- Case Study -

Trinity Hall

Cambridge University College uses Paytia to secure another bumper telethon campaign

 

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“Paytia has helped us turn a security exposure and reputational risk into a value-enhancing opportunity. Fundraising has never been more important and Paytia has helped us achieve our goals”
Trinity Hall
James Adamcheski-Halson
Trinity Hall Cambridge

As Trinity Hall, one of Cambridge University’s oldest Colleges, prepared for its annual Alumni Telephone Campaign, it hit a problem. Following a routine security audit, it became clear they needed to change the way student callers were taking donor payments over the phone.

By asking donors to read out their card details, the College was weakening the trust of the very people it relied on for support. It was also at risk of bank fines for failing to protect donors adequately.

With just weeks to go before the telethon kick-off, the College turned to Paytia for help.

For universities around the world, alumni donations are a key part of their funding. The emotional connection alumni have with their alma mater makes this especially valuable. Trinity Hall, the fifth oldest of the Colleges at the University of Cambridge, is no different. In 2021 over 70% of the £3.5m voluntary donations received came from alumni.

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Dialling for relationships (and dollars)

Even in today’s online age, telethons — phone-based campaigns — remain the cornerstone of College fundraising.

As Trinity Hall’s Development Officer, James Adamcheski-Halson, puts it: “Phone conversations are unique in enabling us to build rapport, empathy and trust with potential benefactors. Given that individual donations can be hundreds or thousands of pounds, this is key to a successful campaign.”

“During a Telethon, it’s not uncommon for calls to last half an hour or more. We’re nurturing a relationship that we hope will bear fruit in years to come.”

 

Trust buster

However, the College hit a snag.

Shortly before its first major in-person Telethon since the start of the pandemic in 2020, a routine security audit unearthed an issue: to take payments, student callers were asking donors to share their card details over the phone.

Given the backdrop of soaring ‘card-not-present’ fraud — which has doubled over the last ten years — it was clearly untenable to expose donors to such a possibility. Undermining their trust could cost the College thousands of pounds in lost income.

Moreover, the old practice was in clear breach of payment-card industry data-security standards (PCI DSS) and General Data Protection Regulations. Trinity Hall was at risk of potential fines from their bank for non-compliance that could reach anywhere from £4,000 to £80,000 per month and even trigger the withdrawal of banking services.

For the Bursar, College Compliance Officer and Finance Team the situation was black and white: plug the security gap or stop taking phone payments.

James now had to find a solution and fast. Stakes could not be higher. He knew that without the convenience and immediacy of taking payments on the call with alumni, his campaign income would plummet.

As he explains: “Gaining commitment and payment on the call is vital. Once Alumni put down the phone and get on with their busy lives, we’re on the back foot. Our campaign results would be significantly lower, meaning hardship for students and a decline in the College’s overall resources.”

“Paytia has helped us turn a security exposure and reputational risk into a value-enhancing opportunity. Fundraising has never been more important and Paytia has helped us achieve our goals”

 
“I was able to get Paytia up and running — connected to my telephony and to Stripe, my preferred payment provider, by myself in minutes.”
Trinity Hall
James Adamcheski-Halson
Trinity Hall Cambridge

Searching for a solution

James had to find a solution that addressed three requirements:

  1. Find and setup a new VOIP telephone system as there were concerns over the security of the College’s existing phone network.
  2. Enable James’s calling team to take payments securely and seamlessly during their calls;
  3. Quick and flexible deployment also enabling capacity to turned on and off with campaign demand;
  4. Be simple to use for staff and alumni alike.

 

The first goal was to find a mid-call payment solution. Sending callers to automated payment lines at the end of a call or emailing them an online payment link had major drawbacks.

“If a payment fails after the call has ended, we have to recontact the donor. It’s inconvenient and inefficient for everyone. Making online payments simply doesn't work for many of our older alumni.” 

“Also using end-of-call payment systems can feel a bit like a ‘hit and run’ for the donor. Once a payment has been made, I want my team to take time to thank the alumni, update their contact details and recap on some of the topics discussed.”

Speed and ease of deployment was critical. With only a few weeks to launch, James had to find something that could be deployed quickly.

The solution also had to be failproof for James’s team of student callers who would be working for three solid weeks.

“My students not only found Paytia easy to use, but feedback from our donors showed that its presence reinforced the trust we want to foster.”
Trinity Hall
James Adamcheski-Halson
Trinity Hall Cambridge

Telethon train back on track

 

James turned to Paytia. The company’s Secure Virtual Terminal ticked all the boxes.

Firstly, it enabled James’s team to take card payments from donors easily during calls, protecting card data while enabling them to remain in contact with campaigners throughout.

Secondly it was quick to set up or requiring any costly or time-consuming set up. Capacity could also be readily flexed around campaign schedules.

Finally, Paytia were able to provide the VOIP Phone lines we needed – the quality of calls was exceptional.

“I was able to get Paytia up and running — connected to my telephony and to Stripe, my preferred payment provider, by myself in minutes.”

James added: “Once set up, it was easy to configure payment-reference fields to match our systems and add my own campaigner call prompts — both of which enabled me to ensure payment processing was efficient and consistent. It made it easy for new volunteers to get up to speed quickly.”

Thirdly, Paytia’s secure card-capture process proved to be effortless for student caller and donor to use. 

“My students not only found Paytia easy to use, but feedback from our donors showed that its presence reinforced the trust we want to foster.”

Secure Virtual Terminal is built on the Paytia Platform — a unique global cloud platform, designed specifically to enable for fast, flexible deployment of secure phone-based payment solutions suitable for any size of organisation, from one-person business to international enterprise.

Because the Paytia Platform is PCI-DSS Level-1 certified, users are removed from all significant PCI-DSS obligations. And agents can operate anywhere — in the office, from home or on the move.

Donors simply key in their card data using their keypad, following Paytia’s interactive-voice prompts. Using a process Paytia calls “channel-separation”, sensitive card data is prevented from leaking into conversations or onto phone systems or recorders. Callers can track payment authorisation in realtime and should anything go awry, either party can reconnect at any time.

 

Securing a successful campaign

 

Paytia has been used to reach Trinity Hall donors around the world and take every single gift pledged securely.  James and his management team can focus on fundraising rather than being limited by new compliance requirements. Motivating everyone to make the calls has been eased by the simplicity of the solution. And for donors the feedback has also been positive in that they trust the security of the system and enjoy the conversations they have before and after the payment as it reconnects them with their formative years.

“Paytia has helped us turn a security exposure and reputational risk into a value-enhancing opportunity. Fundraising has never been more important and Paytia has helped us achieve our goals”

 

Would your business benefit by taking secure card payments?

 

Contact us today. Find out how Paytia will improve your customer experience, protect your business and its customers from fraud and comply with industry data protection regulations such as PCI-DSS and GDPR.

 

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