The challenge and opportunity of the virtual venue

For many of us, out of necessity we now live our working lives in the virtual world. With the majority, if not all, of communication happening through video calls and emails, “real life” events feel like a distant memory. So how can organisations successfully shift their event programmes into the virtual world?

Like with any new venue, it takes time to figure our way around the space, to uncover how we can best utilise it to achieve our objectives and remain connected to our audiences.

With our event “venue” moving online we have all been on a voyage of discovery in the virtual event space, uncovering the many benefits, and challenges, of our new “virtual venue”.

It’s certainly not a simple lift-and-shift of our in-person event delivery model into an online space, that plainly won’t work. It’s six months now since we were forced into this new world, which looks set to remain in place for the foreseeable future, so how can we ensure we continue to create valuable and memorable events?

Content should arguably be the heart of any event

Content is king should apply as much to events teams as it does to content marketers. However, as we have seen at our conferences, many delegates attend with a key intention of networking with their peers and building new relationships. With that ability to network among delegates being severely restricted, the content of our event is now more important than ever, to attract and engage our audiences.

Within this, we need to ensure we can provide true value to our audience, with even more touch points, engagement and interaction, to build and maintain our relationship with them. Now, more than ever, we need to therefore take the opportunity to uncover what our audience really want, and need, and determine how we can effectively deliver it to them.

Always-on connectivity and smart devices

Technology and the internet have provided us with the ability to connect to anyone at any time, in any location, through a whole host of channels; emails, instant messaging and social media just to name a few. With this level of connectivity, we can interact and deliver content to our audiences on various platforms at different times. This brings with it a whole host of advantages including our events reaching new audiences who aren’t restricted by time or location. Ironically though it doesn’t enable us to create the connectivity between delegates which they so crave.

Now, as many organisations look to take advantage of the freedom from location and physical space offered by a virtual experience, the challenge lies in standing out from the crowd. Webinars are now omnipresent it seems, and where before we would not necessarily have had to compete with international events if our event was taking place in the UK, now perhaps we do. In addition to this, once we have attracted our delegates to join, there are so many distractions available in the online space. How can we minimise the risk of the audience drifting, simply opening their inbox or opening a new tab in their browser and getting stuck into another task? And that’s not to mention online event fatigue!

Time to innovate

To overcome these challenges, we must find new ways to create a memorable experience. Whether this is through the tools we use or the content we deliver, we now have the opportunity to carve out something new – which is both intimidating and exciting.

Why you need a Data Strategy to power your CRM success

Back when Hart Square started out, data was largely seen as a by-product of a transaction, activity or process. Data collected during a process was stored in a CRM system (if not in Excel) and rarely used unless there was a need for a specific follow-up e.g. data collected during an event booking process was used to deliver the actual event to the delegate.

At that time the leading CRM solutions within the non-profit sector fulfilled that need, and reinforced that perception, by being very good “systems of record” while being poor at analytics or reporting, and often even making data access a specialist task. Reporting was widely provided to business teams by a technical department, often making them inflexible and out-of-date. Many of the charities we worked with had a data team in place to manage the datasets needed by the charity, for example to create data segments on demand when fundraising campaigns were being initiated.

More than a decade later and the digital age is fully upon us, systems and their capabilities are much enhanced. Better yet, engagement systems are more integrated so you can have your members, donors, supporters and all interested parties creating and updating their own details. All round then you’re now able to capture and store more data, and ideally have it updated more frequently.

New technology may provide that solution, but to really reap the benefits of your new technologies, you need an engagement strategy to justify the investment, and alongside that you need a data strategy to be able to execute your engagement strategy.

You need a data strategy to be able to execute your engagement strategy

Modern CRM technologies, and the low cost of storage, tempt and encourage us to capture – and create – more and more data, but this is a pursuit of a false God. We’re far better served by only capturing the data we need, and we have a use for.

If we reduce the range of data we capture we’ll have more capacity to steward and improve the data we do hold, to derive benefit from it. We can ensure it’s cleaner, more complete and more up-to-date. We can then also resource the effort required to acquire new data.

From there we’re in a position where our data can power our engagement programmes, whether that’s about fundraising, membership recruitment and retention, qualifications management, or training courses and event programme participation.

So you need to draw up a data strategy which focuses on your objectives – why you need this data, what you’re going to do with it – as opposed to starting from “this is the data we’ve got”. From the why, you can detail what data you need and how you can acquire it. From this process you can identify the core datasets you need, the use you’ll put them to, and then the technology, processes and resources you require to capture, maintain and execute it.

Drawing up a data strategy is no quick and easy undertaking, but once you have it agreed and in place, with the resources allocated to allow you to achieve its objectives, you can look forward to becoming a data-driven non-profit with an effective engagement programme, and to being significantly better placed to deliver on your mission.

Just remember that creating a data strategy isn’t a standalone activity; it must be driven by your overarching business strategy. Therefore, a critical starting point for any data strategy is the business’s strategic objectives. To put it another way, what is your non-profit trying to achieve and how can data help you get there?

After all, what’s the point of a data strategy – indeed, what’s the point of data in general – if it doesn’t help you achieve your non-profit’s goals? So before you charge ahead to your data strategy, review your business strategy first and then develop your data strategy.

 

Want to know more? Join our upcoming webinar event on 24 November ‘Get the most out of your data for engagement, recruitment and retention’

We’ll cover more about Data Strategy in future articles and our newsletters so subscribe now to be kept updated!

Put your organisation’s culture at the heart of your recruitment process

Our chase.livestream culture theme this year explored how to get the best from your staff and embed lasting change in your organisation. We’re proud to say we have our best team yet at Hart Square and are often approached for advice on how we got here. It all starts with finding the right people so here are some recruitment tips that have proved so successful for us.

 

Click here to download the 7 Top Tips to create your best team yet infographic 

 

1) Explain the role, the culture and the vision well

You need to have a clear purpose and vision for the role you are looking to fill; that is not the job spec or recruitment advert. You need to be able to explain what it would be like to be in the role and what your company culture is all about. Being succinct and clear about the role is really important from the minute you make the first contact with your potential candidates. What are the 3-4 things that really count and will make someone successful?

2) Be prepared to sell the role

Even if you have an interesting and rewarding position with an attractive compensation package, be prepared to sell the job to prospective candidates. Don’t ever assume the supply of good candidates exceeds demand. It is important to organise a transparent and swift recruitment process. You will inevitably lose good candidates along the way if you have not sold the job well enough or taken too long in the recruitment process or your decision making.

3) Warts and all

Whilst it is important to make the role attractive, nobody will believe that every part of the job is going to be brilliant. “This is the bit where I’m going to try to put you off this role” does raise a few eyebrows and smiles in an interview, but candidates appreciate the honesty. Do explain the challenges of the role, the boring bits, the bits others sometimes struggle with. Do be upfront and clear and see how the candidates react. Are they up for the challenge? It is no good them finding out once they’ve started, that doesn’t help them or you.

4) Involve existing staff

Who can better sell the role than your existing team, so use the champions for your company culture in informal interview pre-meets, an employee referral programme or through the interview panel. This can help your team to get buy in to their new colleagues, and them in turn having a better understanding of the role and your company culture. Involving your team in recruitment can be very rewarding and reap great benefits for all parties.

5) Hire for attitude and passion

Yes experience and skills are important but if the candidate does not share your company passions and culture it will be an uphill struggle. To hire on this basis, you need to be able to explain your culture well enough so make sure you can, or get someone to help. Then be prepared to invest in training and mentoring to bridge any knowledge gaps.

6) Leave a good impression

You are likely to see a large number of candidates throughout the process and it is vital for them to have a positive experience. Aim for the recruitment to be a useful learning process for all and provide as much feedback as you can. In the world of non profit candidates you never know when you may come across your candidates again and it is important to leave a positive lasting impression even for the unsuccessful candidates.

7) First impressions do count so make induction the best you can

The induction process when someone joins sets the scene for their whole time as your employee. Make it count, make it memorable and welcoming, make it the most valuable experience in their career to date and they will embrace and reinforce the culture of your company and stay with you for longer.

In summary, plan your recruitment approach carefully and make the culture of your organisation the key theme in how you find and keep your best team.

 

Click here to download the 7 Top Tips to create your best team yet infographic 

The importance of employee engagement

What is employee engagement

Employee engagement is a topic which has been high on our agendas for some time now, and the pandemic has further sharpened minds around the need to genuinely value and invest in our employees.

To ensure we all know what we’re referring to though, let’s start with an explanation of what we mean here by “employee engagement”. We’re referring to a context in which employees feel a close connection with their employer, which encourages them to feel more committed, empowered and involved. This is then reflected in their attitude towards their work.

Having engaged employees is of value to both employers and their staff, for different reasons maybe, but ultimately to the same end.

What’s the value to employers

Whilst media headlines may focus on the redundancies we’ve seen already, with tens of thousands more expected, for many employers the challenge of retaining staff, ensuring they feel valued and connected, and enabling them to contribute in these exceptional circumstances is arguably of greater concern.

There are a number of widely-accepted benefits of a successful employee engagement strategy from the perspective of employers, including, but not limited to:

  • Increased staff effectiveness
    • Employees who are invested in their jobs and employers will outperform their disengaged counterparts
  • Improved staff retention
    • Numerous studies support the notion that engaged employees have lower turnover rates than their disengaged colleagues
  • Reduced staff absenteeism
    • Research shows that organisations with highly engaged workforces report fewer problems with absenteeism
  • Being seen as an attractive employer
    • Current and former employees influence how you’re perceived as a brand, as an employer
  • Higher customer loyalty
    • Common sense dictates that employees who are happy and fulfilled in their work provide superior customer service
  • More innovation and creativity
    • By their very nature engaged workplaces value individuals and promote a culture of innovation and creativity

Why engagement matters to staff

Staff are people, with a natural desire to be respected for what they know and are capable of. They want to have ideas and them get a fair hearing. They want to be trusted to deliver within agreed frameworks but to have scope on the how they do that.

No manager should want to be telling their team how to do their work in great detail, they might as well do it themselves. Moreover though no member of staff, no individual, wants to just do exactly what they’re told to do, exactly how it’s proscribed for them to do. Where’s the enjoyment in that, where’s the job satisfaction, the sense of achievement?

We all want to feel valued and empowered, and we all need our employers to show that they care. If this only happens, at best, in the run of an annual performance review, or on completion of a milestone, then it won’t last for long. If our employee experience is one where we are feeling nurtured, encouraged to grow and to contribute, then we can work most days with a positive intent. And we want to do that, work takes up too much of our time and energy for it to be a drag on us, a burden.

Where to start?

A new model of remote working has been forced upon us, not all of it is positive. However, the positives in terms of staff being trusted to do what they need to do, to achieve their objectives, without being visible all of the time, without managers looking over shoulders, is of massive mutual benefit and needs to be harnessed when some form of in-person working becomes possible again.

The novelty of working from home has worn off for many employees who now feel isolated and weary of spending all day long in front of a screen, craving human interaction. Therefore a model where employees do come in to offices and interact with their colleagues, have some meetings in-person, and spend time as a team is a positive outlook. It doesn’t need to mean a return to being office-based, 5 days per week, back to every day commuting, and it definitely can’t mean a return to close management of teams you keep in sight.

It’s in everyone’s interests to not let that just happen

This should be the catalyst which drives new employee engagement strategies, built on trust and collaboration.

We’ll explore this further, in more detail, over the coming weeks so subscribe to our newsletter to be kept updated on this and other #leadership topics.

10 Top Tips for running online workshops

Whether by necessity or design, to keep projects moving most of us are now in a place where we have to run online meetings and workshops.

At Hart Square, we’ve now got 6 months’ experience of helping clients to gather requirements, review business processes, select new technology partners and implement new digital solutions in an online world, so felt it was time to share 10 top tips for running online workshops:

  1. Plan in Regular Breaks: Online sessions can be draining so planning in regular breaks is important especially if they are over 2 hours long. If possible, have a 5 minute stretch after an hour, but appreciate that a “5-minute stretch” can be a 10-minute break!
  2. Take Ownership: Direct your questions around attendees to avoid people feeling left out, and to give them all the opportunity to participate
  3. Be visible: Wherever possible, try to ensure that everyone has their camera on, to build that in-room feeling
  4. Be clear: Consider the lightning and avoid any distractions in the background (not always possible though)
  5. Get involved: Using the chat function for questions through the session is a great way for people to ask questions and get involved
  6. Record: Record the session, with all participants’ permission at the start, to allow you to review the session and refine your notes after
  7. Set clear agenda: Set objectives to allow the session to flow, but be flexible to move the agenda around as the session runs – and ensure the agenda is shared in advance
  8. Choose the right tool: e.g. Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet. Understanding what works best for screen sharing, the chat function, and the number of people involved is critical for a smooth session
  9. Think Numbers: Decide on the optimum number of people (usually between 6 and 8) to allow everyone to participate and to ensure the right level of conversation can flow
  10. Stay calm!: Be prepared for technology disruptions and be ready for this to happen. The internet is overloaded, connection speeds are variable, and there’s little any of us can do about that!
Download the 10 Top Tips for running online workshops infographic 

What’s the ‘value’ of CRM – and how can it help your membership body

Membership organisations today have moved on dramatically from where they were just a few years ago. Specifically, their expectations from technology have increased, as have the expectations of their members. Today, members want to receive communications that are tailored to their specific interests and needs, and to what is going to help them to do their jobs better.

At the most basic level this personalisation of your engagement is where you can differentiate yourself from members using Google search instead of your extensive archive of knowledge.

The only way you can do that is to have a sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that is fluid and flexible and can support the delivery of your objectives. And you also need a system that is useable – because it’s all very well being the ‘champion in a darkened room’, saying that you have a system that does this and that, but, if your policy, finance or events people can’t use the system – or can’t see the benefits of using it – then it’s never going to truly enable your organisation.

It’s important to have a system that is flexible and adaptable and can meet a multiplicity of needs.

Value statement

Keep at the forefront of your mind the ‘value’ of your organisation to your members. The concept of a ‘value statement’ is often talked about. I’ve never seen a perfect value statement – I’ve seen evolving versions of them, but I’ve never seen a perfect one which says exactly what benefits people derive from being a member of an organisation.

That’s about finding a system that every aspect of your organisation can contribute to, and which is integrated with all of your digital tools. The successful membership organisations will nail that down, or make it a core objective of every member of staff.

It’s important to find a CRM system that doesn’t take away from what staff are there to do. Whether they are in public affairs, or events management, or publishing, you need a system that helps them to do their jobs, and which reinforces why members want to be members.

There are clearly sophisticated systems available now that can do that. Using such a system, your membership organisation will thrive and grow and be stable and confident, in a way that perhaps in the past you did not.

But unless you have a sophisticated, flexible and future-proofed CRM system in place to help you communicate with your members on their terms, you’re never going to meet their needs, or achieve your goals as an organisation.

Innovating Customer Service in a time of crisis

When looking to innovate and use technology to improve efficiency, it isn’t always necessary to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking freely available tech and trialling its use with a new audience.

In early 2020, Asthma UK started an initiative to bring in a ‘new’ digital tool to help reach more beneficiaries through a different channel of their choice. At the time they were totally unaware of the rapidly approaching pandemic which would put a huge strain on medical professionals, especially those working with asthma and other lung diseases.

The introduction of a WhatsApp channel to speak directly to an Asthma nurse has attracted a new cohort of beneficiaries to engage with the Clinical team at the Asthma UK . WhatsApp allows people who potentially wouldn’t use a helpline due to disabilities, people who cannot talk via the phone as they are having a flare up, or people who are simply more aware of their breathing due to COVID 19 to speak to the team of nurses through a channel of choice at a time that suits them.

This service has shown a reduction in email traffic to the nurses, suggesting that people are more interested in having a back and forth instant messaging style conversation than a single email response.

Whilst there has not been a reduction in phone calls (quite the opposite, phone calls saw a significant increase during the first few months of the pandemic) the nurses are able to quickly respond to a few questions via WhatsApp in between phone conversations with beneficiaries, which was not possible beforehand. Thus, a significant benefit of the service is that the Clinical team are able to juggle multiple conversations, making the best use of their time and not leaving beneficiaries waiting for them to finish up their call back list or sift through their emails in order to respond to quick queries and questions.

Other benefits of the new system include

  • Clinicians being able to develop and share template responses
  • Send quick and punchy messages that signpost beneficiaries to online content or primary care
  • Share infographics and videos of inhaler techniques for people to store on their phone and refer back to
  • Give a limited out of hours service through limited automation that sends over basic resources depending on the query with a message that a nurse will be in touch on Monday or to recontact the service on the next working day.

It is also easier to use WhatsApp conversations for analysis and review of the service as they do not record voice conversations for this purpose. Thus, there are more opportunities for shared learning and training from chat histories.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, this allowed the Clinical team to massively increase the contact that they were having with beneficiaries. If they couldn’t get through all their chats, they were able to filter for COVID queries and send automatic responses signposting to webpages that were updated every day. The increase in beneficiaries reached and supported during a difficult time was the overarching benefit of this new system, however they also noticed a secondary benefit in the form of an increase in donations which are directly attributed to communications with the Clinical team. That is to say, in giving more to their beneficiaries, the organisation noticed that their beneficiaries wanted to give back to the charity

Congratulations to Asthma UK for their innovative use of everyday technology to support their beneficiaries in their time of need!

People and processes come before technology

What’s driving your need for new technology?

Technology underpins service delivery and must therefore be top of the list when planning a systems review. This is regardless of where current challenges lie in respect of delivery of strategic business objectives.

It’s possible to read about the importance of investing in technology every day, of making the most of technology, of how vital the adoption of technology is to our success. This is, of course, valid opinion, but it can become tempting to invest in and implement new technology before really determining what objectives lie behind doing so.

At Hart Square, we work with a range of organisations within the non-profit sector. We provide strategic consultancy around “CRM systems” in the widest sense. Our expertise and advice with respect to CRM ecosystems and digital solutions covers:

  • Back office CRM database systems
  • Online platforms and applications
  • CMS systems
  • Social Engagement solutions
  • Digital Strategies
  • Technology Audits
  • Implementation Support
  • Marketing Automation tools
  • A myriad of other systems, processes and technology

All of which can be deployed in support of a Customer Relationship Management (or Engagement) strategy.

Planning with niche needs in mind

Whilst it’s useful to be aware of the promises made by technology and the opportunities that it may present, it’s more important to start planning without any specific technology in mind.

This helps to ensure that no objectives are technology driven.

This means no system can impose any constraints on the early thinking which is crucial to a technology investment. In turn, this tends to lead to a successful CRM system refresh project.

Putting people first

“People first” is a phrase that (in some form or another) probably has a central place within your mission, vision and strategy. It should carry the same importance and weight within your CRM technology strategy.

Professional membership bodies in the UK are now very familiar with the need to conduct member research as part of their member retention strategy. This ensures that current members are both achieving and recognising the value of the services and benefits they get.

A natural element, or extension, of this strategy and activity is to research what else existing members want to see from their membership, and to maintain and update this understanding of what will attract new members. Equally for charities, understanding what links supporters to their cause and inspires them to act is vital.

This same information should form a key component of any technology strategy. Technology should never be deployed for its own sake. It must serve a purpose and that purpose is almost certainly going to be to recruit new donors, supporter and members, deliver new services, retain existing members, and deliver existing services in better ways.

Listening enables inclusive decision making processes

We talk elsewhere about the need to have a Social Engagement strategy within a CRM strategy, and Social CRM tools within a CRM ecosystem, but the key here is to listen. Listen to what existing members, donors, and stakeholders do value – and what they don’t. Listen to what non-member, non-donor audiences are talking about, are interested in, are enthused and frustrated by, then devise appropriate responses to support them in their professional development or their charitable aims.

Note the importance of “what they don’t value” in this discussion. As a recent example, when I was talking to a client of ours about their email marketing campaign tools and messaging they were concerned that the “Unsubscribe” option in their regular bulletins may be too easy to use and were asking advice around what was acceptable. My advice to them was to make the option easily visible – without promoting it of course! The reasoning behind this advice is that if subscribers aren’t getting value from what you’re sending them then you want to know about it.

Most professionals, most employees, most people are bombarded by email, and again we know one of our challenges is to get our messages identified, valued and read in amongst the spam and junk.

If you make it difficult to unsubscribe then they’ll add you to their Junk Mail filter settings or simply delete your emails without reading them. If they take the time to unsubscribe then it almost certainly means that they’ve read your email and not found it relevant or interesting. You want to know this!

Why waste your time delivering content which isn’t valued, when you could tweak and tune your messages to make them more appropriate, relevant and valued, which is better for absolutely everyone involved? Go further and consider how this insight should feed your organisational strategy, not just your newsletter and digital content strategy.

A varied approach enables you, your members, your donors, your supporters

The more varied you can make your subscription options, your newsletters and marketing content, including unsubscribe options, the more quality information you can derive from the detail of subscriptions, reads, click-throughs and unsubscribes. Depending on the technology that you use to deliver this content, you’ll get better or worse, or different, analysis and insight into what’s being valued, and more or less flexibility to be responsive.

That’s where the technology choice comes in; once you know what you’re trying to achieve (have set your objectives) and as one part of a strategic investment in people, processes and technology.

 

User adoption – overcoming inertia & achieving success

Inertia; Noun; a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged

Inertia

It’s something that operational staff at non-profits, charity and membership organisations alike, can suffer from. People generally don’t like change and can become very comfortable with the systems and processes they have in place. So when you’re trying to introduce change – as in the introduction and implementation of a new CRM system – inertia often comes in to play. ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is often the mind-set.

Not achieving successful user adoption – i.e. not getting people on board – is one of the biggest reasons why CRM implementation projects fail. That’s why it’s vital that all staff are involved with, and informed about, the implementation of a new system from the outset, not just towards the end when a system is ready to ‘go live’.

Overcoming barriers

There are some barriers that are fairly unique to non-profits and member organisations which can impact successful user adoption:

  • Non-profits often have very loyal workers who have 10-15-plus years of service. Having consistent and knowledgeable staff members is a real benefit, but it also means that they get very comfortable with the way they work – and change can often be a tough ask
  • Many have regional or national offices and relationships between the two can often be strained, with a sort of “us and them” mentality stockpiled over time
  • Staff are usually keenly aware of finances and can be sceptical about what might be seen as an expensive new CRM system

Breaking down these barriers is a fundamental part of user adoption, and revolves around understanding the viewpoints of all staff within the organisation, and instilling confidence in the benefits that new system can bring.

The value of training

According to a Forrester Research report, some 70 per cent of process initiatives fail because of poor business change management. Reams could be written here about change management, but arguably at its core is training.

We’ve found that, through the countless CRM implementation projects we have been involved in, continuous training starting early on, and not just at the end of an implementation, is highly beneficial.

A lack of training can seriously impact user adoption and the subsequent success of a project. We believe that bespoke training on an organisation’s own system, using its own data and business processes, is the most effective way to get user buy-in and increase staff’s usage of the system.

Avoid users being marginalised

Another key area of project failure can arise when the main users of a CRM system somehow become ‘marginalised’ by the implementation phase and are not informed sufficiently of the benefits a new system can bring

Any negativity around a new system can often be driven by a sort of ‘fear factor’, e.g. “I know how to use the current system but I don’t think I’ll cope with a new one,” or “I’m not an IT person so how will I get on with this thing?”, or “Will this mean that my work will be done automatically and ‘management’ will decide I am not needed?”

More often than not, these fears arise from a lack of knowledge. To encourage successful user adoption it’s important to understand and address these concerns. That involves understanding why people feel as they do and providing information and feedback which helps to meet their concerns.

The value of external specialists

In many organisations, implementation challenges can be difficult to address internally. That’s why we’re unique in being able to offer organisations a level of expertise and planning which might otherwise not be possible internally.

We can play a “mediator” role. As external specialists we are able to distance ourselves from internal issues and politics and can get much more honest feedback from staff. By remaining impartial, we can investigate issues surrounding a system, listen to user feedback and find solutions to problems easier and faster.

Ultimately, we believe that the goal of any CRM project is to achieve a transformative effect – i.e. users of a new system should end up saying, “How did we ever get by without this?”

Why we created our Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits

At Hart Square we offer a wealth of services exclusively to non-profit clients and central among these is guidance and support if any are considering changing their technology. This covers a range of digital solutions, not the least of which is their CRM system.

Hart Square’s advice is completely technology-agnostic

We’re completely agnostic when it comes to the choices our clients make, but it is important for us to be fully conversant with the options available to them, so we spend a lot of time and effort researching the market and keeping in close touch with the many agencies who offer solutions to the non-profit sector.

The research we do obviously includes monitoring trends as reported or suggested, but also involves our own discussions with clients past and present, and across our extensive network of contacts within the sector.

We research solutions across an extensive network within the sector

As most people will be aware, since the early 2010’s the so-called platform solutions have competed with specialist proprietary providers to deliver systems to the sector, and the most well-known of those are Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Looking across the piece we see the strengths, and weaknesses, of platforms and proprietary offerings, and we work hard to help clients choose the right solution model so we delve quite deep into most of them.

What we’ve found over recent years is that whilst we’ve learnt and understood a lot about how Salesforce.org approach the sector, and we consider it to be a strong proposition for non-profits, this isn’t something which the sector as a whole has embraced to the extent we might expect.

The non-profit sector hasn’t necessarily embraced Salesforce to the extent we would expect

We decided to dig a little further, really to sense-check our own perceptions, and to make sure we’re able to give our clients best advice. That’s really the genesis of the idea for the Definitive Guide, which is our overview of the Salesforce.org proposition and is intended to help the sector make good decisions and achieve the best outcomes.

Whilst we’re completely technology agnostic, and frankly ambivalent, about the decisions clients make, we do focus on our ability to provide thorough and up-to-date information about the options they have, and that they make decisions based on fact rather than perception.

The guide covers the Nonprofit Cloud and is backed up by client case studies and partner profiles

So centrally the Guide itself covers the core Salesforce technology, the specific proposition for non-profits, the partner network and how it operates, and the AppExchange. Together these form what is referred to as the Nonprofit Cloud, and this is opportunity which is available to non-profits who do evaluate Salesforce,org as their CRM provider.

This is then supported by a series of case studies, membership body showcases and partner profiles

Really then what we’ve sought to do is to evaluate some of the perceptions and comments we’ve been given by our networks, specifically or primarily the more negative of them, to assess them against what we’ve experienced and what we understand about Salesforce.org, and to try to shine a light on the reality of the proposition.

On the back of that we still consider Salesforce to be a really strong offering for the sector, and we’ve challenged ourselves to explain how the model works so that non-profits have a better chance of understanding what the opportunity is and how they might get the best out of it.

Salesforce.org has a really strong offering for the non-profit sector; we’ve set out to explain it in the Guide

Hart Square’s Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits was launched at our own chase.livestream conference, and is freely available to everyone within the sector who might have an interest in it.

You can download it from our website at Hart Square’s Definitive Guide to Salesforce for non-profits