned My Red Cross as a portal that would serve donors, volunteers, members, and employees alike by integrating the organization’s many programs, offering a frictionless digital experience and giving the organization a holistic view of their users and supporters.

“Our 25,000 volunteers and 180 services, that's a lot of people, a lot of different things we do for the community,” adds interim CIO Danijel Andric. “It’s about connecting all of that because without gluing it all together, it can become quite disjointed. Our customers are our volunteers, our clients, members. We wanted to provide a seamless experience through My Red Cross so that no matter who you are, when you engage with us again, in no matter what capacity, it’s a uniform engagement and very simple one.”

To achieve this goal, Australian Red Cross needed strategic technologies that it did not have at the time.

Multiple relationships, one identity

Chief among those missing technologies was a digital identity management solution and an integration platform that would allow Australian Red Cross to collect, collate, and protect user data.

“We saw opportunities to offer our customers a seamless customer experience through a secure portal where they could access their data anytime, anywhere they needed,” Jiang says. “You want to have one identity, a single sign-on, to manage all of your different user relationships and interactions, from work or home or anywhere.”

The portal would also need to enable customer self-service. Prior to My Red Cross, a regular donor would have to call the customer care team to make any changes to their profile on file.

At the same time, security was top of mind. The organization needed to be able to control access permissions, protect personally identifiable information, and create a Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant payment platform to help Australian Red Cross meet its strict requirements. “We needed to secure data, implement multi-factor authentication, and be able to change policies depending on the user, whenever needed,” Jiang says.

Developing technology in-house to meet these requirements was not an option. “One of our strategies is to outsource all our platform infrastructure to providers,” she says. Working with established cloud service providers offers more flexibility and options, with less strain on resources.

When the organization set out to look to the market for a digital identity solution, three criteria were front of mind. “We wanted to invest in a mature product,” Andric says. “We've got to be very careful with which products we choose and ongoing operational support of those is a key. As well, we’re on a cloud journey so everything we do these days has to be cloud first. The third factor was data sovereignty, ensuring that information is maintained in Australia.”

Keeping the Red Cross brand front and center

Australian Red Cross evaluated a number of identity platforms for potential adoption. For ease of integration, implementation, and ongoing maintenance, Okta came out ahead. Unlike other solutions, the Okta Identity Cloud would also allow Australian Red Cross to completely customize their portal—users would never need to know they were interacting with an Okta product.  “People want to see our branding,” says Jiang. “That provides a sense of security assurance that they’re dealing with the Red Cross rather than another company.”

Okta also fully supported Australian Red Cross’s existing API integrations. Okta Integration Network’s suite of ready-to-use integrations positioned ARC for a smooth and efficient roll-out of the new, secure customer portal.

”Naturally our information, especially in this digital age protecting people’s data is extremely important, we take this very seriously by ensuring that we have strong controls in place,” says Andric. “Okta fit the bill for us, especially because it's been able to seamlessly integrate with the other platforms that are making up our digital experience space.”

“The features, the capabilities, the quality, and the easy support for implementation weighs really high for Okta,” Jiang adds. Australian Red Cross decided to adopt Okta as the identity and security foundation for My Red Cross.

Rolling out a personalized, simplified experience

Jiang and the Australian Red Cross team worked with Okta’s Professional Services team to design and implement the identity solution. “We had an idea of what we wanted to implement in terms of identity and access management, but we didn’t have the experience to determine how to drive that and deliver on our requirements,” says Jiang. “The Okta team helped come up with the right solutions.”

Australian Red Cross implemented several of Okta’s core Customer Identity and Access Management products, including Authorization, Authentication, and User Management, as well as Multi-factor Authentication and API Access Management. The team also implemented several Okta Workforce Identity products, including Single Sign-On, Universal Directory, and Lifecycle Management.

Working with Professional Services, Jiang and her team developed a phased rollout of the My Red Cross self-service portal. The first launch happened just five months after Australian Red Cross’s first discussion with Okta.

My Red Cross was offered first to the organization’s 84,000 regular donors. The next step was to get the platform out to the 200,000+ single giving customers.

Three months after the initial deployment of My Red Cross, Australian Red Cross launched an e-commerce platform, which replaced three separate sites and enabled automated, flexible stock control. It also let customers purchase products from different business areas (including new, pre-loved, first aid, and charity gift cards) and donate from one central location. Customers can access the e-commerce platform as a guest or as a My Red Cross portal user, supported by the Okta solution.

“The experience is personalized, but also simplified,” says Jiang. “Now, if you’re a portal customer, all you do is log in and everything is pre-filled in for you. You just select the product, check out, pay, and off you go. Customers can also have the option to donate at the checkout.” Users can also connect to the portal to update their credit card or other details as required.

“In just a short space of time, seven months from when we started talking, it’s already obvious the user experience has improved,” she says.

Over the next six months, My Red Cross will be rolled out to volunteers and members. “We’re really getting a 360-degree view of our users thanks to Okta,” says Jiang.  “By integrating our various efforts, we’re able to consolidate customer information, which lets us cross-promote, be it for donations, retail, first aid, training, or willingness to be a member. Through this platform we can now target those messages and engage our customers.”

Easy and secure volunteer registration with Okta

Knowing who is interacting with the Australian Red Cross website also has important ramifications in times of urgency. Jiang recalls the Australian bushfires of early 2020, when over 5,000 people registered to help, and can see how the new technology will fast track volunteer management.

“With the volunteer portal part of My Red Cross, the minute you register your interest, you’ll be given access to the portal,” she continues. “The portal pulls all the information together, so at any point it will tell you and us where you are in your onboarding process. And once you're deployed, you’ll have the ability to provide your capacity and look at the roster and scheduling.”

The portal also provides a forum for the Red Cross to engage with volunteers, provide information, and move them based on their readiness—rather than having people waiting in a queue and contacting them one by one.

The building blocks for further expansion

Both Jiang and Andric are delighted with the value Okta is bringing Australian Red Cross, noting the journey is just getting started. “This digital identity Okta has enabled is very key—to be able to integrate and authenticate multiple systems securely is crucial,” she says.

Andric points out that Okta is a key player in the organization’s overall digital transformation. “Through the whole digital experience activity, we're seeing a lot of quite measurable efficiencies,” he says. “By integrating and automating a number of systems and the data flow and so on, you remove a lot of manual handling. And we have examples where we have set up an automation and, all of a sudden, we've just freed up someone to do something else more valuable, which is very powerful.”

Okta’s identity solutions will eventually be implemented across Australian Red Cross, including its HR systems and other internal workforce requirements. “The organization is going to start using Okta for all of our systems that require either staff or external authentication,” Jiang says. “The work we’re doing now is creating the building blocks for an organization-wide identity management system.”

About Australian Red Cross

Australian Red Cross is building a better society based on people helping people. The Australian Red Cross is a leading humanitarian aid and community services charity in Australia and an auxiliary to government.