To help them achieve their goals, Framework has recently chosen to implement Access thankQ charity CRM system. The Relationship Management software designed specifically for not-for-profit organisations will be used by Framework to manage their relationships with supporters.
Framework’s previous CRM system had been in place, stored on internal servers, for over a decade. It was difficult to access from the organisation’s different sites, was outdated and not very user-friendly, particularly for those who only needed to use the system once or twice a day. Not only that, the system relied on manually inputting the large amount of Direct Debit payments and regular donations that Framework receive. In short, it was simply no longer fit for purpose.
The specification for the new system was written by Alex Phillips, Team Planning & Monitoring Co-ordinator for Fundraising & Communications at Framework. He first worked with Framework’s IT department to compile a list of what they each wanted from a new system.
Perhaps their most pivotal requirement was that the new system had to be cloud-based. Hosting it online rather than on internal servers would allow staff to access it more easily, wherever they may be, and would save the IT department having to frequently upload new versions of the software.
From here, Alex visited the Institute of Fundraising’s (IoF) website and researched what systems some of Framework’s competitors were using in order for him to gather a list of potential suppliers. It was on the IoF’s website that Alex first became aware of The Access Group, and thankQ CRM.
Alex then invited selected suppliers, including their existing system’s supplier, to tender. The Access Group were, of course, one of several to respond.
After much deliberation, the decision to award the contract to thankQ came down to the fact that it most closely matched Framework’s requirements, whilst also offering a range of added benefits:
Framework looked to implement Access thankQ in March 2017 and were fully up and running by June. Alex had spent some time prior to the implementation to assess what data they had, export it out of their system and manipulate it to make the transition smoother but, as is often the case, there was a little more to do afterwards. And with one eye on the impending introduction of GDPR, Alex and Framework saw an opportunity to create a new database that was not only ready to import into thankQ but that would be compliant from the off.
Since going live, however, Alex has been impressed with how little maintenance Access thankQ requires.
Alex comments that the training provided by Access “was great” and that Framework invested in making sure all members of the team, including volunteers, were involved from the outset rather than expecting a few individuals to pass on their knowledge.
Despite its user-friendliness, Access thankQ inevitably does things differently to Framework’s previous system thus ensuring that training was required but this was expected.
Asked how the IT team got involved with the implementation and how they found it Alex responded, “IT had VERY little to do with it, which pleased them immensely!”
Approaching the first anniversary of the go-live, the team have had time to assess the move to Access thankQ and, we are pleased to say, have all found it to be much more user friendly:
For Alex, though, the biggest benefit is to his own workload, “Previously, a lot of my time would be spent picking up mistakes that staff or volunteers had unknowingly made when helping with the financial processing, in order to balance the books. The old system made it hard to check if you had made a mistake and so were often only picked up, painstakingly, at the end of the month. Hundreds of payments would have to be checked to find a single error. thankQ prevents that. As you work in batches, you always know what the right number of payments should be. It is very difficult to make a mistake. Very simple things like that make life a lot easier!”
In December, a real justification of using cloud-based software was demonstrated when the organisation’s servers were hit with a malware attack. The finance department, alone, lost two months’ worth of data, across different sites, and it took them a considerable amount of time to recover. Being hosted in the cloud, Framework’s fundraising was not impacted whatsoever.
“This really drove home the advantage of having a cloud based system, particularly as it hit during the busiest time of year for us” states Alex.
At the time the GDPR deadline was just a few weeks away, Framework were already ahead of the curve. They were not scared to destroy incomplete contact data or where they could not prove they had consent. In fact, it encouraged them to go back out to their database and reconnect with their supporters, obtaining new information, email addresses and permissions. They collected data via paper forms and on their website, admittedly losing some donors but maintaining the high value ones. They were even complimented on their approach to gathering consent.
Framework’s plan is to continue a move towards a more digital approach, starting with a new website, and Access thankQ will play an integral part in this.
Alex would like to build on the integration with Access thankQ, adding online payments to the new website and sees lots of opportunities going forward as Access thankQ “does not have a short shelf life, it’s constantly improving.”