People. Process. Systems.

Lee Ann Healy
5th May 2020

How Charities can use Business Systems to Deliver a Better Service

Charities in the UK are under ever increasing pressure to do more with the funding they receive along with providing a never before seen level of accountability. Competition to access funds is tougher, and charities need to be able to prove that their service is providing good value for money.

That is where we believe business systems can give the competitive edge!

Down below we discuss the benefits of having good enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software available and how these business systems can help deliver a better service.

1. Joined Up Ways of Working – ERP

One of the main advantages of having an ERP system is how it allows your charity to work in a joined up and connected way. This means that data from across the business can be held together in one system, from finance to HR to service, rather than being spread across different solutions or spreadsheets.

This removes the silo effect, where different teams work on their own without access to information from other departments. By having a joined-up way of working, all teams have access to better information to make informed decisions in their everyday job. Not only are the decisions they make smarter, but also faster which is incredibly important for seizing opportunities when they arise.

For example, there may be a team who are scheduling volunteer help to people with learning disabilities. In most cases they assign one volunteer to one supported person. However, they see a note on the system that a volunteer has been having difficulty by their self. Before the ERP system, all notes were handwritten and often stayed in a filing cabinet unless being taken to a visit with the supported person. But since they are now stored electronically, the scheduling team can see that extra support may be needed and ensure that two volunteers are sent out, improving the quality of service that can be provided and making the volunteers job easier.


2. Ensure Membership is Up to Date – CRM

Something that charities have long struggled with is ensuring that donors are engaged over longer periods of time. This has become more apparent in recent years as donors have started to expect more from their chosen charities, both in terms of the work done and of the information they receive about how their donations are being used.

By having a CRM system, it is possible to track donor patterns and membership status along with what campaign messages that person has received. This provides oversight on what they have interacted with, allowing you to tailor your marketing message in a way that resonates with them, hopefully boosting the donation potential.

For example, a museum in the city may offer a membership that is paid yearly and allows increased access to the works within. By having a CRM system, it is easy to check a membership when someone visits the museum. It is also possible to filter for all the memberships that are near the renewal stage to send out a friendly email engaging with the donor. This helps to keep the museum top of mind and remind the donor to renew, generating increased funds for the museum through a better renewal rate.


3. Volunteer Database – CRM

Another great function of a CRM is the ability to store and utilise a volunteer database. Being able to register the interest of people who would like to volunteer, it is possible to build up a larger bank of engaged members of the public. This can help better manage the utilisation of volunteers by ensuring that there is enough to be deployed where needed.

By having a database, it is also possible to reach out to previous volunteers during times of need. For example, disaster relief charities need to be able to quickly access resources when combating an emergency. Often this requires volunteers on the ground. With a CRM, it would be possible to reach out to volunteers who have helped before, saving time in having to train new volunteers.


4. HR Portal – ERP

One of the many functions of a robust ERP system is the ability to have a HR portal for members of the team. This can have a range of functions but will commonly allow team members to update contact information or log their time worked.

By having an interface for team members to use their self, it allows the HR team to be freed up for other parts of their job. This also allows for improved time tracking of staff members to see what they are spending the most amount of their day on. The benefit here is that very quickly it will become clear if there is an area that many staff members are spending hours on each week, potentially showing areas of improvement for the charity or areas that are understaffed.


5. Reporting Functions – ERP & CRM

With separate systems it is often very difficult to compile information into a complete picture. This makes it more difficult to show the flow of money and resources across the charity and can cause the speed of decision making to be slowed dramatically.

Both ERP & CRM systems have built in reporting functions that can help to alleviate this. Since all information is stored in one system, it is easy to pull together a detailed report that is accurate and compares multiple parts of the charities operations, saving time for those building the report.

For example, a small charity may have recently heard about a grant opportunity that is closing in 24 hours. Without business systems on hand they would struggle to pull together their latest spending figures along with how engaged their volunteers are that help to show they can deliver good value for the grant.



Charities are under increased pressure to perform more efficiently as well as provide more insight into how they operate. One of the easiest ways to do this is through the use of robust ERP and CRM software that can help across the charity. And while their full functionality has not been covered in this article, it helps provide some insight and examples into the benefits that can be achieved.

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