IT support for NGOs: digital transformation is necessary
Along with the outbreak of the pandemic, many sectors had to immediately change the way they function.
Most companies and organizations were faced with challenges that required new technological solutions to stay on the market.
Online presence has long been a must for almost every industry.
While earlier some processes could have taken place in a traditional way, with the pandemic, digital transformation has become inevitable and accelerated with rapid speed.
One of the sectors that felt the need to introduce systemic innovations the most was non-profit organizations.
The lack of automated processes makes it difficult to work for the benefit of society, reduces efficiency, and limits the opportunities and chances of reaching both those in need and supporters.
As a team of experts in software development, high-performance systems, and Salesforce implementations, we decided to join the Tech to The Rescue project to provide technical support to non-governmental organizations in the field of CRM management and fundraising processes.
We had a feeling that our eight-year experience may affect the achievement of social goals by streamlining processes and providing tools that would support the development, projects and activities of NGOs.
How did the cooperation between Stratoflow and Otwarte Klatki begin?
Cooperation as part of the Tech to The Rescue project is our first initiative under the new name Stratoflow (formerly Codedose – check our rebranding story).
Following our company’s core values, which are, among others, responsibility and cooperation, we are now putting special emphasis on our socially responsible activities.
For several years, we have been annually supporting the local initiative Bieg Firmowy (a charity relay race for employees of companies located in Wroclaw and Warsaw) associated with the Everest Foundation and Firmowy Rajd Rowerowy (a corporate bicycle relay).
As part of the development of our CSR strategy, we have enthusiastically joined the global Tech to The Rescue campaign, in which the IT industry helps non-governmental organizations.
It was Wojciech Mróz who introduced us to the Tech to The Rescue initiative, and, in particular, to the need for support in the implementation of Salesforce.
The IT industry to help NGOs – a few words about the parties engaged in the project
Wojciech Mróz, Ashoka
Wojciech Mróz is an experienced entrepreneur who uses his business competences in projects that change the world for the better.
At the moment, he devotes his entire professional time to supporting social entrepreneurs within the Ashoka organization, where he is the co-director for Poland.
Ashoka identifies and supports the world’s leading social entrepreneurs, learns from their innovations and mobilizes a global community that uses these new structures to build a world where everyone can be a creator, who initiates change for the better.
Ashoka has also been operating in Poland for 25 years.
Wojciech co-founded, among others the company Kodilla, Alpha Capital Group and TestArmy. He is a co-founder of the Everest Foundation, which has been annually organizing the Corporate Run and an alumnus of the Leadership Academy for Poland program.
Tech to The Rescue
Tech to The Rescue is a global project that creates a space for cooperation between IT companies and non-governmental organizations.
The primary goal is technical support for NGOs and the implementation of digital solutions that will increase efficiency, streamline processes and support the further development of socially responsible activities.
On the Tech to The Rescue website, you can find a long list of companies from around the world that offer free support in IT, design, cybersecurity and infrastructure, along with a list of third sector organizations looking for nonprofit technical support.
We asked Jacek Siadkowski, co-founder of TTTR, about the challenges that NGOs are facing:
The challenges vary depending on the size and experience of the organization, but these include:
- Creating a new product to help solve a social problem - e.g. an application for sex education, a calculator of the impact of dietary decisions on the planet, or an application for mobilizing volunteers.
- Improving internal processes by implementing efficient systems, e.g. CRM.
- Improving the communication and fundraising efficiency of the organization by implementing a new website or optimizing user journeys on the previous one.
Quite a few organizations are confronted with the topic of cybersecurity and protecting sensitive user data.
One of the institutions that joined the Tech to The Rescue project is Otwarte Klatki. It turned out that their technological challenges and our possibilities were complementary.
Together let’s create a world free from animal suffering – this is the motto of the Polish non-governmental organization Otwarte Klatki.
Since 2012, the NGO has brought together people who introduce systemic social changes, document the conditions of industrial breeding and conduct educational campaigns, while promoting positive attitudes towards animals.
The main mission of Otwarte Klatki is to prevent the suffering of animals kept on farms.
The NGO operates throughout Poland and cooperates with organizations from all over the world as part of the Fur Free Alliance and Open Wing Alliance coalition.
It is also part of the international organization Anima International, which was awarded the title of Top Charity by Animal Charity Evaluators in 2019. This distinction places Otwarte Klatki at the forefront of the most effective animal organizations globally.
Stratoflow is a Wrocław-based company that builds IT systems of high-performance and scalability.
Our goal is to provide innovative custom software and at the same time be up-to-date with the latest technologies.
One of the branches of Stratoflow’s activity is the implementation and optimization of the Salesforce platform. We design and verify software architectures to enable hassle-free data exchange between Salesforce and other systems.
Otwarte Klatki needed technical support in the field of implementation and configuration of CRM tools.
Knowing that help in this area is needed, we contacted a company that has high competences and experience in this area – Stratoflow – recalls Jacek from TTTR.
Arkadiusz Drysch, CTO Stratoflow also tells us about the beginnings of cooperation:
As it turned out, Salesforce is an increasingly popular tool in Poland, chosen not only by commercial organizations but also by NGOs. Our contribution to the Tech To the Rescue initiative started directly with Otwarte Klatki. We see this project as a very successful consultancy support for NGOs in the field of Salesforce.
The first step in establishing cooperation was the so-called matching meeting organized by Tech to The Rescue.
Representatives of Stratoflow, Otwartych Klatek and Tech to The Rescue participated in the meeting. We talked about the opportunities, challenges, limitations of the project and the manner of cooperation.
Both parties demonstrated interest in the joint project and we created an independent team consisting of Iga Lebuda and Filip Stachnik from Otwarte Klatki as well as Michał Nowak and Arkadiusz Drysch from Stratoflow.
In February 2021, along with Otwarte Klatki’s IT team, we started working on improving their CRM.
Watch the webinar hosted by Tech To The Rescue. Arek from Stratoflow and Agnieszka from Otwarte Klatki talk about their cooperation.
1. Purpose of cooperation
After consultations, the main areas of cooperation between Stratoflow and Otwarte Klatki were selected.
They are as follows:
- Salesforce implementation
- Support in creating a data model
- Creation of CRM on the Salesforce platform
- Salesforce integration with other tools
- Data migration from Excel to Salesforce
- Integration of the donation system with Salesforce
- Comprehensive teaching of Salesforce
- Automation of processes within the organization
- Improving the payment, donation and store operation system
When asked about the beginnings and goals of the project, Arkadiusz Drysch recalls:
The Otwarte Klatki team chose Salesforce as their tool for fundraising processes and started preparations for the implementation of this platform. The role of Stratoflow was and is the support stemming from experience. At the first stage of the project, it was the support in organizing the analysis phase, preparing a coherent data model, setting priorities and tailoring the best solutions. In further stages, we support Otwarte Klatki in implementation and technical issues.
It is worth emphasizing that Otwarte Klatki is an organization that has its own IT team and many technological solutions were well developed before the cooperation began.
The implementation of Salesforce is the next phase of digitization of the NGO’s processes.
At the very beginning, we needed to guide our actions and obtain support in finding our way through the maze of available information. – recalls Filip Stachnik.
Because of this, a lot of emphasis was put not so much on building systems from scratch, as on configuring and teaching Salesforce, in which we have valuable experience. Ultimately, this platform will be the main tool for managing CRM and processes in Otwarte Klatki.
The course of cooperation and introduced solutions
Efficiently and without looking back, we started a regular cooperation. We asked Michał Nowak, Salesforce/Java Developer at Stratoflow, about the manner of day-to-day cooperation:
We meet online every week to discuss the work progress of the previous week. We look at the problems encountered along the way and set goals for the next week. There has been a lot of work in the last few months. The original master action plan is being implemented on an ongoing basis. Our calls are attended by the entire project team, i.e. Filip and Iga from Otwarte Klatki as well as Arkadiusz and me.
The first task for Stratoflow, which the team agreed together, was to create a data model that goes in line with the Otwarte Klatki development strategy.
Then the prototype of the model was verified for the most complex scenarios. On the basis of the ready model, Michał started to search for solutions in Salesforce tailored to the needs of Otwarte Klatki.
Another challenge faced by the Otwarte Klatki team was mapping Excel columns and tables to fields and objects in Salesforce, and in the absence of equivalents, adding new ones. The Stratoflow team verified and suggested possible solutions on an ongoing basis.
At the moment, the team is at the phase of adding integration with other payment channels, for which it was necessary to create a diagram of the payment service process corresponding with the model.
The next stage will be the integration of Salesforce with other tools.
The biggest challenge for Michał, as he himself admits, has been: to design the Otwarte Klatki system so that their team has no problems with maintaining and developing it after the end of the project.
3. Results and plans for the future
There are further tasks ahead of us that will bring us closer to the finish line.
The next stage will be the integration of Salesforce with services such as website, newsletter, online store, and the implementation of typical CRM tools.
The team aims to ensure that all digital processes of Otwarte Klatki are transferred to the Salesforce platform.
What we mean are the following activities:
- shopping in a charity online store,
- subscription to the newsletter,
- campaign organizations,
- cooperation with other companies and organizations,
- payment and donation automation,
- communication with partners and recipients.
When asked about the effect of cooperation so far, Michał admits that it is definitely satisfactory:
Our cooperation is progressing at a good pace, especially considering the fact that Filip and Iga have their current activities related to the NGO. They are very motivated - I can see it by the amount of work they have done and how many new functionalities they have already learned.
We asked Filip Stachnik about the impact of the solutions introduced so far in Otwarte Klatki.
He admits that working with Stratoflow helped to set the direction for the activities of the organization related to the Salesforce implementation.
Before, we felt very lost. We did not know how to approach this project. Now we know what to do from week to week and we have a plan prepared for the next steps.
We hope that streamlining processes within the organization with Salesforce will bring Otwarte Klatki new perspectives and open up another field for social initiatives in a new, digitized way.
IT support for NGOs – let’s summarize
The third sector is entering the path of digital transformation and we are looking forward to further socially responsible actions.
The successful implementation of Salesforce in the NGO Otwarte Klatki shows that the demand for process automation and the introduction of solutions and tools based on digital technologies in non-governmental organizations will only grow. The Tech to The Rescue project proves that the IT industry is ready to help NGOs in this area.