Pro Bono Profile: Mobilizing Volunteers in Times of Crisis

By Jason Wurtz | December 20, 2018 | Disaster Relief, Nonprofit, Pro Bono, Volunteering

Pro Bono Profiles
In memory of those who lost their lives in the Paradise fire.

Natural disasters are terrifying. They destroy homes, displace families, and even lead to the loss of life. When tornadoes, fires, and other catastrophes strike, disaster relief agencies dispatch help to affected communities. Volunteers often play a crucial role in assisting with relief efforts, while technology is critical for mobilizing and deploying volunteers with the right skills to the right locations.

The Tennessee State Guard is an all-volunteer organization dating back to 1780 that today provides disaster assistance to the people of Tennessee. Members are vetted, FEMA-certified and required to maintain training levels to assist with managing disaster recovery efforts across multiple agencies. Volunteers include doctors, police officers, nurses, and engineers, as well as everyday people who want to help during an emergency.

In 2010, Nashville received 13.57 inches of rain within 36 hours
In 2010, Nashville received 13.57 inches of rain within 36 hours.

As the State Guard has grown, each regiment created different ways to keep records and provide feedback to headquarters. But that was all on spreadsheets and emails, which often lacked detailed, accurate information. Plus, the information was never updated in a timely manner.

“I joined the State Guard two years ago as 1LT Information Officer,” explained Bill Frazier, Senior Principal Solution Engineer. “Working with officers, it was clear during a disaster it would be almost impossible to find the right people with the right skills to deploy when and where needed.”

The National Guard, local authorities, hospitals, and FEMA depend on the State Guard to manage food and water distribution, provide crowd control, and coordinate communication between disaster response agencies. During a crisis, the State Guard’s ranks can swell to more than 6,000 members. To effectively execute these duties, Bill knew the Guard needed a system to manage teams during an emergency. The “old” way simply wouldn’t work any more.

Volunteers helping to clean up after the 2010 flood in Nashville
Volunteers helping to clean up after the 2010 flood in Nashville.

Moving from Spreadsheets to the Cloud to Scale Up Impact

Bill rolled up his sleeves and built what was essentially a personnel system for more than 300 volunteers across four regions of the state. He worked with the customer to deploy Sales Cloud for officers, using custom objects to build volunteer profiles and related lists to track training, certifications, roles, rank, and promotions. Community Cloud was implemented to provide volunteer managers in each region with access to the system. And the Leads object was used to manage volunteer recruiting efforts.

Bill teaching Salesforce skills to State Guard headquarters personnel
Bill teaching Salesforce skills to State Guard headquarters personnel.

When disaster strikes, timely response is critical. In the past, it would have been almost impossible for the State Guard to asses and assign the right volunteers with the right skills to the needed locations. Now, officers can do this with just a few clicks on their mobile devices, thanks to Bill’s pro bono volunteer work on the Nonprofit Cloud.

“It’s an awesome feeling to know that I’ve played a part in keeping people safe and supported when tornadoes, hurricanes, and other disasters strike.”

Need help using Salesforce to increase your impact? Our Pro Bono Program combines two of our greatest assets – technology and the talent of our Salesforce employees — to help organizations maximize their implementation of the Salesforce platform.

Learn more about other pro bono success stories, and apply today!