“We started with Salesforce from the beginning because it’s highly customisable and easy to implement." - Niek van Hengel, Co-Founder, Granny’s Finest

Granny’s Finest Knits Success with Salesforce

“Since we started using Salesforce, more and more nursing houses are contacting us to see if we can bring our concept to their activity programme.” – Niek van Hengel, Co-Founder, Granny’s Finest

In 2011, social entrepreneurs Niek van Hengel and Jip Pulles found out that more than one million people over the age of 65 (out of 2.6 million) feel extremely lonely and socially isolated. That same year, Niek and Jip founded Granny’s Finest, a Dutch Social Enterprise that tackles elderly loneliness by connecting young people and senior citizens at weekly handicraft clubs. At these clubs they work collaboratively on the design and production of hand-knitted fashion items like hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, bags and ties. These are then sold through the online store and also through retailers.

All profits from the sale of these products are re-invested into the knitting clubs. At the same time, Granny’s Finest offers young fashion designers, photographers, graphic designers, stylists and models the opportunity to gain work experience, contributing towards a more socially cohesive community.

Developing a Relationship with a Personal Touch

Managing a fast-growing organisation while providing a consistent experience to all involved can be tricky. Niek and Jip’s goal was to expand Granny’s Finest to reach as many elderly people as possible throughout the Netherlands, but wanted to maintain the personal touch they had worked hard at developing. Granny’s Finest rolled out Salesforce across the entire organisation as its CRM to more efficiently manage relationships with staff, volunteers, nursing homes and grannies.

“We started with Salesforce from the beginning because it’s highly customisable and easy to implement,” explains Niek. “I used it before and was aware of all the ways nonprofits could apply it. But for me, the most important aspect of Salesforce’s CRM system is that it can track and manage data as we grow, and still keep our social mission and impact personal. It was the natural choice for us because Salesforce is there for nonprofits.”

Coordinating and Connecting

Today, Granny’s Finest uses Salesforce to coordinate over 400 volunteers, 500 elderly ladies and it’s 30 national knitting clubs across Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Eindhoven.

“Every granny, club, volunteer and staff member is now recorded in Salesforce, and more and more features can always be added to manage our clubs. We recently created a simple, online web form through FormAssembly on the AppExchange, which we use to push information into our Salesforce. We can find out stuff like how many people were present at clubs, what the atmosphere was like, if the grannies need anything, or if there is anyone looking to create a new item of clothing.”

Club members love to hear from their customers, so Niek and Jip are using Salesforce to make that happen. Each item produced has a unique story about the person who made it – this story is told via a card, message or poem from a “granny,” which the customer can respond to via a unique code.

“Salesforce plays an integral role in how Granny’s Finest communicates with its clubs. We use Salesforce Chatter to collaborate with our team and to communicate with our volunteers each week. All clubs use Salesforce to record the details of each event. In the near future, we want to use Salesforce to bring together volunteers and members from different clubs, so they can socialise and share knowledge.”

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