Published 24 July 2023

The innovative use of automation within the Wales Air Ambulance Charity was recently singled out for praise by the digital technology community.

The digital initiative, designed and delivered in partnership with Arvato CRM Solutions, involves the automation of the Charity’s in-house ‘Lifesaving Lottery’.

The project was highly commended during the Digital Technology Leaders Awards in London earlier this month (July 2023). The ceremony celebrated the talent and achievement of organisations, teams, and individuals who are excelling or demonstrating real innovation within the digital technology space.

The project has combined Arvato’s finance process expertise with robotic process automation (RPA) technology to create digital workers that mimic how human employees would interact with the Charity’s lottery system.  

Mandy Dunell, the Charity’s Lottery Administration Manager, said: “Historically, I was required to manually update and manage two separate systems. This was an incredibly time-consuming process that took me away from valuable personal engagement with Charity supporters. 

“The technology now automatically inputs and updates players’ data into the lottery and direct debit systems, and generates sign-up letters and direct debit forms, which it then sends by email. It also actions daily BACS reports, helps to maintain the Charity’s payment records, runs the lottery draw and generates letters for the winners.”   

So far, the new automated system has reduced the time spent by Wales Air Ambulance employees on daily BACS reports by 50%, and cut time spent on adding new members to the lottery system by up to 92%. By sending new member letters by email, instead of post, the system is more environmentally friendly and will save the Charity thousands of pounds every year. 

This project is the first of an innovative digital transformation programme that will help the Charity raise funds more effectively, build employees’ and volunteers’ digital skills and reduce its environmental impact.   

Sue Barnes, Chief Executive of the Wales Air Ambulance Charity, said: “The third sector can often be seen as the poor relations on many different levels compared to the private and public sectors. Our new Charity strategy challenges this perception, and the lottery automation project is one example of how we are using cutting-edge technologies to support our lifesaving work.

“It’s vital that we make our systems and processes as efficient as possible so that every pound we receive from the community has the biggest possible impact. Put simply, the more time and money we save running the Charity, the more we can dedicate to keeping our helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.  

“We are innovative in the medical service that we deliver, and we are keen that this innovation is embedded in every area of the Charity, and in everything we do.  

“As well as supporting our lifesaving service, it is also an investment in our employees and volunteers. Arvato is approaching our transformation as a true partner – working closely with our team to help us identify where we can unlock the largest benefits, as quickly as possible, and training our team so that we have the knowledge to run these technologies ourselves.”  

Debra Maxwell, CEO of Arvato CRM Solutions, said: “Wales Air Ambulance Charity, as with so many other third-sector organisations, has the fundamental need to do the most it can with limited resources. Through its ambitious digital transformation strategy, it is leading the way in showcasing how the not-for-profit sector, and public-facing services in general, can use technology to achieve this.  

The Charity is currently exploring further opportunities to apply new technologies – such as automation and artificial intelligence – across the organisation, to deliver increased efficiency and new learning and development opportunities for its employees.