How could I travel and use my seven days of paid volunteer time off all at once? As I wrestled with this admittedly awesome dilemma in early 2016, I stumbled across the solution in my crowded inbox. An opportunity to work on a pro bono project as part of a seven-day, overseas adventure with Effect.org, an NGO based in India.
Effect.org leads Expeditions of 15 to 25 professionals looking to immerse themselves in a social problem and then use their skills to help solve it. Effect.org uses proceeds from Expeditions to operate schools for low-income families in India.
My first expedition was to Nepal where we followed the supply chain of human trafficking from the mountain villages, though the cities and into the red light districts of Nepal. Effect.org embedded my team with partner NGOs on the ground to establish our knowledge of the problem. At the end of our week, we participated in a “hackathon” to help resolve challenges faced by the host NGOs, Shakti Samuha, CWiN and Raksha Nepal.
The Nepal trip opened my eyes to the dire challenges facing children and families around the globe. I can’t help but think what if my kids were denied a quality education or fell victim to human trafficking. I now know these issues are a reality for millions of children.
Salesforce Skills Packed and Ready
My second Expedition was to see Effect.org Schools in New Delhi. On the trip, we learned about India’s education crisis. There aren’t enough quality schools to serve India’s growing low-income population. Low public investment in education and the skyrocketing cost of private schools are making the problem even worse.
In response to this crisis, Effect.org has reimagined education in India through its low-cost private school model. Each of Effect.org’s three schools has an affordable low monthly fee of $8 per student. Just like any school, student enrollment is crucial for sustainability.
Enrolling students is the first, most important step
Effect.org needed a way to manage follow up with potential new students (“leads”). For example, families might see a street banner ad for the school and drop by to get more information. School staff would write down the family’s information on pieces of paper, which were often misplaced or lost. They also wanted to see which outreach activities produced the most leads, so they can focus their recruiting efforts.
For my pro bono project, I worked with Effect.org to centralize and digitize how staff track and follow up with leads using Salesforce. The team also wanted a way to help staff prioritize lead follow up. For example, families living near the school should be contacted first because they are more likely to enroll than families living farther away. After a week of working through some technical issues, the solution went into production.
Now, nearly 2,000 leads from three different schools, scattered across 20 spreadsheets have been condensed into ONE single platform. These leads are now easy to view through priority filters and can be pursued accordingly. Staff even get reminders when it’s time to follow up with a lead.
Effect.org is also running reports to make key business decisions. For example, staff discovered that 34% of parents learned about Effect.org from painted murals while only 7% came from street banners. Murals are less expensive to produce than banners, so Effect.org has decided to re-allocate its marketing spend to murals.
Changing the world, one pro bono project at a time
Every pro bono project moves the bar a little bit. In my case, helping build Effect.org’s capacity to recruit and enroll more students means a brighter future for them and their families. Who knew a seven-day trip and suitcase packed with Salesforce skills could make such a difference. I certainly didn’t.
Need help using Salesforce to increase your impact? Our Pro Bono Program combines two of our greatest assets, technology and talent, to help organizations become more efficient and Effect.orgive in achieving their mission. Learn more about other pro bono success stories, and apply today!