The Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education (HFC), established in 2004 in York County, serves a special and unique purpose of supporting small business farmers as they establish sustainable agriculture businesses. As a result, this non-profit organization helps to build stronger local food systems while raising community awareness of the economic and health benefits of sustainable growing methods.
For nearly a decade, HFC has experienced exciting growth and momentum, but the one aspect of this organization that was quickly proving unsustainable was its management operations. Particularly, the way it communicated and maintained relationships with its volunteers and supporters lacked consistency, efficiency and was not cost-effective.
HFC knew it needed a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to streamline its operations, but with only three part-time employees and an operating revenue of $135,000, it wasn’t sure there was an option that could meet its needs and work within its budget. So HFC called upon CSH Consulting for advice. Together with HFC’s Executive Director, Nedette Otterbein; Web Master, Sandra Collin; and Office Manager, Kandace Huggins, the team researched various CRM options and ultimately selected CiviCRM.
First released in 2005, non-profit CiviCRM is an open-source, customizable web-based Constituent Relationship Management software specifically developed to meet the needs of non-profits and other civic-sector organizations. CSH Consulting worked with HFC every step of the way to implement CiviCRM and train its employees and volunteers.
The improvements to HFC’s operations were so impressive that, earlier this month, the organization was honored with the 2015 Central Penn Business Journal’s Non-Profit Innovation Award for Management Operations! Here are just a few ways in which HFC has benefited from CiviCRM:
- A streamlined and efficient way to capture information has increased HFC’s client base from 800 to 5,063 people in less than two years.
- Clear and timely communications have secured 50 organizations to host or table at 28 major public events in 2014 (compared to 3-4 public education events in previous years).
- CiviCRM’s publicity, online registration, volunteer management and registrant communication helped to double the size of the annual Farm-To-City Dinner without increasing costs.
- Integrated online credit processing and registration received $3,000 in online contributions in just 8 months while eliminating the cost of a third-party service.
- Low-cost communications, such as email campaigns, helped to grow volunteer base from 50 to 400 people, resulting in over 6,000 volunteer hours.
- Monthly e-newsletters drive the community to HFC’s integrated website and reduce the time and expense of mailed newsletters.
- Social sharing features allow supporters to share information about events or donations made directly with their social network, helping to promote HFC on social media.
The initial cost to HFC for implementation was $7,500 and included web design, data import, hosting set-up, customized cloud-based database with multiple add-on modules and training.
When we presented our CRM requirements to several local software solution companies, initial quotes ranged from $20,000 to $30,000 and functionality requirements were not achievable. Year-to-year maintenance costs for HFC’s current solution piggyback onto typical cost of operations such as hosting, email and domain fees; tech support; web and social media development; while providing the employee-to-client communication level of large for-profit organizations!
It was an honor to work with Horn Farm Center and we offer our biggest congratulations on their Non-Profit Innovation Award! It was our pleasure to give them a better way to communicate with their constituents and the tools they need to continue to grow the impact of their organization. We look forward to celebrating many more successful decades of HCF’s inspiring service to the community!