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Pro Bono Profile: When Digital Transformation Means Transforming Lives

By October 24, 2019

Our Pro Bono Profiles blog series highlights Salesforce employees who volunteer their time and talent to help nonprofits harness the full power of Salesforce technology.

An ecstatic Mr. Lim checks out his newly revitalized apartment.
An ecstatic Mr. Lim checks out his newly revitalized apartment.

An important part of living life with dignity is having a clean, safe place to call home. But, for elderly Singaporeans, physical ailments and social isolation can become barriers to maintaining healthy living conditions. Take Mr. Lim, for example.

Mr. Lim stopped working after he was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. He had surgery and now lives with a colostomy bag. “I can still look after myself,” Mr. Lim explained. “After I rest a bit at home, I will still tidy up the house and sweep or mop the floor.”

A bed bug infestation proved to be more than Mr. Lim was able to manage, both physically and financially. Mr. Lim was referred to Habitat for Humanity Singapore by a social worker for help.

The nonprofit organization arranged for his 1-bedroom flat to be fumigated and coordinated a team of volunteers from a local company to clean, re-paint, and seal up cracks in the walls and electrical casings. They revitalized his apartment in a way that he just couldn’t manage on his own.

How Do You Build Relationships When Data Is Siloed?

Habitat for Humanity volunteer hard at work building a house in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Habitat for Humanity volunteer hard at work building a house in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In 2018, Habitat Singapore mobilized 3,951 volunteers to revitalize 484 homes and clean up 17 neighborhoods to help elderly Singaporeans live their golden years with dignity. They also built 76 homes for low-income families in countries across Asia.

For years, Habitat Singapore tracked volunteers, donors, and newsletter subscribers in spreadsheets, Google forms, and a legacy database. Data was siloed, so it was difficult to get a full picture of the various ways in which supporters engaged in their work.

“There are a lot of different ways that people support the organization,” explained Saira Nazarali, a senior executive at Habitat Singapore. “It was difficult to recognize their contributions when we didn’t have a complete view of their engagement with us.”

After reviewing a number of different CRM solutions, Habitat implemented Nonprofit Cloud because it was flexible enough to support their unique needs. Last year, Saira kicked off a project with a consulting partner to optimize their use of the platform. Being new to Salesforce, Saira applied for hands-on expertise through the Pro Bono Program.

Accessing Expertise Through the Pro Bono Program

Charles Thompson and Ardi Wibowo Santoso joined forces to provide strategic advice and guidance to Saira on how to effectively engage the consulting partner in designing and implementing the right solution for Habitat. The teammates sit next to each other in Salesforce’s Singapore office.

“I’ve always wanted to volunteer, but never had the time until I joined Salesforce,” said Ardi. “They encourage you to give back, and with pro bono, I can give what I’m good at.”

Charles and Ardi helped Saira to define the organization’s requirements and reviewed the partner’s proposed solution. Along the way, they helped build Saira’s Salesforce knowledge and skills, empowering her to maintain internal support for the project while working with the partner to ensure expectations were met.

Habitat for Humanity’s Digital Transformation

Habitat Singapore volunteers transformed the living conditions and life of a Singapore resident.
Habitat Singapore volunteers transformed the living conditions and life of a Singapore resident.

Habitat Singapore went live with their new Salesforce enhancement in mid-2018. Now, the organization can see all the ways in which an individual has engaged with them – whether it’s volunteering to build a home in Thailand or revitalizing a house in Singapore, making monthly donations, and/or subscribing to their newsletter.

The organization can also run campaigns to cross-promote support opportunities, including asking volunteers to become donors and donors to become volunteers. They can even run campaigns to re-engage volunteers and donors that have lapsed.

“I have found enormous personal satisfaction in seeing the project through to completion,” Charles explained. “It was also rewarding to be part of a successful collaboration between pro bono consultants, the consulting partner, and the nonprofit customer.”

How Volunteers Made an Impact

As a result of the project, Saira has transformed what she can do with the platform. She’s now able to modify page layouts, upload data using data loader, manage confidential data using encrypted fields, build reports and dashboards, and create simple process automations. With her increased knowledge and confidence, she can better meet the needs of her users and help decision-makers understand the benefits and capabilities of Salesforce.

“We are now able to sustain our system because of the skills that I’ve been able to build up through the support of the Pro Bono Program,” said Saira. “We’re able to stand on our own and look at better ways of using the system.”

Apply for Pro Bono

Need help using Salesforce to increase your impact? Our Pro Bono Program combines two of our greatest assets, technology and the talent of our Salesforce employees, to help organizations maximize their use of Salesforce.

Learn more about other pro bono success stories, and apply today!