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Systems that Help Drive Strategy
By Presence
March 8, 2022

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) provides life-changing support to parents who are raising children with a disability or who have special needs. Parents seek out PHP to access a wide range of resources, including webinars, workshops, one-on-one consultations, online education, and referrals to other services. Like so many social impact organizations’ experiences, their data tracking systems were not pulling their weight. PHP’s existing DonorPerfect database helped them track fundraising, but struggled to expand beyond the typical donation data. Staff had to do quite a bit of legwork to track and summarize data. PHP wanted one single internal system that captured all of the data about their diverse processes and programs.

Building Blocks of an Effective System

PHP chose Presence to build a Salesforce solution for development and program management. Our team has extensive experience customizing Salesforce for nonprofits and integrating a variety of other apps for a cohesive user experience. We started with a discovery to understand the organization and lay the groundwork for a system that supported PHP’s unique work.

Vanessa Casotti, Project Lead, did a deep dive with PHP on their programs, their processes, and how they wanted to measure impact. The legacy DonorPerfect database forced PHP staff to capture data in a certain way, but effective social impact systems are designed based on the structure of an organization's programs. Most simply, without the right data model an organization can’t create the reports they need or avoid unnecessary manual tasks while trying to summarize data. Vanessa’s discovery process led to a data structure that could help PHP work efficiently and understand their results. 

Modern systems provide the best user experience by integrating the right tools for the job, rather than trying to fit all the organization’s needs into a closed system. PHP needed a variety of capabilities to make capturing program and fundraising activities easy. Vanessa started with Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack and Program Management Module (PMM) to lay a foundation for data tracking. Integrated applications streamlined staff data entry. By connecting Zoom with Salesforce’s PMM and case feature, PHP will be able to import attendees and attendee information immediately after a webinar in the future. Vanessa built Salesforce automation to record the webinar as a service for each parent and the appropriate program, which will reduce staff manual data entry. Other connections to Constant Contact, Form Assembly, and Google Apps helped PHP gather information from parents and send information out to parents without a lot of manual data manipulation. 

The Often Overlooked Work of Data Migration and Training

In addition to system design, the final steps of a system migration project can make or break a successful new system launch. Data migration is often one of the most dismissed (and disliked!) aspects of these projects. If staff can’t see historical data when starting to work in a new system, they become discouraged and return to the old system (or spreadsheets!). Vanessa collaborated with PHP to make sure the organization successfully prepared its data for migration and shepherded the process to bring legacy data into the new system. 

Similarly, system administrator training helped make sure staff could feel confident diving into the new system. PHP’s system administrator shadowed Vanessa throughout the solution development process which made it easier for PHP to take ownership of the system and provide training to their staff.

Systems that Help Drive Strategy

Systems are only as good as the data you can get out of them to use in daily  organizational activities. PHP’s new system provided the organization with dashboards and reports to track both detailed program data and more high-level questions such as “how many families do we help in each county?” and “who are our constituents?”

Ultimately, these new reports will allow PHP to have a full picture of their organization which was previously not possible due to DonorPerfect’s data model. With its bold goals to expand and increase the impact of their services in the next two years, their integrated Salesforce system will ensure staff avoid wasting time on a legacy system and focus on their results. 

If your organization is struggling with spreadsheets and disconnected systems, Presence can help. Reach out to us today!