Why digitising HR was the natural choice for Dorset Wildlife Trust

Conservation charity Dorset Wildlife Trust has moved to a cloud-based, digital HR management system. This change has allowed them more time to focus on their mission – and less on calendar management

Chloe Green | 23rd Dec 19
Dorset Wildlife Trust Breathe HR

If you’d like to find out more about how Breathe can transform your charity’s HR processes, click here to get started – charities get a 50% discount.

Dorset Wildlife Trust is Dorset’s largest conservation charity, and since 1961 has worked to champion wildlife and preserve the stunning natural heritage of the Dorset coast and its surrounding natural areas. Working across 42 nature reserves, 56 staff and thousands of volunteers a year work to inspire the local community and visitors from far and wide.

As an independent charity, the Trust needs to be able to manoeuvre quickly wherever it’s needed. For Head of HR Steve Davis, this is of particular importance. His team couldn’t afford to be get bogged down with time-consuming administrative tasks.

Three years ago, the charity was using manual methods to handle its HR processes, and it was taking up a lot of time.


If someone wanted to take holiday they’d have to fill a form in, get their manager to sign it, it’d then come through to me and I’d put it into the spreadsheet. It had various formula to automatically take off the total but even so, it was very laborious. The headaches we had going into a new leap year was huge. It was an incredible amount of work – something definitely needed to be done.” – Steve Davis, Head of HR – Dorset Wildlife Trust.


Digital Management of Holiday and Absence Logs

Having made the decision to go digital, Dorset Wildlife Trust came across Breathe – a cloud-based digital platform that brings all HR management processes together into one place. Breathe offer a 50% discount for charities.


Because we’re a charity, it’s very cost-effective. It’s great to be with someone who recognises that as a charity we’re not made of money – we need to be able to focus on spending our funds on our charitable aims rather than have to spend it on administration, which is really beneficial for everyone.” – Steve Davis, Head of HR – Dorset Wildlife Trust.


The charity uses it primarily for managing and booking leave and absences such as holidays, medical appointments, sickness and time in lieu. Senior management can also have access to all the staff details they need, in or out of office hours, by just logging into the system – a more secure and GDPR-aware solution than carrying a physical folder with individuals’ details. Another bonus is that the staff can easily see all the information that the charity hold on them by simply logging in.

Staff can use the Breathe platform themselves by going to their profile, and with the simple click of a button, request leave dates or log absence. The Breathe platform automatically generates an email to their manager to authorise it. They log in and approve, and it goes into the calendar for the whole organisation.


See also: How charities can make HR more efficient with digital – infographic


It’s incredibly intuitive. We started with the two week trial period to give it a go and see what we thought. I gave it to staff to just play around for it. That same afternoon they were loving it, said it’s so much easier and clearer. There was absolutely no doubt then we had to go with it, I don’t think we even got to the end of the two week trial period – it went live as soon as I could fill in the staff data. There is also a help option as well for anyone who needs it.– Steve Davis, Head of HR – Dorset Wildlife Trust.


The charity is looking at some of the other features of the software such as planning appraisal meetings, setting objectives and more. It’s also a useful place to centrally store other assets such as an organisational chart, training records and documents and ensure the right people have access to what they need.

Davis adds: “Being in HR, you never know what’s coming next. Having a way of cutting down on the admin so you are available when really needed for bigger profile stuff is hugely beneficial. Admin stuff never goes away just because I’m involved in something else going on in the organisation, now that’s managed by itself it’s certainly freed up my time to do more.”