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“The biggest, most obvious benefit is the phasing out of those manual data imports to Salesforce. When you’re dealing with thousands of donations, it saves a lot of time and reduces error significantly.” - Jena Hayashi, Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships & Communications, Spark*

Spark*SF Public Schools Improves Revenue, Efficiency, and Donor Experience with Elevate

Spark* SF Public Schools is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization ensuring that every child in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) receives a quality education, equitable support, and access to opportunities that are necessary to thrive in the 21st century. Specifically, the organization focuses on closing the opportunity gap and technology gap in San Francisco’s public schools, provides funds and access for computer science education, builds curriculum for advanced courses, and provides career pathways for high school students. The nonprofit has a strategic goal to prepare all 55,000+ SFUSD students for a fulfilling and promising future. 

To accomplish this mission, Spark* relies on philanthropic private partnerships and ongoing donations. This support helps the organization launch new ventures, explore new opportunities, and leverage proven practices throughout the SFUSD.

Boys sitting in classroom looking at tablets

Managing and Scaling a Growing Donor Base

Typically, more money is not a problem. But when an organization gets more than it can process at once, the likelihood of errors increases, the donor experience suffers, and staff can’t keep up. Such was the case with Spark* when it received an influx of online donations during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

This wave of donations was in response to the nonprofit’s free meals program and effort to meet student technology needs. Over a few short months, Spark* went from a handful of online donations to more than 1,500 — far exceeding its expectations and capacity with only three full-time employees and one part-time employee dedicated to fundraising.

The existing donation platform was not conducive to a positive donor experience, and the organization experienced several serious issues:

  • A non-branded checkout and donation page, which led to potential confusion with prospective donors and a lack of process control
  • Tedious and error-prone batch exporting and importing processes between two systems
  • A lack of in-house resources and expertise for regular imports, resulting in the need to hire an outside consultant

With interest in the nonprofit organization and donations climbing, Spark* needed a fundraising solution that would provide a welcoming and flawless user experience while eliminating errors and manual tasks. 

Streamlining the Donation Process with Elevate

Recognizing the need to streamline payments and integrate payment services, Jena Hayashi, Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships & Communications at Spark*, researched Elevate,’s integrated fundraising solution.

Hayashi worked with the Customer Success Group to ensure that Spark* would be ready to accept donations without a hiccup. Additionally, her recent completion of the Salesforce Administrator Certification aided in the process.

Spark* launched the platform with a standalone page for its “Return Safely” campaign, which was dedicated to raising funds to help students return to schools safely during the global health crisis. The campaign page included a fully branded online donation experience that enabled Spark* to promote the fundraising campaign through email marketing and other channels and track donations made to that campaign.

Spark* also uses an embedded Giving Page on its main donation page. That reduces the number of clicks required to complete a donation and leverages the full branding of the Spark* website, making the process seamless for interested donors. The donation page also allows donors to give monthly. “The ability to accept recurring donations has been extremely helpful for us in building a steady, long-term base of supporters and ultimately increasing our revenue over time,” says Hayashi.

These efforts have provided Spark* with campaign-based and ongoing revenue streams, and the organization continues to grow its online fundraising using Elevate.

Impact: Reduced Errors, Increased Revenue

Implementing Elevate has led to a wealth of benefits for the nonprofit organization. Most notably is the phasing out of manual import and export processes. Elevate’s integration with the Nonprofit Success Pack enables nonprofits to easily launch Giving Pages, process a high volume of donations, manage data, and maximize gifts all in one platform. 

The ongoing impact includes:

Improved Donor Experience and Engagement

  • Flawless donor experience with customizable branding, fewer clicks, and options for recurring gifts
  • Thousands of dollars in increased revenue per year through improved processes and user experience

Greater Organizational Efficiency 

  • Saving 5-10 hours per month by eliminating the need for several manual tasks, namely sending receipts, and importing and exporting data
  • Improved staff productivity due to streamlined donor process
  • Reduced spending by $5,000 annually by eliminating outside contractors 

More Reliable and Actionable Data

  • Greater visibility into donation payments for accounting, enabling more users to review data.
  • Enhanced data quality from the reduction of human error
  • Smoother data reconciliation due to manual processes being eliminated, resulting in more accurate data.

Elevate’s superior donor process and data integration allow Spark* to continue to expand its digital fundraising efforts and improve the donor experience.

“The biggest, most obvious benefit is the phasing out of those manual data imports to Salesforce. When you’re dealing with thousands of donations, it saves a lot of time and reduces error significantly,” Hayashi explained.

Learn more about how you can streamline nonprofit donations and fundraising payments through’s Elevate platform.

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