What advice would you give to a charity implementing a new system?
Harlequin clients share insights on what to look for when selecting charity software for CRM, fundraising, service delivery or charitable accounting. These anecdotes are based on first-hand experiences of researching and selecting a new system.
Create a checklist of what you want from a system now and in the future – make your system future-proof where possible. From the get-go, scope out the best practice processes that you want to root in the system. Also consider your reporting and integration requirements. Your supplier should be a key advisor at this stage. Only import once complete.
- Damian Chapman, Head of Communications & Fundraising, Police Dependants’ Trust
Select software that is the best fit for your size of organisation and is therefore good value for money. Invest in a system that you can financially justify, now and in the future – one that will also evolve in line with changing charity regulations. You won’t go far wrong with Harlequin.
Ian Roome, Head of Fundraising and Volunteering at Over & Above
Put in the groundwork beforehand; get the data mapping right from the outset if you are migrating data across. Moving forward, make one person responsible for the charity’s database overall. Very quickly data can vary in quality, which will dilute the value of your information. Ensure to undertake regular quality control checks and encourage consistency.
Barry Floyd, Operations Coordinator, SpecialEffect
Think very carefully about what you want to be able to achieve now and future proof as far as possible. Ensure the new system complements your business and the people who use it. It is critically important to document your requirements BEFORE starting the build phase. Finally, it is crucial that you can grab help whenever you need it from a real person, not just a reference book.
- The team, Kidney Care UK
In the research phase, call up your network and peer group – visit them if possible to see the software in action and ask questions; you will typically get honest responses. At the implementation phase, have a good plan and stick to it. Ensure you clean your data before it is transferred across into Harlequin CRM and assign super-users in each team to champion the database and own ongoing data health.
Theo Platt, Head of Development and Communications, Gloucester Cathedral
Allow enough time early in your CRM project to tidy your data ready for the import – such as checking the consistency and accuracy of data under each column heading. Don’t try to tackle everything in the first phase. For a website and CRM integration project, deliver the separate entities first and then deliver the integration.
- Tim Moran, Operations Manager, Tiggywinkles
In reality, many systems are fairly similar – the quality of customer support helps separate suppliers as well as the added value they can bring to your organisation. As you will be working together for many years, it is imperative that you get to know the company and be sure you can build rapport with their team. Will you feel comfortable about asking them for advice? Are they committed to the sector and do they understand fundraising? Will they take time to understand how you operate?
- Anne Hodgson, Operations Manager, Alder Hey Children’s Charity
Check SORP credentials: most critically, ensure that the system meets the SORP charity accounting standards and that it incorporates any recent SORP changes. Do0n’t let the software limit the design of your accounts: before you start, consider the structure of your chart of accounts; question whether the system can support you in the way you want to work and present the level of detail you want to show. Do you wish to use the old NHS categories for expenditure or be more flexible in your reporting? Do you wish to analyse the balance of every fund over each asset category? Can you produce an accurate set of accounts easily?
- Andrew Treherne, Head of Finance, Sheffield Hospitals Charities
Read full case studies about the organisations above, including more tips, hints and insights.