Technology is only part of the solution: Why the Soil Association believes people and partnership is the key to success 

By Trillium

The Soil Association is a leading UK membership charity who campaign for healthy, humane and sustainable food and farming. They are celebrating success as they recently went live with a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, working with Trillium as their implementation partner.  

Simon Givens, Head of IT at The Soil Association talks about how their partnership with Trillium is bringing the organisation huge benefits and how it is set to grow.  

Investing in technology and digital has always been a priority for Simon at the Soil Association, even though at times it has been an uphill battle to do that and get people over the line. However, the onset of Covid-19 validated their approach to that investment and meant they were able to adapt to working remotely quite quickly, giving their staff the tools they needed for business to continue. This past six months has increased the organisation’s appetite to embrace technology – the business now comes to Simon to say what technology they need to adapt and support staff. Consequently, the Soil Association has brought forward their transition to Microsoft Teams, although Simon is mindful of the need to move at the right pace to get the right solution for their staff. 

So it comes as no surprise that the Soil Association knew they needed to invest in a single, central CRM solution in order to fully embrace digital campaigns to grow their membership and increase donations, whilst still maintaining traditional postal campaigns for their elderly supporter base. At one point the Soil Association actually had four CRM solutions supporting different parts of the organisation! 

However, this CRM implementation project with Trillium is their second CRM project within four years. The first attempt did not succeed, not because of the technology but because the charity didn’t adapt the way that they workedthey thought they could apply all their existing business processes to the CRM. However, they soon realised that this was like fitting a square peg into a round hole. The second time round, they knew a different model was required and they welcomed Trillium’s approach of constructively challenging their ways of working, to enable the CRM work for them 

The Soil Association has recognised too that people are the key to creating a digital culture, not the technology, what’s critical is making sure they have right people with the right skills and applying the technology to that. 

Their successful CRM go live does not mean that the work stops there. Far from it. Simon sees the golive as the Minimum Viable Product, which they need to build upon to secure their future and grow their membership base.  

He sees the partnership with Trillium going from strength to strength as they work together to enable the Soil Association to run their business better, automate their processes, learn how to retain their members, customers and donors, understand their data and fully utilise the CRM to achieve their long-term future.