How The Kids’ Cancer Project uses technology to accommodate a wave of donations and grow the organization.
At The Kids’ Cancer Project, we fund some of the most exciting cancer research projects in Australia and provide seed funding for promising projects. Since the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen Australians become much more interested in scientific research and how quickly it can change lives. It’s a case where they can make a meaningful difference. This has led to a major increase in donations for us, driving us to a significant $ 50 million in funding by 2020.
While welcome, a rapid rise in the number of donors and donations presents administrative challenges. Like all organizations, charities and NFPs face challenges as they scale up. As a charity, we have limited resources and want to avoid increasing administrative costs.
Drowning in a sea of paperwork, Excel spreadsheets and a limited accounting package is stressful and inefficient. But it is the reality for many of us. Generally, charities don’t have sophisticated accounting systems, or at best we use very limited, often outdated software that bothers us more than helps. Previously, we couldn’t afford anything better: powerful, enterprise-grade solutions were only accessible to large companies.
But now, thanks to the rise of Cloud and SaaS, technology is being democratized. There are advanced ERP solutions powered by AI that provide automation and the ability to scale to even the smallest organizations. At The Kids’ Cancer Project, we recently implemented an ERP solution from Wiise to help us deal with the increase in the number of administrators we’ve experienced.
The use of cloud ERP has dramatically accelerated our work and transformed our operations. Manual work has been reduced by 40%, allowing our employees to focus more on more valuable work. Our finance team can produce reconciliation reports in one day – previously it took us at least a week. Staff no longer need to enter individual shipments and can instead import them directly grouped by shipment type. This has improved productivity by 60%.
We believe that the transparency offered by ERP is also very important for charities. Having better visibility of the financial data allows us to streamline the donor management process.
Most importantly, moving to a cloud-based ERP and accounting platform has improved our capacity to handle large transactions. Our previous system, based on MYOB and spreadsheets, couldn’t handle it at all. While the new solution has enabled immediate scaling-up.
We believe that the transparency offered by ERP is also very important for charities. Having better visibility of the financial data allows us to streamline the donor management process. We used to not know where the money came from because nothing was integrated, in terms of our campaigns and their results. We couldn’t keep track of which activity generated which fundraiser – which is essential information to help us plan future campaigns.
By automating the financial side, the circle around donation is effectively ‘closed’. It has also enabled us to have more robust security, compliance and real-time reporting, allowing us to better respond to donor requirements. We have a much better understanding of funding performance across modes, resources and channels. Ultimately, we also expect the tool to be a stepping stone to more advanced BI (business intelligence) capacity.
As a charity, we are always aware of the need to outperform industry benchmarks when it comes to operating costs. The right solution can cut hundreds of hours of administration per month. This doesn’t have to mean reducing the workforce: instead, people can focus on the more valuable work of fundraising and increasing the number of donors and donations. But with streamlined operations, our administration costs are reduced. This means that we can do much more with existing resources and / or free up more money for cancer research in children.
As ERP systems become even smarter and more powerful in the future, they will increasingly leverage AI and machine learning to generate data-driven insights. These are essential for charities so that we can ensure our campaigns are optimized and the donor’s journey is as seamless as possible. Being able to align this with the personalization of content and communication, which is something we really worked on at The Kids’ Cancer Project in terms of segmenting audiences and sharing information and updates they are interested in. Having a variety of tools from ERP to CRM gives us a level of automation so we can continue marketing at scale.
Jennie Smiedt is head of marketing and communications at The Kids’ Cancer Project