BD Giving has grown a lot since its launch in 2020 but in many aspects, we are still a small charity learning as we go along.
Kate and Cláudia, our partnerships and fundraising team, have been working on implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with the use of Salesforce software. They recognised there was a need to organise our contacts and to better manage our work with partners, this is their journey so far.
Cláudia: Kate, I know we’re both coming to BD Giving from large organisations with massive CRM systems in place. What did you love about your previous CRM and what did you hate about it?
Kate: Hard-hitting question! I loved that a CRM can feel like a place where all of your questions can be answered. Questions like “which ward does this person live in?” or “when was I last in touch with this person?” or “did this person receive the newsletter from 18 months ago which included key information?” On the contrary, I hate how messy a database can get if it’s not updated. The information in it can end up being out-of-date and misleading.
Cláudia: I can relate. The massive database I worked with for sure had some duplicate records but it did help with my work and with keeping our contacts grouped. So when did you realise the need for a CRM system for BD Giving and how easy was it to convince the rest of the team this was necessary?
Kate: In my first week at BD Giving I felt like I was annoying my colleagues having to ask for so many little nuggets of information. I remembered how useful the CRM was in my previous job and I knew bringing one into this role could help us all level up. When I mentioned it to Géraud it was like he had been waiting for someone to take this on. He and Cameron were so focused on grant-making at the time.
Cláudia: Someone had to make a case for it! Did you have a plan and a timeframe for when you wanted it to be set up and in use?
Kate: In my second week I made a plan, guns-blazing. Géraud wisely told me to chill and get to know the organisation first. I did some initial research. However, the nature of working as part of a small team meant I got swept up in time-sensitive funding requirements, meetings, reports, etc. The CRM kept getting de-prioritised. Six months later, I got the green-light to hire you, Cláudia, I knew we could team up and get this done together. August has proven to be a nice, quiet time to focus on organising everyone’s data and preparing for a massive upload into Salesforce… only an eight month delay from my initial start! Haha.
Cláudia: These things never go according to plan! But now that I’ve joined and the team has doubled we can say we are almost there. While I have experience using Salesforce, I’ve never set it up from scratch so I didn’t know where to start either. What was the reason behind making this a DIY project?
Kate: In my initial research, I thought “we’re a small team, we’re going to have to contract the work out to get this done” and then I was surprised by the expense of contractors. In response, I pared down our ambitions and decided we’d set up the CRM only as a database of our contacts. I figured we could then see how this works for us and start to build in more functions as we go, things like organisational finance and programme tracking. Plus, we’re always talking about what we’re learning at BD Giving. So, I thought learning this new system and learning daily as we try to build it will give us more to contribute to the learning conversations. It’s exciting to find ways to put BD Giving’s values of learning and listening into practice on the operational side of things, not just the programmatic side.
Cláudia: We haven’t even gotten to the fun part yet! Personally I do enjoy repetitive tasks from time to time, but Cameron has said they have quite a lot of contacts and it’s taking them longer than expected to sort their data. We will definitely need a good playlist to get through organising all the data! At least it’s good to know the team understands the long term benefit of a CRM and we are getting the information we need from them with time to spare. Is there anything you are particularly worried about in terms of processes? And, what would you say are our biggest challenges?
Kate: As for the process, we want to understand who all of our contacts are and label them accordingly. We’re asking “is firstname.lastname@example.org a business owner, a charity worker, or an individual running a community project?”in order to group them. Research takes time and we want to label and group appropriately so that we can speak more directly to the people who want to engage with us. It’s also a challenge for us to figure out how we group contacts. For example, someone who wants to hear from us about funding opportunities, may also want to participate in a future decision-making process. I’m curious what you think the challenges are, Cláudia?
Cláudia: This will be time consuming but I think having a timeline in place is essential as it keeps us accountable. I believe that as long as we have clear instructions on how we are sorting the data and what we want to include, we will be able to get a functional CRM running by September. Fingers crossed! Is there anything you would like to say to other small organisations considering taking this step?
Kate: Involve everyone in the process. As each team member plops their contacts into a spreadsheet, have them recommend to you how they think contacts can be labelled and grouped. You will learn something new from each person as they know their data best. I would also say that adding as much detail as you can about a contact helps to personalise each person’s experience with your organisation and this can be really meaningful to partners or funders. Again, Cláudia what do you think?
Cláudia: I think we will be able to see the difference quite quickly. All team members can use Salesforce for accessible and centralised information. And there’s less room for error because it’s all in the same place.
Stay tuned! Kate and Cláudia will be back in touch to share how things are going once the CRM is in place and the playlists they relied on to get them there.