Cloud CRM makes sizeable contribution to charity's success

19th Jul 2011

Children’s charity Compassion has cut nearly £300,000 costs in one year and increased donations, thanks to RightNow’s Cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

Compassion is helping more than one million children in developing countries break free from poverty by finding supporters to sponsor them. It does more than simply distribute money to those in need; the Christian charity encourages direct communication through letters and emails between sponsor and child and manages all this correspondence.

The hunt for a CRM solution began about three and a half years ago, when the charity realised that although its existing database was fine for handling the financial transactions with its supporters, it was doing little to track communication with them. Richard Atterton, chief operating officer at Compassion explains: "Everything else was written on bits of paper - we weren’t managing or tracking our supporters."

Traditional on-premise software was quickly rejected in favour of Cloud-based solution, partly because of the extra burden it would place on the small IT team to manage the implementation and manage the software in-house. Without having to make extra investment in technology and support, more funds could also be directed at helping children.

Atterton comments: "We felt that we were giving someone else the problem we could have ourselves. That was the big attraction. We haven’t got a huge IT department. At that time we had two people and weren’t looking to expand."

It took just a few weeks to get the initial system working. The bulk of that time was spent working on converting the data from its home in the legacy system to the RightNow CX environment. But, the key challenge was change management. Atterton recognised early on that people needed to see clear gains quickly to buy into the idea of using the system.

Facebook integration

Today, the RightNow system does more than just manage supporters’ monthly payments. Rather than clog the call centre with questions, supporters can now find their own answers using the online help. All Interactions, including letters, email and phone calls are recorded and monitored through the contact centre. When a supporter rings up, service staff can easily call up the history of that supporter, enabling them to be better informed about the caller and quickly identify and resolve their needs. This wealth of supporter information has created more personalised communication, which has led to increased retention rates of supporters, worth about £140,000 annually.

According to Atterton: "It has changed the way we work, moving from a position where we were doing lots of admin, to now where now they can develop relationships our supporters. People are now proactive in contacting people and have got the time and space to do this."

Since the initial deployment, Compassion has embedded RightNow into its Facebook presence. This means that supporters on Facebook can have their queries answered there and then without ever having to leave Facebook.

Atterton says: "We’ve integrated our Q&A with Facebook. it’s pretty seamless. If you are on Facebook you’ll be unaware you’re going off to the Compassion site. Now we have 2,500 followers on Facebook and that’s beginning to to provide real results and people find it easy to pass on to other people."

Keeping costs low is essential for any business, but especially so for a charity. The less spent on overheads, the more money that goes to the people they are trying to help. Automating the process has enabled the company to make considerable savings in staff costs. "Compassion has doubled in size in last four years and we’ve done that with just a small increase in staff."

Improving donations

The move to a Cloud CRM system has meant savings on post. Instead of sending out mailings with a Freepost envelope for people to return, the company now uses RightNow to communicate.
Using the cloud approach has also dramatically cut the costs of opening new operations. Pre-cloud, it could cost around £80,000 on technology alone to open a branch in a new country. Today, costs are closer to £10,000. RightNow has also played a key role in driving a 13% rise in supporter numbers and in bucking the recession with a 30% increase in donations. In total, one year after launch, Compassion estimated savings of £290,000 and has continued to make savings in its second year.

Compassion is hoping to continue improving donations while keeping costs low with RightNow’s help.

Atterton sums up: "I think the biggest thing to mention is that actually this was quite easy to do. RightNow had to do the techie bits. We’re not experts in ITand don’t want to become experts in that. Cloud has given us this opportunity."


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