The Center for American Progress Thinks Big with Salesforce
The Center for American Progress is an influential public policy think tank and advocacy organization. Since its founding in 2003, the goal of the Center has been to develop groundbreaking ideas and to turn those ideas into action by injecting them into the global conversation.
The Center uses Salesforce as their unified CRM system, capturing all information around donor relations, outreach activities, interactions with elected officials, and many other types of operational data. “Salesforce is the lifeblood of our organization,” says Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs.
They take advantage of the robust reporting capabilities of Salesforce to build dashboards that allow them to easily visualize and harness the power of this data. “In the nonprofit world, it is all about ‘Am I making a difference?’ When you have tools like dashboards and reports, it’s a lot easier to hit those really big goals,” says George Estrada, Vice President for Technology at the Center for American Progress. Salesforce enables each department to surface the data points that matter to them, whether that is web traffic, email and newsletter performance, progress toward fundraising goals, mentions in press and media, or the impact of an event or project.
The Center leverages this data by deploying apps on App Cloud. Their editorial distribution app manages the delivery of the thousands of policy reports and whitepapers that the think tank issues each year. Their grants management app automates the allotment of funds and tracks the success of projects. “From tech support and managing inventory to legal contracts and the editorial process, Salesforce is used at every level and in nearly every department,” says Trevor Williams, Salesforce CRM Manager.
But, as with any nonprofit organization, one of the most important apps is the donor management app. “Salesforce enables us to understand what makes our donors tick,” says Stachelberg. “We connect with them in unique ways.” Salesforce empowers the Center to pinpoint the issues that individual donors care about and to target communications with that donor around those specific issues. The Center runs all fundraising operations end-to-end on Salesforce, including online and event-based fundraising, and complex programs like major donor relationship management and collaboration with corporate partners.
The New Nonprofit IT Department
Nonprofits have traditionally struggled to adopt cloud platforms that allow for true innovation and agility. As the Center for American Progress grew and their technology needs became more complex, the in-house IT department was becoming less efficient and cost-effective.
“At one point we were thinking about outsourcing the department,” says Estrada. But with Salesforce, the role of the Center’s IT organization has shifted. Now, instead of spending time and money maintaining legacy systems, IT is a hub of innovation that delivers real business results. In Estrada’s words,
“That helped legitimize my department completely.”