Greenpeace UK plans to upgrade its CRM systems as part of a wider IT transformation, which Head of IT Andrew Hatton hopes will improve engagement with its donors and supporters.

Head of IT Hatton said that the technology will help manage the team's interaction with its current and potential customers.

"I try to spend as much of my role speaking to customers and my peers trying to find out how we can work together and I see it very much as a partnership," he said.

Founded in 1971, Greenpeace is a non-profit organisation with offices in over 40 countries. It raises awareness of the natural world by campaigning against climate change, eliminating toxic chemicals and saving the Arctic. Greenpeace UK is an affiliate of the global brand and has an IT team of 13 people overseen by Hatton.

The digital platform team focuses on the online campaigns that they use for e-petitions and activism. Currently, Greenpeace UK is running a campaign on the Great Bear Rainforest and investigating issues such as pollutions plastic which focuses on global organisations producing millions of plastic bottles a year and lobbying for them to recycle.

CRM and change management

The CRM system will make data accessible to every department, but Hatton admitted that the project was not an easy journey and insisted it was about processing change.

"The CRM affects everyone in the building," he said. "We have had to manage each team member and take on board their requirements. We are an early adopter of this technology but it will have a big impact on the way we create campaigns and that requires everyone to sign up for the model."

The project will see Greenpeace UK gain a better understanding of its 300 donator accounts and help its fundraising team to make better-informed decisions.

"It would give us a 360-degree view of our supporters, and would help us see if you are a member of one of our activist groups, how many campaigns you have taken part in and how much you have donated," he said.

While Hatton is confident his team can deal with any problems the organisation has, in recent years it has seen the IT team working closely with the campaigns team.

"We are environmentally focused and all my co-workers are campaigners who are very passionate about what they do," he said. "The way we like to work is to be as flexible as possible and it is definitely not the sort of IT environment when you must do XYZ without expecting to have a discussion about things."

Green IT

Having spent more than a decade in non-profit organisations, Hatton is still keen in lobbying for environmental change.

"I am currently campaigning for greener electronics and for IT to be more sustainable which is something Greenpeace has historically had campaigns on.

"I have done a lot of work on the ‘clean cloud’ campaign over the last few years in the UK and I am about to join a parliamentary climate change group where we are starting a research project into climate change and cloud computing.

Hatton said donations are still important for the organisation to help run its campaigns due to a majority of its funding coming from the public.

"In September, I did a day volunteering on the street fundraising face to face which has helped me to understand what it is like for our campaigners and how hard it is to do to raise money," he explained. "I talked to the public about what campaigns we are running and the changes we are making but it is very competitive and difficult to get people to stop and sign up."

Following the volunteering, Hatton was keen to bring back the message to the team in making sure that the donated money was spent wisely on campaigns.

"Most of the work that we do would be 80% global campaigning while 20% would be spent on working on local issues. We try to make sure the global campaigns that we run can translate to a local level focusing on issues such as air pollution and London diesel taxi fleets," he said.

Agile strategy

Hatton, who joined the organisation in 2010, said that one of his main challenges in his role was flexibility and having to be able to turn on a dime.

"We have a three-year strategy in place but then you might find that can change overnight - whether that’s an environmental issue, lack of funding or the digital tools that we use."

Hatton said that while they are some big environmental challenges ahead but for the time being that the CRM project was his main priority.

"Over the next year, we are going to come up with more creative, engaging campaigns together with our supporters where we can influence change," he said.

"We have got to act, persuade the people that we have got change and really for us, we are a storytelling organisation so it is about getting those stories out there and into the public debate."