Tackle your data challenges with an online CRM system

Michael McAndrew, community manager at CiviCRM, says using your data effectively is crucial to making the most of your resources

CiviCRM: now in its 11th year
CiviCRM: now in its 11th year

If you work in the third sector, I’m sure you appreciate the importance of data in the day-to-day life of your organisation. It is key to understanding your donor base, creating accurate reports for funders, tracking service delivery, planning for the future based on past performance and so on.

Duncan Ross from Datakind, was quoted in Third Sector last year saying: "Decisions in all sectors have typically been made by people who have grown up in the organisations and are based on their experience. But what study after study has shown is that experience does not compare with experience plus data. It's crucial to find data to show that what you are doing works. But it is not only about supporting your work with evidence; it is also about finding out how to do things more effectively and how to do more with the resources you have."

I’m sure you’re also thinking about how to put more of your services online, ideally directly onto your website: fundraising campaigns, self-referrals, event bookings, self-service tools for members and so on. You might already be using some tools (such as Mailchimp for email newsletters, EventBrite for event management and so on), but the data is still spread out across multiple systems. The key to being effective is connecting everything together with a single online customer relationship management system that gives you a complete view of all your interactions with contacts and opens the door to deepening and strengthening relationships with supporters and clients.

CiviCRM, a free and open-source CRM system, is designed from the ground up for the third sector. It works "out of the box" and puts everything you know about your contacts at your fingertips: their donation history, the services you’ve delivered to them, their demographic data and anything else you want to collect. It gives you a powerful set of tools to automate and streamline tasks such as sending online newsletters, running events, managing your membership programme, running grant programmes, collecting information from online surveys and a lot more. And it integrates seamlessly with CMS tools such as Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla, so you can do all of the above on your branded website.

What makes CiviCRM unique?

  • It's community owned – built for, and funded by the third sector.

  • It's free to download – no per person fees or licence fees.

  • It's constantly innovating – new features are added all the time.

  • It's adaptable – you’re free to modify and extend it to suit your needs.

  • It has specific UK functionality – paperless direct debit, JustGiving integration and Gift Aid reclaim.

  • It's supported by a global community of experts – so there is always someone to turn to who can help you get the most out of it.

CiviCRM is now in its 11th year and powers more than 10,000 incredibly diverse organisations around the world. From the Green Party of England and Wales to Oasis UK, from the New York State Senate to the Restorative Justice Council. Whatever your size and whatever you work on, there’s an organisation like yours using CiviCRM.

To learn more about CiviCRM, meet current users, and talk with people who can help you get it up and running, come to CiviCon London 2015 on 8 and 9 October. Tickets start at only £160 for a one-day new user ticket, and bursaries are available for smaller organisations. Third Sector readers receive an additional 25 per cent off their ticket price using the discount code ts25off.

Visit the CiviCRM website to find out more, read case studies and find contact details for local providers

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