The Salesforce Foundation recently announced their 2015 Force for Change grant program. This grant program focuses on “increasing social impact through the innovative use of Salesforce technologies.” In the past, these grants have helped nonprofit and higher ed organizations accelerate and/or scale their work in Salesforce. The grant program is part of their pioneering 1/1/1 model that provides product, equity, and time to nonprofit organizations.
If you are applying for a Force for Change grant or wondering if these grants are a good fit for your organization, we wanted to share a bit about of what we have learned in working with past grantees. We are fortunate to have worked with Force for Change grantees in each of the past four years. While past grantees are not necessarily a predictor of future grants, we have seen two types of grants. The first type is larger grants for scaling a solution more broadly to multiple nonprofits or higher ed institutions. These projects are complicated and can take several years to see their impact. The second type of grant is more modest and is focused on building or piloting innovative technology solutions within an organization. These projects focus on improving efficiency and/or effectiveness in a very specific area.
To give you a flavor for projects that have been funded in the past, here’s a brief recap of the ones we’ve been involved with:
2011 Grantee: California Resiliency Agency and the Bay Area Cross Sector Partners in Preparedness (BACSPP)
Project: Build and pilot an emergency response Chatter Community
Overview: BACSPP creates regional resilience through collaborative cross-sector planning and preparedness in the San Francisco Bay Area. They were looking for a tool to improve communication between a large and diverse set of organizations during a disaster. We helped them build and pilot a Chatter Communities solution for this cross group communication during the annual Golden Guardians Exercise.
2012 Grantee: Capital Impact Partners and the Cornerstone Partnership
Project: Scale an affordable homeownership application
Overview: HomeKeeper allows affordable home ownership organizations to track their complex day to day program management workflow in Salesforce, including compliance monitoring, managing sale and resale transactions, and homebuyer support activities. The system was in pilot with ~30 organizations at the time of the grant. The grant funded adding key functionality and scaling the system to reach more organizations. Over the course of several years, HomeKeeper scaled from 3 organizations to over 70 organizations. In 2014, Capital Impact Partners released their first social impact report, based on aggregated HomeKeeper data, providing the sector with more robust metrics on program effectiveness.
2013 Grantee: Capital Impact Partners and the Cornerstone Partnership
Project: Build and pilot a rental housing compliance tracking system
Overview: The grant funded creating a rental compliance management system. The system helps compliance staff ensure that rental housing developments are in compliance with the regulatory agreements that they entered into when they accepted government funds, loans, or modifications of zoning requirements. The system allows compliance monitors to track properties, rental units within those properties and the tenants in those units. It helps them manage information about tenant income to ensure that eligible tenants are in the units and the number of units required are occupied. It also allows them to track physical inspections of the property to make sure it is in good condition and to file inspections to make sure that property owners/managers are properly assessing tenant’s income qualifications. This system was piloted with two organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
2014 Grantee: The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Project: Build a mobile data collection system to track farmer program compliance
Overview: The Nature Conservancy is working to provide habitats for migratory birds. They do this through an innovative field rental program with farmers. A critical and time consuming part of this work is ensuring compliance with rental agreements. TNC was awarded a grant to enhance their Salesforce system to support efficient mobile data collection and to improve compliance. The system allows field compliance data to be collected on mobile devices in the field. This data flows directly into Salesforce in real-time and provides alerts when fields/farmers are “out of compliance.” This enables prompt farmer communication and re-compliance. More details are available in our case study on this field data collection system.
If you are applying for a Force for Change grant this year, we wish you the best of good luck! If you are looking for a partner to guide you through the process, feel free to contact us to discuss your project.
PS – Last year we worked with several Force for Change grantees to highlight Four Keys to Scaling a Nonprofit Solution. If you are looking to scale your solution beyond your organization, the participating organizations provided great advice.