Case Study: Innovations for Poverty Action


- Developed infrastructure to manage high volumes of donations
- Automated processes for donor management
- Improved ability to track data on individual donors and constituents
- Gained access to new reports

"In just the first half of 2011, we have received nearly four times as many online and small donations as we did in 2010. Previously, we would have really struggled to keep up with that kind of volume. Now, we have processes in place—and the system to support them—that enable us to respond faster than ever before." ‐ Nicole Mauriello, Proven Impact Initiative Coordinator Innovations for Poverty Action

Client Description

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a nonprofit dedicated to discovering what works to help the world’s poor. IPA designs and evaluates programs in real contexts with real people, and provides hands-on assistance to bring successful programs to scale. The organization’s research spans a variety of fields, including microfinance, education, health, agriculture, charitable giving, political participation, and social capital.


Wanted to increase number of small and medium-sized donations
In the past, IPA relied principally on institutional funding, but the organization needed to be more adept at securing and tracking donations from individuals.

Used a variety of solutions to manage donor records
Spreadsheets shared by IPA staff had become unmanageable, and made it difficult and time-consuming to group together all of the organization’s contacts.

Lacked complete data on donors
“We didn’t really know how people came in, or how to turn those leads into contacts,” said Nicole Mauriello, Proven Impact Initiative Coordinator at IPA. “Also, we never really had any substantive information on individuals’ movement and contributions over time.”

Needed a way to engage interested parties
IPA wanted to segment its different audiences—from mail list members and university groups to members of the media and others who had reached out to IPA for information—and engage them based on their interests and needs.


IPA decided to work with Exponent Partners because of the company’s focus on the nonprofit sector, and their QuickStart Now Service, which deploys Salesforce in one week. “We wanted to hit the ground running, rather than rolling out an overly complex solution,” explained Nicole. “QuickStart offered the best solution at the right cost in an ideal timeframe.” The engagement focused on CRM and donor management. “Exponent Partners was knowledgeable enough to ask the right questions to get the answers that would help them determine what we actually needed,” said Nicole. Using the information collected during the discovery process, Exponent Partners built a functioning prototype that was then modified in response to IPA’s questions and requested revisions. After the data import was complete, the focus shifted to training, with an emphasis on self-sufficiency. “We were interested in learning as much as possible so we could do a lot of the work ourselves in the future.”


Developed infrastructure to manage high volumes of donations
“Our volume of donations, especially those from individuals, has increased substantially in 2011,” explained Nicole. “We would never have been able to keep up with this volume before. Salesforce has streamlined our processes and operations significantly, thus increasing our capacity.”

Automated processes for donor management
“Our donors appreciate that we respond to them faster than ever before,” stated Nicole. “In the past, it might have taken months to acknowledge a donor’s gift, whereas now a gift is acknowledged immediately through an automated process.”

Improved ability to track data on individual donors and constituents 
With Salesforce in place, IPA can track donations from all sources, and also identify and segment groups of individuals based on specific criteria. With a more comprehensive data set located in a central database, staff can learn more about the people who engage with IPA.

Gained access to new reports 
“We didn’t have a simple method of producing something as standard as a LYBUNT report,” said Nicole. “Now I can run reports and segment our data for direct mailings. We have the ability to engage groups of people in meaningful ways.”