World Vision Canada focuses on CRM

A sudden influx of large donations poured in to World Vision Canada after the recent Southeast Asia tsunami disaster. This occurred just as the Mississauga, Ont.-based humanitarian aid and relief organization was in the process of deploying a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution from Toronto-based Atum Corp.

According to Dennis Ivancic, director of customer insight for World Vision Canada, the organization originally wanted an automated CRM system in place in time for its annual 30 Hour Famine fundraiser in April. The tsunami crisis and subsequent dramatic increase in donations only reinforced how important it was for the organization to improve the way it managed contact information, Ivancic said.

World Vision Canada has dealt with emergencies in the past and is used to influxes of large donations, but it was looking at improving the way it collects and maintains client data, Ivancic said. While the current IT environment is stable, the organization wanted more flexibility in managing its contact information.

World Vision Canada is currently operating an IBM Corp. AS/400 server environment, using Lotus Notes. It also runs a custom application that handles all transaction histories, donation histories and contact information.

Previously, when it came to tracking address and contact information, staff and volunteers were relying on several thick paper-based binders, Ivancic said. Everything produced from the AS/400 platform was printed. But this meant the IT staff would have to program and schedule reports for printing, which took time, Ivancic said.

The Atum-hosted product provides a centralized database and allows data to be queried by company name, primary contact, phone number or address. Lukas Szczurowski, senior sales manager at Atum, noted that the vendor’s Luxor CRM offering gives World Vision Canada the flexibility to add functionality on the fly. Atum’s customers pay on a monthly basis and there is no annual contract, Szczurowski said.

Traditionally, hosted CRM has been viewed as a more cost-effective way to deploy CRM, due to the relatively low up-front costs, especially since the price is based on a pay-as-you-go model. In a recent report from Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., analyst Alexa Bona noted that users should carefully evaluate vendors offering such products by calculating overall costs. The report, CRM on Demand Is More Expensive Than You Think, states that organizations should be cautious of potential “hidden costs” such as uncapped price hikes on renewal and hidden costs for increased use.

Overall, World Vision Canada is pleased with the deployment, Ivancic said. As the hosted CRM solution is Web-based, World Vision Canada avoided installing and managing servers and software in-house. Ivancic said the actual deployment began early in January and was completed within the month. The product is easy to learn and World Vision Canada staff participated in a one-day training session, Atum’s Szczurowski said. Atum did a good job providing the training and support, Ivancic noted, particularly during the tsunami period when the organization’s priorities were elsewhere.

The measure of success is in the increased productivity and knowledge sharing across the organization, Ivancic said. The system allows the organization to move away from its inefficient paper-based processes and allows staff to input and access information from the Internet, he added. The new system now makes it easier to access contact information about donors, which can then be used to compile phone lists and coordinate marketing and fundraising initiatives, Ivancic said. This saves on IT expenses and enables the organization to focus more on its relief and aid efforts, he added.

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