5 Ways You Can Use Salesforce to Advance the SDGs

By Salesforce.org | September 27, 2019 | Nonprofit, Partners, Public & Social Benefit, Sustainability

By: Zak Kaufman, CEO and Co-founder, Vera Solutions

Whether you’re working to end extreme poverty, advance health and well-being, improve access to quality education, or all of the above, you’re surely hearing more and more buzz about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs exemplify a growing trend to make information easier to access, use, and understand, but many organizations may be struggling to show exactly how their work is helping achieve the goals.

In order to carry out our missions effectively and meet the changing needs of the sector, social-impact organizations need to shift our thinking and take an impact-first approach to digital transformation. This means starting the transformation journey by asking, “how will this solution or this new way of working change our ability to deliver outcomes?” An impact-first approach demands fully integrated solutions that enable us to work cross-functionally, communicate effectively, collaborate on shared goals, and implement learnings in near real-time.

Since technology has an instrumental role to play in driving progress on the goals, we’ll share five key ways you can use Salesforce to advance the SDGs, with examples from leading organizations around the world. Read on to learn how Salesforce can help your organization drive efficiency, accountability, insight, resource distribution, and collaboration in advancing the SDGs.

1. Improve Program Efficiency

Over the last decade, we’ve seen Salesforce emerge as a leading platform for program management, helping nonprofits better track their impact and use data to drive outcomes and more effective programs. Now with Amp Impact – Vera Solutions’ packaged impact measurement and portfolio management solution on Salesforce – you can tag programs with SDGs, define standard and custom indicators for measuring progress, and track results and targets over time and across geographies.

Amp Impact allows you to tag programs and projects with SDGs and define indicators to track  impact across the 17 Global Goals. Check out this live demo of Amp Impact with the Aga Khan Foundation
Amp Impact allows you to tag programs and projects with SDGs and define indicators to track impact across the 17 Global Goals. Check out this live demo of Amp Impact with the Aga Khan Foundation.

When organizations rely on paper forms or spreadsheets for program management, weeks or months can pass between collecting data and acting on it. Using a mobile data collection tool like TaroWorks, Formyoula, CommCare, or Dharma allows you to collect the data you need in the field and automatically sync it to Salesforce once connectivity is restored (natively for Taroworks and Formyoula; via integration for the other tools). Data are then easily accessible to diagnose problems in real-time and respond quickly to program needs.

The BOMA Project partnered with Vera Solutions to develop a proprietary technology platform, called Performance Insights, that uses Salesforce and TaroWorks to provide real-time information on program progress. The system enables BOMA to answer important questions about their gender-focused program and inform decision-making.

    “The key to our success has been our ability to use data to refine our program design in real time. Our [Salesforce] system allows us to drive operational and program efficiency in remote locations.”
    – John Stephens, Executive Director, The BOMA Project

How Are We Doing? Visualizing Progress on Sustainable Development Goals, featuring The BOMA Project and Vera Solutions
A slide from the Dreamforce 2018 session, How Are We Doing? Visualizing Progress on Sustainable Development Goals, featuring The BOMA Project and Vera Solutions.

2. Use Logframes to Drive Accountability

Without a sound monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) strategy in place, organizations struggle to use the data they’re collecting to make meaningful improvements to their programs and inform the daily work of staff on the frontline. MEL strategy usually starts with a focus on logframes (or logic models), breaking down a project’s intended goals/impacts into outcomes, outputs, and activities as well as the associated indicators used to measure them.

An example Logframe created in Amp Impact for a community-based HIV prevention project in Zambia.
An example Logframe created in Amp Impact for a community-based HIV prevention project in Zambia.

Using Amp Impact, you can build logframes for each project or program, setting SDG-related goals and identifying reach and depth indicators used to track progress. This provides a clear structure to help stakeholders at all levels understand a program’s or project’s route to achieving impact and get aligned on how success will be measured.

    “With Amp Impact, we have a single source of truth. Before we had to source information from many Excel spreadsheets that belonged to different staff, generating a massive net of consultations and wasted time. Now we can find information on the spot…and immediately create reports. We can compare what is happening in other field offices and learn better across the organization and in a transparent way.”
    – Norwegian Refugee Council’s Digital “D” Team

3. Understand Impact through Analytics and Qualitative Assessments

The United Nations set the 2030 Agenda to ensure “that no one will be left behind and that the Goals will be met for all nations and peoples and all segments of society.” Yet one of the most difficult aspects of identifying progress toward the SDGs is getting an accurate and timely understanding of impact and performance in the most challenging environments.

Using Amp Impact’s Submissions feature, you can easily create custom narrative templates for assessment or reporting purposes and evaluate performance by scoring, commenting, and visualizing assessment data in radar charts.

An example risk assessment created from a template using Amp Impact Submissions functionality
An example risk assessment created from a template using Amp Impact Submissions functionality

Scores from Amp Impact Submissions can be reviewed in radar charts to visualize different dimensions of capacity, risk, performance, or progress
Scores from Amp Impact Submissions can be reviewed in radar charts to visualize different dimensions of capacity, risk, performance, or progress

You can also use mobile form tools to conduct assessments while offline and visualize the results in Salesforce. For example, RefugePoint – a nonprofit focused on advancing lasting solutions for at-risk refugees in Kenya – uses TaroWorks to conduct Self Reliance Measurement (SRM) assessments and access individual and household data in the field. Once the data is in Salesforce, staff then use Salesforce Reports and Dashboards to monitor whether overall SRM scores meet the eligibility threshold and assign follow-up interventions to Case Managers, as needed.

    “By using Salesforce and TaroWorks, we’re able to quickly identify areas of high performance and provide more targeted support where the data shows that there is a need.”
    – David Weaver, Director of Finance and Administration, RefugePoint

A Dashboard from RefugePoint’s case management Salesforce system.
A Dashboard from RefugePoint’s case management Salesforce system.

4. Mobilize and Monitor Resources with Powerful Third-Party Integrations

With each Global Goal comes a call to mobilize resources for the underserved. For Clean Water and Sanitation, this means ensuring access to safe drinking water, sanitation services, and hygiene products. For Quality Education, this means developing more qualified teachers, schools, and instructional materials. For Good Health and Well-being, this means better access to quality healthcare services, affordable medications, and effective vaccines. But how do we ensure the resources we mobilize reach their intended destination?

Salesforce connects all the tools you need for resource procurement, management, and distribution in one place through powerful integration. The Salesforce AppExchange includes over 3,400 applications, components, and services to meet your needs.

An organization dedicated to improving the lives of the poor through education and social and economic development programs, World Education, Inc. (in partnership with John Snow Inc. and Vera Solutions), has created Track and Trace (TnT), a solution centered on Salesforce that enables ministry officials, partners, and distributors to track the ordering and distribution of textbooks and other teaching materials. Through the integration of Salesforce, Telegram, FlowXo, FormAssembly, and TaroWorks, the TnT system allows users to review and approve book requests, warehouse managers to manage textbook shipments, and the central ministry to track if books reach schools.

According to World Education’s report, “[TnT] has the ability to enable governments, publishing agencies, and schools all around the world to collect real-time data on supplies and better manage the procurement process, eliminating wasted resources, and ensuring that students have materials to learn.”

School Directors engage with the TnT Chatbot during the book request process in Cambodia from the report, Track N Trace: Enhancing Book Supply Chain Systems.

5. Facilitate Collaboration on Salesforce Community Cloud

Lastly, Goal 17 seeks to revitalize global partnerships for sustainable development, and all of the goals require coordinated effort to advance each outcome. Salesforce Community Cloud provides you with a space and configurable tool to do just that. Organizations around the world are using Community Cloud to stay virtually connected, engage with their communities, reach out for support, offer assistance, share knowledge, and more.

With a global community of over 100 Hubs and more than 16,000 members around the world, Impact Hub supports the development of ecosystems that drive collaboration and entrepreneurial innovation around the Global Goals. Impact Hub is using Salesforce Community Cloud to bridge the gap between staff, members, and businesses, and to scale meaningful impact-driven partnerships.

    “By turning our real-world community of stakeholders into an online community, we’re connecting entrepreneurs working on the same SDGs to drive better cross-sector and cross-border collaboration.”
    – Katka Vokrinkova, Global Technology Director, Impact Hub Global Network

Impact Hub’s online community portal created using Salesforce Community Cloud.
Impact Hub’s online community portal created using Salesforce Community Cloud.

With the sector’s increasing focus on efficiency, accountability, insight, and collaboration, the ability to tie resource inputs to positive outcomes is more important than ever before. Salesforce provides a one-stop-shop for all organizations – regardless of your size or mission – to not only mobilize more resources but also to track program impact and the sector’s collective progress toward achieving the SDGs.

Salesforce.org will be sharing more about the journey to align to the SDGs at Dreamforce, so stay tuned! You can also download the 2019 Salesforce.org Social Impact Report to learn more about the Salesforce.org impact measurement methodology.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

Salesforce.org app exchangeVera Solutions is a Salesforce.org Impact Partner and an official Salesforce.org AppExchange Partner. Find their app, Amp Impact, on the AppExchange.

About the Author
Zak KaufmanZak Kaufman is Co-Founder and CEO of Vera Solutions, a Certified B Corporation using cloud and mobile technology to help social sector organizations track impact and streamline operations. He has worked for 11+ years at the intersection of the social sector and technology. Zak and his partners lead Vera’s global team of 70+ staff across five continents and eight countries. Since 2010, Vera has worked with more than 300 organizations across 50+ countries. Zak holds a PhD and MSc in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as a BA from Dartmouth College.