Our story of launching a CRM solution for 17 independent grant-making trusts during a global pandemic.  

By Pythagoras, August 2020

Over the last year we’ve been working with Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts (SFCT) to deliver a Dynamics 365 platform for grant making, fundraising, marketing, events and contact management. Both SFCT and Pythagoras are immensely proud of what’s been achieved, especially as circumstances meant the project was completed and launched completely remotely due to the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Project Background  

SFCT is the operating office of 17 different independent grant-making trusts established by members of three generations of the Sainsbury family. The 17 trusts share back office functions and an office in London.  

“We had a wide remit in terms of having lots of different requirements and priorities that needed to be met. It was quite challenging finding the right solution and right partner to carry out what we felt was quite complicated project to deliver.”  

Nicola Taylor | Change Management Lead | Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts  

The Dynamics 365 Solution Overview

  • Events and marketing: 
    • Manages marketing activities and events, in particular The Ashden Awards ceremony (an international awards programme).  
  • Fundraising: 
    • Manages income pipeline and fundraising opportunities, helping each trust to forecast income and increase likelihood of receiving funding.  
  • Grant making 
    • Manages the end-to-end process of the trust online grant enquiries through to disbursement of grants to beneficiaries.  

“We replaced all exisiting systems for grant management, marketing and fundraising which meant for a significant change of the working methods of a lot of people within the organisation. We were really pleased with the positive reception the system received upon go-live.”  

David Martindale | Digital Solutions Manager | Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts  


SFCT went live with their Dynamics 365 solution in April 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, meaning both teams from SFCT and Pythagoras were working remotely during this time and go-live happened from various homes across the UK.  

“We had to do a little bit of convincing to our board members to still go ahead with go-live during lockdown. We figured that because the system was remote there was nothing stopping us, and the remote go-live was a success.”  

Nicola Taylor | Change Management Lead  

SFCT’s 5 tips for go-live success:  

  1. Having a motivated internal project ‘salesman’ helps to win the hearts and minds of users.  
  2. It’s vital to have technical support on-hand from your implementation partner.  
  3. Recruit champions from each team to help answer questions and create a buzz.’ 
  4. Create a dedicated Yammer channel where colleagues can share experiences and showcase any dashboards or views, they have created.  
  5. Remote workshops often lead to a more focused audience and can get better attendance.  

“The fact that people are coming forward and asking if one of their processes could also work in Dynamics rather than relying on their spreadsheets, is a real sign of a project that has gone well.”  

Paul Chapman | Web Intranet Manager  

Key Benefits of SFCT’s Dynamics 365 Solution  

  • Quicker turnaround time to review grant applications 
  • Ability to have easy access to important organisational data  
  • A clearer understanding of current grant submissions, for example follow-up deadlines and late submissions  
  • Application forms are now online which were previously paper based, giving a better experience for grantees and a more efficient process for staff 
  • Fundraising teams can better identify fundraising opportunities and forecast income pipeline 
  • Applications for The Ashden Awards are reviewed and manages efficiently through the Dynamics portal  
  • Less fragmentation throughout the different trusts, all now using one platform which is manages centrally by the IT team 
  • Saving money on external web agencies and third-party tools  

We recently caught up with some of the SFCT team on Microsoft Teams to hear about the project and find out how the system has been received by their 17 trusts.  

Watch the Video here.