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Why NetHope Matters: An Interview with Rob

By: Althea Arnold

Over 20 years ago, NetHope set out to harness the power of technology to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing humankind. Hosting an annual Summit, NetHope bridges the digital space with nonprofits working in the areas of conservation, humanitarian relief, and development.

I sat down with Idealist Consulting CEO & Founder, Rob Jordan, to get his take on the 2022 NetHope Global Summit.

What stood out to you about the NetHope Summit this year?


Rob: NetHope tends to lean into an academic mindset, blended with mission focus. That’s a very different relationship than what you see in the corporate sector, where we’re leaning into a profitability and revenue mindset, with a mission focus. I saw a lot of self-reflection this year at NetHope, with people questioning whether an academic approach is the best strategy or if there should be more of a bottom line, “let’s get this done”, approach. I was really heartened to see folks reflecting on the possibility that there might be a more efficient way to show up in the space, and that they have an accountability to their privilege. 

There was a shift that happened this year that I haven’t seen in our previous four years of attendance. And that was this bottom line notion that we’ve got to start moving beyond academic discussion about what can be done and get to measurable KPIs and solutions that will help course-correct some of the tragedies we’re experiencing in the world right now.

The other thing that’s really notable is the extensive support that NetHope is putting behind women around the world. Empowering women on a global scale is essential to our success in navigating the tragedy we’re seeing.

Where does Salesforce fit in at NetHope?


Rob: Salesforce is an international solution, and they have an appreciation for that same global mindset. I think they recognize the need to move beyond this domestic perspective into a global space. We’re all in this together, and we can’t afford to show up in any other way. Salesforce has made some deep contributions to the NetHope community and the humanitarian sector, and I hope they’ll continue to do so - there’s no better place to start this conversation and have true impact than with the NetHope community. I believe this to be the future of helping the world’s most vulnerable.

Salesforce is positioned well not only by culture, and by intent of social impact, but also because of their product. For example, the Grassroots Mobile Survey app was developed by the Salesforce Open Source Commons community. The open source mindset that Salesforce brings is indispensable in helping humanitarian organizations. These are solutions that are designed specifically to help people in the field measure and collect data - a need for many humanitarian nonprofits. 

The Salesforce solution has the most mature cloud-computing products in the industry. The AppExchange speaks for itself with over 7,000 applications available on the platform. The challenge for competing products like Microsoft is that integration is a slower process requiring partners to facilitate solution integration. Salesforce has the speed of implementation to its advantage. And we simply don’t have time to mess around in the humanitarian sector. 

Every second wasted could equate to loss of life - you can’t afford to use anything but the fastest implementation solution. 

When you look at the intersection of NetHope and Salesforce, it’s like chocolate and peanut butter. NetHope is looking for bottom line return and effectiveness within their mission, and that’s exactly what Salesforce brings to nonprofits around the world.

How do you see NetHope and Salesforce working together?


Rob: There are definitely some language differences between the NetHope community and the Salesforce ecosystem. Humanitarian servicing language and corporate efficiency language are two very different modes of communication. I think NetHope will find that if they can bridge that gap, they will see a lot of positive changes in that space. 

How does Idealist Consulting come into play?


Rob: We’re the ambassador, we’re here to help. We’re here to make the peanut butter cups from the NetHope chocolate and Salesforce peanut butter. Idealist Consulting was founded on the notion of blending private-sector corporate effectiveness into humanitarian missions, and we’ve been doing this for fifteen years. We’ve had fifteen years of innovators working at Idealist Consulting who have made Salesforce what it is today in the NGO sector. We were the innovators of this experience, and our intent is to do this again for the humanitarian sector and NetHope community.

Along with our experience, we offer our project management method, the Idealist Way, which is designed to accommodate the inevitable challenges that come with implementations. Change management, redundancies, and project memory are all considered, and we have a client success team that’s walking alongside organizations to help with change management. 

What makes us unique is our care. We don’t work with everybody. We only work with the folks that we have mission alignment with, and we show up with a care-first approach. We have Americorps volunteers, Peace Corps volunteers, and employees with international studies degrees on staff. Many of our people have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place, and I'm grateful that they’ve chosen to work here at Idealist. 

How can the Salesforce ecosystem support the NetHope mission?


Rob: Start with recognizing a humanitarian organization when you see one, then get familiar with the solutions that are helping this vertical. Recognize the scale of these projects - missions this size are going to require effective tech. Integration and data analysis are key components to NetHope’s success. 

I recommend getting familiar with solutions that are relevant to humanitarian organizations like the GRMS app and Amp Impact, as well as connecting with Idealist Consulting and other SIs that are familiar with this sector so that you know how to show up well to support these missions.

The humanitarian sector needs folks that know the digital space. We are a good place to start for people who are interested in getting involved, and we can help you make an impact.

At Idealist Consulting, we see NetHope as the tip of the spear in implementing technology for the humanitarian sector. We feel energized by the ideas and solutions presented at the 2022 NetHope Summit, and are excited to play a part in empowering the world’s most vulnerable through technology.

For more updates from the Idealist Consulting team on Salesforce for humanitarian missions (and peanut butter-related metaphors), click the button below to sign up for our monthly newsletter.

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