Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) is one of the largest community foundations in the country with over $1 billion in total assets. Its mission is to mobilize people, ideas, and investments. The organization connects different segments of the community to ensure everyone has equitable opportunity.
This noble goal requires the right technology to support it, and for many years the organization administered donor funds through a heavily manual process.
In an attempt to automate its workflow, CICF built a donor platform that provided online statements, but it wasn’t easy to use or connected to the donor database.
Julie Wright has been with CICF for 17 years working in a variety of roles and now handles grant processing. “The old system lacked efficiency and was slow,” she says.
The previous solution didn’t provide an integrated workflow for grant processing either, which slowed processing time and limited volume.
CICF also knew it wanted a better experience for its donors. And to compete with national players, the organization needed a centralized location for people to distribute their own funds. On the backend, the team needed more efficient fund administration and better integration with Salesforce, too.
To bridge the gap between its financial operations and the community it serves, CICF engaged Skuid to help.
Moving from a disconnected experience to Salesforce Communities with Skuid
Using Skuid in Salesforce Communities, CICF gained a self-service portal that helps donors both access their account statements and make grant suggestions themselves.
CICF now processes all incoming grant requests using Salesforce, leveraging the CRM’s approval process. With this workflow, each fund’s relationship manager checks the grant and sends it to Julie for payment processing.
Adam Vizard is the Salesforce admin at CICF, helping over 50 users with their Salesforce instance.
Now everyone can work off the same process and see grant status. We can have notes. We also connect to GuideStar so we can ensure we’re distributing a grant to a valid non-profit. Donors can log in and see grant status, too.
– Adam Vizard, data systems manager, CICF
None of these capabilities existed before as there wasn’t a unified system for processing grants, let alone viewing progress. Skuid helped with initial brainstorming on layouts and building the technical components.
“Their ability to take complex problems and turn them into actionable solutions helped us deliver the experience that we were looking for,” Adam says.
Though Adam joined CICF after the portal launch, he was able to quickly get up to speed. “It’s something I feel comfortable with and it’s not too daunting. It’s a pretty easy interface to use, not having any previous experience in Skuid or any formal training.”
Giving donors access to take action
CICF’s community knowledge gives it a competitive advantage over national donor-advised fund companies like Schwab and Fidelity. The new portal has helped CICF sharpen that edge by giving donors constant access to their portfolios, allowing them to be more proactive with their grant making.
With the old system, when a donor wanted to make a grant suggestion, they had to send CICF staff an email and Julie would have to manually enter the grant in the company’s ERP. Now the process is seamless and donors can make these requests swiftly through the portal.
Donors can now enter their grants at any time of day. I can see the timestamps and they’re entering them at all hours.
– Julie Wright, grant processor, CICF
New portal features also provide access to information that would have been previously hard to obtain on-demand.
For instance, donors can access their own fund statements going back to 2015 because CICF has uploaded this documentation to the portal (which negates the need for mailing paper fund statements, saving the organization hundreds of hours annually).
The ability to view fund contribution history has proved invaluable for many portal users, too. One family hosts an annual 5K in memory of their son. They can now export their fund contribution history list from the portal and send notes of gratitude to everyone who contributes to the race.
Validation helps donors and employees
The new portal has built-in verification that prevents back-and-forth communication between employees and donors.
Julie says, “Based on IRS regulations, if you support a special event or fundraiser, you cannot receive tickets to that fundraiser if you make a payment from a donor-advised fund.”
In the portal, CICF added a box on the form that the donor must check to attest they aren’t receiving any benefits. If you don’t check that box, you can’t submit the form.
Before the portal, CICF had to send an email to the donor asking for this confirmation.
The new system also prevents donors from overspending. If you have a balance of $1,000 in your fund and want to make a $5,000 grant, you can’t submit the grant suggestion.
Mobilizing donors organically during the pandemic and beyond
The portal has given CICF another competitive advantage: donors can now filter opportunities by interest area, county, and primary population served to find funds they’d like to support.
For instance, if a donor checks that they’re interested in the arts and education, the next time they log in they’ll see matching proposals flagged on their home screen.
“It’s a great way to connect donors with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise know about and bring visibility to areas of need,” Adam says.
At the start of the pandemic, the donor portal also helped CICF share urgent opportunities for two of its own funds–the Neighbor Relief Fund and the Hamilton County Crisis Response Fund.
On the portal homepage, CICF shared these two opportunities between April and May of 2020, just when things were getting tough for so many.
This type of organic outreach wasn’t previously possible. To communicate with that many donors about funding would have required countless emails, phone calls, and likely an enormous spreadsheet to track the effort.
Adam says, “The response was even better than we could have hoped.”
For those two fundraising campaigns, nearly 40% of contributions were made in the portal. In this way, the organization was able to obtain over $74,000 in passive fundraising dollars in a relatively short period of time–an organic effort that didn’t cost CICF a single marketing dollar.
Increased efficiency and community support
The efficiencies generated by the new portal have made processing grants much smoother and faster. Julie has noticed a 1:5 time savings between grants that need to be manually processed and those entered through the portal.
“Since launching the portal in 2018, we've processed over 3,600 requests totaling over $34 million. Those grants have undoubtedly made an indelible mark on our community.”
– Adam Vizard
In addition to faster processing power, the organization also gained more sustainable environmental practices. With the new portal being paperless, CICF no longer needs to print any documentation associated with grants.
As for portal maintenance, Adam only needs to spend a couple of hours each week on the task. He is quickly adapting to requests and providing user experience improvements, like updating pages or adding new fields, tabs, or components that make his colleagues' lives easier.
“The Skuid pages give us a foundation to pull in all kinds of Salesforce data and share it externally with our users,” Adam says. “As someone without any coding background, I’ve been able to jump right in and use the Skuid tool to enhance the experience for our users.”
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