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The Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine

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Background

The Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine was originally established in 1891. The founders, which included the illustrious surgeon and pioneer of medical research, Joseph Lister, established the institute with two primary aims: to undertake fundamental scientific research into the causes, prevention and treatment of disease in man and animals, and to prepare and supply special protective and curative materials such as vaccines and antitoxins. They receive over 100 applications on average and currently award around six fellowships annually, each worth £250,000, provided under flexible terms to help researchers achieve the maximum impact with their work. They also provide funding for students to spend time doing a short research project working in laboratories with Institute Fellows and former Fellows during their summer holidays. The Gallery Partnership has provided IT solutions for charities for the last 20 years and has recently developed a new cloud-based version of their longstanding successful grants software Benefactor, aptly named “BenefactorCloud.” The Lister Institute are the first client to adopt the new version and pilot the software.

The Challenge

The Lister Institute recruited a new team in 2019, which included a new Director, Sally Burtles and Operations Manager, Nicola King. Previously, the grants administration had all been via a lengthy manual process, involving multiple spreadsheets and paper copies including postal correspondence, which the team felt was not only confusing but unsustainable in the long term. They wanted to find a more efficient way to manage their admin, centralise their communications and speed up the overall grants process.

The Solution

“Lister’s previous way of managing their grants seemed very confusing and complicated,” explains Sally. “The team prior to us had tried to design a bespoke system using an IT technician who had helped Lister with some technical support in the past. Unfortunately, this system failed during the testing stage, and we weren’t keen on the idea of having a system which was reliant on one individual. We felt we really needed something that was more robust, and which had a team of people supporting it from a specialist company. At the start of our search, I had spoken to other medical research funders who were organisationally larger than us, but the software they were using was very expensive and didn’t seem cost effective enough for the numbers of applications and staff we have. Nicola then searched the Internet for organisations offering grants software and following a few exploratory calls whittled the search down to 3, of which Gallery Partnership was one and progressed to demonstrations from these companies. Our decision to choose Gallery was not only down to pricing but the overall package which was on offer which included the engagement from the team. Despite other companies offering similar software, their main focus was more commercial businesses, whereas with Gallery, their only focus is charities, and it was clear that with their experience, the challenges our organisation faced would be much better understood. With Gallery, it was much more of a sense of working to together to find the right solution, rather than just providing a generic product. “Since, The Lister Institute were the early adopters of the new software – BenefactorCloud, they provided Gallery with insight and how the product could be enhanced further. “Valerie (Gallery’s account manager for grant organisations) was an absolute star. She’s really understood what is important for us and made sure that these areas got actioned promptly.” explains Sally. Nicola agrees, “The team at Gallery would always work really closely with us to make sure what we needed was implemented to the time scales we needed, and now with all its developments and updates, the software is looking for a lot more interesting and easier to use.”Nicola and Sally both see an improved way of working following the implementation of BenefactorCloud. “We can certainly see the efficiencies already” says Sally, “everything is in one place, we have much better visibility of what’s going on and obtaining reports is much easier. I think as we use it more going forward and tweak it further, we’ll see even more benefits from the system.”

“It has certainly reduced the amount of admin I had to deal with on a daily basis,” Nicola adds. “When the prizes would open, I used to have to go through 80 – 100 emails and process these onto a spreadsheet, but now all that admin has been taken away with predominantly all communication and reviews going through the system. It just makes everything a lot cleaner and more transparent. Everything is there within the system and available instantly. All the manual tasks which take a long time to complete and are open to error have been taken away.”Nicola remarks on Lister’s experience working with Gallery. “Lister provide large awards but we are still a relatively small charity and we wanted to partner with a company who are more approachable, who understand our needs and you’re not having to deal with a large call centre if there is a problem. Often with a big company, you lose that personal touch – with Gallery, I can just pick up the phone and know the person I’m talking to will sort the issue out straight away. It was this personal relationship approach that convinced us to also move our IT support over to Gallery. We’ve also signed up for VOIP and Cyber Security training. We used to rely on just one person for our IT, but we feel much more secure knowing that all our back-ups are taken care of by a team of specialists. Anytime we ask for anything, there is always the reassurance there is someone there to help” 

Client Testimonial

Despite other companies offering similar software, their main focus was more commercial businesses, whereas with Gallery, their only focus is charities, and it was clear that with their experience, the challenges our organisation faced would be much better understood. With Gallery, it was much more of a sense of working to together to find the right solution, rather than just providing a generic product.”

Sally Burtles, Director