Salesforce for Charities – Can you justify spend on a CRM system? by Rajni Beghal

So please, indulge me for a moment. What comes into your mind when you see the words ‘Fundraising Campaign’? Is it unwanted phone calls interrupting your dinner? Street chuggers? Sad-looking tube adverts? All of the above?

What about… an appeal for a new database? This isn’t something we’re so used to hearing! We often hear messages that, by donating a pound, 90p can be delivered to a child in need. What we don’t often hear is that, by donating a pound, you can help the charity reinvest in crucial infrastructure, like a database or CRM. This, in turn, can enable them to convert every subsequent pound into £2 for a child in need – AND better track, target and deliver their services.

Why don’t we see these messages? Unfortunately, we can sometimes get the perception that charities should be run on goodwill and cuddles alone. But the reality is, for any organisation to run well, it needs to work both ‘on’ the business and ‘in’ the business. This means that it needs to deliver its services, but it also needs to improve itself so that it can deliver services better and more effectively. To do both things requires budgeting for both things.

This is as true in the third sector as anywhere else – and perhaps more so! It’s here that we find organisations with limited and often decreasing resources, which serve some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Caring for those with mental health issues, campaigning for at-risk young people, resettling refugees – these are not easy things at the best of times. They are physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. To do this work, the third sector needs and deserves adequate resources. It also needs to find ways to do it better, more efficiently, and more effectively.

Salesforce is unmatchable when it comes to improving and enabling charity performance. In my experience working in the third sector, I found Salesforce to be cloud-based, easy to use, and able to track everything I needed, from front-line delivery, to campaigns, to on- and offline donations. I could see at a glance which beneficiaries or supporters were involved in different activities, and I could define automatic updates and reminders as a part of any workflow, saving valuable staff time and pre-empting human error.

Salesforce also lets you serve and communicate with all your different stakeholder groups according to their different needs. For example, when a donor sets up a monthly direct debit, you can make sure they get a special, personalised ‘thank you’. When a service user with complicated mental health issues has several upcoming appointments, you can send automated reminder emails to help them keep track. When your front-line staff want to input session notes when they’re out meeting with clients, you can give them mobile access to do this on their phones. When fundraisers are planning and executing campaigns, you can give them the tools and access they need to track and analyse ROI at the click of a button. All these things can save your staff time, save your organisations resources, and help your stakeholders feel recognised and appreciated. The possibilities are endless.

Tracking all of this also means that organisations have the data to see where they’re doing well and where they can improve – whether it’s their admin processes, their fundraising approach or their beneficiaries’ outcomes. With this kind of insight, organisations can be more innovative and more responsive. They can confidently develop programmes that they know are effective because they have the data to back up their decisions. In short, they can be more connected to the people they serve and to the people who serve them.

In all this good news, I have just one caveat. Although donates the product with 10 free licenses, the actual implementation costs more than 10p per £1. This does mean planning and budgeting for that upfront cost. However, as with any good investment, properly planned, an initial upfront cost can pay dividends in the long run. Surely for organisations working to support the most vulnerable people in our society, that’s an investment worth making. And we, the general public, have to stop criticising charities for spending funds on anything other than front-line delivery.

At makepositive, we’re proud to have worked with many charities and are actively seeking more to support. One of our recent favourites has been working with the London Urban Arts Academy, who work to inspire communities and young people through creative and media arts. We helped them unify disconnected spreadsheets and documents into a consolidated CRM system that brings their whole organisation together. London Urban Arts Academy are now in full control of their data, from participants to volunteers, through to fundraising applications. They can do everything from setting automatic reminders when funding applications are open for renewal, to tracking how many young people they’re reaching within each area. With one system for everything and a few simple automations, they’ve freed up their small admin team to make the most of their resources. This is what Kerry O’Brien, founder of The London Urban Arts Academy Charity &The Urban Arts Experience, had to say about the project:

“Over the past month we have been supported by makepositive to implement and integrate Salesforce into our operations. We went live with Salesforce this week and already I have seen the huge benefits this will have on how I run the charity. I am so very grateful to makepositive for making it such a positive experience for us and I have no doubts that the impact of this CRM will be revolutionary in how we operate and save us resources too!”

Now it’s over to you: is your organisation maximising its resources? Could your organisation benefit from revitalising its CRM? We want to help even more nonprofits focus on impact instead of admin.

Get in touch with Rajni Beghal at [email protected] for a free consultation and to find out more.

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