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Microsoft Dynamics: changing lives through technology

Supplier: Microsoft Dynamics By: Stephen Fowler
30 January, 2013

From a business perspective, the technology behind Microsoft Dynamics solutions has helped companies improve their efficiency and productivity. But you may be surprised at how Microsoft Dynamics solutions can have far-reaching impact beyond the workplace

An Australian charity, the Smith Family started in 1922 when five businessmen took Christmas gifts to a children's orphanage. Having discovered that poverty was more widespread than they first thought, they donated anonymously, providing only the name 'Smith'.  

Today, The Smith Family has grown into one of Australia's most prominent charities. They help more than 117,000 disadvantaged Australian children and their families so that the children can get the most out of their education. Its central program, Learning for Life, supports disadvantaged children and young people all the way through their education, from pre-school to tertiary studies. This holistic, long term support gives young Australians the assistance they need to develop vital life skills, stay engaged in their education and have the best chance to realise their potential.

With over 605,000 Australian children living in jobless families, the need for support is greater than ever.  To meet this demand, The Smith Family felt an urgency to boost program effectiveness and the number of children they can reach while also grow its current supporter base.

To do this, the organisation wanted to find a system that would integrate the disparate donor and sponsor details as well as allow them to efficiently analyse data so that programs could be better managed and resourced. In addition, The Smith Family wanted to boost their reporting to donors and supporters so they could track how funding was being allocated.

In evaluating and selecting a business solution, The Smith Family went through an evaluation process of almost a year and ended up choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX, because of because of their confidence in the product capabilities and reliability. According to Ishbel Sterrick, Chief Financial Officer for The Smith Family, "In a resource-constrained environment, a user-friendly, collaborative and comprehensive CRM system with strong data analysis and reporting capabilities is essential" - this was the promise of Microsoft Dynamics.

Following the implementation of Microsoft Dynamics solutions, The Smith Family staff is able to coordinate programs, maintain supporter data and manage volunteers, as well as to support fundraising campaigns and appeals. The CRM system allocates sponsors to students, manage corporate contracts and records correspondence with supporters and students. Donations recorded in Dynamics CRM are also uploaded monthly into the Dynamics AX financial system. With Dynamics CRM and AX, The Smith Family is managing its programs, students, donors, sponsors and volunteers in one system, ensuring a unified view of all its data.

Although The Smith Family staff is still learning to use the new system, the organisation is already seeing improvements in staff productivity.  Some examples of the benefits include:

  • The ability to provide more timely and meaningful reporting to its donors, helping the organisation improve donor relationships and attract more funding
  • Better assessment of performance of programs, and the ability to easily make changes to produce better results
  • More effectively find available sponsors for students, ensure all sponsorships are funded and match volunteers with appropriate positions
  • More efficiently produce reports without using time-consuming manual processes to extract and analyse data
  • Produce more targeted and personalised collateral for campaign activities
  • Provide online account management capabilities for donors and corporate partners, to improve supporter engagement

Feedback from users has been positive. As Sterrick notes, "The CRM system is giving time back to our Learning for Life workers so that they can spend more time directly with students and families, rather than on administration."

Just as The Smith Family provides disadvantaged Australian kids with the opportunity they need to change their lives, our solutions enable The Smith Family and its staff to perform at their best. The change that Microsoft Dynamics solutions has brought about to The Smith Family will help the organisation reach out to more disadvantaged kids in need of help, and in turn change their lives for the better.