Case Study

Capstone Community Action

Implement a solution that enables Vermont nonprofit to “know” donors, track and report on performance, and execute financial reconciliation.

Executive Summary

Capstone Community Action was founded in Vermont in 1965 to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty and to create economic opportunities for residents and communities. Capstone offers a wide array of services to more than 15,000 Vermonters annually — from heating assistance to workforce development; housing counseling to early childhood education.

Capstone’s previous donor management system was clunky, rigid, and unable to collect all of the data that development staff needed. It didn’t capture the nuances of donor relationships; for example, if a supporter engaged with Capstone personally as well as through his workplace. Spreadsheets served as a cumbersome workaround to a dynamic, streamlined CRM solution with expert reporting capabilities.

Background

Capstone engaged 501Partners to implement a solution that provides the following:

  • Quickly input donor information and capture, in a searchable way, details about the person and the relationship
  • Consolidate its donor information and other data in one place
  • Track and report on various information including relationships, gifts, and pipelines for grants and donations
  • Perform financial reconciliation

Stefanie Archer, lead consultant at 501Partners, began her engagement with Capstone by learning everything about the organization’s fundraising function. She then figured out how Salesforce could make things easier and more efficient. “We co-created a system that would be sustainable — one that simplifies their work and is easy to maintain,” said Archer.

A Solution to Optimize Donor Relationships

Capstone needed a solution to help them know and acknowledge their donors.

Their old system did not capture the multifaceted relationships some donors had with the nonprofit, sometimes leading to serious — and in one case, costly — gaffes.  A philanthropist who sat on the board of a donor-advised fund had directed a generous gift to Capstone. Because the old system recorded the gift as coming from his financial services firm, an acknowledgement was sent there and not to the donor, who was upset that he was never thanked. He had intended to make a series of gifts totaling $100,000 in subsequent years, but changed his mind in response to the perceived slight. Capstone eventually ascertained what had happened and reconnected with him. He is supporting the nonprofit again.

501Partners focused on Capstone’s web of donor relationships to architect their Salesforce instance. Salesforce gives Capstone the ability to cultivate and retain donors, track relationships, manage grants, and monitor the fundraising pipeline.

Results

501Partners architected a system that is interactive, and eliminates multiple sources of data for usable reporting.

Brian Tagliaferro (Director of Resource Development and Grants) likes that Salesforce is incredibly interactive. Staff members can log details of their phone calls or emails with donors and easily search and extract that information as needed. “We can set up reminders to follow up with donors, which is really nice,” said Tagliaferro, “And as we target additional people for support, we can incorporate those ‘asks’ into Salesforce and run reports off them to see how we’re progressing and forecast into the future.”

Capstone appreciates the new ease of reporting. “Now, Salesforce automates the work I used to do manually,” said Development Assistant Amber Megrath. The days of pulling data from different sources to create reports or do mailings are gone. For the first time, Tagliaferro is able to create his own reports on the progress of a particular fundraising campaign without turning to Megrath. Development staff can perform financial reconciliation to get a birds-eye view of what’s coming in and what’s going out. Then, development’s numbers can be compared with Capstone’s finance department.

Megrath and Tagliaferro look forward to tapping  the potential Salesforce has to offer, including tracking fundraising performance and planning for the future. “We have wanted to build a larger base of support and operate our development function in a more sophisticated way,” he said. “Salesforce is helping us do that.”

“Stefanie’s been a great manager of the process, moving us along and addressing all of our questions,” Tagliaferro said about 501Partners’ lead consultant. “She was patient with us if it took us longer to complete tasks necessary to move the process along,” recalled Megrath.

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