Renewable energy for the developing world.

Renewable World LogoWho are they?

Where are they?

What do they do?
Tackles poverty in developing countries through the provision of affordable, clean energy.

How big are they?
staff of four.

What did they receive?
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and Office Professional Plus

The outcome?
Collaborative working makes the charity far easier to administer.
Renewable World aims to improve the quality of life for communities in Africa, Central America and South Asia by providing affordable and reliable renewable energy services which improve health, education and income-generation opportunities. The organisation was set up by individuals from the renewable energy industry back in 2007; it still receives support from that industry, although it is very much an independent charity.

Melanie Matthews is the Marketing Director of the charity, which is based in Brighton; she is one of only four staff. The organisation turned over around £400,000 last year, but in common with so many charities, struggles to find cash for vital back office operations. “As with everybody else, we find that there are things that donors just don’t want to fund!” she says. “Hence why we can’t afford full-price software. But if we can’t sit down and work at the computer, then nothing happens!”
One of the charity’s plans for this year is to invest in a proper CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, which will allow it to manage its contacts with donors and introduce more efficient and streamlined fundraising strategies. Clearly, this is a big deal for a small charity.

“No charity can do without a database,” Melanie reflects. “At present we have a spreadsheet with endless columns; only one person can use it at a time, we can’t record day-to-day contact, and there’s a constant fear that it will get messed up. Before that, we were working from Outlook contact lists. If we send out a newsletter it’s a very manual process – we want to work a lot smarter.”

The first stage is in place – Renewable World has taken a donation of Microsoft SQL Server to provide a foundation for the commercial CRM software that the charity is currently evaluating. This is a big leap – SQL forms the basis for huge commercial databases worldwide. “We could have built an Access-based one, but we wanted a database that would grow with us,” Melanie says. “It was almost a little scary ordering it – I kept pestering our IT people: ‘will this be the right thing?’”

Alongside the SQL server, CTX provided donations of Microsoft Office Professional to keep general systems up to date at the charity. “We do a lot of presentations to conferences, so PowerPoint is quite important to us. And we use Publisher to enable us to design things ourselves, whenever we can get away with it,” says Melanie.

Melanie has known about CTX for some time, having worked at other organisations within the sector, and urges other small charities to find out about the software on offer. One of the programme’s key strengths is that it is able to provide support where it comes to the ‘unglamorous’ stuff. As Melanie puts it, “the main impact is that we can spend more on our core work and less on admin. Not very thrilling – but vital for a small charity.”


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