Why Integrate Technology and Tools in Grant Applications?

It struck me recently, when I was looking at what funding bids would be available to groups who are looking to improve or implement a CRM database, that there are opportunities to do so but some organisations may not appreciate the benefits as part of a bid to improve their services.

For instance, I’ve already blogged about the Paul Hamlyn Foundation who offer grants up to £60k for organisations who are attempting a step-change in the way they provide support for young people.

The grant is potentially a significant sum of money and is designed to cover a broad range of costs:

  • Part-fund the salary of a key individual, whether the Chief Executive or a post such as a Head of Operations/Finance
  • Policy work
  • Additional fundraising or income generation capacity
  • Upgrading IT systems or website to reach young people online
  • Installing a new database to capture data on the organisation’s impact
  • Staff training or development
  • Running costs such as utilities and other bills

In this instance, they specify improving IT systems or a database but that is not always the case.

Why would a database support a step-change in the way an organisation can support young people? The key is improving the processes and communication, especially with vulnerable people.

Often, organisations with small and medium sized teams incorporate a range of IT systems and tools, such as MailChimp used by the employee responsible for publicity, possibly a Google Form to keep track of volunteer applications coordinated by another employee, contact details for key investors or stakeholders held by a third employee and then other smaller bits of information such as donations or memberships held on spreadsheets or documents through the rest of the staff team. Often, no-one has direct access to another’s systems, even though there is often overlap. Volunteers may also be key stakeholders. Newsletter recipients may also be board members. Members may be donors.

So, back to the young people, it may be that you want a more coordinated approach to reach out to young people, especially using a website or application to gather better information in order to better understand and respond to needs. Often the information is known about an organisation’s constituents, but in an uncoordinated way, for instance staff members who have worked there for more than 5 years will have a significant knowledge about individuals, but this isn’t recorded anywhere.

Open Source is a viable option for the voluntary sector. Having worked with Open Source software for a number of years, I have always felt that this approach is consistent with the values held by charities and voluntary organisations. It is built on a foundation of community and voluntary contributions – the developers, marketers and implementers frequently give significant time and resources to improve the software for others as well as getting the message out to those who are investigating CRM systems for their workplace.

There’s not necessarily a compromise either – there’s a wide range of open source tools that people can benefit from. This morning I was looking at open source data visualisation tools, and many of us are familiar with Firefox, the Internet browser,  and Android, the mobile phone software, both of which are open source.

Open source is also usually a more cost effective approach. While the software is technically free to download, it is realistic to budget for someone to configure, implement and train in order to match the software to the processes and needs in operation within each organisation. However, this is usually still a significantly cheaper option than most proprietary software, and there is greater ownership over the data for the organisation.

I think it’s a really sensible approach to consider the use of technology and software when applying for grants and funding. It can make a huge difference to the way you reach out to your target group, whatever their age or situation, and can create a healthy and positive transparency for staff so that there is better joined up working.

A Successful CiviCamp!

A couple of weeks have passed and the dust has settled, and I am left with positive reminders of the day we had in Manchester at the first CiviCamp in the UK. If felt really useful and there was a positive atmosphere throughout the day. This is why I love the CiviCRM community so much – such a lovely bunch of people!

A quick peruse of Twitter reflects some of the positive remarks from the attendees…

A great start, with lots attending…

For some, it was a chance to meet with colleagues across the network…

And some anticipation about the day…

The sun was shining!

Also interesting to note the gender balance…

But down to business…

It was useful for many…

Open Data was an interesting workshop for those who attended…

And we were all left with a great feeling that it was a job well done!

Funding Possibilities

I’ve been looking this afternoon to see what funding opportunities are available for organisations who are interesting in implementing a new CRM database.

The most relevant one is the Paul Hamlyn Foundation – Youth Fund, which is offering grants up to £60k to enable organisations who support young people to improve their reach. It covers a wide range of activities and possibilities, but includes the following:

  • Additional fundraising or income generation capacity.
  • Upgrading IT systems or website to reach young people online.
  • Installing a new database to capture data on the organisation’s impact.

CiviCRM can help with fundraising, communicating with constituents (in this case, young people) and can also record impact.

More details:  http://www.fundingcentral.org.uk or http://www.phf.org.uk/funds/youth-fund/

Applications accepted all year round.

There are other more general funding opportunities that may help, such as the Leeds Community Foundation Enterprise Start Up/Growth Fund that may incorporate the implementation of a database within a larger project: http://www.leedscf.org.uk/enterprise-start-upgrowth-fund/


UK CiviCRM Users! Join us for CiviCamp Manchester 2017

You are invited to the first CiviCamp in the UK, brought to you in Manchester, the “uncrowned capital of the north”! Firstly, for those not familiar with the term, what is a CiviCamp? It’s a bit like a CiviCon, the annual conference for CiviCRM, where people gather for workshops and networking, to get a better idea of what CiviCRM is capable of and how to implement it more effectively in their own workplace.

This CiviCamp is mainly focused at users and those who are exploring CiviCRM to implement, but we also welcome implementers and developers to come and share their knowledge with others, and to pick up ideas from the community.

We already have some confirmed workshops, including: Introduction to CiviCRM, Using CiviEvents to manage training, Data Protection for the Third Sector, CiviHR, Open Data, CiviCRM and SMS, and the CiviBooking Extensions.

There will also be time to bring your own issues and questions in our ‘Birds of a Feather’ sessions to explore solutions with others.

Date: Thursday, 9th March 2017
Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm (Registration opens at 9:00am)

There is only capacity for 60 so I would encourage you to register to secure your place as soon as possible. The Conference Centre is only 10 minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly Railway Station, and there are good parking arrangements. All refreshments and lunch are included in the very reasonable cost of £25 for the day. If you have any questions about the day itself, please contact civicamp-uk@civicrm.org.

Register Now!