Enhancing Grantmaking Organizations’ Impact: Insights from Lara Hoke Kimberley

Posted in: Blog
By: Lara Hoke Kimberley, Marthe Rana

At the heart of everything we do lies the power of people. People who do extraordinary things to create change in the everyday lives of human beings they have never met. They are the driving force behind uncovering the vital data that leads to positive change, and when it comes to grantmaking organizations and foundations, their impact is paramount. In order to effectively serve people and create meaningful outcomes, it is essential to have trusted subject matter experts who understand the unique challenges faced by these organizations. With the recent innovations in the new Nonprofit Cloud and the release of grants management functionality, there is a pressing need for a trusted partner who can navigate this new era and harness its grantmaking capabilities for the benefit of,  you guessed it, people. 

In this article, we explore the new innovations of the new Nonprofit Cloud and gain invaluable insights from Lara Hoke Kimberley, an experienced Salesforce consultant specializing in implementing solutions for nonprofits. With her extensive background in fine art and a passion for supporting organizations with impactful missions, Lara brings a unique perspective, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to serving people. Join us as we embark on an exclusive interview with Lara Hoke Kimberley, where we delve into her journey, accomplishments, and expertise in empowering organizations to make a tangible difference in the lives of our people.

Can you tell us about your experience working with Salesforce in the nonprofit sector, specifically in the context of grantmaking organizations and foundations? What motivated you to specialize in working with nonprofits, particularly in the grantmaking space?

Lara: Absolutely! I’ve been working with Salesforce since 2010, starting with my background in fine art and community-based arts organizations. My journey led me to The Oakland Museum of California, where I was exposed to Raiser’s Edge, a fundraising, and membership management, inbound grants management software. Feeling limited within the confines of Raiser’s I explored alternative CRM solutions and discovered Salesforce and its potential to serve organizations making a positive impact.

In 2010, I began using Salesforce as a user and, in 2014, transitioned into implementing Salesforce solutions for nonprofit organizations. Initially, my focus was on fundraising, email marketing, and event management. Over the years I became increasingly interested in working with philanthropic organizations

I’ve had the privilege of working with various grantmaking organizations and foundations, helping them leverage Salesforce to streamline their operations and achieve their missions. It has been incredibly fulfilling to combine my expertise in Salesforce with my desire to make a difference in the nonprofit sector.

What types of organizations have you worked with in your career as a consultant, specifically within the realm of grantmaking and foundations? Could you provide examples of projects where you implemented grants management solutions? Or perhaps could you provide examples of your favorite or most challenging projects?

Lara: Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with a diverse range of organizations, including private foundations, community foundations, and re-granting organizations. Implementing grants management solutions on the Salesforce platform, such as foundationConnect, Outbound Funds, and Vera Solutions’ Amp Impact, has been a significant part of my work. Some of my favorite projects involved assisting organizations in transitioning from previous platforms to Salesforce, and tailoring the system to their unique business processes. These projects often required change management and business process engineering, but the outcomes were successful and aligned with the organizations’ specific needs.

What are some challenges you have encountered while implementing and extending Salesforce in grantmaking organizations, and how did you overcome them?

Lara: Implementing Salesforce in grantmaking organizations presents its fair share of challenges. One significant challenge is aligning the system with the organization’s specific business processes and culture. To overcome this, I dedicate time to thoroughly analyze and understand the organization’s needs and goals. Additionally, managing change and gaining clients’ trust can be challenging yet vital for successful implementations. Collaborating closely with organizations to reimagine and redesign their processes ensures that the system works for them. It’s a two-way effort that involves careful listening, proactive problem-solving, and a shared vision of success.

How does your background in fine art influence your work in the nonprofit sector, and specifically, your approach to supporting organizations as a Salesforce consultant?

Lara:  That’s a great question. My degree in fine art and my experience as a professional artist have had a significant impact on my work in the nonprofit sector and as a Salesforce consultant. When I reflect on what I build and design in Salesforce, I see similarities with the drawings and paintings I create. The process starts with sketches that gradually evolve and become more refined, just like the requirements and discovery phase of Salesforce projects.

In my artwork, you can observe the progression from initial sketches to the final piece, with visible changes, additions, and occasionally lines that weren’t pursued. This iterative process of refining and building resonates with how I approach Salesforce implementations. It’s about gradually shaping and bringing something to life until it reaches its final form.

My artistic background instills in me a sense of creativity and an ability to think beyond the conventional. When supporting nonprofits, I believe that technology solutions should not only meet functional needs but also be aesthetically pleasing and intuitive. Drawing upon my artistic mindset, I strive to design Salesforce systems that are user-friendly and visually appealing. This approach helps organizations embrace technology more readily and enhances their overall user experience.

Drawings from Lara Hoke KimberleyImages from https://lara-hoke.squarespace.com/drawings. To learn more about Lara’s incredible talent, visit https://lara-hoke.squarespace.com.

In your experience, what are some of the most impactful ways in which Salesforce can transform grantmaking organizations and foundations?

Lara: One significant way Salesforce can bring about transformation is through its ability to connect grantmaking with other business processes within an organization. Many organizations are already utilizing Salesforce for their operations or other business units. By integrating grantmaking into this system, organizations gain a comprehensive view of their operations across different units, resulting in better insights and enhanced organizational efficiency.

Salesforce’s new Nonprofit Cloud and grantmaking functionality offers access to industry common components and features that are not available outside of an industry cloud. This allows organizations to leverage advanced tools and capabilities to advance their grantmaking efforts. As an example, the digital experiences provided by Salesforce enable real-time collaboration between grant seekers and grant makers, streamlining the application and reporting processes.

Being on an industry cloud also provides nonprofits with greater access to innovation from the public sector. This opens up new possibilities for collaboration and communication, further enhancing the grantmaking experience.

To learn more about industry common components, read our blog, “Industry Common Components in Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud” here.

As a consultant, how do you approach the process of understanding an organization’s unique needs and tailoring Salesforce solutions to meet those needs effectively?

Lara: Understanding an organization’s unique needs is a crucial aspect of my consulting approach. I begin by engaging in deep conversations with key stakeholders to gain a comprehensive understanding of their goals, challenges, and desired outcomes. Conducting thorough business process analysis allows us to identify pain points and areas for improvement. This collaborative process involves active listening, asking probing questions, and observing the organization’s existing workflows. Based on this understanding, I work closely with the organization to tailor Salesforce solutions that align with their specific requirements. This involves configuring Salesforce, designing custom objects and fields, creating automation, and developing customized reports and dashboards. Prioritizing user adoption, I provide comprehensive training to ensure that the organization’s staff feels comfortable and empowered to use the system effectively.

What are some of the emerging technology trends or innovations that could greatly benefit grantmaking organizations and foundations in the future?

Lara: There are several emerging trends and innovations from Salesforce that hold great potential for grantmaking organizations and foundations. One notable trend is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities within these platforms. AI and ML can help organizations automate manual processes, enhance data analysis, and gain valuable insights from large datasets. 

To learn more about the recent announcement of AI Cloud, read our blog, “Salesforce AI Day: Revolutionizing the Future with AI Cloud” here.

Lara: Another significant trend is the growing emphasis on mobile accessibility and responsive design. Grantmaking professionals are often on the go, and having access to Salesforce on mobile devices can improve productivity and collaboration. Additionally, advancements in data visualization and storytelling tools within Salesforce can enable organizations to effectively communicate their impact and engage with stakeholders. These emerging trends and innovations have the potential to advance how grantmaking organizations operate and further amplify their positive impact.

Lastly, what advice would you give to grantmaking organizations and foundations that are considering implementing Salesforce or upgrading their existing systems?

Lara: When it comes to Salesforce implementation or system upgrades, my advice for grantmaking organizations and foundations is to prioritize planning and engagement. Invest time upfront in defining clear objectives and understanding your organization’s unique requirements. Engage staff at all levels to ensure their input is valued and their needs are addressed. Consider conducting a thorough assessment of existing workflows and processes to identify areas that can be streamlined or automated. Collaborate with a knowledgeable Salesforce consultant, a trusted partner, who understands the nonprofit sector and has experience working with grantmaking organizations. A trusted partner can help you assess the path forward and make informed decisions. Make sure to leverage the power of the Salesforce community and resources to learn best practices and stay up-to-date with the latest features and enhancements. Lastly, prioritize user adoption by providing comprehensive training and ongoing support to maximize the organization’s return on investment in Salesforce.

If you’re considering a Salesforce implementation, be sure to check out our blog, “10 Things to Consider Before Implementing Salesforce for Nonprofits” here. 

Embracing the Power of the new Nonprofit Cloud 

We extend our deepest gratitude to Lara Kimberley for sharing her invaluable insights and dedicating her time to this enlightening discussion. As we reflect on the knowledge and wisdom we’ve gained from Lara, we are filled with excitement and purpose. The power of Salesforce technology, when harnessed effectively, can propel grantmaking organizations and foundations to new heights of impact and create positive change in the lives of countless people. We have witnessed how Salesforce, with its innovative features and grants management functionality, can revolutionize operations, streamline processes, and empower organizations to make a tangible difference.

Now, it’s your turn to embrace this transformative potential. If you’re ready to unlock the full power of Salesforce and embark on a journey of enhanced impact, we invite you to connect with Exponent Partners. Our team of experts stands ready to be your trusted partner, guiding you through the intricacies of the new Nonprofit Cloud, tailoring solutions to your unique needs, and maximizing the benefits for your organization. Together, we can leverage technology to serve people, advance missions, and create lasting change.

A Closing Note

It’s important to note that all forward-looking statements mentioned in this blog post are subject to the Safe Harbor statement, which highlights that actual results may differ materially from the statements made, and implies that all product buying decisions should be based on what is currently available from Salesforce at the time of purchase.