This week, we’re exploring the case for automation – more specifically what exactly does automation mean for non-profits and what value does it bring?

Many of you have already invested in automation by implementing a CRM system to manage your data and your communication efforts, but have you given thought to digitising elements of your organisation’s services or operational functions through automation. 
In this context we define automation as transforming your business processes from a series of manual tasks or the use of several different tools into a uniform, streamlined and often sequential process that operate independently. Workflow automation more specifically can be applied throughout your organisation to streamline processes and deliver efficiencies. 
So what does this really mean?
Let’s take three ‘operational’ scenarios that probably resonate with most charitable organisation – big or small and highlight how automation applies. 

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Scenario 1: Event Management

For nonprofits, events mean a lot. They are the way to fundraise, attract media attention, make new contacts with influentials, and to find new donors and volunteers. If you do not delegate arrangements of events to a third-party organization and prefer to manage everything by yourself, you may be stressed keeping track on paper all details that relate to planning, coordination, timing, logistics, staff, venue, food, entertainment, invitations, transfer, promotion, etc.
Automation can take the form of adopting an event management tool that can ’tag’ onto your CRM allowing you to;  
  • instantly generate and distribute invitations electronically and at scale
  • allow self registration without the oversight of a member of staff
  • plan, co-ordinate and publicise events online far in advance optimising take up rates and the ability to monitor real time ticket sales/registrations and cross referencing them against existing donors, subscribers or members that exist in your database. 
  • Set reminders and alerts to maximise awareness and guarantee attendance
With Salesforce Lightening, you can also easily create a mobile app that will help with large scale events by enabling venue orientation and navigation, passing through registration, instant feedback forms and post event communication to build engagement
Most importantly it will save your staff and organisation time and reduce stress allowing you to be sure that everything goes as planned and that you didn’t forget anything.

Scenario 2: Managing your Financial Accounts & Budgets

A major priority for charities is ensuring tight budgetary controls and clear accountability of donation spend, where grant funds are allocated or complying with reporting and regulatory requirements. So keeping your organisation accounts in order is essential. Charities also have the added complication of dealing with a myriad of income streams, donation types and payment options as well transacting in multiple currencies. This is why automation comes in handy. You might have a stand alone accounting software or simply rely on MS Excel, but what if your accounting tool is an extension of your CRM system?
  • You, your colleagues or even volunteers can access your financial records online in real time and remotely.
  • You can sync individual transactions and payments with your contact database without any manual data entry! 
  • Create payment and invoice templates and set instructions (workflows) that will generate them instantly or at a set time and issue them electronically
  • Allow you to view donations or income generated at a campaign, project, programme or even individual level with minimal effort or having to produce a report from scratch
  • Set reminders and alerts of deadlines on invoicing, contracts or debt payment
  • Provide accessible channels for a range of payment options and currency formats 
  • Produce Dashboard and financial report generation
Most importantly, be confident that financial data is stored accurately, timely and securely especially when accounting tools and apps that integrate with your CRM instance.


Scenario 3: Employee & HR Management

If you employ staff or even volunteers, your organisation will have a lot of paperwork to handle and possibly policies to implement so a system for managing these relationships and requirements is critical. if your using a paper based system or a standalone tool/software, introducing automation can better streamline how you manage your employees and ensure value for money through efficiency savings; 
  • Employee profiles, job history, appraisals and setting performance management goals, milestone and actions can all be recorded, edited and viewed in one place
  • Using Salesforce Lightening you can create custom apps, objects and components that provide staff with a portal to register, upload and update their personnel records and trigger automated tasks and emails with minimal manager supervision or intervention – for example task assignments can be integrated with Google calendar to sync all planned activities.

What next if your about to embark on the automation journey?

There are limitless possibilities with automation and hopefully we’ve convinced you that even for charities turning your paper-based processes into digitalised workflows has the additional benefit of saving time and reducing the potential for errors and freeing up staff from manual, repetitive tasks. 
So whether your; 
  • using several different software or tools and considering where and how to introduce automation or 
  • have implemented a Salesforce Instance and wondering how to leverage your Salesforce Instance to adopt more automated features and functionality 

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