Nonprofit Adopts Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Managing and Awarding Scholarships

Nonprofit Adopts Microsoft CRM

A nonprofit organization whose primary focus is to advance quality care and education of children embarked on a transformative journey to use technology to improve organizational operations. Through a comprehensive suite of services including resources, training, coaching, and advocacy, this nonprofit plays a pivotal role in preparing children to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. A cornerstone of their mission is the administration of childcare scholarships, funded through various grants and appropriations, aimed at dismantling barriers to quality early education.

Despite their altruistic mission and significant contributions, the organization faced operational hurdles that hampered their efficiency and effectiveness. Central to these challenges was their Scholarship Management tracking system.

Overcoming Operational Hurdles

The Scholarship Management Tracking system, a custom application originally developed in-house by a former employee, was reliant on an on-premises database and became increasingly cumbersome to maintain and navigate. The system’s limitations included:

  • Supportability Issues: The in-house developed Scholarship Management tracking system was increasingly difficult to maintain, requiring specialized knowledge that was no longer readily available within the organization.
  • Limited Accessibility: Reliance on an on-premises database severely restricted access to the system, hindering the ability of staff to work remotely or on-the-go, a necessity in today’s dynamic work environments.
  • User Experience Concerns: The system was not user-friendly, complicating tasks that should have been straightforward and increasing the risk of errors in scholarship management.
  • Inflexibility: The rigid structure of the existing system made it nearly impossible to adapt to changing scholarship guidelines and program requirements, stifling the organization’s ability to respond to new opportunities or regulatory changes.

Recognizing the need for change, this nonprofit had previously started on its digital transformation with partner Stoneridge Software to eliminate existing siloed systems, adopting Microsoft Dynamics CRM to streamline their development efforts. Building on this successful collaboration, the logical progression was to next address the inefficiencies plaguing their Scholarship Management system. The goal was clear: to implement a solution that not only resolved the existing issues but also aligned with the nonprofit organization’s dynamic needs and continued commitment to excellence in early childhood education.

The Path to Enhanced Scholarship Management

To support Scholarship Case Managers, Stoneridge Software built a Model-driven app using Microsoft Power Platform, a low-code, no-code tool, that incorporated the data and business processes for the following core areas that support the scholarship program.

Child and Family Management

The Family Unit record serves as a central point for managing all information about each of the parties directly involved in a child’s life, providing a holistic view of all familial relationships and interactions, as well as the application and eligibility history for each child in it.

  • Centralized Family Unit Records for comprehensive management of familial relationships, application histories, and eligibility tracking for each child.
  • Child Records under Family Units for storing personal and sociodemographic information, equipped with automation for calculating critical ages for scholarship eligibility.
  • Adult Records detail the influential figures in a child’s life, allowing for intricate mapping of relationships within and across Family Units to maintain clarity and coherence in case management.

Childcare Program Management

Within the Scholarship Management app, a record is created to represent each of the different Childcare Programs that a child may enroll in and classify them.

  • Establishment of Program and Program Site Records to represent childcare options, detailing site-specific information like location, scholarship eligibility criteria, and contact information.
  • Integration of the state’s Parent Aware Star Rating system into the app, enabling case managers to easily access and consider the quality rating of childcare programs in scholarship decisions.

Application, Eligibility, and Enrollment Tracking

When an application for a scholarship is received, a new Eligibility record is created from the Family Unit to indicate the child the application is for, and the type of Scholarship being applied for as well as a Status Detail record specifying the funding year and gives the Case Manager the ability to enter details of a child’s living situation.

  • Streamlined Application Processing with the creation of Eligibility records directly from Family Units, simplifying the tracking of applications, decisions, and necessary follow-ups.
  • Automated Scholarship Award Letters generation, providing clear, concise communication regarding scholarship amounts based on comprehensive criteria including funding year and Parent Aware Ratings.
  • Enrollment Records facilitate seamless enrollment into childcare programs, automating the calculation of scholarship amounts and consolidating relevant data for efficient case management.

Program Payment Tracking

Lastly, Scholarship Billing Specialists also utilize the Scholarship Management app to track scholarship payments made to Childcare Programs on behalf of children.

This tailored solution by Stoneridge Software not only addresses the unique needs of the nonprofit’s Scholarship Case Managers but also revolutionizes the way scholarship management is conducted, ensuring a more streamlined, efficient, and impactful delivery of services to the families and children they serve.

Transformative Outcomes through Innovative Technology

The partnership between this nonprofit client and Stoneridge Software has ushered in a new era of efficiency and effectiveness in managing childcare scholarships, marked by significant advancements in operational capabilities and service delivery. The project’s success demonstrates the transformative power of tailored digital solutions in streamlining complex processes, ensuring data integrity, and ultimately enabling organizations to better serve their communities.

Key Technologies and Their Impact:

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM): Served as the foundation for the entire solution, providing a robust, scalable platform that integrates seamlessly with existing systems and processes.
  • Microsoft’s Common Data Model for Nonprofits: Served as the foundation for creating a unified and standardized data structure within Microsoft Dataverse. This strategic choice enabled the development of a cohesive ecosystem where all necessary data points related to scholarship management are meticulously organized and easily accessible.
  • Power Platform Model-driven App: Tailored specifically to the unique needs of the organization, this app encapsulates the entirety of the scholarship management process, from family and child management to program payments, within a user-friendly interface.
  • Dataverse: Played a crucial role in housing the tables that store vital information. The seamless integration of these tables into a single model-driven app significantly enhanced user experience for Case Managers by simplifying navigation and access to related information, thereby reducing the cognitive load and time spent on administrative tasks.
  • Power Automate Cloud Flows: Introduced a layer of automation that transformed how data quality tasks were managed. By automating processes like the deactivation of Family Units when eligibility criteria were no longer met, the system not only ensured accuracy and compliance but also freed up valuable time for Case Managers to focus on more impactful work.
  • Client-Side Scripting: Custom scripting solutions were implemented to streamline data entry processes, minimizing manual input and reducing the likelihood of errors. This enhancement improved operational efficiency and ensured data consistency across the board.
  • Dataflows and Power BI: These tools were instrumental in revolutionizing reporting capabilities. Customized reports now meet state requirements with greater ease and accuracy, empowering the nonprofit with the insights needed to manage their business effectively and make data-driven decisions.

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