cloudThing's Transformation in Charities Event ReviewJulie WhitingJuly 17th 2019
Our sold-out Transformation in Charities event was a success and we were able to share knowledge and advice to all those who attended. Check out our review of the day and see us answer the most sought after questions...
We'd like to thank everyone who helped make our event, Transformation in Charities: DataScience and Dynamics 365 such a success. We discussed topics such as Microsoft's Tech for Social Schemes, Dynamics 365 as a Platform, How AI can increase sponsor interest and how to keep your Charities IT secure. We would like to say a special thank you to all our guest speakers also, Ian Drew from Microsoft, Harj Singh from Aristi, and Ian Goodman from British Red Cross.
Before the event, we asked all attendees what was most important to their Charity, there were five key themes that became clear:
1) Why do we need to keep up with the digital trends?
2) How can we enhance supporter experience through technology?
3) Why choose Dynamics 365 over Salesforce?
4) Are we getting all we can out of Dynamics?
5) What else can Microsoft offer the Not-for-Profit sector?
So, let’s get onto the answers.
According to Beyond Digital’s 2019 survey, approximately 85% of supporters and 95% of funding decision-makers said that they’re more likely to support a charity if they can demonstrate how they use technology to run its programs efficiently. By keeping up-to-date with these technological changes, charities are more likely to attract talent into their workforce, and gain new supporters to the charities cause by reaching out more effectively.
One of the first questions facing a charity looking to improve their digital capability is choosing a platform. Often, for larger charities it comes down to choosing between Dynamics 365 or Salesforce for charities, if we’re honest, there is little difference in terms of out-the-box capabilities, but the customisation and flexibility of the Dynamics platform is why we as an organisation choose to work with it. Ian Goodman of British Red Cross also discussed the deep integration between Dynamics 365 and other Microsoft products such as Office 365. So, you’ve heard it from a non-profit organisation as well as cloudThing, so it’s not 100% biased!
Improving the supporter experience is a priority for most charities, as supporters that are actively engaged are more likely to recruit new volunteers and keep supporting to the charity. Using technology to do this means Charities do not need to scale up staff to manage growing supporter and volunteer numbers, as instead they can be managed at scale through digital services. The Microsoft Tech for Social Impact Scheme is available to ensure not for profit organisations can benefit from Microsoft services at an affordable price, making it easier to deliver innovative solutions. Once an organisation is able to make the most of Microsoft's platform, innovative partners such as cloudThing are on hand to implement the platform correctly so that it is built for all future challenges.
Question four asked if charities are getting all they can out of their current deployment of Dynamics 365. From our experience and from what we’ve seen, many Not-for-Profit organisations are using multiple systems for each area of their business, so that would mean a separate system for Fundraising and Donor Management, Volunteer Management, Finance, HR, etc. From the very first outlook, having many systems can mean reduced efficiency as staff need to go into each separate system for different pieces of information. Having one single view of your environment in Dynamics 365, with all the information on the cloud, means that accessibility will also be improved across the organisation’s branches around the country or globally. Dynamics has an in-built functionality to manage all of these areas, and some examples are Project Service Automation, and Supporter Engagement using Dynamics for Marketing etc.
Alright, you’re starting to see the benefits of using Dynamics 365 for your non-profit organisation, but time for question five, is there anything else that the technology can offer? We’re glad you asked! cloudThing have developed a Gift Aid processing tool which integrates to Dynamics, called giftaidThing, which helps non-profit organisations ensure that all Gift Aid donations are correct, auditable and compliant with HMRC regulations. You can find out more about 'giftaidThing' on our website! There are many plug-ins and add ons for Dynamics 365 built on the PowerPlatform, all of which enable you to quickly solve minor business issues with ease. Problems that might never reach the top of the to do list for development can quickly be solved as part of the wider Dynamics platform.
Another area where cloudThing can support charities, is developing DataScience within their organisation and offering Microsoft products such as Power BI which can help you to gain insights into different areas of the organisation, like how, for example, to reduce donor churn. (You can read our latest blog, ‘AI and Automation: Reducing Donor Churn and Maintaining Sponsor Interest’ to find out more about this).
There is a skills gap within the Data Science sector, with many organisations knowing there is potential in this area, but unwilling to purchase an expensive off the shelf system, or invest in an expensive analytics team. Luckily, cloudThing are on hand to offer our DataScience team's services to make the most of your untapped data!
What did we learn from this event? Every organisation will be at a different stage of transformation, whether it has not yet begun, the or in flight. At any and every stage, cloudThing can offer help and guidance, as well as our experts to help you on your way to a successful transformation. There will be obstacles such as trying to get people to buy into the process of transforming and long debunked fears around security putting data on the cloud, and that the benefits are worth the investment. The discussed during and after the event showed how much energy and appetite there is in the sector for change, and we look forward to helping Not-For-Profits do even more good in the world through the power of Tech!