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Family House, Inc. uses Apsona Multi-Step Reporting to Improve Fundraising

Family House, a San Francisco charity founded in 1981, provides a free, temporary home away from home for families of children undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

With a small fundraising staff and a committed board of directors, they raise almost $3.5M each year to give low-income families a safe and supportive environment while their children go through long or repeated hospitalizations.

The past few years have seen a big jump in the organization’s size and capacity. In May 2016 they moved into a newly-constructed building, the Nancy and Stephen Grand Family House. They went from 34 rooms, serving about 110 people each night, to 80 rooms and an average of 250 residents.

With that many people depending on them each and every day for housing and emotional support, fundraising and development is a crucial task of the organization.

Focusing on the right donors at the right time

Family House adopted Salesforce as their donor management platform about five years ago at the urging of a board member who had previously worked at the company. All donor-related information, from the dollar amount of each donation to the donor’s relationships with board members and organization staff, goes into the database.

Joe Blodgett, Family House’s IT Manager, is the in-house Salesforce Admin. It’s his job not just to make sure the right data goes into Salesforce, but also to make sure that Family House can get the information back out in a form that helps the development staff raise more money to help families.

Apsona for Salesforce and the Multi-Step Reporting add-on are crucial tools in Joe’s workflow. They ensure that he can deliver the donor information the fundraising staff needs, quickly, accurately, and easily.

Joe discovered Apsona soon after Family House moved to Salesforce, and it quickly proved its usefulness. He says, "I use it as my primary tool for uploading data, making batch changes to records, and updating information."

But the core Apsona for Salesforce offering didn’t have a big impact on one of his most time-consuming tasks: preparing the complex reports that the fundraising staff needed to make sure they were talking to the right people at the right time. For this, he was dependent on exporting reports and manipulating them in Excel.  

For example, Joe is often asked to create mailing lists to target specific groups of donors. A request might be something like finding everyone in the database who either attended the most recent fundraising event or who has given $1000 in the past year, not counting gifts to the capital campaign unless the gift was over $500.

And the final report needs to show not just the names and emails of the contacts who match this criteria, but also the history of their giving over the past 3 years, including their year-to-date total.

The way Joe used to produce these reports involved creating several different native Salesforce reports, importing them into Excel, and then creating VLOOKUP formulas to match the information in different reports by the Contact ID.

It was tedious, involving a lot of steps, each of which had to be done right in order for the results to be reliable.

And, as Joe explains, sometimes the process has to be done several times to get a final result. "It's not uncommon for me to show someone the report I've created and have them realize they need to tweak the criteria."

Whether the person wants to widen the search to include more names or they realize the criteria have produced too many matches and they want to narrow it down, it oftens meant that Joe had to start fresh with a new batch of reports and redo all of the intermediate steps.

Faster reporting with Multi-Step Reports

Given the struggles of reporting with Excel, it’s not a surprise that when Joe heard about Apsona’s Multi-Step Reporting tool, it was obvious to him that it would save hours of time and effort.

The Multi-Step Reporting tool lets you create multiple mini reports and link them together through a shared relationship, like the Contact ID. You can pull information that exists in separate parts of the database and show it in one place. Importantly, it all takes place within Salesforce, without the need to export data and manipulate it with a different program.

For example, information about whether someone attended an event is on the Campaign Member object. Donation history is on the Opportunity object. Native Salesforce reports are usually limited to objects with established relationships between them. In this case, there’s no relationship between attendance at an event and general donations. But Apsona Multi-Step Reporting can pull both pieces of information out and keep them related to the same Contact ID.  

For Joe, this functionality has transformed his workflows. He defines each part of the larger report inside the Multi-Step Report builder and the system produces just what he needs, without requiring any complicated processing in Excel.  

Crucially, it makes report revisions much easier. “With Apsona Multi-Step Reporting I can just make some tweaks to the filter criteria and re-run the report. It takes just a few minutes." The result is that the fundraising staff can get exactly the information they need, quickly and easily.

Calculations speed report creation

Apsona’s Multi-Step Reporting not only pulls data from the database, but it also performs calculations as part of the process. For example, you can ask it to show the total of all donations that match your filter criteria, or the highest donation, or the number of donations. And each step can do different calculations on the same data, if that’s what you need.

Joe put this functionality to work for Family House when an outside fundraising consultant wanted information about about donor retention.

With Multi-Step Reporting, Joe was able to create a matrix that showed average retention and change in gift size over a multi-year period, segmented into tiers by average annual total giving. Using these reports, Family House was able to focus their fundraising efforts by figuring out which cohorts were most likely to lose donors from year to year and which which cohorts were increasing their gifts.

Improved insights for one-to-one fundraising

In addition to creating mailing lists, another common task for Joe is building call lists for board members and development staff for use in strengthening relationships and asking for gifts.

These reports pull together not just the prospect's donations, pledges, and payments, but also the name of the person who is the steward of the relationship, and the name of the person who first referred the donor to the organization. This gives the person making the ask a much fuller picture of the donor's relationship with the organization.

With Multi-Step Reporting these reports are simple to create, often requiring just a tweak to the filter criteria in a saved report. Without it, though, these reports would be difficult enough, Joe says, that "to be honest, they probably just wouldn't happen."

This would be a loss for the organization, since solicitors would be making asks without the insights gained by having a complete picture the donor's past actions.

An indispensable tool for complex reporting

For Family House, being able to run complex reports quickly has allowed them to fine-tune their messaging and fundraising asks. This has paid off with strong fundraising results, including their successful capital campaign for their new building. Apsona’s Multi-Step Reporting is a crucial part of their Salesforce installation.

Admittedly, Joe doesn’t use Apsona’s Multi-Step Reporting for everything. "For simple things I'll still use the native Salesforce reports, especially if it's a report other people in the office want to be able to run on their own. But if the report even starts to get complex, I go straight to Multi-Step Reporting because I know it will be able to find me exactly the data I need."