826 National needed to implement both a fundraising system and a volunteer management system that would allow not only its own organization but also seven separate chapters under the National umbrella to use the same system and share data.
826 National was founded in 2008 as the parent entity providing administration, strategy and leadership to seven separate 826 chapters in different cities around the country. Each chapter is its own 501c3 organization, with the original chapter, 826 Valencia, being founded in San Francisco in 2002. In an effort to provide a unified database across all eight organizations, 826 National needed a system that could support the needs of each chapter as well as provide some consistent infrastructure by which each chapter’s operations could be streamlined. By consolidating each chapter into one Salesforce account, 826 National would then be able to measure and report on the outcomes of their programs across the entire network. However, given that each chapter had previously operated in its own systems and were at different levels of organizational maturity, getting all chapters into one system presented both technical challenges as well as programmatic and human ones.
In 2011, 826 National brought in Swift River to implement the Nonprofit Starter Pack and Volunteers for Salesforce apps, starting with three chapters in a beta process, ultimately rolled out to all seven chapters and the National office.
- 826 National selected two chapters, 826 Boston and 826 DC, plus the National office, to start the process as beta users of the new system, all of which were at different levels of need, existing technical infrastructure, quantity of data, and staff resources. Starting with just two chapters allowed us, and 826 National, to see the complex issues around bringing previously siloed orgranizations into a single system, and we were better able to navigate the roll-out of the remaining chapters over time as a result.
- A major concern of all chapters was their ability to keep donor data private to just their chapter. With Salesforce.com’s robust sharing capabilities, we were able to set up a security model that initially separated chapter data so they could each only see what was relevant to their organization. The ultimate goal, though, was that over time the chapters would see the benefit of sharing their data with each other, and the security functionality would be loosened to allow for this to occur. Since 2011, all chapters now use Salesforce extensively, and have “let down the walls” between their data to allow for greater collaboration and resource sharing across the network.
- 826’s primary mission of using volunteers to teach writing skills required a robust and flexible volunteer management system that could accommodate the volunteer programs of all seven chapters. The clear choice to address this need was the free Volunteers for Salesforce app that has now been incorporated into the Nonprofit Success Pack by Salesforce.org. Because of the extensibility, ease of configuration and seamless integration with each chapter’s website, chapters could now collect volunteer registrations, create multiple volunteer calendars that allowed for online job signup, and internally manage the quickly growing volunteer base that is so critical to their programs’ success.
- 826 National can now get reports automatically from within their system that give them instant insight into the progress of the chapters and their programs. They no longer have to request reports separately from each chapter and combine all the data into usable results themselves. It’s all at their fingertips now with all data being held in one database for all the chapters!
- Volunteer Coordinators can now keep track of volunteers who may have relocated to a different city where there is another 826 chapter, and keep their volunteer history all in one record across both cities, thereby retaining the relationship with the volunteer for a longer period of time.
- Development Directors can now share and coordinate donors across chapters, and better understand the giving patterns of their constituents. Being able to communicate based on cross-chapter data means a better coordinated appeal can be made to shared corporate or major donors, and chapters know who is approaching which donor, for how much and when.
- The entire volunteer sign up process is automated, from the point of registration, to display and selection of open volunteer opportunities on a calendar, to tracking the number of volunteer hours spent. Volunteers can even have a unique page just for them which shows their volunteer history and allows them to update their own information.
“Bringing Salesforce into our network was a game changer. The team at Swift River was incredibly knowledgable and patient as they helped us craft a volunteer and development management system that fit our network’s needs. We went from having multiple databases across chapters to one cohesive system that everyone uses, now religiously. Swift River has become an important part of the 826 family.”
– Executive Director, Gerald Richards