“We are uniquely positioned with Salesforce to connect donors, nonprofits, and other funders across issue areas and different geographic regions to accelerate change.” - Jonathan Mergy, Director of IT, Tides
With the Salesforce Platform, a 40-year-old Nonprofit is Future Proofed
For more than 40 years, Tides has worked with a breadth of domestic and international organizations that strive to deliver on social change. The nonprofit provides grants; works as an incubator for other start-up nonprofits; does due diligence for grant-making for its donors, corporate family foundations, and philanthropic arms; and provides back-office human resources, finance, and legal solutions for small nonprofits through fiscal sponsorship.
To manage its operations and many interactions, Tides became one of the first nonprofits to implement Salesforce in the early 2000s. “It was seen as a technology platform that could evolve with us, and it really has,” says Jonathan Mergy, Tides’ Director of IT.
At first, the organization used Salesforce as a CRM and HRIS. Like so many other nonprofits, Tides took a basic environment and added to it ad hoc. “But that created a system with limitations that are common for nonprofits,” Mergy says. “Because we didn’t originally design it for the entire organization, the system worked, but only for a small slice. It wasn’t the single source of truth—which we realized after we grew is what we truly needed.”
Building it bigger, stronger, better
So Tides conducted an assessment of the long-term requirements for its financial and grant-management systems to figure out what was the best solution. It quickly determined that rather than bringing on another disparate system to augment track these operations, Salesforce was right for what Tides needed to do, especially for the client-facing systems. Running off of a single platform would enable staff to gain a holistic view of the organization, work more collaboratively with their community of users, and understand the interworkings of the different departments.
Tides re-implemented Salesforce from the ground up to handle process improvements across all Tides entities using Sales Cloud as its foundation. “Salesforce is obviously far more than just a CRM. It’s really exciting that we can leverage all the different aspects of Salesforce and parlay that into a single system with the ability to do everything we need.”
Riding a wave of Salesforce tools
Now Tides is using the Salesforce Sales Cloud and Service Cloud to manage a number of its operational needs. Its once separate, disjointed custom workflows are united within Service Cloud using Case Management, and staff are able to create automatic workflows for needs in HR, finance, P-card requests, and more. For example, when hiring a new employee, a case is created that flows through to finance, HR, and legal so these teams can work collaboratively on getting this person through the door and have real-time status on requests and delivery.
With third-party applications from the Salesforce AppExchange like Conga and Docusign, staff is able to do away with paper and keep everything in one system. “Having that open platform capability lets us get immediate benefits and future-proofs us,” Mergy says. “It really is a living, breathing platform.”
With the Salesforce Community Cloud, Tides has created a digital community portal so project managers, employees, and donors can log-in, get what they need, and update their information. Nonprofits can log-in and see their staff, advisory board members, volunteers, grants, receive grant reporting reminders, and see current contracts status.
“It’s a perfect application because Tides staff is able to continue collecting and accessing the same data in real time, but we can really cater that information to our clients,” Mergy says. Tides also manages its intake application process in Communities, so even before a nonprofit becomes a client, Tides has a record of the interaction and the whole process is streamlined.
Tides also leverages Knowledge, a tool to build a database of information, and Chatter to connect. “Chatter has really flattened our organization and connected staff in our different locations,” Mergy says. Knowledge has helped Tides move information out of fileserver folders and into where their staff are serving their clients.
Ultimately, Tides is looking forward to expanding the functionality of Communities to create just that—a community that leverages the Tides network to connect on shared issues and topics and build new collaboration models. “We are uniquely positioned with Salesforce to connect donors, nonprofits, and other funders across issues areas and different geographic regions to accelerate change.”
= Ideal solution
Salesforce allows Tides to focus more on accuracy, increase efficiency, and convey data in better ways. “We’re able to assess data and move through complex scenarios a lot faster because we’re all looking at the same data in real-time. It’s not being taken offline and then brought back online and then put somewhere else. Salesforce eliminates the need to keep looping around to double and triple check the data in different internal areas which puts a drain on staff time and can lead to human error.”
These advantages make Salesforce an ideal solution for nonprofits, Mergy says.
“Salesforce is committed to the nonprofit space, which is huge,” he says. “They also don’t dumb down the product for you. You’re a nonprofit, but you’re able to leverage the same tools Fortune 500 companies are using. They’re giving you the best tools, the best CRM, the best platform for your organization and your mission. In the nonprofit space, you don’t want to have to rip something out in two or three years because somebody shut down the version of what you’re using.
“With Salesforce, you’re getting the best tools, and those tools are constantly evolving, so you’re future-proofed.”