Beverly Bootstraps is a social services agency in Beverly, Massachusetts focused on helping individuals and families cope with complicated situations. They address immediate, basic needs through services such as food assistance, case management, and rental assistance; they provide lasting change through long-term programs such as adult education classes, academic help for students, and tax preparation instruction. The value of their services lies partially in the wide range they offer: they offer multiple services for a family (such as budgeting help, access to government assistance, and provision of clothing and goods) just as easily as they provide food assistance to one individual. “We touch people’s lives in multiple ways,” says Sue Gabriel, Executive Director.
The Challenge: Clunky Software and Unreliable Data
Of course, organizing their many programs and managing multiple interactions with individuals and families means handling a massive amount of data. Throughout the years, this task had become increasingly difficult. The “out-of-the-box” case management system they were using was not intuitive and required multiple click-throughs to get to the desired input screens. It was difficult to train volunteers, and entering data in the food pantry system kept patrons waiting. Reports were incomplete and unhelpful, leading them to question, “What is the point of having a data collection system if you have inaccurate data?”
Getting Started: Salesforce and 501Partners
Clearly in need of a change, Gabriel called 501Partners to explore the possibility of using Salesforce. She connected with Senior Salesforce Consultant Stefanie Archer, who has been working with nonprofits for 20 years.
“Beverly Bootstraps had no way of demonstrating how people were engaging in the programs,” explains Archer. “A lot of the data the staff collected was stored in handwritten notes or in people’s heads. They didn’t really have a process for tracking why people came to visit them or exactly which services they were accessing.”
The Solution: Salesforce, RollCall, and 501CaseManager
Part of the reason Beverly Bootstraps had a difficult time finding a solution was the sheer number of services they offered — and the large number of people they serve. “Because we do food and education and economic services, we needed something that could bring all those together,” explains Greg Ezell, Program Director, Basic Needs. Archer immediately zeroed in on 501CaseManager and RollCall as the best solutions for capturing and managing data effectively, constantly seeking the input of the staff so she could tailor it to their needs.
Educational programs staff was tracking attendance in spreadsheets. Archer introduced the staff to RollCall, 501Partners’ attendance-tracking software. “With RollCall, I can keep accurate attendance records and track the number of hours of education we provide in a month,” explains Julia Andrews, Program Director, Education. “I now have clear data on the number of students who benefit from our regular programs and can tally all the hours we previously had no way of capturing.”
Archer also introduced the Beverly Bootstraps staff to 501CaseManager, 501Partners’ custom case management system. 501CaseManager creates an interface that allows an organization to access the flexibility and power of Salesforce in a very user-friendly way.
Because the previous system was clunky and not tailored to their processes, staff was tracking case management through spreadsheets and copious handwritten notes; this made accessing accurate information and creating board reports very time-consuming and frustrating tasks. With 501CaseManager in place, the staff now enjoys reduced data entry time, robust reporting, and improved client management.
The Results: Improved Data Practices and Reduced Staff/Volunteer Time
Beverly Bootstraps gained many benefits from the systems 501Partners put in place, including:
- Efficient data-gathering practices
- Accurate data reporting with information living in one central place
- Decreased volunteer training time
- Reduced client intake time
- Decreased time entering data and pulling reports
- Increased staff and client satisfaction
“Having everything under one roof and moving together so flawlessly has been very helpful,” explains Ezell. “The system is usable. The data is correct. And the process is much faster. It takes us just 10 minutes to train a new volunteer, and intake in our food pantry takes seconds. Previously, we had to click from screen to screen to screen, and now, with 501CaseManager, everything pops up on the screen immediately. When you’re serving 30-50 families a night, every second counts.”
As Gabriel and her staff continue to enjoy the stress reduction provided by effective data tracking and reporting, they’re also realizing another great benefit of these improved data practices: the ability to tell great stories. “With their previous systems, there was no way to show how people were benefiting from their services,” explains Archer. “Now they can tell rich stories with their data.”
The ability to tell these stories ultimately helps Beverly Bootstraps communicate and achieve their mission. “We are so very happy with the products,” enthuses Gabriel. “We now have confidence in our data. We have confidence in our reporting. The relief to the staff is unbelievable. But the most important part? It improves our ability to serve our clients well.”