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Membership is blooming for Elmley Nature Reserve

Elmley Nature Reserve

Elmely Nature Reserve Birds

"sheepCRM did everything we wanted it to without being overly complicated. Some of the other membership software packages we reviewed had too many unnecessary features, which didn't put our business first."

Georgina Fulton, Director

Who they are:

Elmley Nature Reserve is a family-run farm set over 3,300 acres of wilderness with a vision to restore nature and a commitment to the sustainability of the landscape.

Georgina Fulton, Director of Elmley Nature Reserve, moved to the farm in 2013 to continue her parent's work enabling nature to flourish. Elmley Nature Reserve is a community interest company, a national nature reserve but privately owned and managed by Georgina and Gareth Fulton.

The challenges:

Two intertwined businesses run from the nature reserve – the profit-making overnight and events hospitality business and the not-for-profit CIC, which manages day visits to the Reserve. The audiences are also intertwined. So they need to project a professional image across both. For example, the hospitality business is very professional and looks great, but the community interest company fell behind.

Elmley Nature Reserve runs a membership scheme called 'The Friends of Elmley'. In the past, volunteers managed the members. Unfortunately, it was a long and complicated process to sign up new members or renew memberships.

"It was just so painful to sign people up. It took a lot of time, nothing was automated, and we used PayPal to take payments. It took the volunteers a long time, and they didn't necessarily have that time. It was a vastly complicated procedure. We used Excel to keep track of our members, and it was easy to miss things or make mistakes," says Georgina.

They started looking for a software solution that was easy to use, could produce welcome emails, take payments smoothly, and help them communicate with their members effectively.

How sheepCRM helped:

After looking at a few different membership software packages, Georgina settled on sheepCRM.

"sheepCRM did everything we wanted it to without being overly complicated. Some of the other membership software packages we reviewed had too many unnecessary features, which didn't put our business first. We could also stop using PayPal and now use GoCardless, and it connects with our MailChimp account, which was much more professional. sheepCRM just did absolutely everything required." says Georgina.

By the time Georgina decided to go with sheepCRM, they had already input most of their data on the trial. In addition, they had managed to set up most of sheepCRM themselves before they had even started their training, not leaving much for sheepCRM to do.

"We did quite a lot of the setup on our own, which I think they were surprised about! But it was such an intuitive system, and it was so easy for us to do. The trial was straightforward, and so was the setup process. As with any not-for-profit organisation, we had our quirks, and there were a few things we wanted to be made bespoke. However, everyone at sheepCRM was accommodating at making sure sheepCRM worked for us; they understood that it is not one size fits all".

"They are a very friendly company, so that was lovely and they had a nice personal touch. They were really helpful throughout the training sessionals and just brilliant all-round".

"sheepCRM has made an enormous, positive impact on our marketing and given us the ability to communicate effectively with our members", said Georgina.

Growing memberships and income:

Georgina has shifted her mindset from not being confident that any software package would be able to do what they required to being amazed at how much of a difference sheepCRM has made to their business.

"Our labour hours have gone down by about 90%, which is fantastic. In addition, we present a more professional front to our members, which is brilliant".

"It has also positively impacted our marketing and allowed us to communicate effectively with our members. Many of our members have commented on how easy it is to use", said Georgina.

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