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One platform strategy can transform your nonprofit

By June 20, 2016

Author: Julie Walsh,

Are your systems aiding or restricting the ability to achieve your mission?

Running a non-profit organisation brings a unique set of challenges to ensure the best possible service is being delivered to donors and recipients.

The most important aspect is making best use of resources and funds generated to help the good causes served. Not only is this key to the business, but it also has to be proven to both the Charity Commission and donors to show that funds are being controlled and managed well.

Financial Force

Technology systems like accounting, HR and donor management software play a vital to role in helping nonprofits achieve their missions. The wrong choice or use of several disjointed systems can cause an array of problems. Results could include inaccuracy in tracking funding and reporting back, providing out of date information which can cause poor or delayed decision-making or wasted time and resources which could be better spent in working towards the mission. All can damage the reputation of a non-profit , which impacts continued donor funding, ultimately resulting in delays to recipients in receiving the help they need.

Let’s explore a great example showing best practice in running a nonprofit organisation. Camfed supports girls in rural Africa to go to school, and empowers young women to become change-makers in their communities. Graduates are also supported to mentor the next generation at local schools. Girls’ education has been recognised globally as the best investment nations can make to break the cycle of poverty, improve health, increase economic growth, as well as mitigate climate change. Camfed has seen a rapid expansion of its community-led programmes over the past three years, and in 2014 pledged to support 1 million girls to go to secondary school within just five years.

Camfed commits that more than 90p of every £1 goes directly into the programme. This is only made possible by making use of technology and choosing the right system strategy.

One Platform

One platform – Salesforce, now runs almost every aspect of Camfed’s business. Salesforce Sales Cloud houses pupil records, with data collected by teachers and community activists via Android mobile phones straight from schools. Data which helps Camfed and its community partners to identify girls at risk from dropping out and mobilises local stakeholders to take immediate action. Data which provides insight to feed executive decision-making to deliver more successful outcomes. Salesforce CRM is used to manage donor and supporter relationships globally, along with funding for each student.


Camfed’s one platform strategy allows it to meet the objective of having ‘a single screen per girl’

Camfed has switched its finance processes to run on FinancialForce Financial Management applications, built natively on the same platform to gain a holistic programme overview with the ability to report to existing and potential donors. One platform now manages nearly all critical processes in a context where the number of records handled per year across all programmes went from 30,000 to 130,000, making certain manual financial processes unfeasible.

Already, Camfed’s financial team has reported saving weeks of time through the integration of Salesforce and FinancialForce. This has in turn provided the opportunity to repurpose experienced staff for the benefit of Camfed’s programmes.

Camfed’s one platform strategy allows it to meet the objective of having ‘a single screen per girl’. This means that all information pertaining to each student is now held on one system, on a single record, providing accurate information. The system tracks a client’s circumstances, entitlements, financial transactions, school attendance, retention and progression, as well as her ‘give-back’ activities as she joins Camfed’s formidable CAMA alumnae network, now 55,358 strong across Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania.

As well as the benefits explored with Camfed, using one platform allows nonprofits to:

  • Ensure data can interact together to give key visibility for the right decision making
  • Allow teams to view budget status at any time, to reallocate funds quickly and as appropriate
  • Improve quality of data
  • Ensure collaboration between teams
  • Make audits more simple and less time consuming to prepare for
  • Reduce workload / ensure resources are not wasted so staff can be reallocated to working towards furthering the mission

There are many more examples of how the right system decisions can have a huge impact on nonprofit organisations. Is it time to assess your own systems and decide if your system is truly helping you achieve your mission?

Learn more and check out some great case studies in the FinancialForce eBook:

5 sure signs it’s time to move your financials to the cloud