Free CRM available to good home! And why we wanted to do it…

We — Tom Watson (The Good Ship) and Tom French — have been working together on developing a super-simple CRM in Airtable for voluntary sector organisations and groups. And we want to share it with you today to see if anyone would be interested in using it — for free, of course — and helping us to understand if it has legs. If that’s enough for you to get in touch, then drop us a line!

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Screenshot of the CRM we have been working on

If, perhaps quite rightly, you need to know more about why we’ve done this, what it entailed and what’s in it for us then please read on…

What’s CRM?

Well, the acronym stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. And, in short, we see it as a place to document and understand the people and organisations you work with as part of a project or organisation. Furthermore, it’s a way to understand what those relationships mean in terms of what you do or how you communicate through them. As a result of doing this well, a project or organisation can collect data in a way that means it has everything it needs to tell a story in the right way for the right people.

So what?

Our experience of working in the voluntary sector has highlighted two things related to this:

  1. For a whole host of reasons, people find it hard to collect data about what they do in a simple way to tell a clear story about the excellent work they do;
  2. Many CRM tools and services that are on offer for people in the sector are either: a) too complicated, too pricey or too rubbish to do the job required; or b) they tempt and lead people into collecting way too much data for the purposes they need it for, which results in confusion and ‘another thing to sort out’.

There is huge and rich diversity within the voluntary sector in terms of what people do, the structure of groups/organisations, the people they work with and the positive change they make. This is a very good thing. And people within the sector are quite rightly proud of this richness and expertise they bring to communities large and small.

Underlying all of this complexity, however, we believe there are a few core things that all of us deal with in what we do, whether the smallest of volunteer-led projects or a large, multi-partner programme. It is with this in mind that we decided to spend a day (Friday 13th November 2020, to be precise) making a (hopefully) simple CRM that’s free to use and addresses some of the challenges highlighted above.

So here it is: our first attempt at a structured CRM for anyone in the voluntary sector to use, amend and tailor over time. We made it using Airtable. It’s got a little bit of made up data in it to show how it could be used.

How can you help?

It’s important to stress that this is a starting point. As such, we’re interested to see if there’s anyone out there that thinks they’re up for giving it a go and feeding back so we can all develop it together. If you like what you see, you should see a link at the top to ‘Copy this base’. This will then ask you to set up a free account with Airtable. Alternatively, get in touch and we’ll give you an editable version.

Why is it free?

Um, I guess we just believe in supporting the sector and promoting positive ways of doing things if it might be useful. We get paid in other ways occasionally too, so you don’t need to feel bad about it :-)

We’re looking forward to seeing what people think. We’re also open to questions. And if you’re interested in the process of how we did this, we’ll be writing about that in the coming days (OK, probably weeks) too — watch this space!

Written by

Freelancer. A mix of data stuff, research, evaluation and words. Always social purpose, learning and having conversations. Founder of Sheffield Data for Good.

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