SELFA (Skipton Extended Learning for All), is a small charity that provides activities and support to vulnerable, disadvantaged, and disabled children.
Emma Pears talks to Janine Edwards at The FSI about how their CRM database has made all the difference to the delivery of their work.


Tell us how you are currently using digital to underpin organisational delivery and strategy

The only real way our organisation is currently using digital technology is through our use of social media and our CRM. The former is used to spread awareness of our services and for fundraising, but it’s also used directly in service delivery; we use it to organise activities and keep in touch with our service users.

Managing our client relationships via the CRM database is really what’s had the biggest impact; we set it up with the help of Building Capability funding from the Lottery. Because we can update it anywhere, at any time, it’s really useful “out in the field”. It’s saved us a huge amount of time and hassle, which is a real benefit in a charity as small as ours.


What were the driving factors for change?

We find that social media is often the only way to keep in touch with our most disengaged service users; parents and young people alike are quite unlikely to answer a direct call these days, but are more likely to respond to contact via social media.


Give a couple of examples of what you have recently implemented / your digital journey

We have quite a young team, and part of our journey has been implementing the skills our staff already have; we communicate about what we’re posting, which means that we get to upskill the entire team at once.

Most recently, we have implemented our CRM database; we got this for free, and it’s been a real help to us in being more organised with regards to dealing with our client records and communications.


What have been key challenges?

Even knowing where to begin is a challenge; digital technology and media seems like another world to us, and despite having a young team, we feel like we’ve already been left behind.

It’s also easy to be put off.

We had some funding from Comic Relief to go towards an online crowdfunding campaign; despite receiving significant training and support, it really wasn’t a success and offered very little return for resources expended. It often feels like we need to get an expert in to let us know what the options are.

I also think there’s a difference between delivery organisations and ones that are more focused on spreading information or raising awareness. Digital solutions would have to be directly relevant to the services we provide, and any resources we put aside to develop the way the charity uses digital would have to be funnelled away from frontline services. We have very little leeway in terms of money and time.

The CRM has been the most useful digital step we’ve made recently, but we were given it for free and had help implementing it; often we don’t have the resources to even make a start.


How have you been able to resource these developments?

We had some funding from Comic Relief for developing a crowdfunding campaign, but found it disappointing – even with expert help, we just didn’t have the reach for it to be a success, and we felt that it offered very little return for time and resources invested.

We also received some Lottery funding for building capability; we used this to implement our CRM database.


What has been the impact on your beneficiaries?

We mostly use digital to make things run more smoothly behind the scenes; it allows us to be more organised and up-to-date in the way we deal with client records, communicate better within the staff team, and keep in touch more reliably with parents and children.

All of this saves us time, which allows us to spend more time in delivering our services more effectively.

Ultimately, even if our beneficiaries aren’t directly impacted by the way we use digital, it does help our services run more smoothly and ensure no-one gets left out.


This case study has been produced as part of our Digital Leadership 101 series of training and advice for CEOs and trustees of small charities, funded by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and run in partnership with The FSI, NAVCA and London Plus.

Superhighways is currently seeking funding to offer further digital leadership and transformation advice to the sector. Please share your ideas, challenges or successes with us.