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East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust Charitable Funds

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Mandy Jordan is the Associate director for Charities and Voluntary services at Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity and East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust. Mandy joined the organisation in 2016 when it was known as Ipswich Hospital Charity. At that time, it had just one acute hospital with around 2,500 staff members. The Trust used to raise between £300,000 and £400,000 a year, with a similar expenditure. The NHS Trust today, runs two acute hospitals and six community hospitals, together with community services.

The Challenge

“Our NHS Trust alongside the Charity has grown both financially and in the number of supporters over the last 7 years, explains Mandy. “While the growth in income is a nice challenge to have, our systems hadn’t kept up. We were effectively just using excel and paper for our grants processes. Due to this we were not being able to meet the demands of distributing the grant awards. While we had done really well in fundraising, our expenditure was not keeping up as we could not manage that growth. We needed additional tools to help us do the job. Another challenge was the pure volume of funds we were managing. When we merged with Colchester and Ipswich, we were managing around 450 separate funds which we had managed to condense down to 215, however we needed to reduce that number further to around 100, to have a much more manageable fund signatory and inventory.”

“Everything was either excel or paper based,” adds Mandy, “there was a lot of manual intervention which inevitably led to errors creeping in and sometimes paper would go missing. At the start of Covid-19, we could no longer rely on the internal post since everyone was working different patterns and our corporate signatories (HR, Finance etc) were working from home so could no longer physically sign the forms. Over that period, we also saw changes with GDPR rules. We were very aware we were only just meeting those requirements. Naturally security is a priority in the NHS, but keeping records on paper and spreadsheets was hindering us and preventing us from growing further.”

The Solution

New System Requirements

These challenges prompted us to seek out a system that would support our grants administration,” explains Mandy. “We needed it to be completely secure from a GDPR perspective as well as being cloud based, since many of the team were and continue to be working from home on a regular basis. We also wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to apply. Feedback from surveys indicated that all the paperwork and lack of clarity about how to apply was unwieldy. It was important that everything was easy to understand, and that you didn’t need to be a technical whiz to manage the system. We needed one place where we could track all the requests that were coming in as well as having automated messaging for some of the more generic responses that we send out. Additionally, we needed the ability for better reporting to present to our charitable funds committee and for management information. These requirements then led us to research grant systems and suppliers, which ultimately led us to Gallery Partnership and their grants software, BenefactorCloud.”

New System Benefits

“BenefactorCloud gives us much more transparency,” explains Mandy. “For applicants, everyone can see all the different funds they can apply to and for what purposes. It eliminates the need to have had a private conversation with a funds advisor and get signatories from them, as we can do all that from the system. It also gives us the ability in a much simpler way to show those who have generously donated how we have spent the money. For our charitable funds committee and Trustees, the reports we can pull off provide that instant visibility as they show what has happened at every stage as to why something was approved or rejected. This is also helpful to understand if there are any improvements that we need to do within our grants process, for example if there are any points when things are getting stuck or held up. We can clearly see where we are spending our money and break that down by categories such as patient or staff expenditure type, demographics, location etc. Due to it being Cloud based, all our staff can simply click on a link on any computer at any location and access the grants site.”

“Before you could only access via the staff intranet or on a ward laptop, and you had to have access to a printer for scanning and re-scanning purposes,” Explains Mandy. “Due to it being Cloud based, all our staff can now simply click on a link on any computer at any location and access the grants site. At the same time, we are thoroughly GDPR compliant. From an information governance point of view, that’s really important. We are a corporate trustee charity, however we still need to share some information with the NHS trust. Within BenefactorCloud we have been able to write that governance statement and define it to show how we are sharing that information between charity and trust and vice versa.”

“One of the changes we have made with this new platform is the ability for anyone to apply for funding, adds Mandy. We used to just get applications from senior level members of staff which focused more on expensive life saving equipment. However, we also wanted to receive other requests which would support the hospitals and now the application and communication process are so much simpler, it is easier to drive that message.

Client Testimonial

 “BenefactorCloud gives us much more transparency, We can clearly see where we are spending our money and break that down by categories such as patient or staff expenditure type, demographics, location etc.”

Mandy Jordan, Associate Director