Finding Beauty in Data
Over the past several weeks, I have been spending a lot of time working on the less glamorous aspects of Braid.
Braid has grown enough that we need more sophisticated tools to keep track of prospective mentors, active mentors, donors, nonprofit partners, and Cards of Hope participants. Luckily, Salesforce has a generous program that gives free licenses to nonprofits.
Last summer we engaged a pro bono consultant through the Taproot Foundation, who signed on to help us with the hard work of translating our work into Salesforce speak and customizing the platform to our needs.
What started out as a seemingly straightforward six-week project has lasted just over six months now and has had a huge impact on our work.
We were fortunate to have a consultant who could help us look at the big picture of how we recruit and train and cultivate everyone who engages with the mission of Braid, especially those who go through the process of becoming members of mentor teams – she even attended our training!
She was then able to help us zoom in on all the details of that process and how having better records will make us more effective in recruiting and retaining great volunteers. We have already made some significant improvements in our process.
The tedious and time-consuming aspect of this project has been combing through almost four years worth of contacts and connections to ‘scrub” our records and prepare them for import into Salesforce.
As I compiled all of this information, it was eye-opening to realize that over these years there are actually 180 people who have expressed an interest in becoming a Braid mentor and didn’t make it all the way through for one reason or another. At present, there are 70 more people in some stage of the process. No wonder we have been so busy!
But there are now 75 people who DID make it through, and they are 75 of the finest people we have ever met. Chris and I constantly marvel at the caliber of Braid volunteers: their dedication, compassion, flexibility, creativity.
It sometimes feels like a miracle to find one amazing volunteer, let alone the group of rock stars we have assembled.
We are all the more appreciative knowing that for every active mentor, there are two others who weren’t able to commit to mentoring with Braid. And we don’t take for granted all the steps our mentors have gone through to be here: training, paperwork, fingerprinting, reference checks.
We believe whole-heartedly in Braid’s team-based model that provides long-term consistency for our youth. But it obviously takes much more effort to recruit multiple adults for each young person, especially when only 30% of our recruits end up crossing the finish line.
As I have spent these many hours with our records, I have realized again how many of our newer team members were referred by a current volunteer. Our volunteers are our best recruiters, and we are always grateful for everyone who spreads the word about Braid and talk about your experiences with your friends and co-workers.