Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


Let us help you help them: 5 ways centralized intake could transform your nonprofit

Nov 12, 2019
By: Andrew J. Potasek, Brian R. Gaumont

Nonprofits, how efficient is your intake process? Do clients who call in have to give the same information to multiple people? Are they referred to all the programs applicable to their situation? Is the process consistent from person to person and program to program?

Many nonprofits could improve their intake process if only they had the right tools. They could eliminate duplicate entry and Excel tracking, saving staff hours upon hours of work so they can focus on providing the best outcomes to those you serve.

The client experience is key here. If your programs act like mini businesses, wary of sharing information with each other, it’s impossible to provide clients with not just holistic services but also the kind of quality experience that grows your relationship with them and ultimately could change a life.

The current vs. future state of client intake

For most nonprofits, a client calls in and provides their information and details on their situation to the initial staff member, who then directs them to the appropriate program. The client then has to repeat this information (including sensitive identification info) and their situation to that specific program, and again for any others they may qualify for. 

Identification is one thing — having to relive personal hardships over and over to get the help you need could be heartbreaking. Your beneficiary has a negative experience with your organization, and you miss an opportunity to help them.

But imagine if, down the road, they call a second time. Your staff member pulls up their intake profile and sees that client’s history — from the last time they called you to the information you previously took down about their hardships — and says, “Thanks for calling us again. Based on your situation, here’s how we can help you.”

And when they transfer the client to a program, that staff member pulls up the same intake profile, only asks questions that haven’t yet been answered by the client (and adds these details to the profile), and then provides further details to empower the client with the information they need to make their own decisions on whether and how to move forward with your nonprofit. 

Even better, with centralized intake, you can add a self-service portal where the client has access to their information, can update it themselves, and can view applicable resources without having to actually call in. 

The features of centralized intake

We have developed an approach and template building order to streamline a centralized intake process for nonprofits with the understanding that all organizations have unique needs and service offerings.

So what does a tool like this actually look like?

1. Dashboards

With all the information you have on clients centralized into one place, your staff members are able to create dashboards that help them in their day-to-day duties. For example, the tool easily pulls information from your email, allowing you to create an appointments dashboard where you can see all the scheduled appointments that you need to confirm that day.

You can also create filters to slice and dice any type of information. For example, filters can separate clients from volunteers and volunteers from donors.

2. Profiles

Contact profiles let you see all interactions your nonprofit has had with an individual. You can view that timeline of interactions, whether it’s phone calls or emails. You can view their past inquiries, referrals and services. All of this helps better tailor their experience the next time they reach out.

Nowhere along the line does that client have to provide any of the same information they did before. Everything is logged in their profile, helping to deliver a stress-free and holistic experience. 

3. Knowledgebase

If your nonprofit offers a variety of programs, chances are the initial contact when a client calls in isn’t an expert in all of them, especially if they’re a newer hire. But it won’t seem like it to the client when you have a knowledgebase available. Your staff member can communicate program details and eligibility information by looking that information up in the tool’s knowledgebase. 

4. Referrals

It can be very difficult to track follow-ups across programs or to even know what a client would be eligible for. Referrals can be created during intake by staff or can be automatically generated based on the client’s demographics and interests. Referrals can also be leveraged if the client is directed to a different organization to be able to follow up regarding their experience.    

For example, if a client calls in about information on food banks, but you know from their profile that they are a veteran and a current student, you can also ask about their interest in your veteran’s assistance program or your interview prep course. You can flag their interest so that a referral is assigned to a staff member in that specific program to reach out to the client to confirm their interest. 

5. Reporting

We know how important reporting is to nonprofits. Reporting is made easier by the ability to export data into Excel.

With a centralized intake tool, it’s easier to gain business intelligence from data, easily answering questions you couldn’t get answers to before. Analytical tools such as Microsoft Power BI give you a range of reporting options.

For instance, individual employees can see how often they give referrals versus how often those referrals turn into a service.

As another example, mapping client addresses out lets you create a service area map. You can see, based on where clients are calling from, where the heavier service areas are and where you could better focus your efforts. 

 Let us help you help them: 4 ways centralized intake could transform your nonprofit

Power BI’s mapping capabilities

When can you start using a centralized intake tool?

Our approach and template allow you to tailor the intake experience to your organization and integrate with your existing core systems. To start the conversation on how we can work with your organization to implement a centralized intake tool, contact us.

Just as we developed a volunteer management system for Team Rubicon, we’re committed to further serving nonprofits by recognizing unmet needs and delivering the technology to meet them.

We’d also love to see you at the Wipfli Winter Conference, where we’ll be diving more in-depth on this subject. Visit the conference website here.


Andrew J. Potasek
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Brian R. Gaumont
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