How Embrace uses Beacon CRM to streamline their complex finance management

Embrace is a UK-based Christian charity in operation since 1854. They provide grants and funding to more than 50 different partner organisations that operate in countries throughout the Middle East.

Embrace had been operating on a legacy database. Over the years, it had acquired additional spreadsheets and other addons to meet their growing needs. That all added up to systems that didn't talk to each other and a lot of manual processes to make it all work. This inevitably caused a lot of duplication of data, especially for their finance department. Alongside all the hours required for that day-to-day data management, Embrace also employed a full-time database manager to keep it all running.

They decided to tackle the large-scale modernisation programme required to replace their CRM and finance software. They needed a CRM that could provide tools to engage their supporters, handle complex finance management, and integrate with other software, such as Xero.

We were chuffed to get the project live in just three months from signing up with Beacon. They really helped guide us through.

One of the challenges of such a project - particularly with CRM – is getting buy in from the members of the organisation. You will often encounter resistance to changing or updating existing systems. Beacon and Embrace worked together to identify the scope of the project. Beacon's Customer Success Team held multiple workshops with everyone involved to figure out the best way to meet each department’s needs, to cover best practices, and to get the migration right first time.

Our database manager was a part of the project from the start, and partway through he felt able to put a date in for his well-deserved retirement. We haven’t had to recruit a replacement!

Alongside that labour saving, Embrace have saved a lot more time across the business, by streamlining donation processes. As a charity which is hundreds of years old, Embrace has lots of long-standing supporters. This means they often receive batches of paper-based donations and even cash. Beacon provided them with the features to easily process donations in batches and automatically assign the relevant finance codes. Of course, this allows them to process the donations more efficiently, but it also means they can now respond to their supporters much quicker.

Beacon has enabled us to show information in a way which anyone can understand. You don’t need specialised database skills to fulfil requests from supporters anymore. They’ve even provided us with a supporter portal, where people can see and manage their own details and relationship with the charity. So that's great!

One of the best things about Embrace is that they're always looking to try new things. During the pandemic, they developed online supporter days. They were able to directly link between their chosen platform and Beacon. When your charity’s fantastic new ideas meet outdated software, the result will often be that something simply can't be done or a simplified version which will cost a lot of time and money.

Beacon gives us the confidence that there will be a way to do something. That makes all the difference.

One of the biggest benefits to Embrace has been Beacon’s integrations, particularly to Xero. Previously, Embrace had to download spreadsheets of donations and payments from various portals. Someone would then have to manually match each payment on each spreadsheet. Then the finance team would have to process those payments. As it was so involved this was difficult for them to measure, but this regularly required days of work from end to end.

In their Beacon workshops, the finance team were able to detail their requirements directly to the Customer Success Team. Now payments and donations can be instantly divided between Gift Aid and other categories. The relevant finance codes are automatically assigned in Rule-based Smart Fields. The completed transactions are then reconciled and locked for auditing purposes.

For the first time, we've got a full real-time view of the whole organisation. So we can see the benefits of what we're doing and it all comes together. It means everyone's looking at the same picture. Which is huge.

Always nice to hear you’re making a difference!

You can find out more about Beacon's features as a fundraising CRM here.

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