Michigan College Access Network

HIghlights

- Streamlined constituent management for intermediary statewide nonprofit
- Provided convenient mobile access for traveling staff
- Facilitated centralized program, event, and grant tracking

"Our system serves as that single place where colleagues can share data across regions and communities, and it fits successfully with our increasingly sophisticated processes." – Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Assistant Director for Network Development at Michigan College Access Network

Client Description

Michigan College Access Network’s mission is to increase college readiness, participation, and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college going students, and students of color.

Challenges

Rapid growth
Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) is an intermediary statewide organization working with multiple partners and awarding grants to individuals and nonprofits to support college access and success. In their five-year history, they grew their grantees from just a handful and expanded from two to eight staff. With each staff member managing their own domain, they did not have time to check in daily. On the other hand, all eight staff members might speak to an individual within the same month.

“We had a hard time keeping up with that change and maintaining accurate information so that we could communicate with our constituency. I would argue that those relationships are 75% of our work,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, Assistant Director for Network Development at MCAN.

Decentralized system
“We had about a thousand spreadsheets and none of them were correct at any given time. Not being able to keep up on it really slowed the work down,” said Fewins-Bliss. “We needed one area where everyone could pour information about communities they worked with, without having to physically update each other.”

Difficulty analyzing core information
With the complexity of MCAN’s coaching, regional divisions, and communications overlap, they needed a system that could easily slice their data multiple ways. “As we got more sophisticated, we needed a more sophisticated system to handle our information,” Fewins-Bliss said.

Solution

Exponent Partners implemented a small custom solution for MCAN on the Salesforce platform. The solution functionality allows them to track contacts, constituents, organizations, simple event participation, and program participation, as well as grant payments they have awarded. They also created an externally-facing dashboard with statewide data to keep their network apprised of where their organization’s work fits in the larger view.

Results

360-degree constituent management
All staff members use Salesforce in their departments: advocacy and leadership, network development, statewide initiatives, partnerships, lobbying, and professional development. Having central contact records proves critical for keeping cross-departmental communications aligned. “The greatest value from our system is having up-to-date information at our fingertips, saving us time and energy,” said Fewins-Bliss.

Access on the go
Use of the Salesforce mobile app has proved very useful for MCAN staff, some of whom travel 50% of the time. They are are able to access or update information while on the road.

Grants, programs and events tracking and analysis
MCAN tracks the grants they have awarded to organizations, and can verify details for an inquiry at a glance. They also track event participation and program participation for individuals and schools directly on contact records, and are able to see high-level views like which programs a given high school has participated in over time.