Development organisation Baptist World Aid has more than doubled its supporter acquisition by deploying and integrating multiple best of breed software solutions, capping off a multi year transformation.

The organisation, which was formed by volunteers in a garage in Frenchs Forest to address the suffering of World War Two and continues to support developing communities around the world today, has rolled out multiple data and software systems in the last five years to modernise its operations.

“We’re proud of where we’ve come and what we’ve done in the last 60 years but the way that we work is very different now,” says Jane Alfred, Information Systems Manager at Baptist World Aid.

The organisation now has representatives in each state as well as an office in Bangladesh, where it partners with developing communities to create sustainable change. The dispersed workforce – now more so than ever due to COVID-19 – and the new challenges of meeting donors online triggered a technology overhaul in 2015.

When the pandemic struck this year the digital foundations helped in moving the entire Baptist World Aid team of 77 to remote work within a few days and the organisation was able to launch its COVID appeal within a matter hours.

Lift, shift, automate

Alfred, who has been with the organisation for a decade, says the changes are about tying the IT strategy to the organisational one.

“We really want to have the systems in place that will let us adapt to new ways of working, and just really to enable us to achieve our vision,” Alfred tells Which-50.

The aid organisation moved all its core systems to the cloud and integrated them with a single platform. That meant migrating and connecting the Baptist World Aid web site, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Oracle NetSuite accounting, and a marketing automation system.

The changes allowed the supporter sign up process to be largely automated, now taking around 30 minutes. And integration, in this case with iPaaS provider Boomi, meant the core best of breed systems could continue to operate as intended but still share data.

“Recognising that we wanted to be able to really future proof our systems was what led us down the track of it being really important to be able to have the core systems integrated,” Alfred said.

There are limits, however. The previous version of the on premise CRM was not able to be integrated with the website because the software was too old to be effectively integrated. Once the CRM was updated to a cloud version, integration with Boomi became possible and effectively allowed the automation.

Alfred says the transformation process never really finishes but she’s confident the digital foundations are now in place to take advantage of improving technologies as well as societal shifts like COVID-19.

“Part of it, for us, is having a low code platform. Being a nonprofit, we want to be able to manage what we can in house, we don’t want to rely on external developers, in terms of cost and also just  being able to react more quickly if we can do certain things in house.”

Results

The multiyear overhaul, capped off with automation through a single platform, is delivering results at the back end as well as for workers at the coalface, according to Alfred.

“Management are very much supportive of the fact that technology really enables us to work more efficiently internally. And setting that up well helps save time and money which ultimately then we can put towards things that are going to create greater impacts for our beneficiaries.”

The integrated systems also allow Baptist World Aid to better understand the impact of their work, something supporters and funders are always keen to see, says Alfred.

One example where the integration and automation is creating benefits is the organisation’s sign up and content delivery process. The group produces the popular ethical fashion guide each, which requires a sign up to download. 

“Previously, before we had Boomi, that was quite a clunky process. Often the orders would be backlogged and it might take six hours or so at the [peak times], when everyone’s wanting to download and receive their guide. 

“Now that we’ve got Boomi in place it’s definitely streamline that, so they’ll be able to receive their report more quickly.”

Nicholas Lambrou, managing director Australia and New Zealand at Boomi, said the efficiencies and productivity gains BWA had achieved will allow it to focus on its core mission.

“During this time of increased economic headwinds, there is an even greater level of pressure on not-for-profits; that means they need to justify their budgets by ensuring every dollar is spent where it’s needed most,” said Lambrou.

“By establishing improved accuracy, data control, and process automation, Baptist World Aid can spend more time on its mission of ending world poverty rather than manual administrative tasks. BWA aims to build meaningful connections between its supporters and the children they sponsor, and data is critical to fostering those strong relationships.”

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