It’s hard to believe that 2018 has come and almost gone. We’ve tackled big problems for our clients, solved challenging technology puzzles and collaborated to put forth some of our best work to date. Before we look ahead to an exciting 2019, we chatted with some of our team members about their 2018 reflections and what work inspired them this year.
There’s a reason many of us put off getting a cell phone until we have to: for the first couple days (or weeks, in some cases), everything takes longer. There’s the upfront investment of time to set preferences the way you like them, authenticate passwords, and learn which buttons do what when. Getting a new device makes you think again, makes you pay attention. It can be tiresome, inconvenient and sometimes frustrating. This same scenario plays out on a large scale across organizations when making a large technology change, and it’s called a productivity dip.
I’m happy to be attending the NetHope Global Summit in Dublin and Microsoft is shaking things up with the announcement of a new wave of development on nonprofit technology within their Dynamics CRM offerings. After decades of providing their software and other solutions for free to nonprofits, a generous but uncomplicated offering, they are now proactively leveraging their commercial solutions to address nonprofit needs. In our firm’s twenty-plus years perhaps the only equivalent event has been the dramatic expansion of Salesforce.org’s presence in the marketplace over the last several years. They have similarly leveraged commercial solutions and in the process disrupted the tight hold on the nonprofit technology market that Blackbaud had enjoyed. This time, however, Blackbaud is embracing these developments and making their own important moves. At the same time, Salesforce.org continues its ongoing innovation. Let’s unpack what this all looks like, and what it may mean for your organization.
Before joining Team Heller, Michael worked for California based nonprofits in various roles. These include Data Analyst at CASA of Los Angeles, Salesforce Manager at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, CRM Manager at U.S. Vets, and Data Systems manager at the California Charter Schools Association. He also held a role of Senior Project Manager for a Salesforce consulting firm specializing in for-profit businesses. Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from California State University at Los Angeles. During his free time, Michael enjoys camping, hiking, traveling, and exploring the great city of Los Angeles with his wife and young son. Most weekend nights, you will find Michael at a local L.A. venue with one of the two Latino bands in which he plays bass.
Before joining Heller, Jonelle worked in the nonprofit sector for over twelve years, primarily in donor development for organizations of all sizes and missions. She served as Development Director for the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay where she led a major Salesforce Implementation project. She then went on to overhaul the Salesforce Data Management processes for Interlochen Center for the Arts’ extensive Annual Fund. Jonelle has a passion for marrying her in depth knowledge of nonprofit operations and fundraising with the most cutting-edge technology to streamline the important work of mission-based organizations. As a native northern California who has settled in Rural Northern Michigan, she spends her free time cooking and hunting for the perfect skipping stone with her children and partner on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I attended an ACMP Texas event in September and one session particularly inspired me. Lanette Ferguson of TEKsystems presented on the idea of using Journey Maps as a change management tool in technology implementations and I thought it was so awesome, I created a version that could be used for nonprofit tech projects.
Prior to joining Heller in 2018, Lillian worked in the nonprofit sector for over twelve years. She served as the Education and Outreach Director at Heyday, a nonprofit publisher, where she made sure books were not just published, but read, discussed, and debated. It was in this role where she led a major Salesforce implementation and became more interested in using her nonprofit expertise alongside her technical expertise to expand the impact of mission-driven organizations. She went on to work for the nonprofit Butler Koshland Fellowships managing donor relations as well as their Salesforce environment and also worked for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s Community Benefits department where she managed and helped build out the Social Impact Partnership’s Salesforce solution. Lillian’s passion for applying her technology skills to support social justice causes shows up in her professional work as well as her volunteer work at places such as Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) SF and Our Family Coalition. A proud rural Vermonter living in the Bay Area, Lillian spends her free time outside in the woods, on the mountains, and at the beach with her wife and son.
Your organization is stuck in the 20th century, technology-wise and it’s taking a toll on your ability to work effectively. You turn to a new, shiny CRM system that promises to address all your needs and help your team make a big impact. The implementation project starts. Everyone seems to be on board. But as time goes on, the stress of learning new technology piled onto normal everyday tasks begins to wear on employees and morale diminishes. The excitement at the beginning of the project has faded, productivity is dropping, and you’re wondering what could have been done differently to ensure project success.
With nearly 200 sessions specifically for nonprofits, over 3,000 sessions total and about 170,000 attendees, Dreamforce 2018 will certainly be an engaging event. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to make the most of it, but the good news is, there is plenty going on, so even if you miss the mark on a couple of your selections or find you really need a nap halfway through day 2, you’ll still get your money’s worth. That said, we do have a couple tips for making the most of it.
We noticed something that mirrors our own experience with clients: last year analytics and online marketing were a huge emphasis, with a lot of new announcements about Einstein, Marketing Cloud and other marketing tools. While there are still great sessions about those things, there is a greater range of sessions on nonprofit functional areas. You can find sessions on volunteer management, call and service center, program analytics and more. This is what we’ve seen in the sector too: amazing organizations rolling up their sleeves and coming up with smart ways to use Salesforce to improve their work across their organizations. Analytics and automation are not just promising buzzwords, but practical tools being used to get the work done. What’s better than that?
Below is a list of the sessions that caught our eyes. We hope you have a great time and we hope to see you there!