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Participant and prospect tracking

  • 1.  Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 20, 2018 12:57

    I need some ideas. Our organization works with college students. We have various activities for the students who hold leadership posts in our campus organizations and/or that attend a conference we put on each year.

    Our leadership would like to track those participants, and then be able to use that information to invite them into various leaderships trainings, trips, etc. So, I need participant tracking that could also be able to be used in a quasi-sales environment as we help them move through the process of making deeper commitments with their involvement - tracking emails, phone calls, notes, etc.

    Oh, and it has to be completely free. Did I mention that?  :-)

    Has anyone else encountered a similar challenge? If so, how did you resolve it?


    Matt Howell
    Director of Information Systems & Technical Training
    Pittsburgh, PA

  • 2.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 21, 2018 08:18
    Hi Matt,

    A few questions:

    How many people are you expecting to
    track? Do you currently work in a Windows environment or something else? And, how many internal users are you expecting to input/extract data? How much existing data are you looking to migrate and from where?

    Depending on on what you already have set up, and the size of the program you are trying to build (size in terms of internal staffing and also number of supporters) you may be able to get away with Access or even Excel. I've built many a makeshift database from Excel.


    Beth Hallowell
    Communications Research Director
    American Friends Service Committee
    Philadelphia, PA

  • 3.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 21, 2018 11:05
    Yes, we've resolved that problem -- we added money!

    When you say free, we can point you to free-like-a-puppy solutions, like Salesforce and CiviCRM, or Access if you have the right version of Office already. You'll pay in terms of time and internal resources... and may eventually need to pay for expertise as the system grows, or if you need to clean up a mess that the system lets you make. A low-cost CRM might be a better fit, if you 're able to find the budget for it. You might consider Nationbuilder, which has a paths tools that can help track different levels of engagement in a structured but flexible way. The system itself is pretty affordable if you don't have that many records.

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

  • 4.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 21, 2018 11:12
    Hi Matt -

    We're doing exactly that in Salesforce, though likely have a lot more bits built out in it than you probably need. SF does have a freebie license pack for nonprofits that is capped at 10. If you'd need more users than that, may be too expensive for your org depending on how many more you'd need. You also would need a trained Salesforce admin, but they are pretty easy to find. Salesforce does offer an entire Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) that does this as well, though you need to be a .edu domain to access it as far as I know. We built ours out before HEDA was offered. We are a master's program in partnership w/JHU so we do prospecting, recruiting, applications, admissions, participant lifecycle & program tracking, email/phone/touch point tracking, etc in there.If you're interested to see what we've done with it, happy to share with you. It might not be the system for you but looking at the type of objects we've needed to build out might help in your planning.  There's a few nonprofits in similar situations - needing college student tracking type systems without being an actual school.

    Dar Veverka
    Director of Information Technology
    Urban Teachers
    Baltimore, MD

  • 5.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 21, 2018 13:59
    Hi Matt, 
    Wondering what database or CRM you are using... I always work with clients to find "areas of interest" for your participants, alumni, etc. Those can and should be tracked from things like events -- For example, NTC conference has different 'tracks' - Fundraising, Software, IT Management, Executive Leadership. You can create a similar set of 'tracks' and use that information to market out based upon their known activity.  Hope I understood your question - if not, feel free to reach out to me on a PM. 




    Lisa Lane

    Founder & CEO

    800.988.6047, ext. 701

    Planting Seeds of Success. Growing Your Mission




  • 6.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 22, 2018 12:56
    Hi Matt,

    "Free" is going to be a tough criterion to meet. As Isaac pointed out, those that are indeed "free" in terms of license costs need considerable time & diy effort to save consulting costs, or else, need to hire consultants, which again no longer leaves them free.

    My experience is that CiviCRM, being an open source, is much more overwhelming than Salesforce to nonprofit staff.

    As Dar pointed out, Salesforce HEDA Pack is created for college environments and might be a fit, though the main purpose of the system is to manage educational/academic data. But the system might lend itself well to managing extra-curriculars (which is what you need, per my understanding). Again, it might need some customization, which means that it's not free, because you will need outside help.

    In order to choose between a paid, focused solution versus a more complex, no-license cost solution like Salesforce or CiviCRM, (where, again, it's free as long as you do not count your own sweat equity or outside consulting fees), you need to take a good look at your overall goals and needs. What other systems do you currently have that you will be migrating to your new system or connecting to it? Once your basic set up to track your students' activities is complete, what next? Will you need to combine this data with your advancement systems? These may not be important goals today, but as soon as one goal is accomplished, the next set of requirements will become urgent and important.

    IMO -- this scenario calls for an assessment, which will require budget and a desire to take a more systematic approach. I do not know how feasible it is for your institution, but that would be the recommended way to go.

    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)

  • 7.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 24, 2018 12:18
    Edited by Sachin Doshi Dec 24, 2018 12:19
    Hi Matt - we're using AirTable for tracking board prospects in a similar fashion to what you're describing. Their free plan has been adequate for us so far. I definitely recommend setting aside an hour or so to check it out.

    They have a Kanban view that is helpful for visualizing prospects in different stages. They let you start from scratch or start with one of their many templates - I'd recommend checking out their sales/CRM templates to start and modifying it from there.
    Sachin Doshi
    Director of Development
    Mental Health America
    Alexandria, VA

  • 8.  RE: Participant and prospect tracking

    Posted Dec 27, 2018 11:12
    Thanks to everyone for your input ... as an Accidental Techie, I really depend on the NTEN community to help me out. :-)

    I'm going to recommend to the group doing this that they look at AirTable and Excel. We plan to eventually fund an actual solution for their needs, but that's probably 1-2 budget cycles away. That's why we're looking for a free solution at this point -- to modernize at least a little bit for now and hold on for the real answer.

    I appreciate everyone's time you invested to participate.

    Matt Howell
    Director of Information Systems & Technical Training
    Pittsburgh, PA