Tag Archives: Insights from the team

5 things we have learned from our ‘more to fundraising CRM’ breakfasts.

Since September, we’ve been running a provocatively titled breakfast series:

There’s more to fundraising CRM than Raiser’s Edge. Honest. 

Let’s be clear about one thing.  We’re not RE haters.  Far from it – many of the team here have used Raisers Edge for years, in fact, we started life consulting about it when Purple Vision was founded in 2003.  It is a stalwart of the fundraising world.

For every RE lover, we also know that there several more who are frustrated with where things are with the database – years of little investment and development. They’re stuck trying to adapt a dinosaur to the 21st century, and we hear the frustration of users feeling like they are stuck with this as there’s nothing else on the market that even compares for heavy duty, heavy lifting fundraising work.

Organisation and tech are intertwined

There are two parts to that issue obviously – just one is technology related, and the other is the organisational impetus, but both issues inform each other.

Often, one of the challenges that charities are facing in looking at Raisers Edge and whether to consider RE NXT or other tools is that other tech has been adopted to plug a gap.  The result is a  disconnected proliferation of tools that has only served to feed the frustration as data is not where it needs to be to run successful campaigns.

Hopes were high a few years ago when Raiser’s Edge announced NXT.

Hopes were dashed as charities realised it wasn’t all they’d dreamed of, and the price was as aspirational as they’d feared it might be.

Of course, options exist to upgrade to other Blackbaud products – let us not forget their full range (overview here) and the fact that there are many for whom these tools are just what they need.

Here’s what we learned from the breakfast series

Having delivered several More to… breakfasts where we outline the shared frustration (that’s news to some – they think they are alone in thinking RE is a beast!) and look at where technology is today, we’ve learned a few key insights about how fundraisers feel about their tech.

1          Everyone is REconsidering whether to move to NXT

2          Very few organisations are automatically upgrading

When RE NEXT was announced, it felt like a foregone conclusion that RE users would upgrade.  As time passes since its release, fewer charities are inclined to tick the box to update. Still more are waiting for insight into what the leading charities are going to do with their tech.

Aside from a few early adopters, there seems to be little talk about who is making the move to NXT and a lot of talk about who is looking at alternatives or looking at CRM projects.   Meanwhile, information about pricing and the like for NXT is still quite esoteric for those looking to eye up the marketplace – real costs are only really available if you speak directly to Blackbaud (which to be fair is the case with many tech providers, but we appreciate it does make it hard to get a full picture and there seems to be more “out there” on the net about other tools than RE).

3          We’re meeting Generation Y – and they don’t like it.

For a generation born with the steep uptake in tech and who are used to adopting tech and digital trends as they emerge, Raiser’s Edge is probably best described with some of the more colourful hashtags and emoji’s that form part of our modern parlance, with multiple exclamation points after each one.

It is a real dinosaur for this generation – our fundraising directors in the making – to get their heads around.  Where’s the flexibility? Integration? Why can’t I manipulate my data like I want to? On my phone?

Generation Z is about to enter the workforce – this is the generation born with a phone nearly surgically attached to them – just imagine what they are going to make of it.  How are you even going to get them to use it?! What will that mean for fundraising records?

4      Mid-sized charities are now looking to moving away from Raiser’s Edge

5      There are still question marks over whether Salesforce is a proven fundraising platform.

Of course, the alternative to RE is a platform based fundraising solution – recognising that there are multiple other fundraising database products around, there are two key players in the CRM market at this level – Microsoft and Salesforce.

Back in 2010, Purple Vision nailed its colours to the Salesforce mask and we’re a registered Salesforce partner.  We’re also still independent – we don’t work exclusively with Salesforce and so are perhaps more receptive to any criticism that is levelled at the platform than some others.

Right now, a host of charities aren’t convinced that Salesforce has fundraising crm all sewn up.  Much has changed in the past year about this, though, and we recognise that a lot of information isn’t yet fully appreciated by fundraisers.

How many know that the NPSP – the Non-Profit Success Pack – was fully relaunched last year (it was first known as the starter pack) and the content significantly ‘beefed up’?

More content for grants management and programme management was added and a comprehensive product roadmap outlined – it’s just an all-around better product for charities.  Meanwhile, non-profit discounts now extend to all the array of cloud services (from Marketing Cloud to Pardot, service cloud to communities).

Despite all this, we’re not seeing a lot of new non-profit adoption case studies that resonate with the mid-size charity audience.

None of these tools for Salesforce look like Raiser’s Edge though which is also part of the adoption problem.  The tech is current and so is quite a leap for some users to take to move to a completely new and unfamiliar interface with such a mix of users within their teams.

5 Causeview looks good – but can it ‘cut the mustard’?

The one tool for Salesforce that does ‘look’ like Raiser’s Edge (and by the look we mean that fundraisers review and see how they can immediately replicate essential fundraising processes with ease) is Causeview.

It is a managed package of fundraising functionality that sits on top of Salesforce and makes the most of the power of the behemoth CRM.  It brings together essential functionality for fundraisers, volunteer management and a bit of event management.

It’s already in use in more than 150 charities in North America, Australia and Europe – but only a handful in the UK.

The market response to Causeview is good when it’s demoed and the price is fair for the functionality – but a few more case studies will help those who are wavering between NXT upgrades and a platform shift to make their move.

The good news – a whole new crop of users will be going live shortly which will help build even more confidence.  Just watch this space.

Sign up for our next breakfast and join the debate: 

10 May 2017 – 09.30 (Purple Vision) 

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6 things to do while everyone is on seasonal break.

Our Marketing Director, Mags, is a bit of a one for getting organised.  In this post, she shares here tips for stealing a march on 2017 and using the time between Christmas and New Year for maximum benefit and impact. 

It’s Christmas break! Yay.  The days between Christmas and New Year are a strange time, leaving some of us delighted to be spending time with our families, eating copious leftovers and some of us delighted to be anywhere but!  In one way or another, work continues, arguably often at a slower pace (as everyone else is off) but with a keen understanding that, come January, things will take off again very quickly.

Extensive research* reveals that there is a correlation between your boss being away and the degree to which your inbox is swamped.  This, in turn, can correlate between how on top of your to-do list you feel, how many new tasks are coming in and how calm you feel about impending deadlines.  Worse, you know it’s going to be super-busy between January and Easter (because it always is) when everyone is focused on the new year, change and getting things done.

Over the years, I’ve learned this time between Christmas and New Year is really important to stealing a march on the months ahead.

Here are my 6 to do’s for the seasonal gap. 

1          Niggly to-do list leftovers

There are always things on your to-do list that get knocked down because while you give them credence and importance, they’re either nice to haves, non-essentials or not a major priority.  Start knocking these off your list.  Go back through them, collect them into one place and figure out if they really are still to do, or because you’ve left them so long they’ve become a bit obsolete (count this as a victory and tick them off!). Can you scratch some off the list, and focus on the ones that really do matter and just get them done and dusted?   The other important lesson for me in all this is that I often end up with lists in more than one place (notebook, post-its, some in the CRM, some in my inbox). How can I keep on top of a list when I have lists of lists?

2          Get ahead with the planning

Come the new year onslaught how are you going to cope?  Get busy with your diary to get ahead of that game.

  • Block out space for regular tasks in your schedule so they don’t get forgotten
  • Schedule in recurring and important meetings if they’re not already in place.
  • Go through project plans – are they up to date? If not, get on top of them, and anticipate where blocks of your time may be most in demand to complete tasks – get these in the diary (in pencil or its digital equivalent ‘tentative’– you can’t be inflexible but you can try and take control of your own workload)

3          Research

Your planning grid will probably reveal the need for some solutions or a bit of background reading – get ahead with this now.  Set up folders and bookmarks in your web browser so you can bookmark pages and easily refer back to them when you need them but start to think about where your knowledge gaps are now and find key resources that everyone will find useful in completing a project.   This is a good task to do with a cuppa (or even a cheeky middle of the day snifter) and some Christmas cake.

4          Turn off your email

This is the perfect time to get as much stuff done as you can without interruption.  It’s a great time of year to turn off your email and avoid being distracted by other things and just crack through some of the things you need to get done.

5          Keep an eye on the clock

If you’re the kind of person that’s early into the office and often gets involved in working until later to ‘just get this finished’, make a special point of not starting work until you are supposed to and finishing on time.  I promise this will feel a bit like a holiday in itself and no-one will even notice. It’s only a few days and you should only be working those hours anyway.  And if you’ve turned your email off too you’ll be amazed at what you get done in the ‘proper’ amount of time. It is interesting how much we think other people notice if we are at work late each day – some do but in the main, no-one cares about your hours – they care about your output and outcomes instead.

6            Clear down your inbox

Once you’ve done some solid graft, take some time to clear down your inbox.  This is one of my favourite things to do before I switch off for New Year if I have been working the time in between.   I love to delete or clear out as many emails as I can.  It is virtually impossible to have a completely clear inbox, but the feeling of being on top of things that you get from having a very lean inbox is very satisfying and I remain determined to keep it as clear as I can for as long as I can.  (end of the week, usually). It’s an important psychological switch for me. I bet there are things you’re hanging onto as they’re a reminder to do something – get them on your list instead- where they belong.

* It doesn’t matter where I’ve worked or at what level this is a truth universally acknowledged.

Steps to success with Purple Vision non profit success pack partner, Purple Visiom

Steps to success with Salesforce

This blog by Purple Vision CEO, Steve Thomas, is about the new Non Profit Success Pack.  Purple Vision has been supporting charities to adopt NPSP since we became Salesforce partners in 2010.

NPSP. 

Same acronym, slightly changed name – from non-profit starter pack to non-profit success pack.

A casual observer would be forgiven for suggesting that this change, announced recently by Salesforce.org with much fanfare, is little more than a minor makeover.

The technical enhancements that accompany the name change are comparatively light additions to the established core of the product which remains unchanged. But the change is significant – we believe that this shift  recognises the maturity of (arguably) the most successful software solution ever written for non-profit organisations.

In this way, we regard the Non-profit Success Pack more as a ‘coming of age’ than an ‘upgrade.

What makes NPSP unique and valuable?

Even in the world of charities it is unusual to get something for nothing. But NPSP really is a free gift. Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.com, launched the Nonprofit Starter Pack back in 2008 as an enhancement to its previous Nonprofit Template.

Since that time they have supported the solution through substantial upgrades as well as continuous enhancement releases. NPSP can be provided pre-installed with the Power of Us donated licence programme, as well as in open source code from Github.

Perhaps more significantly, by consolidating NPSP as the de facto framework for all non-profits that use the world’s best CRM system, Salesforce.org is paving the way for a whole new phase of development that will leverage its ever-evolving technology platform.

Salesforce today is almost unrecognisable from its origins as (unsurprisingly) a sales management tool. It has become a comprehensive customer-facing technology platform with

The Non-Profit Success Pack continues to provide the essential baseline that enables all non-profits to take advantage of these features with a structured but flexible framework that models their unique needs.

connected-np

This unique approach to donated licences with an open source overlay has helped build a substantial and active community of tens of thousands of organisations that benefit from Salesforce.

With the latest facility for developers, partners, and even customers to build and customise their own apps and features, NPSP will encourage and support a future with even greater diversity, innovation and collaboration.

What does NPSP actually do?

In a nutshell – it’s a special layer on top of the core Salesforce system – a data architecture designed to meet the special needs of non-profit organisations.

The key effect of NPSP is to adapt the Salesforce focus on business-to business (B2B) activities so as to more closely resemble a business-to-consumer (B2C) model that is common to charities.

NPSP sets up structures to manage

  • the relationships between individual donors,
  • their households,
  • the organisations they are associated with.

It also establishes a standard model for

  • creating and managing pledges,
  • donations,
  • recurring gifts,
  • volunteers.

Where next?

NPSP as the standard for quality, reliability and innovation

NPSP was originally intended to provide an entry point for smaller organisations to get started with Salesforce – hence the former name Starter Pack.

Those with additional requirements take advantage of the 3000+ pre-integrated third-party applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, together with bespoke development by a growing cadre of certified developers and partners (like Purple Vision).

Crucially, the success of NPSP means that it is increasingly accepted as the standard model, providing an industry-wide benchmark for organisations of all types, sizes and geographies.

The development focus for Salesforce.org in future is to constantly reinforce the central role of NPSP whilst actively encouraging customers, partners and developers to innovate on this platform.

Examples of this in the Success Pack include new features such as:

  • personal profiling,
  • in-memoriam donations
  • in-kind donations,
  • campaign tools
  • upgrading the user interface to the latest Lightning standard,
  • enabling NPSP for more languages, starting with Spanish, German and French.

Innovating with the security of a solid platform

The flexibility of the Salesforce platform means that customisation is safe and straightforward to undertake, especially with the extensive frameworks for formal accreditation and informal learning and support. With such a large community, developments evolve in all sorts of new directions. This leads to innovative and successful outcomes but also, in some cases, organisations find themselves with a system so heavily customised that they lose some of the flexibility of a common standard architecture.

At Purple Vision we believe passionately in future-proofing solutions so that our clients retain maximum flexibility around their long-term strategic objectives. We strongly support the development of universal standards such as NPSP, which mitigate the danger of over-customisation and we have been accredited by Salesforce.org as one of just four International Impact Partners formally supporting NPSP.

Wherever possible we advocate well-built, proven apps over DIY customisation.

We have tested, installed and supported scores of AppExchange solutions and we know where they work well (and where they don’t), and whether they offer value for money. As the saying goes, we prefer “clicks not code”.

Our solutions almost always involve NPSP, and we have delivered scores of successful solutions that work very effectively within this standard.

For example:

Be a non profit success with NPSP and Salesforce.org.  

Find out more about being a Salesforce success:

Take action – get started with Salesforce NPSP and Purple Vision

Purple Vision NPSP Resources

 

 

The importance of being earnest

For me, one of the advantages of getting older, and hopefully wiser, is that I can be more relaxed about admitting that, sometimes, I just haven’t got a clue what somebody is talking about!

As a consultant, one of the most important skills I have to demonstrate is clarity of communication. If a client doesn’t understand what I’m saying, and I don’t understand what they’re saying, we’re hardly going to have the most productive consultancy session!

It’s vital that I take every opportunity I can to clarify ideas, make sure the client and I are truly on the same wave length, and that decisions and next steps are documented and minuted.

With my colleagues at Purple Vision, when we’re knocking around new ideas, this still holds true. Last week, we had a ‘teach-in’, where David Williams-Jones gave us all an overview of our new product ‘Total Sketch’, which, simplistically, can help an organisation identify the true demographics of their supporter base, and identify and target people just like them.

This link here explains it all…in plain English!

http://www.purple-vision.com/product-service-detail.asp?Auto_ID=17&SectionID=2&SubSectionID=3

It’s a very, very, very clever piece of kit – and the sort of thing that somebody with a) a geography degree and b) a distinguised career in charity database management should instantly get…

…but I didn’t get it. I just simply had little or no idea how it worked at all.

I had two choices a) be quiet and pretend I understood what was going on to save face or b) be frank and explain that if David had explained it all in Korean it would not have been less clear.

I chose option b. I need to understand this tool to be able to explain it’s value to our clients. I need to understand this tool in order to help deliver any projects related to it.

Ignorance would not be bliss, it’d come back and bite me very hard on my posterior. So, for the sake of several hand-in-the-air/’please Sir, can you explain it again?’ moments, I’ve saved myself some future pain – and I’m sure it’ll be worth it

“It will never work”

We’ve been working on a project recently that aims to change the culture of a complex medium-sized organisation and create a customer-centric culture.

I can already hear you crying “don’t bother”! But before you scroll down to the comments window to tell me it will never work, let me share with you some comments from one of the working groups about their interactions with colleagues when introducing business process redesign:

“when told what successful CRM systems can achieve, they are very positive about it, and give every indication of committing to the change”

“it is difficult for people to visualise something that is not yet in place and the benefits need to be neatly described to those who don’t know much about CRM

“can we think of quick and dirty examples of how the CRM will change the face of [the organisation] if we were all to sign up to it 100%. This is what we could look like it 3 years time … paint the picture and tell the story maybe?”

“I think some of them will come from organisations that have successfully implemented CRM systems and can evangelise about them”

When I hear comments like these it brings a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. At Purple Vision we spend a lot of our time evangelising the benefits of real CRM (ie not just the database) to clients and others who typically see it as a just a technology solution.

Real CRM is about building a shared attitude where an organisation collectively places its customer (aka stakeholder, client, supporter, donor) at the centre of it’s work. We reckon CRM should be about 25% TECHNOLOGY, with the rest of the effort going in to PROCESS and PEOPLE.

The members of this project team are experiencing this for themselves – and reflecting it in their enthusiasm to spread the word! This is really encouraging for the chances of success for this organisation’s ambitious plans.

OK, now you can be cynical (sorry, realistic) …