Alder Hey Children’s Charity

Alder Hey Children’s Charity

Alder Hey Children’s Charity manages third major appeal in ten years with Harlequin’s CRM and fundraising software.


In 2013 the Alder Hey Children’s Charity embarked on a major fundraising appeal to raise £30 million towards the new ‘Alder Hey in the Park’ children’s hospital. In addition to the daily management of the fundraising department, this appeal is their third campaign in ten years to be managed on the Harlequin CRM.

When and why did you decide that you needed a new system?

In 2003, we were in the final stages of our Rocking Horse Appeal. To move things forward we needed a system that would provide a proper reporting structure, allow income analysis and capture all donor information. We were unhappy with our old supplier and couldn’t see the value of upgrading. Everything we wanted was in the Harlequin system and we could readily see the benefits it could bring. Since 2004, Harlequin has been integral to our everyday fundraising as well as our major appeals and will be the bedrock of our latest ‘Alder Hey in the Park’ appeal.

How was the installation and what is your experience of ongoing support?

Moving to Harlequin was hassle-free. The training was good and had the important personal touch; it was useful to be trained at our desk, on our own data. We regularly attend Harlequin User Group events, which add real value. We can suggest product development ideas, see latest releases, meet other members of the Harlequin community and generally ‘talk fundraising’.

"Harlequin are like an extension to our department – they always make time and you know who you are dealing with."

What are the biggest benefits the system has brought to your organisation?

Links in the system to template letters have revolutionised how we deal with thank yous. For ad hoc donations, such as ‘walk-ins’ to the office, we enter details against a contact record, select a letter into which the data is automatically transferred and then print it straightaway. If we have lots of donations, we process these in a batch, linking each donation to a contact. We also have an annual appeal mailing that used to take weeks and involve the IT department. We now extract the information and have personalised letters ready to print in 20 minutes. Having a complete communications record and donation history against every supporter, which is easy to drill into on the screen or lift out into a document, offers reassurance to donors. For example, when people call to enquire about a cheque, we can bring up their information and relay the date it was cashed. Others want to see a list of their donations, which we can quickly extract and issue. To inform our strategic decision making, management information is easily accessible within the system.

"Everything we wanted was in the system and we could readily see the benefits it could bring."

How do you use the software to manage your fundraising events?

We co-ordinate all our events on the system including the White Ball, Clothes Throw, Golf Day and Alternative Ascot. First we create a new Event in the database setting up requirements, allocating budgets and assigning tasks to team members. We then create the ticket structure and, using information stored in the database, extract appropriate invitees. We keep track of who is attending, their guests and who has paid. We also despatch the necessary communications before and after the event. In a similar way, we add runners in the Coniston Challenge and English Half Marathon to an Event, tracking their sponsorship and issuing vests and personalised certificates.

Why did you choose Harlequin and why have you continued to use them?

More than anything, it was instinct – we liked the Harlequin team and believed we could work together. We were 100% convinced that customer care was a real priority and we would be important to them. The screens are well designed and the software is straightforward. Harlequin also listen to their customers and this drives how they evolve the software.

To you, what three words best describe Harlequin?

Empathic, responsive and approachable.