How The Kids’ Cancer Project is using technology to cope with a surge of donations and grow the organisation.

New technology has improved productivity by 60% at The Kids’ Cancer Project, says Jennie Smiedt, Head of Marketing and Communications.

At The Kids’ Cancer Project, we fund some of the most exciting cancer research projects in Australia, offering 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 transform lives. It’s a cause where they can make a meaningful difference. This has led to a big surge in donations for us, helping us pass a key milestone of $50 million in funding in 2020.

While obviously welcome, a rapid rise in donors and donations presents administrative challenges. Like all organisations, charities and NFPs face challenges as they scale. As a charity, we have limited resources and want to avoid driving up admin costs.

Drowning in a sea of paperwork, Excel spreadsheets and a limited accounting package is stressful and inefficient. But it’s the reality for many of us. Typically, charities don’t have sophisticated accounting systems, or at best we’re using very limited, often outdated software that hinders more than it helps. Previously we couldn’t afford anything better: powerful, enterprise-grade solutions were only accessible to large corporations.

But now, thanks to the rise of Cloud and SaaS, technology is getting democratised. There are sophisticated ERP solutions, powered by AI, that deliver automation and provide the ability to scale to even the smallest organisations. At The Kids’ Cancer Project we recently implemented an ERP solution from Wiise to help us cope with the increase in admin we’ve been experiencing.

Using cloud ERP has dramatically sped up our work and transformed our operations. Manual work has been cut by 40%, freeing up our staff to focus more on higher-value work. Our finance team can produce reconciliation reports within a single day – previously this took us at least a week. Staff no longer need to key individual dispatches and can instead import them directly grouped by dispatch type. This has improved productivity by 60%.

We believe that transparency that ERP offers is also very important for charities. Having better visibility of financials helps us streamline the donor management process.

Most critically, moving to a cloud-based ERP and accounting platform has improved our capacity to handle high-volume transactions. There’s no way our previous system, based around MYOB and spreadsheets, could have coped. Whereas the new solution has enabled instant scaling.

We believe that transparency that ERP offers is also very important for charities. Having better visibility of financials helps us streamline the donor management process. Before, we didn’t know what money was coming from where as nothing was integrated, in terms of our campaigns and their results. We couldn’t track what activity was generating what fundraising – which is vital information to help us plan future campaigns.

Automating the financial side has effectively helped ‘close the loop’ around donation. It has also enabled us to have more robust security, compliance and real-time reporting, allowing us to become more responsive to donors’ requirements. We have much better understanding of funding performance across mode, means and channel. Eventually we’re also expecting the tool will act as a stepping stone to lead to more advanced BI (business intelligence) capacity.

As a charity, we’re ever aware of the need to outperform industry benchmarks when it comes to operating costs. The right solution can cut down hundreds of hours of admin per month. This needn’t mean reducing headcount: instead, people can focus on the more valuable work of fundraising and growing donor numbers and donations. But with streamlined operations, our admin costs are reduced. This means we can do much more with existing resources, and/or free up more funds for children’s cancer research.

In future, as ERP systems grow even smarter and more powerful, they will increasingly leverage AI and machine learning to generate data-driven insights. These are essential for charitable organisations so we can ensure that our campaigns are optimised and that the donor journey is as seamless as possible. Being able to align this with the personalisation of content and communications, which is something we’ve really been driving at The Kids’ Cancer Project in terms of segmenting audiences and sharing information and updates that 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

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