Established in 1983 in the midst of the AIDS crisis, New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has grown and evolved over the last four decades, creating and delivering services that empower people to lead healthy, successful lives. With its doors open 365 days a year, The Center welcomes over 6,000 visitors weekly, providing health and wellness programs, career development, family support, advocacy, arts and cultural events, and space for community organizing and connection. “The Center’s purpose has always been grounded in ending isolation. And the answer is community; community is the antidote,” says COO Jeffrey Klein.
The Center’s front line to the community is its Information & Referral team — a group of devoted staff members who field incoming client requests and provide referrals to resources, whether The Center provides them directly or if they are offered by a partner organization. Visitors are frequently looking for help in a wide variety of areas, and some of the most common requests are for support in substance use treatment, HIV prevention, youth leadership programming, and mental health services.
Prior to Salesforce, many tasks (including inquiries directed to the referral team) were handled with a hodgepodge of software. Over the past few years, in an effort to run all community operations from a single platform, The Center has been bringing on Salesforce solutions including Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, and, most recently, a partner solution that integrates with Salesforce, Exponent Case Management. “Every time we add another Salesforce product to our toolbox, we see a spike in productivity,” says Klein.
8%YOY increase in participant retention
3 hoursof staff time a month saved that was previously manual process
40-80more individuals seen each month across the organization
Saving Time, Helping More
“We’ve always called ourselves the 411 of the LGBTQ community,” says Klein, “and that role has improved dramatically thanks to Salesforce and Exponent Case Management (ECM). ECM lets the team field a request and capture data easily – every contact, every note —about every interaction with the community. This also helps us route requests directly to the right place – a counselor, case manager or one of The Center’s many referral partners. Because everyone is using the Salesforce platform using connected tools – from our referral staff, to our social workers & clinicians,- if a client needs to do an intake interview or join a group, they can instantly loop in other appropriate staff using ECM and Salesforce, and schedule the client to receive the services they need.”
Previously, case managers would have to work with their data & evaluation team on a monthly basis to clean up records and revise the data to ensure its quality. This consumed 75% of the data & evaluation team’s time and 3-4 hours a month for the clinicians. Now – with data validation rules, tooltips in the flow of data entry, and automated email alerts that remind staff to adjust their data – data cleanup time has been significantly reduced. This means clinicians can see another 1-2 clients every month, which translates to 40-80 more individuals each month across the organization getting the help they need. Plus, the data & evaluation team has more time to help understand community needs and this allows The Center to constantly improve and innovate their programming.M.
Fostering Connection Amid Isolation During COVID-19
Due to social isolation mandates brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, The Center’s teams needed to quickly find a way to continue their important services remotely. This seamless solution between Salesforce and Exponent Case Management is accessible both on-site and or remotely. The ability to work remotely became especially critical to the organization during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having their case management system housed in Salesforce meant client records were secure and accessible — regardless of where staff was located. Previously, access was limited by IP address, meaning accessibility for staff to work from home would have been nearly impossible.
Another complication that arose was serving young people remotely. Given that youth program clients were no longer in school and may not be out to their parents, guardians, or caregivers, The Center needed a more private way to provide access to its services, in place of a telephone call that could be overheard. After a labor-intensive two week sprint, The Center activated chat support on its website via Service Cloud, providing another avenue to communicate directly with clients in real-time, with an added layer of privacy.
The project team also implemented Social Studio Automate, directly integrated with Service Cloud, creating a new way to engage in private conversations on social media (but with the ability to track interactions within Service Cloud). This increases The Center’s ability to connect with all who are seeking community, no matter what platform they use to reach out.
“The speed with which Salesforce helps us adapt our technology to new circumstances … well, it’s a mental shift that we have to remind ourselves of constantly, because getting things done in a week or two would have been impossible given the systems we had before… its a game-changer.” Jeffrey Klein, COOTHE CENTER: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
Keeping Engagement Wheels Turning
The Center supports their mission through diverse funding channels, including government funding, corporate and foundation support and individual contributions. But core to The Center’s mission is connecting to the community, and that includes offering individuals ways to get involved and give back. Marketing Cloud Account Engagement helps The Center reach individuals throughout the community by tailoring communications, managing complex processes and tracking the results and effectiveness of their efforts to secure financial support.
Cycle for the Cause, one of The Center’s biggest annual fundraisers, uses Marketing Cloud Account Engagement to manage communications and create rules for a complex set of operations requiring personalized journeys for individual participants, from start to finish. Prior to implementing Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, Cycle riders and crew were sharing feedback on improvements they wished to see throughout their constituent journey.
“Folks felt there was too much information, much of which was relevant to the event, but not to their role specifically. They wanted the exact information they needed, tailored to their specific role or history with the event – instead of sending everything that everyone needs in one mass email. Thanks to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, we’re now able to send a welcome series when someone signs up for Cycle – with different versions based on whether the participant is a rider or crew and whether they are new or returning. For example, new participants want to feel more prepared and equipped with as much information as possible, so we know to email them about special info sessions for newcomers. We’re also able to automate tailored messaging on fundraising and training, based on these segmented groups.”, says Klein.
And the results? An 8% YOY increase in participant retention, translating into over $100k of funding for The Center’s HIV and AIDS services, directly attributable to customized, segmented communications.
Controlling Cadence, Automating Communication
Marketing Cloud Account Engagement has had a similarly positive impact on The Center’s engagement efforts across the board. With a large constituent base and an email programming team of one, The Center knew they needed to automate to get the right communications out to the appropriate audiences. Within a 6 month period, using Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, the team was able to launch 4 automated journeys, for both programmatic and fundraising purposes. This functionality helped The Center’s staff manage the overall volume and frequency of emails that any single constituent receives, reducing the risk of opt-outs and spam reports.
“Marketing Cloud Account Engagement also helped us create dynamic criteria for various campaigns, meaning that our segmented lists can update in real time, rather than using a static list created at the start of the campaign that required manual updating. This can amount to several hundred more prospects that we’re able to contact over the course of a campaign, as people are dynamically added if they make a gift or attend an event that makes them fit new criteria. It can translate to thousands more dollars raised for our programs, since we’re capturing all possible donors without requiring manual intervention”, says Klein.
One of the automated campaigns The Center has recently deployed is a membership renewal series. They were able to create a renewal “journey” and send messaging with personalized language based on where a member is in their renewal cycle. Customized variable language includes “your membership is about to expire” whereas their prior system required a generic “please renew your membership now.” In only a few short months after launching the renewal series, they are already saving 3 hours of staff time a month that was previously used to manually execute this process.
As The Center continues to explore Marketing Cloud Account Engagement’s potential, they’re excited to push further and customize content to highlight specific programs they know members care about deeply, and introduce them to new initiatives that fit their personal philanthropic priorities.
Impact Reporting, and Planning for the Future
Salesforce’s integrated tracking tools have gone a long way toward easing The Center’s reporting responsibilities, Klein says. “We certainly have more robust reporting than we did before. When it comes to grant reporting to specific foundations, that process is much less arduous than it ever was.”
And what does he foresee in the months and years to come? “We want to do better impact reporting all around, internally and for funders and donors. We want to add in a business intelligence layer like Einstein or Tableau, so we can focus on quantifying impact, rather than just output.”
By centralizing all of the organization’s data, from managing their programs, to engaging with and fundraising from supporters, The Center enables their team to have a 360 degree view of all constituents and clients on one platform. This allows them to pivot quickly in times of change and optimize their staff’s time, meaning better results and quicker support for their clients.
“The speed with which Salesforce helps us adapt our technology to new circumstances … well, it’s a mental shift that we have to remind ourselves of constantly, because getting things done in a week or two would have been impossible given the systems we had before… its a game-changer.”
The Center worked with implementation partner Exponent Partners.