Migrating your union’s data to a new CRM

A TUC Digital Lab practical guide

Your CRM contains the heart of your union’s data. It manages your key interactions with members and your intelligence about what’s happening to the union over time. As such, migrating your data from one CRM to another absolutely must succeed in a way that keeps the integrity of that data, and that keeps it usable for the union’s core processes.

If you’ve been using your existing membership database for a long while, as many unions have, then you’ll likely have built up a huge number of workarounds and parallel processes. These can take a long time to unpick in order to bring them into the new system.

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Moving to Dynamics at CWU: a case study from discovery to delivery 

Back around April 2022, our Senior Deputy General Secretary kicked off a big review of IT at CWU. It was a chance to look across the union at what we needed to do, including our core membership tools.

I thought the challenge of our old membership system contract coming to an end in 18 months could also be an opportunity to move to a more modern infrastructure that could better support innovation.  

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Four tech trends for unions in 2024

2024 marks the fifth year of our shared journey into digital change for unions, with the TUC’s Digital Lab programme.

Since we started, we’ve tackled best practice on digital in many areas of union activity, and worked directly with many unions to test new ways of working. And unions have done some brilliant work – Our case studies page just passed 50 great examples from across our affiliates, and more are coming in all the time.

We’ve tried to respond to affiliates’ changing needs as well. 2023 was busy with work around union core membership systems change, and supporting strike ballot campaigns, where we’ve seen real impact for unions using peer-to-peer tools to involve activists in turning out some historic votes.

As we turn towards 2024, we’re expecting to see more work on four broad areas for digital unions. Here’s a bit more about where we’re planning to take the programme over the next 12 months.

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Checking member data with commercial data cleaning services: NASUWT case study

Accurate member data is essential for a trade union of any size. If the purpose of a union is to build power and improve members’ experiences in workplaces, it is fundamental that it is clear who members are, where they work and how to get hold of them.

This is especially true in the context of statutory balloting – if we don’t know where our members are living, we can’t send them ballot papers; or worse, we send them to the wrong address, which is then counted as a nil return. If other contact details such as e-mail address or phone number are out of date, it can be almost impossible to reach these members.

Unions have been trying a variety of methods to check member data, such as working with activists to data check using peer-to-peer SMS, using surveys, or giving reps data checking tools to use in the workplace. However, making this process more targeted and efficient is always going to be a priority.

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Digital tools to run check off to direct debit member switching campaigns

The TUC Digital Lab held a webinar on how unions can run the most effective online campaigns to switch members from check off dues deduction to paying via direct debit.

We looked into what would make a switching campaign more effective, in terms of tech, process and communications.

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Engaging childcare workers online – case study

Making first contact with non-member workers in a new workplace is getting steadily more difficult for unions. Our changing economy has for a long time meant that there are increasingly industries with higher union density, and others with little or none. Changing work patterns towards casualisation have made it harder for workers to meet each other or form relationships over time. And since the pandemic, the drive to working from home in many sectors has further reduced the scope for unions to meet workers in person other than in small numbers.  

The first step to organising workers is always finding them, and the TUC has undertaken a number of pilot projects to make contact with new potential members. Alongside our wider campaigning work on outsourcing, we had another opportunity to learn more about this. 

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How do we retain more members in our unions?

In early October, the Digital Lab met to discuss digital aspects of member retention. UK union membership fell overall in both 2021 and 2022, and now stands at the lowest level since records began in 1995. 

Colleagues from a dozen unions joined our  workshop to consider together why members might leave, and what unions can do to reduce their number. Here’s a note of what we discussed.

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Using peer-to-peer SMS to have real conversations aimed at member retention – RCM case study

Our membership within the Royal College of Midwives consists of a very specific workforce – midwives and maternity support workers, and there’s a clear pathway into that workforce through midwifery students. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to engage and recruit them throughout their course and before qualification; however some work needed to be done to retain members at their early career stage.

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Five lessons on leadership for union digital change – Kevin Courtney

Since the start of the TUC’s Digital Lab project in 2019, my NEU Joint GS colleague Mary Bousted and I have shared the newly created role of lead members for digital change on the TUC’s Executive Committee.

We’ve talked with other union leaders about this on many occasions, as well as trying to take forward a big programme of digital change within NEU.

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Measuring and analysing member engagement levels at the CSP

Member engagement is a big priority for the CSP. It gives value to our members for being part of the community. It really helps with recruitment as well, because happy, engaged members are really good advocates for future CSP membership. And an engaged membership helps the union be better informed, more active and more influential, through members’ input.

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