Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect, a podcast from Formstack revealing how simple decisions can have a lasting effect on others. I am your host, Chris Byers.
Today's guest is Tal Frankfurt. He is the founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, a consulting firm that works primarily with nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Tal has quite the story. He is originally from Israel and moved to the states in 2009. At that time, he joined a nonprofit organization that assisted at-risk immigrant youth. As he was looking for tools to better manage his donors, participants, and volunteers, he learned about Salesforce. The adoption of Salesforce in his everyday work was what sparked the inception of Cloud for Good.
Tal Frankfurt: Cloud for Good works exclusively on the Salesforce platform, primarily with nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions to help them create transformational value at Salesforce. We're helping our customers focus on what they do rather than focus on the technology and challenges around that.
Chris Byers: Having completed more than 2000 Salesforce implementations for nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions, Cloud for Good is made up of experts in capacity development, process optimization, and performance improvement. And they can see how their work is increasing the number of lives impacted by the organizations they partner with.
Tal Frankfurt: When I leave the organization after we've worked with them for three months, six months, 12 months, I want to make an impact and help them do something that they were not able to do before. We're avoiding all these mistakes that other organizations have done, maybe when they migrated. But we're also able to share those best practices. Right. We have done more than 2000 implementations in these verticals. We're able to share best practices on how other organizations recruit students or how other organizations are raising money or managing their cases.
Chris Byers: What I love about Tal is how passionate he is about the missions of the organizations he works with. You're going to hear him talk about Make-A-Wish Ireland and the number of children they have impacted. He always seems to be thinking a few steps down the line, making him the perfect guest for our show. Let's listen in as he shares a few stories that embody what he calls the transformational value he and Cloud for Good seek to provide.
Tal Frankfurt: Yes, we work with customers, but it trickles down there and I feel like sometimes we miss that. At least from a Cloud for Good point of view, we work with these amazing organizations, but it's not very often that we actually see those that they serve, their clients.
And as I take every opportunity I have to actually connect, to go to our customers, visit them and and see what is the impact that we're actually doing. One of the clients we spoke about earlier was the Make-A-Wish Ireland. Such a great organization with a very simple, very simple mission of granting wishes. I think they're focusing on children between ages of 3 and 17 that have life threatening medical conditions and trying to come back with their wishes. Trying to create hope and strength and just bring joy to their lives.
Tal Frankfurt: We worked with Make-A-Wish Ireland on many projects, they're using Formstack as a donation tool. The fact that Formstack is built on Salesforce allowed us a lot of flexibility to accommodate specific donation processing needs. We have a lot of customers, most of our customers are in North America, but their needs vary, like around SEPA or some others very specific needs. That ability to work with a tool that is built on Salesforce just made everything much easier.
The other thing that they're using Formstack for is lead generation, but also on their volunteer application process. They basically said that the use of Formstack and that integration with Salesforce has made their submission, made their support much easier and allowing them to process volunteers faster and as a result, process more wishes. GDPR was a key there. It was very important for them that the data is not stored in multiple places, that it's only stored in in Salesforce.
Chris Byers: So I'd love to hear more about kind of just the results that have come from the work you've done with Make-A-Wish. What are some stories you've heard? What are some ways that you're hearing that kind of your investment, your consultants have kind of made an impact and what they're doing?
Tal Frankfurt: So it was a pretty substantial impact from everything, from just their efficiency of a grant of how all the information flows into one place and they're able to report on it and then make changes based on that insights that they didn't have before.
Specifically, they're now able to report on, you know, how many children they have helped through wish granting, how many hospitals they're able to support and overall like see the efficiency of their volunteers both around the wish granting, but also the fundraising aspect. They're able to show more than just that impact of giving. They're able to also kind of actually account for their volunteer pipeline, the number of wishes that they grant in every given year, that's really the core of what we do.
We want to help them raise more money, but we also want to allow them to grant more wishes than they were able to do in a previous year. And I'm sure that if we do a follow up with them after they've been using it for a year, they will see an increase in the amount of actual wishes that they're able to fulfill. That's a result of the great technology. But also around the time that we've spent with them looking at their business processes and and improving those business processes. So, yeah, the overall great, great story and great impact and just excited to see how it's changing, how they operate and how it's allowing them to do more good with their community.
Chris Byers: Yeah, I see from the Make-A-Wish Ireland website that they were able to grant more than 200 wishes in 2018 alone. One of the things you're saying is, frankly, sometimes I think it is as business people hard to remember. And that is that what's especially taken a nonprofit world. Our ability to get people back to the core job they're supposed to be doing is actually a wonderful outcome, as we know. I think we oftentimes, especially in nonprofits, you think of marketing or spending time on fundraising, frankly, as a bit of a tax and a bit of a and we've got to make that as small as possible. And yet nonprofits have a tough time getting their message out. And so their ability to spend time on doing that is this cycle and circle of, you know, we get our message out and then somebody is willing to fund a wish and then we can find more children who can receive those wishes. And so I love that story, of the time that you can give back to people is actually a kind of a beautiful gift that helps them get their job done better and allows them to focus right.
Tal Frankfurt: At the end of the day, we're not in the business of replacing people. We're about making what they've done until now easier so they can really focus on what's really important. And in their case, a lot of what they were focusing on was trying to understand where the data is and copying and pasting data from the previous application to their CRM. All that stuff is now eliminated and everything just flows seamlessly so they can focus really on the important things which are granting wishes and bringing joy.
Chris Byers: Continuing on that line, one of the things we're talking about here is how, again, I think on our worst days we're like, well, we're just out to make money. You know, as businesses where we're growing, we've got to keep growing revenue, et cetera. And we forget about we are doing a good for people. And sometimes that doesn't feel like, oh, we're out, you know, feeding someone or we're out doing that direct work, but we are enabling that work. One of the things you have put together is kind of a State of Salesforce report. I'd love to hear about what your goal is with that report and kind of what we should expect to kind of receive if we were reading it.
Tal Frankfurt: Yeah. So the State of Salesforce report is something that we started doing about four years ago. We started going back to our clients and asking them, so what happened? Right. We worked with you for X number of months or years. What are you able to do now that you were not able to do before? So that's really where we started. As the report evolved, we started asking them, okay, so what's what's coming up for you? What are you missing? What are your main goals? And then how are previous years compared to this year? So the report is super interesting.
We have two reports actually this year. It's the first time we've separated the report. We have a report that is fully focused on the nonprofit sector with more than 500 organizations that responded and almost 100 higher education institutions that responded on the second report. So when you download that report, especially if you're a nonprofit or higher ed, one of the key things you can do is to first benchmark yourself, like how am I doing compared to them with my Salesforce usage. How I how do I compare to other organizations that might be similar in size to me or might be using this system in a similar way? And then the other thing that we're hoping that it will help you do is inspire you to think what other organizations are doing that maybe you're not doing or help you think about what solutions are available out there that you can use to improve your operations.
Tal Frankfurt: So, first of all, I think that one of the most surprising thing and pleasantly surprising things is that the majority of organizations that completed the survey this year have been using Salesforce for more than five years. So it kind of speaks to the maturity of nonprofit sector and Salesforce.org customers specifically, their maturity on that platform. Right. They've been using it. This is not new users. And part of it maturity is that we're starting to see that cross cloud adoption, customers are using Salesforce for more than just PSP or sales cloud. Right. They're extending it with app exchange solutions. They are using communities to bring in their grant applications, student applications or share information with other agencies. And a lot of our customers said that they're looking to increase their investment in marketing and marketing automation in general. So just a lot of a lot of great very quantitative results in the report. So I highly recommend downloading it.
Chris Byers: Tal, that's great. What would you say the biggest surprise or biggest learning you had from just the data as it is you received it?
Tal Frankfurt: So I'd say that the biggest learning is that we're seeing, I think that one of the interesting trends is that we're seeing organizations using a lot of ways of engaging with their constituents. So organizations are still using direct mail, snail mail is still there. Direct mail is still alive. And they're using social and they're using e-mail and they're using text messaging. One of the trends and one of the things that we're interested in seeing more is like how organizations are going to stop swimming in these like separate lanes and start connecting between all these channels. Right. It's not just about I send an email and then I expect someone to either apply online or give me a donation. How do I connect all these channels so I can target these constituents in more than one way at a time? And that's one of the things that I think the report unveiled is that a lot of organizations are still not connecting these channels. But on the other hand, that's one of their aspirations, is how they connect the way that they interact with their constituents. Now that they do have all their data in one place and they do have all that information, it's just about coordinating the message and making sure that they get the right message at the right time.
Chris Byers: I think one of the things you're talking about there is this interesting problem we have in the world right now where we have so many ways to engage with people. And in fact, that kind of makes it difficult to engage with them because we need to either use all of the mediums, in which case, how do I coordinate that? How do I get the right message across? But also, it's super challenging because you need to integrate those. And that takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of effort. So I can see how that plays out. And always funny to see snail mail still living in the world.
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Tal Frankfurt: It's impactful, people still convert as a result of that. And, you know, we are all interacting with is like major companies like Netflix and Amazon. Right. They know so much about us and they're able to predict what movie we're going to want to watch next or what product we're going to want or want to buy next. And when we're going to order it. And I think our people are expecting the same stuff from the nonprofit interactions. Right. It's nonprofits have access to the same tools and the same technology solutions that Netflix or Amazon or Google, we have access to the same stuff. And I think donors and constituents in general are starting to expect nonprofits and universities to interact with them in a similar way. And I think that that is really the big challenge. Right. How do I, how can nonprofits catch up with all of these great brands because their constituents are asking for it.
Chris Byers: Well, you talked about transformational value. I love that word. Transformational. There are lots of words we use in business to try to inspire, to try to try to move people forward. But transformational is a big one. That's you know, I'm converting from something I'm doing today to something new and would love to hear how that plays out for you. What are the types of things that you're seeing? What can transform around you because of people's interactions with Cloud for Good?
Tal Frankfurt: I think that what we're seeing is that ability that one of the solutions that Salesforce is allowing us to do is that ability to manage that overlap between the constituents. So, you know, I'm looking at different organizations that I've been collecting a lot of information and interacting in great ways with our constituents, but they were lacking in cases that ability to cross understand what is their interaction with their constituents look like.
So, for example, a larger organization that deals with at-risk youth around the country offers multiple programs for the youth from after school meals to mentoring to after study, different after school activities that they offer around the country. And one of the interesting things for them is that they have a great mentor program. They were never able to understand what's the impact of being a mentor on their fundraising. And once they implement Salesforce, both for mentoring and fundraising, they suddenly found out that mentors are actually giving three times more than their average donor and they're giving more often. So that allowed them to completely change how they're interacting A, with their mentors, but B, also how they're interacting with their average donors and maybe encouraging them to be more involved in volunteer activities before they're asking them to renew their pledge. [64.6s] So that can have a significant impact on an organization's budget when, you know, all the data they had before, they were just not able to really understand that data and what the impact means and then take the next step is obviously taking the action on actually changing the way that they raised money. In that case, that is really the value that we're adding, right? Our customers, they know how to raise money. They know how to run their programs. But sometimes they're missing that ability to see across the board how they can interact with these constituents. And we're giving them both the tools and also those business processes, thinking with them about the strategy and how to do that. And that's where we see transformation.
Chris Byers: And that's hard work to bring those systems together, to see where we're interacting from point to point with somebody. But if you can do that, it creates this customer experience. Donor, volunteer, constituent experience. That's just really positive. It feels like you're known. It feels like, you're speaking my language, not just blasting me with a bunch of your kind of generic content. And I see it in three different places. So that's a that's a great story to tell. Tell us a little bit about, you've obviously made some very intentional choices about how you've structured your business, even your core audience, those nonprofits, higher education. What's driven you to do that? What what is it in your past or what is it in your mind that that kind of drives you to have that focus area?
Tal Frankfurt: You know, my I've always been involved in the nonprofit sector. So my background before I started Cloud for Good, I actually used to work for a nonprofit doing the resource development and managing their volunteers. So I live and breathe nonprofit. So the growth into Salesforce was kind of like a byproduct of working with a nonprofit. I mean, I say that I'm an accidental techie and I'm an accidental CEO. It's part of me being part of the community and giving back to the community. And those are really the values that we want to also have as part of Cloud for Good. I like to tell people that they're getting paid to do good in the world and getting paid to focus on their passion and whether or not passion is that technology that we're implementing or or the clients that we work with. That's why we adopted 1-1-1 philanthropic model where we've done more than, I think close to two thousand volunteer hours since we adopted this. We've given hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to nonprofits and we have thousands of nonprofits that have enjoyed free software, free applications that we have on the app exchange.
So we're fully committed to our communities. And it's one way to work there and the other way to work and support it. But also, we want to make sure that our employees are giving back. And part of giving back is allowing us to create stronger connections between our employees.
Right. That passion about the technology and our clients also translates to passion about each other. So it's a very altruistic thing, I think, that we're doing. But at the same time, it's also a selfish thing because we are benefiting from giving back in a way we're creating a more connected organization around those values.
Chris Byers: Tal talked about measuring the impact of Cloud for Good in terms of transformational value. He's really thinking about how the solutions they create lead to something big and lasting and full of change for the people that their work touches. But what I love about that is he takes it one step at a time. He takes step one, which is what's the right next thing to build in terms of transformational value. And that over time, with lots of micro decisions, stacks up to full transformational value. It isn't just one thing that does it. It's a series of really smart decisions over time.
So as you think about your work, think through the ripple effects that you can cause. How can your organization find new ways to give back and impact your community?
Thanks for joining us this week on Ripple Effect. To dive further into Cloud for Good's work, head over to formstack.com/cloudforgood.