About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta is dedicated to pairing at-risk young people in the Atlanta area with mentors. They worked with nonprofit technology consultant TechBridge to improve their processes, in part by utilizing FormAssembly.
TechBridge, a nonprofit organization themselves, helps nonprofits deliver more effective outcomes for individuals and communities. They provide technology solutions that build the capacity of nonprofits to achieve better results and to form community-based collaboration that drives measurable and sustainable change.
“We help to identify what their pain points are and figure out how best to leverage technology to make their day-to-day much more efficient, much more effective so that they can focus on delivering to the community, versus having to worry about their internal backend and operations,” said Natalie Jo Williams, Nonprofit Advisor and Marketing at TechBridge.
Their approach can be described as technology-agnostic, but when certain solutions (like FormAssembly) are effective and work well, they tend to utilize them for numerous clients.
“Once we’re able to deliver a solution, we like to try and replicate it with other nonprofits who have similar needs,” Williams said.
TechBridge + Big Brothers Big Sisters: The Beginning
Each year at their annual banquet, TechBridge gives out a Technology Innovation Award through their partnership with Accenture.
“(The award) is given to a nonprofit each year in order to transform the way that they deliver their services using technology,” said Sean Williams, technical architect for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta project and consultant for TechBridge.
The May 2015 award recipient was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, and that award was the beginning of a year-long engagement to improve their organization through technology improvements.
The Problem: Inefficient, Paper-and-Pencil Processes
To kick off the project, a TechBridge project manager and business analyst identified pain points within Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta. One of the major issues was their use of a paper-and-pencil process for gathering and processing information regarding volunteers and individuals interested in signing up to work with a Big Brother or Big Sister.
“That was creating a lot of different challenges,” Williams said. “It was creating a lot of inefficiency in terms of the amount of time it took someone to apply. It was preventing Big Brothers Big Sisters from being able to look at the analytics they wanted and reaching out and following up with people. It was preventing them from proving the quality of service that they really wanted to be able to continue to provide if they wanted to grow and scale effectively.”
Their paper form process simply wasn’t supporting the amount of growth they wanted, so the TechBridge team got to work. Without some process changes, it was clear that Big Brothers Big Sisters would continue to face major hurdles in doing their job.
“I remember sitting in during the requirements gathering process, and there were a couple individuals who were responsible for the communication with the applicants and they were constantly making and receiving phone calls and trying to keep up with the application process without the tools and the resources that they really needed,” Williams said. “Because they didn’t have a lot of the technology tools that they needed, their stress level of being able to do their job was fairly high and their ability to track and run analytics around their success was not where it needed to be.”
After the initial phase, TechBridge moved on to the delivery of work. TechBridge implemented a Salesforce database to house information from volunteer applications and program applications and could also run reports on that information.
Two FormAssembly forms were created to capture incoming information and send it to Salesforce. An integration with scheduling tool Calendly automated the process even further. With this improvement, the process for volunteer and program applications no longer centered around emailed PDFs, documents that had to be filled out by hand, and large stacks of paper.
“The new process was, I could get an email and fill out an online form in FormAssembly that would populate Salesforce. It would give the team some workflow email alerts to follow up with that individual and schedule the interview,” Williams said.
Not only did the TechBridge-FormAssembly solution smooth out and simplify the interview process, it also helped Big Brothers Big Sisters see and understand progress toward goals.
“We went in, we successfully delivered it and really created a successful project in terms of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ ability to scale, to deliver a great, high-quality service, to really get a lot more efficiency in terms of the amount of time that their staff had to spend going back and forth, a lot more analytics capabilities and reporting, so it’s definitely a big win for technology,” Williams said.
Williams estimated that the time savings potentially equaled a few hours per application and up to a full-time employee in labor.
“I know Big Brothers Big Sisters has some aggressive targets they want to hit, so they’re now going to be able to scale that out without having to hire more and more individuals to continue to manage their old process,” Williams said.
According to Big Brothers Big Sisters, it’s estimated that the project as a whole will save them $65,000 a year in resources (including time). Of that amount, the FormAssembly-Salesforce pairing is estimated to be responsible for savings of $13,000 and 15,000 sheets of paper annually.
They also estimated that FormAssembly enabled roughly a 50 percent decrease in time required to fill out applications.
The Big Picture
The time- and resource-savings that TechBridge was able to bring to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta through FormAssembly and other tools are testament enough to the effectiveness of their work. On a larger scale though, TechBridge and the FormAssembly-Salesforce solution, gave Big Brothers Big Sisters a huge push toward their goal of growing and helping even more people.
“Particularly in the Atlanta area, we have an increasing number of children who need guidance and mentorship, and I know the things they care about most are being able to increase the likelihood that a child is going to be able to go to college, to have an opportunity, to graduate from high school,” Williams said. “Being able to provide them both with the technology to scale out and serve more boys and girls in the Metro Atlanta area was a huge part of our partnership with them, and also providing them the guidance around what really matters and how they can direct their efforts as an organization through data-driven decision-making.”
Though they remain a technology-agnostic organization, Williams said the FormAssembly solution is one that they like to use with multiple clients when possible.
“When we find organizations (like FormAssembly) that have a strong philanthropic initiative and also provide great technology that we use ourselves, we like to recommend them,” Williams said. “When we go in and find organizations that we work with who really have a need to be able to quickly and easily capture information through an online web form, especially if they need to feed that into something like a Salesforce database where they can begin to use that data and report on it, then FormAssembly is a great go-to for us. I’d be happy to recommend it to really anyone who has that specific need.”
If you’re interested, you can learn more about nonprofits that have used FormAssembly (and what the results have been).