User Profile: How The Wicklander Foundation Uses Formstack and Highrise to Manage Their Online Grant Process

Written by Formstack on August 26, 2010

Posted in Case Studies

The Wicklander Foundation is a small non-profit foundation located in Chicago, Illinois.  The purpose of the foundation is to provide financial support to education, religious, and medical research non-profit organizations in the Chicago metro area.  The foundation needed an easy and cost-effective way to collect & review information about each individual charity that was applying for a grant.  We recently talked with Andrew Wicklander, owner of Ideal Project Group, about the way his client, The Wicklander Foundation, uses the Formstack form builder to manage online charity applications.

FS:  How do you use Formstack?

The Wicklander Foundation uses Formstack to collect & manage all potential grant recipients’ information.  After the information is collected, all of the foundation members review all of the data and then collaborate on which charity will receive a grant.  We integrated our Formstack web form with Highrise so that all information would automatically load into our Highrise account as well.

FS:  What was attractive about using Highrise & Formstack?

I use both products already with Ideal Project Group, so I knew they would do the job perfectly.  What’s great about this solution is that it allows the foundation to get everything online almost instantly.  It’s a great price, especially when compared to some quotes they were getting, but the way it’s so effective is what really matters.  The thing is, they’re basically collecting  information about people and organizations. Highrise stores information about people and organizations; Formstack makes it easy to collect information from people that visit a site.  So the marriage of the two is really perfect for this.

FS:  What opportunities come from using both applications?

The opportunities for them using both apps based on where they are now is enormous.  They have literally nothing online at the present time; so from that standpoint, the opportunities are basically everything that come with, well…..being online. Easier communication, reaching out to more people, making it easier for people to apply for grants, and all of those things you’d expect. In terms of using  Highrise and Formstack together, as opposed to an alternative solution, they’re getting exactly what they need without any of the unnecessary stuff.  They didn’t need bookkeeping, and charity receipt handling, and all the other things that are usually geared towards charities.  Now, they’re far more likely to use the software and reap the aforementioned benefits.

On a slightly more technical side of things, the thing that makes this work so well is one specific area of the API integration. You have the notes section where a user can choose to insert any field they’ve collected on their web form, and it is inserted as the first note in Highrise.  The result is a clean, consistent summary of everyone that enters the system in the first note of every user.  On one page they have everything they want to look at, with links to the forms they’ve asked for.

FS:  What limitations come from using both applications?

The only real limitation I ran into is that grant applicants upload a couple documents with the form.  I would have liked to store the documents themselves into Highrise, but the integration only allows them to send over the link  to where the file is stored on Formstack.  From a functional standpoint – there’s no difference at all.  They can click a link, they see  the document, and all is well, so it’s a pretty minor limitation.

FS:  How could others in a similar situation use these tools?

For Highrise and Formstack specifically, I think just look at Formstack as a  public facing window into Highrise.  Whatever you want to collect and store you can easily do it.

For these tools and others like them, I would just say realize that you can use them to build an entire business infrastructure, probably for less than $50 or $100 per month depending on what you’re doing.  And, don’t get hung up on using different systems.  Having 5 different systems that all do what they’re supposed to do perfectly, and fitting that into your way of working is far superior than trying to find one system that meets all your needs.

FS:  What advice do you have for selecting SaaS applications for Nonprofits & small organizations?

For any organization, what it comes down to is, do you enjoy using the software, and is it assisting you in the way that you want.  For some things, the User Interface just might not matter as much but the background process matters a lot (say calendar syncing), whereas for other systems the experience inside an application may be critical.

Software is like a current that either helps propel you forward or gets in your way, but with either one you still have to jump in the river first.  So, I would say go with whatever software makes it easier to get your work done, but don’t ever not do your work because you don’t think you don’t have the right software for it. Also remember you control your software, not the other way around.