Refuge: Integration with Raiser's Edge

Refuge is committed to a world where violence against womenLogo from Refuge the organisation needing the systems integration. and girls (VAWG) is no longer tolerated. For almost 50 years, we have empowered women and children to rebuild their lives, free from fear and violence, by providing a range of life-saving and life-changing services.

Today we are the largest single provider of specialist services to 7,000 survivors of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence on any given day. We provide a national network of 48 refuges, child support services, independent advocacy and community outreach. We also run specialist services for survivors of modern slavery, ‘honour’-based violence, and female genital mutilation. Refuge also runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which answers over 270 calls every day.

During the first lockdown, demand for Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline jumped by 66%, and visits to the website (where women can request contact and live chat) increased by a massive 950%. It was crucial that our Covid-19 fundraising response campaign was successful, to allow our services to weather this intense pressure and demand. We responded quickly and flexibly putting in place a digital fundraising response within days of the first national lockdown. The campaign achieved truly spectacular results. We had an initial target of £150,000, but actually raised over £1.2m. The combination of support from our press team in generating widespread media coverage of the developing situation, as well as being able to optimise our digital activity using the same urgent messages led to an overwhelming response from the general public.

What was the problem you were trying to solve?

Dimitris Mandiliotis has worked with Refuge for over two years and recognised that improvements were required to their income recording processes, financial transaction volumes had increased from 78,000 in 19/20 to 382,000 in 20/21 and they needed a robust and scalable solution that could be managed by the data team.

The key objective was to ensure income was coded correctly and in line with Refuge’s internal allocation requirements. For example

  • If donation amount over x, it’s major donor income
  • Different income codes based on parameters such as in memory donations, certain tracking IDs
  • Certain pages have their own code
  • If donations don’t fall into any of the above categories, there is a default code

This was not a simple mapping.

The coding process was being managed in Access staging databases to prepare data for import to Raiser’s Edge; this had a number of technical challenges and a lot of complexities. For example, the Access database was structured in a way where the architecture was separated by transaction types, leading to 7 separate Access databases in need of maintenance at any time. Any changes to Engaging Networks or Raiser’s Edge would require a change to be made in all Access databases and it was becoming increasingly difficult both technically and in terms of the time it was taking to maintain the solution.

Additionally moving from Raiser’s Edge 7 self-hosted to Raiser’s Edge NXT and the new home working requirements meant a hosted solution was required.

What was the solution?

Refuge worked with Anthony Fawkes fromLogo from Actually Data the organisation managing the systems integration. Actually Data on redesigning their income recording processes, alongside the migration to Raiser’s Edge NXT and other database related improvements.

The work done on Engaging Networks is split into two parts.

A staging phase using PowerQuery (Excel), which includes pulling data from EN via the Bulk Export API.

  • Data cleansing was implemented to ensure the correct formatting of names and uniform formatting of phone numbers.
  • There is integration with Loqate via the Batch Cleanse API to cleanse, validate and ensure addresses are stored in the correct format.
  • Donation coding was added looking up against libraries to ensure the correct coding was applied in line with their complex requirements.

The second stage uses ImportOmatic to import the prepared data to Raiser’s Edge, with minimal to no “complex” logic on the ImportOmatic side.

  • Different profiles were created within ImportOmatic mirroring Engaging Networks transaction types so data could be imported easily eg: Direct Debits / One off Transactions / Campaigners / Consent etc.
  • The deduplication function of ImportOmatic ensured the correct matching against existing records.

What were the results?

Dimitris with his team, Tom Semlyen and Benedicte Van Boxel, have achieved some really tangible benefits from this activity resulting in measurable efficiencies alongside a solution they are now comfortable with that will scale as they continue to grow.

  • Processing time decreased by 76% (82 minutes a day down to 20 minutes).

  • Using ImportOmatic rather than the classic import function from Raiser’s Edge resulted in less data imports.

  • The solution can be updated and modified to reflect the growing nature of their fundraising and campaigning activity with ease.

  • It can be managed and maintained by anyone within the database or wider supporter care teams in the future.