Blog – Integration of On-line Giving Platforms with CRM Solutions

By Doug Hogg, Head of IT and Development, The Good Exchange.

So what is a CRM? Put simply It is an approach to Customer Relationship Management. These days many businesses invest in CRM technology to aid in this process, typically opting for a cloud-based system (e.g. Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics etc) allowing a company to interact with current and potential customers and keep a single point of record of each customer’s relationship with their business.

CRM systems use data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with them, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth. Through the CRM approach and the systems used to facilitate it, businesses learn more about their target audiences and their existing customers and how to best cater to their needs. Most of us have had direct or indirect experience with CRMs and when planned and developed well they are a real asset to the business adding incredible insight and efficiency – but we would be fooling ourselves if we ignored the fact that some CRM implementations (by which I mean many) don’t go so well. This is often but not limited to an over ambitious list of features especially if it is the first CRM project a business undertakes and if delivered in one go rather than rather than through incremental changes.

The Good Exchange Platform currently delivers a ‘one-stop-shop’ solution to its customers, effectively matching Applicant Organisations with Funders based on their receiving/giving criteria, managing application administration and providing functionality for fundraising and donations. The Good Exchange platform effectively has its own CRM built in to the application and although proven to be invaluable for Funders and Applicant Organisations, the rapid growth of the platform has led to the need for a dedicated Enterprise Level CRM that integrates with other platforms. One of the drivers for this is that funder grant management systems are normally based on CRMs, such as Salesforce, Dynamics or Zoho and then customised to take into account their grant giving criteria. The Good Exchange plans to address this requirement and allow Funders who have their own Grant Management Solutions to integrate these directly with The Good Exchange platform.

The Good Exchange continually looks to provide more flexibility and features for our customers both Funders and Applicants alike. We are working closely with key Funders and CRM specialists with the aim of developing an Application programming Interface (API) that will allow our platform to be integrated with a Funder’s platform. This will allow The Good Exchange to match qualified applicants directly to the Funder whilst allowing each Funder to keep full control of their grant making process. The Applicants also benefit as our integration will reduce the number of grant applications they have to make and increase their exposure to a wider pool of Funders.

The Good Exchange is currently in the planning stage of this process, working closely with strategic Funders to define the specification with the aim of rolling-out the exciting new feature later this year. The CRM of choice in this instance is Salesforce – a powerful cloud-based solution used by millions. Salesforce is an obvious choice because it is so dominant in the market, is powerful and flexible and has the infrastructure and tools to allow developers to firstly connect with it but then to enhance and setup customised workflows according to their business needs.

In fact, The Good Exchange is already using Salesforce’s ‘Desk’ application to manage its helpdesk ticketing. While the system is effective, it is not integrated with our platform, making it more difficult for our support team to match troubleshooting tickets with an account and a grant application.  Integration is therefore essential for us to become more efficient behind the scenes, allowing instant recognition of customer and query, capturing details that can be as granular as we define.

Reporting. Is another area where CRM systems such as Salesforce really excel. For example, we can define a report to return a list of users who have stopped at a specific part of our Applicant Organisation Registration form (e.g. Incomplete Financials) and set a ‘Trigger’ in the form of an e-mail to that user with specific information and guides on what to do, enhancing the user’s experience and reducing time to get started.

The Good Exchange’s proposition is evolving towards integrations with third parties and we are excited to roll-out the Salesforce integration work later this year. The first of many!