Case Study: Managing Volunteer Opportunities at Scale with Volunteers for Salesforce and WordPress

SHFB_Primary_Logo_RGB@2x-8Founded in 1974,
Second Harvest Food Bank of Silicon Valley is one of the largest food banks in the nation, providing food to more than a quarter of a million people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties every month – that is roughly 1-in-10 people across the region. The organization distributes more fresh produce than almost any other food bank in the country, through a network of 310 nonprofit partners at 1,000 sites.


To reach more people the organization connects those in need to federal nutrition programs and other food resources and provides onsite assistance; two very large tasks to manage and grow.  Technology is a crucial component for Second Harvest to be able to fulfill its mission – from tracking warehouse inventory and managing distribution activities, to allowing partner agencies to order online, and routing delivery to distribution sites at specific times. All of these tasks are in addition to managing information related to the organization’s various constituencies (donors, clients and volunteers), so a streamlined management system is vital.

In order to restructure their technology, Second Harvest began its journey with Salesforce CRM in 2017 with a roadmap project. This helped them identify the need to replace a wide variety of data silos which had formed over time to track data needed in different parts of the organization.

The Salesforce CRM rollout used a multi-phase approach that included implementing Volunteers for Salesforce (V4S), launching an app for tracking specialized client data, tracking the client referral call center, CalFresh* outreach, tracking direct service client data and future support for the fundraising team.

After launching V4S, the Second Harvest team was thrilled with the flexibility of Salesforce and its adaptability, but quickly realized that the ‘out of the box’ user experience and calendar interface would quickly need to be expanded to fit the food bank’s specific needs.

The Problem

Volunteers for Salesforce is a tool used to manage an organization’s volunteering program(s), events, and volunteers inside Salesforce. While the application handles many common volunteer management processes such as job fulfillment, staffing, and scheduling, the out of the box user experience is not mobile responsive, one of Second Harvest’s immediate needs. In addition, Second Harvest provides a lot of volunteer opportunities which do not display well in the default calendar view. The team wanted to create a mobile friendly, scalable user experience that would allow volunteers in the community to search and filter through a large number of volunteer opportunities that could display not just in a calendar view, but also in a list and map view. 


The Solution

DaizyLogik and Metric Media, the lead development partners, were tasked with re-launching the Second Harvest new volunteer calendars to fulfill the food bank’s need to, “meet people where they are,” as described by Second Harvest Director of Information Technology, Elizabeth Whamond. The DaizyLogik and Metric Media teams got to work in a joint effort to create the improved volunteer user experience.

DaizyLogik and Metric Media have a great working track record of bringing to life such WordPress-Salesforce projects (previous project: EarthCorps volunteers’ calendar), making this project an ideal match for the teams. 

DaizyLogik used their Salesforce and Volunteers for Salesforce expertise to implement REST web services that supply different data feeds to the website plug in. The REST web services reside inside Salesforce and are securely accessed from the website providing the necessary data to build the various calendars and views.

The original off-the-shelf Volunteers for Salesforce calendar provided a poor user experience specifically for mobile devices. The information presentation was not ideal for the high volume of daily scheduled volunteer events the food bank handles. Metric Media approached this portion of the project by having an ongoing dialogue with the client through the development process to understand the pain points while anticipating future needs. 

The Metric Media team developed a custom plugin for the organization’s WordPress site that properly supported the Salesforce integrations that DaizyLogik constructed. Using a framework called React the team built the front-end and proceeded with a robust testing process to ensure a high quality user experience. 

The custom calendar views give volunteers ample ability to filter large sets of data, to save and reuse filtering rules that can be shared via URL.

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The staff at Second Harvest have been completely ecstatic over the new calendars. As they put it “It sounds like a minor thing, but just having [the calendars] be mobile responsive has been a huge deal for us. Being able to see the results on the calendar, and filter just for those opportunities that match your specific needs is such a big improvement over what was offered from Salesforce’s V4S default program.”

The reaction of the volunteer community has also been positive once the new calendars went live on Second Harvest’s website. “We have gone live with the calendars – and we couldn’t be happier! Our staff and volunteers find them so much easier to use.”

In the words of our client:

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* The CalFresh Program, federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), issues monthly electronic benefits that can be used to buy most foods at many markets and food stores – distributed to people with low-incomes who meet federal income eligibility rules and want to add healthy and nutritious food on the table.