Safe Haven For Donkeys (SHFD) has been providing much-needed care for donkeys, mules, and horses in Israel and the Palestinian Territories (West Bank) since 2000 through a sanctuary, a permanent clinic, and three mobile clinics. Donkeys are essential to communities in this region who rely on them for agriculture, transporting goods to market, even building houses. The charity has recently extended its mission to Egypt, providing essential health and wellness services to hardworking animals, making their lives more comfortable.
SHFD is run by a team of three based in the UK. Like many animal charities, SHFD relied heavily on legacy donations, but also raised funds through an online WooCommerce shop and a “sponsor a donkey” programme. The associated data was stored on a bespoke SQL database. It served their purposes to an extent but was difficult and time-consuming to use or extract meaningful marketing or reporting data from.
“It required manual data entry whenever a purchase was made or a donation was received. Then you needed someone to write an SQL query to get the data out. It was just the person who created it that knew how it worked, so I dread to think if anything had happened to him.”
The team wanted to reach out to different sources to increase the charity’s income. A fundraising consultant was contracted in 2019 and one of her first recommendations was a new CRM to support those efforts. This highlighted how important a good system is to effective fundraising.
The team engaged a CRM consultant. They wanted something that was affordable and made for charities. The consultant narrowed the search down to Beacon and one other supplier. Both providers supplied trial accounts and supported SHFD to explore the possibilities.
“I’m not a very technical person, but Beacon was easy to understand. The deciding factor was that we all felt Beacon was just more user friendly and customisable.”
SHFD didn’t have the resources to migrate their data, so they contracted Beacon to do it for them. Around 30 spreadsheets of data were extracted from the SQL database and WooCommerce. These were collated and cross referenced. A home was created for every piece of data and the columns on each spreadsheets matched to those. Unique identifiers easily allowed for the relevant records to be linked to each other in Beacon. This created the records for people, organisations, payment, donkey subscriptions, and much more. All linked together to provide a compete history for every donor and single source of truth for the organisation.
In the process, Beacon created donation forms, automation workflows, and reports for Safe Haven for Donkeys. New donors and their payments would now be collected easily. Tasks were now automatically generated for upcoming activities and reminders, so grant applications and membership programmes could be managed more efficiently. And up-to-date, real-time reporting was always available to maximise fundraising activities.
Most of this is accomplished with Beacon Forms and Workflows. Forms ensure data is collected consistently so it can be acted and reported on as needed. Workflows automatically watch for certain conditions set by SHFD within the database and then take the relevant action, such as sending an email or notifying the relevant team member.
“We can easily make changes ourselves, but we haven’t really needed to since Beacon set it up. They work so well, I forget they’re there! We began by telling Beacon exactly what we needed, and the system was just able to do it all.”
Beacon has saved around 10 hours of working time every week for SHFD’s admin assistant, who has now expanded her role to a number of other areas. Other efficiencies are harder to put a number on, but felt across the team.
The membership feature used in the donkey adoption programme is a good example of transformation. There’s now a live view of which memberships are due for renewal so they can be contacted in good time. They can track attrition of sponsorships and look for root causes.
“It's amazing, it really helps to run things. We can even see which donkeys are the most popular and are receiving the most sponsorships – I can simply go straight into Beacon and find out. “
SHFD have also integrated Mailchimp with Beacon which allows them to see a synced record of consent, removing any GDPR worries. Beacon also includes a copy of the email in the timeline on the person’s record so team members can clearly see which communications someone has been sent.
Making all this data so accessible makes segmentation and targeted communication an easy task. As a result
“Beacon has given us capacity to get out and do more fundraising, and to effectively manage those interactions once they are happening. This has enabled a funding increase of around 20% because data is automatically available, segmentation, and analysis takes a few clicks. We’re saving hours every day that we can now use for other work.”