Cincinnati Works: Tracking People on the Path to Success
If you hear a bell ring out at the office of Cincinnati Works (CW), an Ohio-based nonprofit that works to end poverty through employment, you know that another Member has successfully secured a job.
CW has long recognized that sustainable employment offers a path out of poverty and towards economic self-sufficiency. When a Member secures employment, they are invited into the CW office to celebrate with staff and a bell is rung. But, as Heath Parks, Systems and Process Analyst, says, “to us, it’s not just about a job… we are helping people learn how to be successful”. CW’s big goal is to get every Member working for at least a year. They acknowledge that barriers may still exist that prevent those Members from retaining their jobs or from advancing towards their long-term goals. And so, they provide lifetime coaching on a broad set of issues that can be obstacles to success, such as legal advocacy, childcare and financial education.
For over 20 years, they have supported Members with a comprehensive program that now covers job readiness, search, retention and advancement. 70% of Members remain continuously employed for at least 1 year. 75% of Members show increased income, net worth and credit scores, as a result of the financial coaching they receive. The CW approach has been so successful that their model has been replicated in over 20 cities across the country.
Connected nonprofit, connecting people
As an organization keen to demonstrate tangible benefits to Members, donors and the community, CW has always collected large volumes of data. This is because, as Heath explains, “we work towards long-term results-oriented solutions that tackle problems at the root”. But, historically the organization struggled with how to collect, store and analyze all of this information in a way that could be useful for their operations. They tried several different software applications, and even, Post-It notes!
Heath recalls, “everything was in these various systems and they didn’t really talk to each other well. We had our donations in one system, we had our programs in another system… it was very confusing, and you really could not get the kind of data and analysis that we were looking for, and if we did, it was very laborious and time consuming”.
So in 2009, CW partnered with Salesforce to implement the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). By reorganizing their disparate systems into one platform, CW has become a truly connected nonprofit, one whose mission impact can be accelerated through having a 360 view of both Members and donors.
“[Salesforce] really is one platform for your programs and donors. You have everything together in one place. You don’t have to mix and match. This gives us greater visibility into our programs and into our donors. We can rely on the data to help drive us”.
CW staff are able to use the ‘constituent profile’ feature to view a complete record of each of their Members, that tracks their entire CW journey. In addition to basic Member data, the record can be customized to meet the individual nonprofit’s needs. For CW, that has meant building an ‘employability profile’ of each Member to see how close they are to being job ready and to record the training that the Member wants to undertake to address their skills gaps. Staff can also create goals and build a service plan that is tailored to the unique needs of that Member, to ensure their successful progress through the program.
CW has also been excited to use Reports & Dashboards in NPSP to quickly pull out key operational and outcomes data across programs, automating previously laborious processes. Dashboards paint an overall picture, allowing CW staff to see their Member engagement activity in real time and take a step back to look at progress over the year. Reports allow the team to drill into specifics, identifying where they are operating most strongly and where they want to concentrate more of their efforts.
Greater visibility, greater success
Greater visibility into what is and isn’t working in their programs has propelled CW along a path of growth. And Salesforce has been a key partner in providing CW with the infrastructure and tools to support this change. In particular, CW now offers individualized and flexible pathways for Members based on their unique needs, rather than trying to implement a rigid ‘one size fits all’ program. They have developed a training continuum to support Members at different points in their employment journey, are able to reach underserved populations, operate in more locations and almost double the number of employer partners they work with.
CW’s work has so far touched more than 8,000 individuals and families and contributed an estimated $35 million to the economy in the form of higher incomes, increased tax contributions and reduced use of public benefits.
Looking ahead, CW are excited to continue to leverage the power of Salesforce, as they scale. They are currently undertaking a redesign and upgrade of their technology to take advantage of new features. Heath says, “We continue to invest in the platform because it will allow us to continue to grow and serve more people while allowing us to gain deeper insights.”
And what makes CW keep coming back to Salesforce as an ally in its important mission?
Heath attributes it to one thing, “It’s a community and company that listens”.