Westminster Amalgamated Charity in its present form dates from 1961 following the amalgamation of seven existing Westminster charities. The aim of the Charity today is to continue the activity common to all the predecessor charities, namely the relief of need in Westminster by way of grants, both for individuals and for organisations.
Keith Rea joined WAC in 1994, became deputy to the CEO in 1998 and took over as CEO in January 2008. He is now overseeing some significant systems development, in partnership with Gallery, to enable the charity to respond to the increasing demands and changing environment that they are currently experiencing.
Keith and Julia Moorcroft tell us about their experience working with Gallery.
“Back in 2008, we already had a bespoke database, but it was very cumbersome and not really fit for purpose - we had all sorts of problems with it. In April of that year, it finally crashed completely. In addition, our grants administrator very sadly passed away in February 2008 so we also lost a huge knowledge source at the same time. Julia had joined the Charity in November 2007 and agreed to step up to the grant administration role in March 2008. For several tumultuous months we had to revert to doing everything on paper – applications, tracking and request processing. Our previous administrator came out of retirement to help for 1 day per week but basically we had to completely re-group and re-plan from scratch.
Keith personally researched long and hard to find a grant administration solution that was right for us at the time and that could also grow with us, but kept finding software solutions that were either far too complex and expensive for us or were too basic. Finally, his research led us to Gallery’s Benefactor product and in August 2008 they came to demo it at our offices. It was immediately obvious that this was the right solution for us and we had no hesitation in buying it, especially since we found the Gallery team to be so friendly and helpful as well as being experts in the field of charity software. Julia had extensive previous experience using many other software solutions and was convinced that Benefactor was the right choice for us.
The great thing about Benefactor for a growing grant-making organisation like WAC is that almost 10 years after we first started using it, the software is still absolutely fit for purpose – in fact we’re not sure we’ll ever exploit its full capability – Julia regularly meets much bigger organisations who also use Benefactor at Gallery’s lively and useful user group meetings.”