A common use case for many nonprofit organizations that we’ve been seeing lately at Boyer & Associates is the need to onboard or intake clients or constituents with an online process. The typical scenario looks like this:
- An individual or organization is looking to receive services or funding from the nonprofit, so they need to fill out an application.
- The nonprofit then reviews the application and perhaps needs to request additional information, such as financial documents, medical records, or other supporting information.
- There is some internal process for the overall application, including (usually) some back-and-forth communication with the applicant.
- Once the application is approved, the applicant is informed of their new status and might receive access to additional resources online.
For most of the organizations we’ve been speaking with, this process is happening manually and likely via email (or even paper). Usually this means it is also very time-consuming for the staff at the nonprofit, and they are unable to process very many applications at a time. Compound these inefficiencies with a global pandemic, and nonprofit organizations are looking to do what many corporations have done in the last year — streamline processes and improve efficiency with technology.
The solution we’ve built for our customers leverages Power Apps Portals, which sit natively atop Microsoft Dataverse. The latter is the underlying foundation of the Power Platform and Microsoft’s Cloud for Nonprofit. The portal starts with a public-facing page (i.e. no login required) with the initial application form. When a user submits this form, the data is stored natively in Dataverse and can be initially reviewed by internal staff via a Power App. (This is usually a model-driven app and is possibly within the same app already being used for Fundraising and Engagement).
After the application advances to the next stage, the applicant is sent an email with a registration link for the portal. They return to the same portal but this time set up a secure login account. Once logged in they are able to see their application and any relevant details or status (as determined by the nonprofit to display to them). The applicant can add extra details, leave comments for internal staff, and upload documentation. All of these updates add to the Dataverse record already in place. Finally, once the applicant is approved, they can optionally be granted additional permissions in the portal so that other pages or collateral can now be accessed with their same login.
For applicants, this process is streamlined by keeping them interacting with the same source of data that staff are using, and they don’t need to keep track of emails and wonder what they’ve already sent. For staff, they similarly benefit from not having to keep track of emails, and multiple individuals can work on the same application effectively because applicant documents aren’t stuck in one individual’s inbox. Additionally, the application can be moved through a more formalized process with metrics and timestamps, helping things to keep moving and ensure nothing is lost or forgotten. For IT, everything is held in the same cloud-based system managed like the rest of their Microsoft 365 infrastructure.
If you’d like to learn more about this solution, we’ll be presenting a webinar on July 21 with a demo of the process and more details. You can also reach out directly to the Boyer team at firstname.lastname@example.org.