SolarAid provides a brighter future with Salesforce

SolarAid has an ambitious goal: to eradicate the toxic and expensive kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020. “Kerosene lamps emit noxious black smoke and burn up to 20 percent of the household income, increasing poverty,” explains David Battley, Head of Business Development at SolarAid. “Our aim is to replace them with clean affordable solar lights.”

The charity’s work involves distributing lamps in Africa and fundraising in the UK. Both of these operations are underpinned by Salesforce.

“Salesforce has helped us double donations in the last financial year,” says Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid. “And in just one month we’re already a third of the way towards achieving our goal of 40 per cent growth for the 2015 financial year.”

Making connections

From the UK, the charity tracks every interaction with every potential donor with App Cloud to provide a better experience for its benefactors and make it easier for fundraisers to enlist new ones.

“With Salesforce, we’re able to connect up our donor networks and log our income,” says Turner. “Our ambition is to extend our fundraising activities all over the world, and with Salesforce behind us we’ll be able to do just that.”

It doesn’t matter where SolarAid’s fundraisers are, with the Salesforce1 Mobile App, the team can access dashboards that show fundraising progress against the charity’s goals and detailed donor information from the office, while at home, or in a café on the way to a meeting.

“With Salesforce, we have what we call a ‘data democracy’,” explains Turner. “We can all view the same real-time information without relying on static, dated reports. This minimises admin and means we’re all working from the same song sheet.”

A sunny outlook

Raising funds is only part of SolarAid’s work. Its sales arm, Sunny Money, is responsible for distributing its solar lights in Africa.

Sales Cloud is used by around 60 people at Sunny Money to manage customer relationships as well as stock, orders and demand. “Our sales strategy is based on developing relationships face-to-face with head teachers, as they’re usually looked up to as trust-worthy leaders within the community,” explains David Battley, Head of Business Development at SolarAid. “We use Sales Cloud to track these relationships and the network of lamp sales that develops from them.”

With sales people and stock distributed across four countries, Salesforce is vital to keeping the team connected. “Salesforce Chatter has been rapidly adopted by the team to share their stories and successes,” says Battley. “They’ve picked it up without any formal introduction to the solution and they love it!”

Most importantly, though, reporting is much easier with Sales Cloud, as Battley explains: “We have consistent reporting across countries so we can see the effects of marketing strategies and make fast and informed decisions based on actual data. This helps us keep our operation lean and costs low – which is vital to our success.”

To provide the link between its two very different operations, SolarAid is currently developing a new fundraising platform, ‘speed of light’.

“We’re creating a map from our Salesforce data that will show donors where the lamps they have funded have been distributed,” explains Turner. “By making this connection between our fundraising activities in the UK and our work on the ground in Africa, we’ll be able to engage with donors on a new level and meet our goals for growth.”

With Salesforce behind it, SolarAid is on track to achieve these goals: it is set to sell one million solar lamps in 2014. And that means fewer kerosene lamps, less pollution and a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty for people across Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

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