Top 5 Reasons Your K-12 School Should Move to Salesforce
By: Tara Guastella, Senior Account Executive, Cloud for Good (Salesforce.org Premium Partner)
Vidya Kagan, Director of Data Management & Research at Menlo School – an independent college preparatory school in Atherton, CA – knows that effective fundraising in K-12 today is all about data.
“In our old system, we stored a lot of anecdotal information like family and employer connections, volunteerism at and philanthropic interests,” says Vidya. “The idea was to use this data to create a customized solicitation approach with each donor. But we didn’t have a clearly defined way to organize, use and connect the data. We needed a system that could help us be systematic and strategic in how we were using our data and offered a way to visualize and share that data with others.”
Menlo School’s experience is not unusual. Everyday we hear from organizations that need more clarity on how to use the vast amount of data they constantly collect. Whether you work in recruitment, admissions, student success, development, alumni management, or another department within a K-12 school (public, private, charter, or otherwise), here are five reasons to move towards a single, consolidated Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) platform like Salesforce.
1. Break Down Data Silos
Data systems vary in quality and quantity school-to-school.
From recruiting students to following them through postsecondary and as alumni, most schools are not alone in tracking data at various points in time via different systems. Many schools, for example, have one system for recruitment and admissions, another for student information (often referred to as a Student Information System, or SIS), potentially a separate system for intervention or case management – and possibly a separate system for development, alumni relations, and events.
On top of these various systems, most schools also have a communications mechanism (email marketing platform, social media platforms, and/or a marketing automation tool) and still maintain Excel spreadsheets (talk about siloed!).
Salesforce – stable and secure – can not only replace a number of these databases. It can also integrate with systems that may be more difficult to replace – such as a SIS, like PowerSchool, or many an email marketing tool. Salesforce has robust capabilities allowing your school to break down walls between your systems, while effectively managing your students, families, and other constituencies in one organization-wide database.
The value comes when all your data lives in a single place.
2. Communicate More Effectively with Students and Parents
…Once you can effectively break down silos and run all aspects of your school directly from Salesforce, you will find communicating with students and parents is much more streamlined and engaging.
Let’s say you want to send out a series of communications to newly enrolled families encouraging them to complete needed information and participate in upcoming events. A marketing automation tool connected to Salesforce – or Salesforce Pardot, for example – can help you target these families and communicate with them based on their interests, gleaned from past behavior. If families are behind on submitting required documentation for enrollment (medical forms, birth certificates, etc.), you can continue to target them via an email campaign that is preset and easy for an administrator to execute with the click of a button. Rather than spending hours sending one-on-one emails to each family, you can create automated campaigns with your Salesforce data to do the work for you!
In another example, there is an upcoming event for parents of fifth-grade students. Rather than having to pull information from various systems to send out an invitation, creating a segmented list, sending out a mass communication (via integration of a mass email tool), tracking responses, and managing event logistics can all be accomplished within Salesforce.
3. Raise More Funds
If you work in development or alumni relations, you may use a tool to only manage gifts. While point solutions allow for fundraising management, they do not have features to manage other aspects of your school.
Salesforce can not only process and manage gifts, it also provides the framework to help you raise more funds for school and supplemental programs. And because it’s mobile-first, development staff can access donor or alumni information, take notes, and view aggregate reports on the go and in the field.
As Vidya Kagan, Director Data Management and Research at Menlo School, stated in a recent webinar, “My annual fund director texted me shortly after our Salesforce deployment telling me how much she loves using Salesforce on her phone!”
Using data to drive strategy is another benefit Kagan highlighted in her webinar. Knowing, in real-time, how much you raise by source can focus your strategic efforts. Kagan explained how using dashboards to measure grade-level volunteer fundraisers is creating some “friendly competition” between the team members. These dashboards show the progress of each grade level volunteer, displaying a real-time representation of the amount of actual funds raised versus their goal.
4. Serve More Students
To grow and expand as a private, charter, or public K-12 school, it’s essential to have a solid system in place to handle additional students and families. For example, as your school expands recruitment efforts, you’ll need a system that can effectively target leads and nurture them to ensure that the right students and families enter your school.
If you are planning to expand your admissions procedures (applications, interviews, shadow days, school tours, etc.), you’ll need a system that can handle tracking each of these tasks and actions for each prospective student. As your classes or educational offerings expand, you need to effectively track those new offerings (and/or integrate effectively with your SIS). Serving more students and managing that data can be simplified by implementing a scalable, configurable cloud platform.
5. Ensure Students Receive the Best Education Possible
As a K-12 school, your number one goal is to ensure students receive an excellent education. 89% of Salesforce.org nonprofit and education customers say they’ve improved their ability to meet their missions. By removing data barriers and effectively targeting your constituent base, your school can better ensure that students receive the education they deserve. Having a complete picture of each student and family allows staff to better manage student interventions, programs, academics – and ultimately help students effectively make it to (and through) high school and beyond.
Learn more about Salesforce for K-12, including solutions for fundraising, alumni management, admissions, student success, and more.
About the Author
Tara Guastella, Senior Account Executive at Cloud for Good
After leading a Salesforce implementation in her previous role as a nonprofit program manager, Tara knew she wanted to help other nonprofit organizations transform their processes and reach their goals through the use of Salesforce. While at Hearing Health Foundation, a national organization spearheading the charge to cure hearing loss and tinnitus, Tara experienced both the hurdles that came with introducing a brand new database like Salesforce and the extreme amount of efficiency gained by automating business processes. While in this role, Tara not only administered Salesforce but also oversaw the organization’s two funding programs as well as all marketing and communications. Tara holds two Salesforce certifications including Salesforce Administrator and Sales Cloud Consultant and holds a Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from New York University.
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