Learn how Federation of Scottish Theatre run Memberships, Events and Comms using WordPress and CiviCRM

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The Federation of Scottish Theatre (FST) is Scotland’s development body for professional dance, opera and theatre. Pooka & Co initially worked with FST to develop an accessible online theatre guide for Scotland, which was shortlisted for “Website of the Year” in the UK Public Sector Communication Awards in 2017. Building on our ongoing relationship with FST, we then assisted them with implementing a new CRM system.

As a membership organisation, FST engage daily with many hundreds of performing arts organisations and practitioners. Over time, the organisation had found their original bespoke CRM to be limiting, despite being custom coded. As a not-for-profit organisation, FST was also keen to explore Open Source tools to reduce costs.

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Pooka & Co worked with FST to understand their membership, their workflows and their ambitions, as well as reviewing the pain points and restrictions of their existing CRM. This allowed us to propose a new CRM solution based on CiviCRM, and integrated with a redesigned website, which would increase automation of many of its business processes, as well as enhancing communications with its members.

As a first step, we worked on a process of migration to ensure that all required contact and membership data from FST’s existing CRM could be moved to CiviCRM, and structured in a way that would ease access and reporting. This data was then integrated into a “Members Area” on a redesigned FST website, which allowed Members to interact with their own data (for example updating contact details and mailing list preferences), as well as providing a secure gateway to premium “members only” content on the website.

The next step was to integrate self-service event registration and payments on the website, allowing members and non-members to book and pay for the many training and networking events provided by FST. Pooka & Co implemented credit and debit card processing into the website and CRM using the Stripe payment gateway. Using a third-party payment gateway in this way is ideal for non-profit and membership organisations, as it reduces the risk of processing and storing sensitive payment information on the website server.

We also set up CiviCRM’s scheduled email automation to send reminders to attendees shortly before events, which proved particularly useful to email Zoom links prior to each event as the World went into lockdown in 2020. Similarly, follow-up emails with links to event surveys were scheduled to be sent to attendees after each event.

Amanda Liddle

“Pooka always provide an imaginative web design service in a very client friendly and responsive manner, delivering excellent products on time and on budget.”

Amanda Liddle

General Manager, Federation of Scottish Theatre

Beyond these integrations, FST also uses CiviCRM’s eMarketing tools to design and send email newsletters to its memberships on a weekly basis. Think of this as like using MailChimp for mass communications, but without having to leave your CRM system. FST administrators can even see which members have opened or clicked on emails from within CiviCRM, and follow up accordingly.

As the pandemic hit in 2020, things became very difficult for the performing arts sector. However, FST were able to use CiviCRM flexibly, to allow users to pay what they could towards membership. As restrictions lifted, FST then begin the process of re-automating membership renewals and payments for their members within CiviCRM, to ease the administrative burden on the organisation.

A well-planned and configured CRM system, coupled with excellent training can lead to huge cost and efficiency savings within an organisation. Pooka & Co are delighted to continue supporting Federation of Scottish Theatre, and would love to discuss your own organisation’s needs.

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