Tag Archives: CRM & Database

3 steps to tech success for small charities

Why we’ve launched Salesforce NPSP QuickStart for small charities

We’ve got a campaign running right now for small charities.  Called three steps to tech success, it’s aimed at helping the smaller nfps to take the first step with tech.

3 steps to tech success for small charities - click for the guide. bit.ly/3stepstech

But what’s it all about?

There comes a tipping point for most small charities where they need to do something more than using a list in Excel and calling that a ‘database’.

It’s at that point that the questions start…  Should you dare to ask about CRM or any questions around CRM on a public forum lots of folks will respond with well-meaning advice and other folks trying to sell you their favoured solution.

We’re in both camps, but hear us out.

What are the favoured solutions?

The responses that come back include a list of some typical solutions, the option to build your own solution (usually with comments about how much cheaper it is to do this), Salesforce (who will give you it all for free – more on this later)  and Donorfy.  There may be a few other random suggestions in there like Zoho or other favoured small solutions.   So, now we have a  list of CRM options, which is kind of what we asked. But for one thing.

We asked the wrong question. 

The question that would get a better list of real options to look at is one which narrows down what you want to do with your CRM.  How can I better manage my fundraising? What kind of fundraising do I do and how does that map to tech options? Do I need to use a ‘database’ to manage programmes and keep track of grant applications?

Ask the question again and the list that comes back may be different, or it may not.  But your approach to evaluating the responses certainly will be as you have a considered set of criteria.

So, what of the names on our list?  Nothing wrong with some of the tools on the list.  But what say time and time again in response to questions like this – and articles like the top 10 best CRMs for non-profits (UK Fundraising)  is a simple truth – what’s right for one, may not be right for another.

With one exception.  And I’ll come onto that.

Ignore the advice to build your own CRM – you’ll be tying yourself to an expensive tool that you need to replace in a few years and one person who knows how it is structured and built, making it hard to shop around for talent to help you develop.  Zoho and some of the other tools aren’t really designed for charities, so making the user experience much harder. Stick to things designed for charities at least if you want user adoption to succeed.

Think about whether you need a database or CRM (links to a Purple Vision blog on just that subject).  Look at the age of the tech for some of the other options. Are they really fit for purpose?  What are the up front, hidden and ongoing costs?

What’s the exception?

Salesforce is the exception to the rule that one size doesn’t fit all.  The world’s biggest CRM may not seem an obvious choice for a small charity with hardly any staff, but it has a compelling narrative for non-profits.

We don’t just mean ten free enterprise licenses (worth £££) although that itself is fairly compelling.  We mean the Non-Profit Success Pack (NPSP).  In its latest iteration, NPSP offers the vast complexity of a huge tech platform for business, packed up for non-profit functionality and rooted in charity language and processes.

What NPSP brings to the party is that you have an extendable platform that will grow with you.  In 3-5 years’ time when your strategy has changed, you’ve upped to the next level and need additional functionality, it’s all there waiting for you.  No need to change systems again, go through the procurement process again, get everyone in the team on the same page and teach everyone a new way to do things.  Or even start the process of looking for systems you can ‘glue together’. Nope.  Choose a platform solution like Salesforce, do all that once – and then just keep growing it as you need to.

Getting started with Salesforce

If you ask questions on public boards – like you did with the wrong question –  you’ll probably hear that Salesforce is hard to use out of the box and therefore not suitable for small charities.  That’s a bit like saying electricity isn’t suitable for a small charity because you need an electrician to add a new plug socket.

You might even hear that it’s free because Salesforce staffers donate time to get charities set up.  This is honestly a huge triumph of hope for budget stretched small charities.  What *is* true is that some staff time is donated by Salesforce to some charities – read about the 1:1:1 model to learn more and some folks who are learning Salesforce coding and set-up offer pro bono time while they’re learning so they can practice on you.  Just like everywhere in life, it’s hard to find genuine and real meaningful help for free.  Hope over experience that it’s free, I am afraid.

But we can understand why both these things are said, it’s a shame that they’re wrong and are oft repeated.

It’s true you can’t plug n play Salesforce unless you have a great tech resource on your staff team.  The reality is though that you can’t really plug n play any system that’s worth you using.  There are degrees of set-up required.  We’re the first in line to say that while Salesforce is a super-system, it does need a bit of know-how to sort out.  And in the same way you call an electrician for your plug socket, you’d call a partner to help.

Salesforce partners (hint: Purple Vision are a Salesforce partner)  have very clever tech experts on their teams who can make Salesforce do just about anything.  To achieve this, they ask multiple questions, review business process, talk strategy and future plans, and then create awesome things that meet your specification.  What’s helpful is the common language they use to create Salesforce, which means anyone who ‘speaks’ the language will be able to look at your system in the future and pick up where someone else has left off.

Which brings us onto QuickStart

We’ll be honest, it’s not always cheap to work with a partner – the skills behind Salesforce are complex and technical, and in the manner of other professional services like a lawyer or accountant, time is billed by days or hours.  Time is money.

Which is why we have come up with our NPSP QuickStart offer.

In reality, while many charities have quite a unique approach to their work, many have very similar functionality requirements from a system when they’re getting started.  We know this because we’ve worked with lots of them across a range of systems – and across Salesforce.  Plus, many of our NFP team have also worked charity-side, in the hot seats that our clients sit in – so understand the requirements and what needs to get done.

Our QuickStart offer, therefore, is set up to save the time involved in the detailed discovery sessions and get straight on with delivering Salesforce NPSP in a way your charity can use it.

By doing this and offering this service, what could be a complex and costly process becomes quite simple.   Our focus with QuickStart is in both the quick element – we can deliver this quickly for you, and in our start bit – and the focus on providing you with the start you need to get using a tool.

Choosing QuickStart

NPSP is suitable for all charities to use – but QuickStart has been designed with quite specific functionality in mind and the needs of smaller charities for fundraising.  We’re not offering complex processes here – if you really need that our QuickStart service might not be for you (but NPSP is still suitable – it just needs more of those hours to get it how you want it).

QuickStart brings to life a manageable set of the full-technical and functional force of the Salesforce behemoth. It is suitable for small charities looking for their first fundraising CRM, looking to upgrade from a spreadsheet and MailChimp. It’s suitable for charities with plans to grow.

When said charity is ready to grow – in fundraising, programmes, comms, finance, HR and all the key functional areas, it’s just a case of identifying what you need and working with a partner you trust to build out the system for you to take you to the next steps.  SThere is so much rich functionality in Salesforce Non-Profit Success Pack – and more is being added all the time – that it’s a shame to overlook it all in favour of a short -stop solution.

Find out more: 

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Preparing your team for a CRM project

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the final entry in a 4 part series  from Dan explaining project delivery issues. 

Ready, set?  Let’s go

A CRM project isn’t something that will just magically happen, sadly.  It’s something that we, as your strategic partners, will work with you on.   We need your internal knowledge to deliver the end goal, and you need our knowledge and expertise to make it happen.

It’s a win-win situation and to make the most of it, a little preparation goes a long way.

How can you prepare and plan for your CRM project?

A key element is to identify and recruit to the project team Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at the earliest point of the project.

SMEs would be expected not only to be experts in their current systems and processes but also to be experts in the new system going forward.  They’ll work with the Purple Vision project team (which will include your project manager and any resources we bring with us such as specialist developers, data experts etc.  The exact team will depend on your project.

The whole team will deliver the project together, and reports to the Project Board.  A key part of our initial discussions with you will outline overall project responsibility and who should be on the project board.

Let’s consider how your SME’s can help.

Some key tips on how to integrate SMEs into the development process are as follows:

  • Capture ‘user-stories’ from the SMEs early on in the project lifecycle. SME’s are the folks who use the systems we’re looking at day in, day out. They know what they need to do – and what they may not be able to do now that they will need to do.  User stories help us outline what success will look like for these day to day users.  We’ll explain more about all this at the relevant point.
  • The next phase of development is managed through the running of Sprints, ensuring each user story is built into the system. SMEs would work with the Development team at this stage to ensure the user stories are fully understood and interpreted correctly.
  • When we’re working with MVP (see It’s just a phase), we make sure that as soon as the base system is available, load it with sample data and share with SME. These guys – our users – will be rigorous in showing us what might be missing to make our concept turn into reality as early in the project as possible.
  • They’re gatekeepers to others using and adopting the system. Training is key to help SME’s not only work with the development team in configuring the system but in being ready to be an advocate for the system as others in the organisations start to ask questions and get involved.  A key part of this is User Acceptance Testing – the rigorous bit where teams are let loose with real case data to make it work.

Ahead of your project starting, consider who your subject matter experts may be and consider how to free up some of their time to engage in the project when it kicks off.  It need not been an arduous commitment but our experience is that it is easier to release staff to add these tasks to their to-do list if they’ve been considered ahead of time.

Read the full blog series: 

It’s just a phase …

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the second in a series from Dan explaining projet delivery issues. 

Turns out your family is pretty much right. About everything.  Darn it.

Remember ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew’ or ‘you’ll never manage all that’. They were right.  Not about your ability to eat the whole Christmas selection box (just me then?).  Same as they were right when they said “it’s just a phase”.

Not about your excellent taste in hairdos and clothing (just me again, then?).

But if they’d been talking about CRM implementation, they would have been absolutely bang on.

A phased approach

When considering how to blend the right CRM implementation approach for your organisation, we very much encourage a phased approach.

We advise that you start with the very minimum you need to, and then build on all the additional functionality in phased stages after that.  This is known as implementing the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) – “a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development

In the real world of CRM implementation, the MVP means delivering the system with the only the very essential feature in the first instance.

Moscow?! 

As part of any Discovery Phase, and during the collation of user stories, we would typically conduct a priority rating using the MoSCoW system.

  • Must have – essential features for success
  • Should have – should are essential features but not necessary to be delivered as immediately – they could be delivered as a second phase
  • Could have – typically these would be features that improve user experience or user satisfaction but aren’t functionally essential. If the budget will stretch to it
  • Won’t have / Would like (but probably won’t get!) – the key stakeholders agree that these are not part of the process because they are lowest payback, not immediately essential or perhaps more appropriate for a further development stage of the system (eg in a years’ time at review).

This begins the process of ascertaining what the MVP is that could be launched at the point of go-live.

This reduces the length of the initial phase, brings users on to the system as early as possible so they can actually see it and understand it, and it ensures a low priority requirement does not eat up time and budget in the first phase.

Add integrations … 

Similarly, with system integration, it is unlikely that all systems will need to be integrated in phase 1, so the process of prioritising the ‘Must Have’ points of integration applies here also.   We therefore recommend a phased approach to bringing in the different points of integration.

The downside to this approach is that it may not be completely understood how each area will be integrated or developed from the first point of go-live.

he risk therefore is that subsequent changes, additional costs, or difficult issues come up after the point at which the system is being used live.

This risk can be mitigated through thorough discovery and business analysis across all areas, so the understanding of those areas and requirements are well understood from the outset and the project team have less chance of being faced with a surprise requirement.