Managing the Program Lifecycle for Greater Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Impact!
Compass Working Capital knows that being financially stable is key to escaping the poverty trap. The Boston-based organization supports around 1,200 families every year to reach their financial goals and create a pathway to greater economic opportunity. Its innovative flagship program supports families receiving housing assistance to leverage a federal program that allows them to save a portion of their rent each month, and steers clients towards success with personalized coaching.
Since 2010, Compass clients have collectively have been able to increase their return on savings from $1.4 to 4 million dollars toward their financial goals. These savings help parents send their children to college, families buy their first home, and entrepreneurs start new businesses.
With a small staff of just 30 people, Compass recognized that it needed to be more efficient and effective if it was going to keep clients engaged on the path to success. Four years ago, Compass partnered with Salesforce to find the right technology solution for this challenge. Implementing the Nonprofit Cloud has enabled Compass to accelerate its impact, doubling the number of clients it serves every year. Here’s how.
Nonprofit Cloud ensures effectiveness
Each client family looking to increase their savings is assigned a coach. Working with 50-100 clients at a time, the coach has three main roles.
- The first is to provide knowledge about complex issues related to a person’s finances, like understanding a credit report.
- The second is to teach financial skills such as creating a monthly budget.
- The third is to help clients build their confidence, celebrating their savings wins and keeping their setbacks in perspective.
With limited time and a heavy caseload, Compass identified that coaches needed tools to enable them to be as effective as possible and to set them up for success. All coaches now use the Nonprofit Success Pack in conjunction with customizations to the Salesforce platform to streamline a common process to organize their work.
The Tasks and Calendar view is a one-stop shop for all past and upcoming activities, enabling coaches to see their workload at a glance. Previously manual processes have been eliminated. Coaches now generate automated appointments, using a custom object and process builder to send personalized email reminders to clients. They use a common template to capture the same information across all clients.
Throughout this process, coaches ensure personalized, yet fully automated communication with clients. They can adjust language preferences to engage clients in their primary language in correspondence and in person. And they can send text messages to clients using the “Textey” application available via the AppExchange, if this is the client’s preferred way of communicating. For coaches, the overall result is that they are more efficient and can focus their energy on how they are going to help more clients in the next step of their savings journey. Compass’ goal is that satisfaction increase because clients feel that Compass speaks their language and knows their preferences.
Automation generates efficiency
One of the first activities that a client works on with their coach is creating a budget. Prior to Salesforce, this was a process with multiple steps. “We basically had a huge Excel sheet that had lots of fields that clients filled out with their financial information. It was complicated and confusing,” says George Reuter, Director of Learning and Knowledge Management. Once that spreadsheet had been filled out, coaches would have to manually transfer the information to a second reporting system for outcome tracking. “It was double-entry and easy to make errors!,” recalled Reuter. They would then create a customized budget, perhaps even writing it up by hand, to give to the client. Similarly, when wanting to pull a client’s credit report, staff would have to manually identify and enter relevant lines into a client’s record from a pdf a few times a year before appointments.
The Nonprofit Success Pack has allowed Compass to eliminate duplication and manual processes entirely by consolidating client data, financial health, goals, plans and meeting information into one system. Using relevant application integrations, coaches are able to pull in data on credit scores and debt, directly connect this to a client’s record, automatically generate budget statements that can form the basis of a conversation around a financial plan, and each year saves thousands of hours in staff time.
Dashboards promote impact
Given their importance in securing success for clients, Compass wanted to ensure that coaches were as supported as possible in their work. But prior to Salesforce, because of the length of time it took to enter data into their outcomes reporting systems, program managers would have to wait at least three months to see where coaches might benefit from additional support. Today, Reports & Dashboards allow managers and coaches to review this information on a monthly basis and generates actionable conversations between staff. For example, program managers can examine coach effectiveness and consider rebalancing caseloads across their staff.
Reports & Dashboards are also used to look at client outputs and outcomes across time horizons. On a monthly basis, coaches can see which clients might benefit from an extra check-in, say if they missed a recent appointment. Compass also looks at longer-term trends such as by how much have people’s savings increased or credit score improved after six months? Are there trends between the length of time in the program and indicators such as employment and income?
Using these data, program staff consider any changes they might need to make to improve program effectiveness. Indeed, the decision to pursue multiple forms of communication – email, text, phone call – came out of examining their data and finding that about one-third of clients missed their appointments. “These kind of conversations are part of our culture and how we think about delivering high-quality services to our clients,” says Reuter. “But Salesforce, and the app ecosystem around Salesforce, has allowed us to push forward our thinking about outcomes while not being a drain on the effort to provide high-quality services to our clients.”
Beyond programs to fundraising
This proof of efficiency and effectiveness in creating impact makes funders more confident in their investment. The system they have built differentiates their programs but is also the same system for managing donor relationships. With a single system for fundraising and programs, Compass Working Capital has been able to grow their budget by more than 150% over the past three years.