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Project Open Hand Feeds San Francisco’s Most Vulnerable and Stays Innovative With Salesforce

By March 11, 2015

Cross-posted from By: Emily Stanford, Salesforce

Project Open Hand volunteersFor the clients of Project Open Hand, food is more than one of life’s necessities — it’s medicine. The iconic San Francisco nonprofit is dedicated to feeding some of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable citizens, primarily serving seniors in need as well as the critically ill.

Project Open Hand maintains its warm and compassionate image that has been a mainstay in the organization since it was started in 1985 to help fight the AIDS epidemic. But on top of delivering “meals with love,” the organization has added a new driving force: innovation powered by cutting-edge technology. Although the organization was started by a grandmother, with Salesforce technology on its side, Sean Rosas, Volunteer Director, is certain, “We’re no longer your grandmother’s nonprofit.”

Every single day Project Open Hand prepares 2,500 nutritious meals and provides 200 bags of healthy groceries to help sustain their clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges associated with old age. These meals can be picked up, or delivered to individuals who are homebound. Project Open Hand also offers their clients nutrition counseling and education, as well as a grocery center where clients or caregivers can shop.

Project Open Hand volunteering

Each meal is carefully designed by a team of registered dieticians who worked closely with Project Open Hand’s chefs to dish up meals that are made with the best ingredients and include a well-balanced mix of protein, starches and vegetables. To meet the wide range of needs of critically ill clients, the organization prepares 11 different diet types, such as low-sodium for clients with heart disease and controlled-carb meals for those with diabetes.

Between the groceries, individually prepared meals and the senior lunch program, last year Project Open Hand provided 1 million, 40 thousand meals for a total of 8,500 residents in San Francisco and Alameda County.

“When you’re talking about 2,500 meals that are going out, that’s a lot of food and a lot of labor,” said Rosas.

To help get the job done, Project Open Hand leverages a network of 3,000 volunteers each year, as well as 16,000 donors and 110 employees.

Not only did Project Open Hand need a better way to manage this vast network of individuals, but it needed to gather and analyze more data to show the tremendous impact of the organization. The nonprofit is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and continues to adapt and transform so it can be even more effective in delivering on its mission by fully engaging volunteers, donors and other vital partners.

“We’re constantly striving to improve our impact. It’s all about innovation. Donors will not donate to us unless we can validate and measure the impact of what we have done,” Rosas said.

Project Open Hand

Previously the agency was using two disparate systems to track volunteers and donors, Project Open Hand was missing an opportunity to connect the dots.

“We didn’t have a clear picture, other than checking manually, of who was giving and who was volunteering,” said Maria Stokes, Communications Director.

Up and running with Salesforce in Oct. 2014, Project Open Hand has greater insights than ever before — including the realization that 50 percent of their volunteers were also donors. That’s critical information that the organization could not easily access before.

With a 360-degree look at their organization, Project Open Hand has real metrics that tell a more complete story about how the community is making a difference. Now, when volunteers come into the Project Open Hand center, the organization has real numbers that can tell these volunteers how their time or money made a difference, adding data points to strengthen the stories about the impact of the nonprofit.

“We found that Salesforce was the best tool to start with and continue building upon,” Rosas said. “Salesforce gives us the ability to show that transparency and the flexibility to continue growing and innovating.”

Watch Project Open Hand’s Salesforce success story on the Youtube channel.

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