“We made a big switch to Salesforce, and we’re glad we did. We can finally keep track of our grants processes and where applications are in the cycle.” - Stephanie Cheney, Senior Grants Manager at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation

End to End Grants Management with Salesforce foundationConnect

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation (the Foundation) is New England’s largest philanthropy dedicated exclusively to education. The Foundation envisions a region where all youth have access to excellent and equitable public education that prepares them to succeed and thrive in their community. To get there, Nellie Mae is committed to championing efforts that prioritize community goals that challenge racial inequities and advance excellent, student-centered public education for all New England youth. Since 1998, the Foundation has distributed over $200 million in grants.

Until 2013, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s grants processes were mostly paper-based. Grant applications were emailed to the Foundation by grant seekers, printed by staff and physically moved around the office from one person to the next. This made it difficult to track progress at any given time.

The Foundation used MicroEdge GIFTS as its data storage, but the system was only adopted by a handful of users. Overall, staff did not leverage data much, except for board meetings. Exporting data into spreadsheets, manually modifying formats, and entering additional data took staff two solid days of preparing for those meetings.

An All-Encompassing Grants Management Solution

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation decided on Salesforce, focusing on Sales Cloud and foundationConnect, as its all-encompassing grants management solution. Today, foundationConnect is used by 34+ staff and Board members in different areas of the Foundation. Grants applications are no longer processed on paper – they are handled digitally through foundationConnect’s Grantee Portal. The Foundation also uses foundationConnect’s Reviewer Portal to track reviewer scores and comments. This information is now easily accessible to staff who use it to provide grant seekers feedback about applications that were declined. Because the entire grants cycle is managed and processed in Salesforce, grants staff has the ability to track progress at a click of a button. This makes it easy to give status updates as needed.

Real Time Data

Data now serves a much greater aspect at the Foundation and staff has reduced the time spent on reports, with the Foundation leveraging Sales Cloud ‘Reports and Dashboards’ to give everyone in the organization full visibility of budgeting, or grants tracking. Previously, board members and staff alike would need to reach out to various individuals within the organization to understand grant balances. This meant determining whether a specific grant project line needed more funding, had excess or was in any sort of jeopardy was a difficult and lengthy process. With Reports and Dashboards, the Foundation’s teams now have access to budgeting information in real time; alleviating them of a cumbersome process and enabling them to make faster and better-informed decisions. Stephanie Cheney, Senior Manager of Grants and Special Programs at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, says, “Where I would previously spend two solid days to get ready for a board meeting, I now only need an hour.”

Effective Communication and Integrations

The Foundation is also leveraging the Salesforce platform beyond foundationConnect, with its active communications team utilizing Pardot for sending Request for Proposals and ongoing communications with its database. AppExchange products such as DocuSign and SpringCM are simplifying the documentation process for grant agreement forms and memorandums of understanding. Tools such as these are not only simplifying processes for the Foundation for a more user-friendly experience, but freeing up valuable time for its staff to support, engage and learn from the organizations they support.

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