Be A Leader Foundation (Be A Leader) is a nonprofit located in Phoenix, Arizona. Its mission is to empower students with the leadership, tools, support, and mentoring they need in order to succeed in higher education and beyond. Founded in 2002, this once completely volunteer-led organization has grown from serving 32 students a year to now employing 23 full time and 17 part time staff who collectively impact over 14,000 students a year.
Be A Leader has been using Salesforce as a CRM since 2016 for its business development, donations, and contact management, but lacked the resources to hire consultants that could customize the platform to meet their program and operational needs. As a steppingstone until budgetary constraints opened up, they used a third-party managed package layered on Salesforce. For an annual licensing fee, this enabled them to create custom objects, page layouts, and fields to help support students in their post- secondary path.
Although it was an effective bridge to ramp up Be A Leader’s use of Salesforce, it became apparent after a few years that the temporary solution had run its course. Be A Leader works closely with strategic partners nationwide, such as higher education institutions, foundations, and community organizations. In partnership with Arizona State University, Be A Leader recently received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This dramatically scaled up their transition work in high schools, and it became apparent that they would require further customization within a tight timeframe.
With the new funding inflow, the foundation began the search for a consultant that could spearhead the transition from the managed package into a more sustainable solution. In 2020, MST Solutions, a leading CRM and marketing automation consulting provider with deep experience in the nonprofit arena, was chosen for the project.
As the staff began to use the new platform, they realized additional customization and tweaks were required for the team to be more efficient. “We created a solution based on the assumptions we had in the beginning, but these evolved as our project progressed,” said Robles. “MST pays attention to our needs, listens to our feedback, and continues to make adjustments based on actual user interaction with the solution.”
Felix was impressed with MST’s knowledge about the unique challenges that nonprofits face, noting, “If we had gone with a typical Salesforce consultant, we would have spun our wheels because they would have had to learn our business, our language, and the way we operate. MST already understood the connection between data systems and how that related to our business needs and program development.