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Executive Summary

buildOn’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations, through service and education. The Connecticut-based nonprofit empowers urban youth in the most under-resourced schools in America, to transform their own neighborhoods through intensive community service. It also works in low income countries, to engage volunteers and locals in transforming communities through building schools.

The nonprofit’s organizational footprint is complex, with chapter-based program, volunteer, and fundraising activities, and staffing in the U.S. and across the world. Four years ago, buildOn partnered with Salesforce, to implement a comprehensive solution that would enable it to effectively manage its programs, volunteers, and fundraising, and to tell the story of its impact. Drawing on in-house expertise in Salesforce technology, buildOn rolled out a number of products in Nonprofit Cloud simultaneously. Here’s how that accelerated its journey toward becoming a connected nonprofit.

  • 75%
    increase in total giving
  • 22%
    increase in number of donors
  • 25%
    increase in total gifts

Scaling Global Fundraising Efforts

buildOn’s global building program works by connecting groups of high school and college students interested in volunteering – so called Community Teams – with communities in need of investment into school infrastructure. These teams are both volunteers and fundraisers, raising money to fund their in-country work. Supporting the activities of teams and local communities are buildOn staff. In-country, their role is to identify community needs and submit that information to the development team. Within head office, their role is to cultivate and support student teams, and to fundraise more broadly in support of buildOn’s mission.

But, as Eric Dayton, Director of Data Management, says, “The challenge with any chapter-oriented organization is that you have to be able to engage people in places where you don’t have staff.” buildOn wanted to reach high schools and colleges over the U.S. and globally, to have those students engage with their wide networks of potential donors, to convert those donors into long-term supporters, and to give teams real-time fundraising results. In addition, it wanted to be able to facilitate the logistics of trips and monitor program impact.

In 2014, to scale its global programs, buildOn migrated its donor management and fundraising into the Nonprofit Success Pack. Concurrently, it integrated Classy, a connected application, to support its school construction peer to peer fundraising process, and Form Assembly, to track these global programs. In 2018, buildOn was able to augment its technology with new functionality offered in Lightning.

Globally, the solutions offered in Nonprofit Cloud have been hugely beneficial in enhancing the work of volunteers, community members and staff. buildOn is able to track all prospective, ongoing, and past building projects. In-country program staff use Form Assembly to quickly share comparable data, pictures, and information about ‘on the ground’ need, with head office staff, and update these submissions as new details come in.

Meanwhile, prospective volunteer groups can indicate their interest to buildOn, via the website. Using Engagement Plans in the Nonprofit Success Pack, and functionality within Lightning, development staff use custom pipelines to manage these prospects. Each team is entered into a Prospect application, created through the Lightning App Builder, and a workflow is generated. Staff can introduce a team to buildOn’s programs, explain how fundraising pages can be set up and outline travel logistics that will need to be managed.

If that prospect is converted into a Community Team, they can use Experience Cloud for Nonprofits to collaborate, and Classy to fundraise, engage with their network of donors and manage fundraising benchmarks in real time. Further into the process, the Community Team is connected to a buildOn Trek Team to manage travel logistics, where Gridbuddy provides easy management of participants and flight details. They are also connected back to the community on the ground, to remind them of the motivations for doing their work and the community’s need.

Importantly, buildOn development staff can simultaneously use the Lightning App Builder and Engagement Plans to funnel and convert donors initially engaged by a Community Team into regular donors. This ensures its long-term donor pipeline and its funding sustainability.

Dayton notes that empowering staff, through Salesforce Trailhead and other training, has been invaluable in making technology adoption a success. Finding, and elevating, power users also helps all team members envisage the possibilities that the technology can offer, and know who to go to if they need additional support.

The results of this four-year effort demonstrate that buildOn has indeed been able to successfully scale its global fundraising effort. Since 2014, the organization has raised $13.2 million and managed 55,000 unique donors via Classy. Total giving has increased by 75 percent, individual donors by 22 percent and total gifts by 25 per cent. And because of the integration with program data, buildOn now has robust data on its outcomes. It can show that 1,351 schools have been built to date – powered by 2.2 million volunteer work days from local community members – such that 177,510 additional students now attend school every day.

“Nonprofit Cloud has helped us manage and scale our global fundraising efforts. Since 2014, we have raised $13.2 million and managed 55,000 unique donors via Classy. Total online giving has increased by 130% percent.” Eric Dayton, Director of Data Management

While Improving Efficiency Of Local Program

The impact on efficiency has also been felt in buildOn’s U.S. programs where, every month, 5,681 students contribute intensive service to their communities. In 2014, buildOn also migrated these programs onto the Nonprofit Success Pack and Volunteers for Salesforce, a connected application. Staff can use Engagement Plans to cultivate and manage relationships with schools, identifying if student populations are above a certain size, which opens up access to more resources in support. Program teams can track and create reports on student participation and outcomes such as graduation rates and college plans, to demonstrate program success. To date, 97 percent of participating students have graduated from high school, and contributed 2.1 million in service hours to their communities.

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Opens Up Possibilities For Future Improvements

Looking ahead, buildOn has been investigating how it can leverage its existing Salesforce technology with additional products. Dayton is currently working on the implementation of Financial Force, a connected application, to give staff access to real-time budgets for building projects, to help them understand risks and funding gaps. The fundraising team is looking to migrate donor data into Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, to further support the process of stewarding prospects into long-term donors. In the field, recognizing that program staff might not always have access to the internet, buildOn is exploring how staff might use TaroWorks, the offline CRM tool for mobile devices, to interact with data while working in remote rural areas. buildOn is also creating a Partner Community to engage its alumni network, to understand the impact on students that it serves, beyond the life of its programs. Just like a building needs a strong foundation, so too does an organization’s technology. But laying the groundwork can propel years of success, for every child, adult, and community that buildOn serves.

Contact the team today to learn more.

Who is buildOn?

The buildOn movement is powered by passionate people from all walks of life who are committed to ending poverty through service and education. Together, we’re breaking the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations at home and abroad