The Smith Family turns to Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Supplier: Microsoft Dynamics
23 November, 2012

With 605,000 Australian children living in jobless families, the need for support is great. Smith Family deployed Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 to manage its donors, sponsors, volunteers and the disadvantaged students and their families it supports.

Business needs

In 1922, 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'. From this moment, The Smith Family grew into one of Australia's most prominent charities.

In the decades that followed, the organisation supported disadvantaged Australians in ways that reflected society's changing needs. Since the 1980s, The Smith Family has focused on supporting the education of disadvantaged children as an effective way to break the cycle of disadvantage.

In the 2010–11 financial year, The Smith Family helped more than 117,000 disadvantaged children and their families in 97 communities, through programs including financial scholarships for education essentials, learning support and mentoring programs.

The Smith Family now has an ambitious five-year goal to significantly increase its ability to support more disadvantaged children by 2017. Having set this goal, The Smith Family's management team realised its existing IT infrastructure could not support the organisation in achieving it.

The Smith Family was using two disconnected CRM systems to manage fundraising and program delivery. Because donor and sponsor details were stored in one system and student details in another, it was impossible for managers to get a consolidated view of issues affecting organisation performance. The ability to efficiently analyse data was also compromised as a result. The organisation wanted to match students with sponsors more efficiently at the beginning of each school year.

The Smith Family also saw an opportunity to give donors and corporate supporters more detailed information about how their funding was allocated.

"Greater transparency and accountability would help us strengthen our relationships with donors," Ishbel Sterrick, chief financial officer, The Smith Family, said.

The lack of data analysis and reporting capabilities also hindered The Smith Family's performance-based culture, as managers couldn't easily produce integrated reports on staff performance.

Sterrick estimates the poor performance of the two CRM systems equated to substantial lost productivity every year.

"In a resource-constrained environment, a user-friendly, collaborative and comprehensive CRM system with strong data analysis and reporting capabilities is essential," she said.

The Smith Family also needed to replace its existing financial management software, which no longer supported its growing requirements.

To replace these applications, The Smith Family sought cost-effective software that was backed by a strong reputation and that would support the organisation for the long term.


In mid-2009, The Smith Family considered a number of options before selecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 for supporter and student management, and Microsoft Dynamics AX to manage its finances.

"We felt confident in the capability and reliability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Dynamics AX; these systems best met our needs as a charity organisation," Sterrick said.

"We also have a strong, longstanding relationship with Microsoft."

With help from implementation partner PwC Australia, which supports The Smith Family through the PwC Foundation, the charity designed and built the new systems.

As part of the upgrade, The Smith Family also implemented Microsoft Lync 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 for staff communication and collaboration. To maximise the use of its server and storage capacity without investing in additional hardware, the organisation virtualised its existing servers with Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.

"PwC helped with system design, building functionality, system testing and data migration," Michael Kerr, senior manager of PwC's Technology Consulting team, said.

"The Smith Family's IT team was very involved and did much of the work themselves."

Microsoft Dynamics AX went live in November 2010, and Dynamics CRM 2011 followed in October 2011.

The organisation uses Dynamics CRM for its educational support program, Learning for Life. The Smith Family staff use the system to coordinate the program, maintain supporter data and manage volunteers, as well as to support fundraising campaigns and appeals. Each month, donations recorded in Dynamics CRM are uploaded into the Dynamics AX financial system.

The Smith Family also uses the CRM system to allocate sponsors to students, manage corporate contracts and record correspondence with supporters and students.

The Smith Family is now planning to bring its other programs onto Dynamics CRM.


With Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, The Smith Family is managing its programs, students, donors, sponsors and volunteers in one system. The organisation now has a unified view of all its data and can accurately assess the performance of its programs.

Dynamics CRM will also greatly improve staff productivity, and will support The Smith Family as it works towards its goal of increasing the effectiveness and reach of its programs.

Better visibility of data and greater transparency

With all student and fundraising information in one system, The Smith Family can now provide more timely and meaningful reporting to its donors. This will help the organisation improve donor relationships and attract more funding.

"Our internal reporting team can now produce reports much more efficiently," Sterrick said.

"They no longer need to use time-consuming manual processes to extract and analyse the data. We can quickly search for and identify specific students and their sponsorships, and easily understand where that funding has come from."

The organisation can also easily assess the performance of each of its programs, and if necessary, make changes to produce better results.

Better service for students and their families

Thanks to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, staff can do their important work more efficiently.

"The CRM system will give time back to our Learning for Life workers so that they can spend more time directly with students and families, rather than on administration," Sterrick said.

Dynamics CRM is also helping The Smith Family more effectively find available sponsors for students and match volunteers with appropriate positions.

"Having a unified view of sponsors' and students' details helps us match them up to ensure all sponsorships are funded and we don't have to cover the shortfall," Sterrick said.

"Ultimately, it all leads to us being able to help more children and provide them with more consistent support."

Improved staff productivity

Although the staff is still learning to use the new system, The Smith Family is already seeing improvements in staff productivity.

"With more efficient system support, we're better able minimise our administrative costs, and can allocate more money to our student programs," Sterrick said.

Support for business growth

As part of The Smith Family's long-term ambitions, it plans to broaden its campaign activities to include social media, and to improve its marketing and communication materials. With Dynamics CRM, the organisation can produce more targeted and personalised collateral.

To improve supporter engagement, The Smith Family also plans to provide online account management capabilities for donors and corporate partners.

"Microsoft Dynamics CRM will adapt to our changing needs and help us for a long time to come," says Sterrick. "We expect to provide a continually improving service to our donors and the students we help, as we explore the system's capabilities."

Microsoft product that was featured

Microsoft Dynamics allows your business to streamline and automate customer relationship management through an intuitive interface that works exactly like the other Microsoft applications your staff already use.

Increased sales

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been designed to help you discover the potential of your customer base, with 360-degree insight into the status of current and prospective customers, allowing you to maintain closer and more efficient contact at all times.

Better customer service

As well as a streamlined sales cycle, you'll enjoy better customer service, with automated processes that reduce customer handling times and ensure that your customer service is delivered consistently across all touch points.

Better market insight

With Microsoft Dynamics CRM you can manage all your sales and marketing initiatives and track results.

In turn your business is better equipped to meet customer needs and respond to changing markets before your competitors do.