Case Study: Lutheran World Relief

Highlights

- Provided a central cloud-based grant and program management solution
- Enabled greater program transparency and learning across program regions
- Integrated previously-siloed financial systems
- Facilitated more efficient disbursement of grants to partners in the field

"Our consultants at Exponent Partners were great to work with, and we’d welcome working with them again. We can find the information we need a lot more easily, and can do more for ourselves." — Hugh Wiegel, former IT Systems Manager, Lutheran World Relief

Client Description

Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is a global charity focused on eliminating poverty through a variety of programs in areas such as water, agriculture, health, and emergencies. LWR funds myriad projects through grants to local organizations that deliver direct service to their constituents in 35 countries, predominantly in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Challenges

Inability to scale
Lutheran World Relief (LWR) was using a custom-built MySQL database to manage its project information and grants management processes. Adding functionality was difficult as the database was no longer being supported or upgraded.

Siloed data
Program staff weren’t able to share information from their headquarters to field sites adequately as the sites did not have access to the system. Staff spent a lot of time emailing about issues and exporting data to manipulate it.

Challenging user experience
Their old system interface was challenging to use for program and finance staff. Due to this complexity, a system administrator had to help them with even basic functions. This meant delays and data that was rarely up-to-date. “We did monthly updates of our records, but we were always behind,” said Hugh Wiegel, former IT Systems Manager at Lutheran World Relief. The finance team also used a cumbersome paper approval process.

Solution

Exponent Partners created a grant and program management solution for Lutheran World Relief on the Salesforce® platform. Key functionality includes grantmaking and fund management, grant budgeting (recording projects/subprojects in a single screen with Skuid), grantee project management, OFAC automation, and integrations with Western Union to disburse money to partners in the field, Raiser’s Edge for donations, and other financial systems. LWR has 100 licensed users, primarily from finance and programs, and are looking to grow further system capabilities for other departments.

Results

Streamlined processes
LWR’s solution automated their business processes with apps and workflows. Integration with their disparate financial systems has cut down on duplicate data entry and paper approvals. The improved system also facilitates faster disbursement of funds to partners in the field so they can begin program activities.

Organizational transparency
LWR is now tracking important contacts, organizations and relationships in detail. Leadership can run reports to see overviews for all regions. As well, more staff have access to the system and can easily find information specific to their role. “They no longer have to ask, ‘Can you do this for me, or locate that for me?’” Wiegel said.

Better program management
With better accessibility to the system, program staff can send information more quickly through different people associated with projects. As well, they can now learn from relevant notes on projects in other regions, by searching keywords or program areas. “Before, program staff only knew what was happening in their region, like Africa only knew about Africa,” said Wiegel. “Now they can pull up notes specifically on, say, agriculture projects in cocoa across all regions. If they’re having challenges or just getting started, they can find the successful project coordinators and contact them for best practices.”