Every organisation (business or charity) relies on its connections with other organisations, customers, partners (usually real human beings), etc. to conduct its activities. The more this organisation operates the more connections it establishes and the more important they become for its operations. Accordingly, these relationships fuel the growth of the organisation. In the business world these are usually client relationships, which at the end of the day pay the salaries. In the charity realm these are based on the connections with the donors who are inspired by the charity work and support it by fundraising, donating and volunteering.
What is a database and how do charities use it?
In order to keep track, foster and develop those relationships for the success of the organisation, management and employees usually create a list with contact details of their supporters, including as much information is available to them. In this way every time the donor/client gets in contact the team already knows what they are interested in and is able to provide them with the most relevant information in order to get the person engaged. This works the other way around too whenever the charity team plans to fundraise for a new/old project and uses the system to check the details of those donors who could be interested in supporting the cause, as well as to understand how to inspire them to donate again. The list which holds these valuable details, including the donor contact details, is called a database.
What is a CRM system?
Over the years keeping a database has evolved from ‘pen and paper’ to Excel files and online spreadsheets on local computers, and then again into sophisticated platforms which cater for the multiple different types of lists an organisation wants to keep, the so called Customer Relationship Management systems or just CRM systems. These are usually a piece of software which is set up according to the requirements of an organisation in order to record specific type of contact data and compile it in an easily manageable way. For charities such CRM database contains its supporters’ information (donors, fundraisers, volunteers and others) and in some occasions a beneficiary database.
Are small UK charities effectively using database and CRM systems?
Regretfully, the reality is that 90% of the products available on the market are built for businesses which 1) can afford to pay for them and 2) have different needs than charities. This, in combination with the fact that the non-profit sector is a completely different playfield, has resulted in it being technologically backward - about 10 years when compared to the business one. Almost all small charities (about 92% of the UK market, 144,000 registered organisations) still find the majority of databases which are available to them too complicated, expensive and useless. In fact, when we meet our inspiring users to tell them about KindLink free and charity tailored supporter CRM system, we are often shown PCs Excel spreadsheets containing their supporter databases, which are worked on separately (and in some occasions even kept on a paper notebook), and we are always told that the main reason of this choice is due to the fact that the organisation has never had the money to pay for expensive tools, alongside the lack of human resources. We are basically told 'we would like to advance our charity mission using technology, but we can't afford to do that.' And let me just say that this represents a missing opportunity not only for the charity itself, but also for those who could benefit from their amazing work.
How can KindLink help?
If you are a non-profit organisation you most definitely need to establish a centralised, cloud-based supporter CRM database in order to keep the great work of your charity up to the standards your trustees and donors would expect. And the good news is that if you don’t have any budget to buy one, now there is a free alternative.
KindLink is the first free online donor engagement platform, created with small charities in mind and with the aim to make the charity sector more transparent and efficient. We provide free tools ranging from CRM database for supporters and beneficiaries, to online donation processing and automated Gift Aid reports; from online fundraising campaigns to project management and social media integration; from volunteer management to a dedicated social network where charities can connect with donors and showcase their work, thus raising more money for their projects and being able to help even more people in need.
We offer our tools for free to organisations, without making any profit out of them. Charities processing their donations through KindLink save on average 62% in donation fees compared to their previous providers (only the 1.3% bank fees are taken from the donation), meaning they raise more and spend less, with more resources available for their valuable work.
With KindLink, we are showing the non-profit sector that you don’t have to use expensive tools to improve your work and increase your impact. And that even small charities can finally benefit from a simple and smart CRM and database system.
Interested in knowing more about KindLink and how we could help you engage with other charities, corporate partners, your donors, volunteers and supporters? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!