Each time someone drops into their centre, attends their lunch program or participates in music or art therapy, a member of the Comox Valley Head Injury Society (CVHIS) team makes a note in their database. A database which, according to Executive Director Beverly Campbell, has made a world of difference.
CVHIS is a non-profit organization providing programs and support services to acquired brain injury survivors, their families and caregivers. When Beverly arrived in 2015, she quickly noticed the nonprofit’s need for new software, appropriate licenses, and improved processes for using it all. Having accessed TechSoup Canada programs in the past, she immediately signed up for an account and updated software like Microsoft Office, Adobe programs and accounting software. But a big challenge Beverly wanted to tackle was data management.
“When I looked at our data in terms of its accuracy and tracking, I was concerned,” says Beverly. “Information was being handwritten on paper, then copied to a Word document, then moved into a spreadsheet; it was really ugly. So, I started to research databases and landed on Sumac, which I was able to access at a deep discount through TechSoup Canada’s Technology Donations Program.”
Better software, better processes
Having the Sumac database in place allowed Beverly to move on to process improvements, starting with step one: basic contact management. Now, when team members first meet a client, they create a contact in the database and can track phone calls, meetings or email communication – every interaction.
Step two is documenting how each person – including brain injury survivors, caregivers, family and friends – interacts with the Society. Since this can include a variety of interactions from attendance at events, participation in support groups or visits to drop-in programs, a streamlined approach to documentation is essential.
Step three is actual case management and coordination. Building on the information already captured in the database, staff conduct needs analysis interviews. They then create customized, step-by-step action plans for each person, which might include steps like providing assistance with disability and income supports applications, and referrals to community service providers. With each action plan captured in the database, staff can track the steps and progress made for every client.
“Now, data is entered once, everything is documented, and our entire case management process is in our database. If we create an action plan for someone, all necessary team members have access to it and the system will remind us to connect back,” explains Beverly.
Leveraging new efficiencies to strengthen and grow the organization
Beverly explains the many ways that better data management helps CVHIS beyond case management, for example, reporting, and planning. Instead of being reactive, she can proactively assess things like staff time and service hours, identifying where there are gaps, and where changes need to happen. Better data has led to better proposal writing and more funding coming in the door. With volunteers now included in the database, she has been able to increase volunteer participation. And the organization has been able to bring in new programs while simultaneously saving thousands of dollars in staff time.
“Our increased efficiency means we also have time in the schedule to look at what we can do next,” says Beverly. “We plan to use yet-untapped features of the database to become a much more proactive fundraiser in the community. This software from TechSoup Canada has totally changed how we do things, and it will continue to support us in achieving our future goals.”
Does your charity, nonprofit or library need help getting the right software? Start by creating your user account to find out what your organization qualifies to access through our Technology Donations Program.
This case study is part of a series written by Marlene Oliveira, who is a copywriting and communications consultant at moflow.ca