Advancing the Greater Good
Blessings in a Backpack mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry. They have 44 full-time staff and run 1,200 program locations.
At the beginning of the database project, Blessings had been considering the possibility of moving to an altogether new database—a huge investment of time and resources. But, thanks to AltruNext’sresearch, they determined that they could be just as successful by tuning up the existing one.
The data cleanup that resulted from AltruNext’s work contributed to continued growth in the number of hunger-free weekends provided to school-aged children nationwide (3.3 million in the 2022-23 school year).
This collaboration also brought:
Better organizational awareness: The staff has a much better understanding of the organization as a whole and how it functions together, as well as the actual purpose behind the processes and how they interconnect.
Readiness to move opportunities efficiently: With better clarity in their communication, staff could feel confident about moving volunteers and donors in the right direction.
Stronger data integrity: to guide decision-making
More effective onboarding: The diagram and glossary together make an excellent training tool as well as a reference for day-to-day use.
Key Project Elements
Policy and Procedure Review
Staff and Board Coaching
In 2022, Blessings in a Backpack was using a cross-departmental database to manage both their volunteer program and their donor program—and it was being used inconsistently across the organization.
By using the same terms to describe different things, Blessings was constantly crossing wires while trying to communicate between departments. This translated into a scrambled interpretation of how to do their jobs, leaving them unable to provide volunteers and school contacts with an optimal customer experience.
With an overemphasis on keeping the data updated, they were also wasting time on weekly updates of data that was going on to be misinterpreted.
Ultimately, they knew they needed to get a better understanding of how data was being input and used by each department and team member in order to create shared terminology and expectations.
The Collaboration Process
Based on a positive experience collaborating with AltruNext on a strategic planning project the previous year, they decided to bring the team back in for help with this challenge.
Over a four-month period, the team rolled out a multi-step plan to optimize database performance and help the organization run more efficiently.
AltruNext took the following steps:
First, theydid a deep dive into database usage. They interviewed all stakeholders to get a clear understanding of all the ways teams were using the data to achieve their daily goals.
Next, the team created a visual diagram of how the data flowed together, creating instant awareness of the complexity of these workflows.
Finally, AltruNext created a glossary—and this was the real game-changer. It outlined how data gets entered into the system, what it means, and how it’s used by various stakeholders from that point on. The glossary is designed for use in training as well as daily reference.