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From Spreadsheets to Salesforce: How Empowerment Plan Improved Program Management

By: Luis Sevilla

The Objective

Last year, Empowerment Plan teamed up with Idealist Consulting to begin their Salesforce overhaul. The first phase of improving their use of Salesforce involved cleaning their data and implementing NPSP. After that they were able to better track and engage donors, which in turn led to increased donations.

After successfully implementing NPSP and optimizing their org, it was time for Empowerment Plan to move on to phase two of their plan. The second phase further centralized their data and moved their program management off spreadsheets and onto Salesforce.

The Problem

Using spreadsheets to manage Empowerment Plan’s plethora of programs caused several challenges. The biggest challenge was that program data wasn’t centralized. Spreadsheets full of program and participant data lived in various places and were owned by multiple people. This made tracking and following up with program participants difficult. There was no easy way to find out who was in what program and track a participant’s progress in a program.

The spreadsheets also offered no efficient way to set viewing permissions based on a staff member’s role. This made it difficult to effectively share private information about participants between authorized staff members because anyone within the organization could view everything on the spreadsheet. So authorized staff never had the complete picture of a participant because most staff kept notes about participants to themselves due to privacy concerns. 

Empowerment Plan also needed a better intake process that was more effective in processing and capturing data. Before placing constituents into programs, Empowerment Plan staff had potential participants fill out a Google Form with their information. Staff used the data from the form to manually assess each constituent's needs and recommend what programs they should join. The problem was that Google Forms would dump the data into more spreadsheets. So anytime Empowerment Plan needed to create a report about their programs, it was nearly impossible or very difficult to do.

The Solution

With the first phase of their Salesforce project wrapped up, Idealist Consulting helped Empowerment Plan migrate their data into Salesforce and customize it for program management.

The first step of moving program management onto Salesforce was to move away from Google Forms and create a secure intake form that pushes data directly into Salesforce and would automate much of the assessment process. The new assessment tool built by Idealist Consulting gives each individual a score based on their need, something Empowerment Plan had to do manually before. The automation built by Idealist Consulting allows Empowerment Plan staff to more quickly assess each participant's needs.

By moving all program participant data into Salesforce’s secure environment, the staff at Empowerment Plan can control who can and cannot see certain data with permission settings based on a staff member’s role. A huge improvement from spreadsheets where any staff member can view all data. Because all data lives in Salesforce, staff can click into a participant’s profile and track an individual’s progress in a program, and only see the information they’re allowed to see.

Moving away from decentralized spreadsheets toward centralized data in Salesforce allows Empowerment Plan to run reports on program data. Idealist Consulting trained the staff at Empowerment Plan on how to quickly and efficiently run reports, something that was impossible with decentralized data.

The Results

All of Empowerment Plan’s data now lives in a centralized location instead of scattered across multiple spreadsheets. Staff can now easily pull accurate reports about programs and can see a complete picture of a constituent in a single profile.

The amount of time saved not having to search multiple spreadsheets means Empowerment Plan can spend more time helping their constituents. And now that they can find all the information they need about a constituent in one place, they can provide better, more informed services and resources.

In Their Words

“[Salesforce] legitimizes Empowerment Plan. It professionalizes us,” said Kelsey Grigal, the case manager at Empowerment Plan.

Ready to Move Off Spreadsheets?

Our consultants can help you move onto Salesforce. Contact us to learn how we can help.


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