The dedicated staff and volunteers of Bellingham Food Bank has worked for 45 years to make sure families in all parts of Whatcom County, Washington have access to the food they need. With substantial warehouse and storage capacity, the organization serves as a hub, connecting nearby emergency food providers with a steady supply of 2 million pounds of nutritious groceries and fresh food each year. They also serve as a public facing food pantry, and distribute another 3 million pounds of food to clients in Whatcom County. To learn more about the great work they do, including their Garden Project, Foodbank Fresh Program, and the Small Potatoes Gleaning Project, visit their website: https://www.bellinghamfoodbank.org/

 

Case Study

The Problem

For many years, Bellingham Food Bank used a legacy Access database called “The Food Bank Intake Database” to track client intake information for the 300-600 households who use their services each day they’re open. This software allowed them to collect data for analysis of the services they provided to their clients, and to produce the monthly statistical reports required by various funders.

As time passed, and as the organization upgraded their various systems, the Access database did not upgrade along with it. The staff at Bellingham Food Bank recognized the mission critical nature of the database, and began to make plans to replace the aging system once it started to crash regularly. In order to process a household every 30-60 seconds, the team needed a system they could depend on.

As the team began to explore options, they considered some of the other challenges they faced when using the Access database. Specifically:

  • The database was only saved on a single computer. While copies of the database could be made for the occasional pop-up food banks in the field, the team at Bellingham Food Bank would then need to reconcile the two database files.
  • It siloed client data separate from all the other data the organization is tracking and collecting.
  • Staff could only search for a household based on the client’s last name. When users moved into different homes, or multiple families shared the same address, the staff would struggle to keep the data clean.
  • It was an aging system with no support.
  • It was not mobile, and could only be accessed through one point of entry.
  • If the computer on which the database was stored went down, there was no backup.

The Solution

The Bellingham Food Bank engaged DaizyLogik to design and develop a client intake application that leverages the features of Salesforce CRM and the Nonprofit Success Pack to provide a modern and mobile user interface. Our DaizyLogik team was familiar with the Bellingham Food Bank Salesforce CRM, as we had helped build it out to support their donor, volunteer management, and stewardship needs.

Our team decided to build the intake form directly in Salesforce using VIsualforce with the Lightning Design System, which allowed the form to be accessible in both the classic and Lightning Salesforce UI and from mobile devices either through a mobile browser or from the Salesforce mobile app. Our team used JavaScript and JQuery to craft a seamless user experience. We also leveraged the powerful Salesforce search capability to allow users to search for an existing client or household, and from there record the client visit information through the client intake form. The goal was a simple intake form that leverages as many out of the box features of Salesforce as possible. Our team designed and developed custom Apex code to process the collected client intake information and calculate the metrics needed to build reports.

With the new client intake application, back office staff can take advantage of the powerful Salesforce reporting capabilities and access the data at the same time volunteers collect client intake data as they distribute food. Any team member can enter data at any time, and it’s all housed directly in Salesforce, which means the team at Bellingham Food Bank is spending a lot less time going back and forth between Excel and Access, which enables them to focus more time on the organization’s extensive programming.

The new system also reduces the frequency of duplicate entries, and strengthens the team’s ability to track households as they  move from one residence to another.

Introducing Foodbank Helper

Acknowledging that many food banks in the community are still making do with the legacy Access database, DaizyLogik used the data structures, workflows and client intake to create a managed package that is now a free app on the Salesforce AppExchange called Foodbank Helper.

 


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