Salesforce Can Transform
the Nonprofit Industry
Kristi Phillips Utilizes Her Nonprofit and Education Expertise to Help Orgs Realize What is Possible
Attain Partners has worked with hundreds of leading nonprofits across the country to leverage the power of Salesforce. As the world’s leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, the Salesforce platform can help you unlock your organization’s full potential and transform the way people interact with you. We enable our clients to utilize Salesforce to streamline operations, enhance communications, and transform digital experiences.
We are familiar with the unique challenges facing mission-focused organizations and use our extensive experience to help nonprofits leverage Salesforce to accelerate their fundraising efforts, expand engagement with their constituents, manage the entire program lifecycle, and measure their outcomes and impact.
To learn more about our nonprofit Salesforce practice, we sat down with Kristi Phillips, Attain Partners’ Director of Nonprofit Business Development, to learn more about her background, how she has seen Salesforce transform the nonprofit industry, and her heart for mission-focused work.
Attain Partners (AP): How did you get into nonprofit work?
Kristi Phillips (KP): My first job out of college was with Teach For America (TFA) as an elementary special education teacher. I joined TFA after a transformational year abroad living with indigenous communities, which reinforced the idea that education is an investment we can make in people that can never be taken away. I graduated college with a clear belief in and commitment to the power of education as a lever to improve society and our collective community.
After a wonderful experience with TFA, I earned my master’s degree in education and then found my way to a small startup nonprofit that was focused on building a pipeline of leaders in the field of education within schools, districts, and other nonprofits in the space.
As with many organizations in their early days, I found myself doing everything from writing curriculum for our program to taking out the trash. Somewhere in my first year, I was tasked with updating the technology we used to recruit and select that next year of applicants for our program. The organization was using Salesforce. I taught myself the basics and pretty soon I found myself as the “accidental admin” we so often hear about. After a few more years living at the intersection of program and Salesforce inside a nonprofit, I eventually made the leap into the Salesforce Consulting ecosystem. And that’s where I’ve been for the last 10 years. I started out solely supporting education organizations and then expanded my focus to the broader nonprofit space using Salesforce as a tool for digital change—I’ve loved seeing how nonprofit transformations can dramatically impact their internal operations, external constituents, and greater communities.
AP: Do you have any standout nonprofit client stories?
KP: Of course! There are many, but the first one that comes to mind is a large nonprofit serving future college students. Its mission is aligned with a key passion of mine—closing the achievement gap and increasing access to college for students from traditionally underrepresented communities.
This nonprofit is pioneering the idea of using technology to help organizations match students with colleges that have the support services that lead to better outcomes and long-term success. This may include disability services, better academic support systems, and the like. The elements that students really need to ensure they will successfully graduate from college.
I’ve maintained a close connection to this organization and continue to explore how we take this to the broader marketplace to allow other college access and student success organizations to leverage this information. I want to help them grow! For the last five years, I’ve been collaborating with this organization building out a system that we designed for them on Salesforce.
There’s so much potential for this organization to create a real impact. I love being able to support them on growth strategy while also delivering solutions that give them deeper insights into their student population and inform more meaningful conversations.
I think that’s the thing that gets me really excited—the solutions that we’ve built for nonprofits can have nearly immediate impact within the communities that they serve.
AP: Which of our seven core values resonates the most with you, and why?
KP: It has to be Obsess Externally. Attain Partners’ commitment to our community and the sectors we work within is framed by a fundamental belief in education. I love working with like-minded people who believe in the social sector as a means to improve community and society—it just really resonates with me. The need to give back is part of the DNA of this organization, and I love that. It’s how I spend my time outside of the office as well.
AP: What do you like most about the work you do?
KP: I love that I get to meet lots of different organizations. They each have their own approach to how they are going to change the world. They have their own theory of change and vision for how they are going to make this world better for the community they serve.
I love that I get to meet and have my first conversations with them where anything is possible. We can brainstorm endless solutions to their current challenges and dream up ways to make their organization better in order to accelerate their positive impact.
AP: What is one of the most challenging aspects of your job?
KP: It’s extremely challenging when you know the client is going to struggle. There are two parts to a successful outcome. For a client, there’s obviously one part—the technology solution we design and build. But the other part is ensuring the client organization is ready and that they have the structures, capacity, and time to invest in ensuring the project is successful. Clients also require a strong understanding of what ongoing maintenance and management will require.
At Attain Partners, we want our clients to fully realize their return on investment. When I see a client missing one of those key elements to long-term success, sometimes it’s as simple as rerouting the conversation to address overarching strategy first before forging ahead and building a new fundraising system. Or perhaps it’s having the organization undertake some change management activities to ensure all team members are on board and ready for the upcoming digital transformation.
And above all, I am always honest if we are not the right partner for a client. Although this can be a challenging conversation to have, I always want to ensure we can deliver what the client needs. In some cases, they may not be ready for the technology solutions we can implement, but instead need to address other organizational issues in order to really see their organization thrive.
AP: What are the biggest ways you’ve seen Salesforce efforts impact organizations?
KP: There are lots of CRMs and many tools that can deliver pretty reports out there in the market. Salesforce is an incredibly powerful CRM that can deliver almost any report you can dream up, but I don’t think that is the exciting differentiator of Salesforce.
One of my most exciting observations was an organization that was able to utilize some of Salesforce’s predictive analytics to determine which students were at risk of dropping out of high school. We built a solution that enabled Salesforce to take different indicators, that seemed relatively independent, but when combined could predict the likelihood of student dropout rates before they happened.
For example, it tracked a decline in a student’s test scores as well as a greater frequency of absences. This, coupled with a note that the student’s father had recently lost his job, led the predictive analytics to put an urgent flag in the nonprofit’s system indicating an intervention was needed to support the student.
These are the use cases that I find exciting and just so cool about Salesforce. It’s a gamechanger. Nonprofits can put their data to work for them. They can use these tools to make connections between their segregated segments of data. These connections—like the risk of dropping out of school—can have the most personal impact in a student or a family’s life.
To me, that is really powerful, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Attain Partners – Salesforce Experts
No matter if your organization is beginning its Salesforce journey or 10+ years into development, Attain Partners is here to help you achieve your goals.
Contact our team today to learn how we can help you advance your mission by harnessing the power of Salesforce. To learn more, check out our Salesforce Innovation services, read case studies about our transformative work, and explore blog posts from our Salesforce experts.
Learn more – Kristi Phillips
Kristi Phillips leads Attain Partners’ nonprofit practice to help organizations leverage technology for social change. Kristi has been working directly with nonprofits to accelerate their impact and deliver creative solutions on the Salesforce platform since 2013.
Before diving into the world of consulting, Kristi worked at Teach For All (TFA), where she served as its Director of Data Management. There, she supported 30+ international organizations with their design, configuration, and implementation of Salesforce. Prior to TFA, Kristi was at Education Pioneers as its Director of Strategic Site Support and Operations where she led new site development, new program integration, technology development, and program operations. Kristi began her career as a Teach For America Corps Member in Phoenix, Arizona, where she taught elementary special education. Kristi earned her Master’s in Education degree from the Harvard University Graduate School for Education and her undergraduate degree in International Relations from Boston University.
Interested in speaking directly with Kristi? Fill out this form to be connected!
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