Salesforce.org is pleased to be able to partner with Baltimore Corps to think creatively on how social impact organizations can leverage collaboration and collective impact through Salesforce Communities.
By: Liz Gomez, Director of Operations, Baltimore Corps
In the nonprofit universe, “collective impact” is like a taste bud. It’s tricky to see, but always on everyone’s tongues. Airy and aspirational, suggesting, “Why don’t we all just work together?” Collective impact seems simple, but is actually pretty elusive.
At Baltimore Corps, we believe that by empowering today’s visionaries alongside tomorrow’s generation of leaders, we can do more than build a stronger city. We can make Baltimore the social change capital of America. But we can’t do it alone.
Through our fellowship program, we support our city’s potential by investing in talented people and supporting foundational change. We recruit some of the brightest people around the country and place them in high-impact leadership positions in Baltimore’s nonprofits, government agencies and social enterprises. Anyone that is passionate about building the city’s capacity to create better opportunities for children and families, is eligible for our fellowship.
We do a pretty good job at placing talent in the social impact sector and supporting our Fellows throughout their year. With Salesforce and our talented programming team, we empower every Fellow with the tools they need to succeed. But, as we look to move the needle for our city, we hope to do more, together.
What Collective Impact Means at Baltimore Corps
For an organization like ours that works with dozens of organizations in a relatively small city, you might think collective impact occurs organically. Get a bunch of smart, hardworking people from different fields together in a room and wait for the sparks of brilliance. If only it were so simple. In reality, bringing people from fields as different as public health, workforce development and education together around a common agenda is really hard. That said, we have the responsibility to make the collective whole of these leaders greater than the sum of their individual parts. Our city, our communities and our citizens deserve nothing less.
But how can organizations consistently communicate a common agenda? How can they share unified measurement and evaluation systems with hundreds of leaders across almost as many organizations? How can they ensure that they are engaging in mutually reinforcing activities while maintaining a common platform for communication?
Two words: Salesforce Communities.
Collective Impact and Salesforce Communities
The potential of our city is unlimited. But one of the challenges Baltimore has faced in the past has been its inability to coordinate and communicate effectively. In 2014, when Baltimore Corps’ first cohort launched, we were looking for a solution to help us do just that – organize our talent, initiatives and efforts to allow for the best outcomes for our city.
Since implementing Salesforce’s Communities, Baltimore Corps is revolutionizing the way our Fellows, the organizations they’ve been placed in, and our city communicates and coordinates around common goals. With Salesforce Chatter, Fellows can share ideas and work collaboratively. By using workflows for case management, Baltimore Corps’ small but mighty team can effectively support our Fellow’s personal and professional needs, blocking and tackling any obstacles so as to allow our Fellow’s to fully engage in their placement. Through custom objects and constant iteration and development, we are able to customize Salesforce Communities to meet the needs of our future leaders.
Consider this scenario: a Baltimore Corps Fellow at the Baltimore City Health Department logs into Salesforce Communities. She is able to see her impact metrics that she is being measured against to keep track of her progress and she is able to see her collaborators. She navigates over to the group created for her specific initiative and is able to message her colleagues instantly over Chatter. All information regarding activities associated with the initiative are transparent, all communications are in one place. Now as this Fellow is working towards what at times seems an insurmountable challenge – overdose prevention, homelessness eradication, juvenile justice policy – she is not going it alone. She is working collaboratively across a network of leaders working towards the same goal.
Due to Salesforce’s flexible and dynamic platform all collaborators are able to edit and adapt their initiatives based on what they hear from their work in the community. The reality of social impact work, of any work really, is that it is not static, our communities, their needs and the approaches we use to tackle these challenges must evolve, improve and adapt. With Salesforce, we are able to do so quickly due to the clear platform that allows for open and consistent communication and quick and agile adaptation.
What does collective impact look like? It looks like empowering talented leaders and their initiatives with the tools and technology they need to collaborate more effectively: Salesforce Communities.
To learn more about Baltimore Corps and they work they are doing to transform the way the social impact sector engages in achieving results for their communities, please see their website.