How Tides Canada Future-Proofed Their Organization with NetSuite and Salesforce Integration

Tides Canada is a recognized national leader in social change philanthropy. The organization has supported over 2,500 initiatives; notable work includes conservation of West Coast marine and wildlife habitat, the protection of the Great Lakes, and support for Indigenous leadership. In 2016, the nonprofit raised $20 million and has granted over $175 million since the organization’s inception in 2000.

Tides Canada is a national public foundation and an operating charity that amplifies and accelerates the positive impact of philanthropy on pressing environmental and social issues in Canada. Tides Canada uses an innovative organization model and suite of tools to support changemakers to get from vision to impact—putting giving, investing, and doing under one umbrella.

Future-proofing with Best-of-Breed Apps

As a nonprofit, Tides Canada constantly seeks to improve its operational efficiency. Prior to adopting Workato, Tides Canada used Serenic Navigator, an all-in-one system, to manage finances and donors. To optimize its operations, the organization decided to transition to best-of-breed apps. COO Anne Marie Johnston explains that best-of-breed apps would give the nonprofit the freedom to switch out apps in the future as its operational needs and processes change. “We knew right away that we’d need an integration tool,” she says. The organization hired a full-time Creative Tech Consultant to guide them through the transition.

The organization quickly settled on the two most important elements of their workflow: NetSuite (for accounting) and Salesforce (as the CRM). Johnston explains that Tides Canada uses Salesforce to manage all of its donor activity, but that NetSuite is the system of record for all financial data. To accurately forecast and report, the nonprofit needs information from both systems. Additionally, staff need to know what proposals are out, so they can compare them with budgets in Netsuite and Adaptive Insights.

Implementing NetSuite and Salesforce Integration with Workato

The next step was to enable data sharing between the two apps. Because Tides Canada—like all non-profits—needs to run a lean, future-proofed operation, its integration solution needed to be affordable, reliable, and easy to setup and maintain. After experimenting with Jitterbit, the organization turned to Exponent Partners (their Salesforce vendor) for advice.

Exponent Partners attracted Tides Canada because, as Johnston explains, they work mostly with nonprofits. “They also have a wealth of knowledge with SFDC and Nonprofit Success Pack,” says the COO, which proved invaluable as the organization set up workflows with Salesforce as a hub. “They recommended Workato because the recipes were comparatively simple, and the price point was better for us as well.” After selecting Workato, the process took off. “Integration was the last step in switching to Netsuite and SFDC, and it was super fast. It took only a couple of months to set up.”

As the move to best-of-breed apps continues, the project’s scope continues to expand; the organization hasn’t finished streamlining its payments. Eventually, Johnston says, they’ll bring integration to the HR department with ADP. And in 2018, the organization hopes to upgrade to WorkforceNow or WorkDay, with a projected late 2018 timeline for full integration. The nonprofit also uses Workato to move information between portals for grantees and to generate reports in other apps.

A Lean, Green NonProfit Machine

Without Workato, Johnston says, Tides Canada would face a lot more manual work. “It would be like going back to using CSV extracts. We’d have to merge CSV files from different programs and manipulate the data manually.” With that manual work comes additional costs and, she continues, additional room for human error. Automation has allowed Tides Canada to decrease its staff by an estimated 1-2 full-time equivalents.

Workato’s integrations have also increased uptime while minimizing the human intervention needed, all of which translates into money saved. “Every nonprofit struggles with capacity in terms of HR, so you’re always looking to streamline,” Johnston elaborates. “We want to deliver reports in a timely way with minimal overhead.”

Johnston also appreciates Workato’s intuitive error handling. “It’s easy to see if something doesn’t happen,” she explains. “Not only can we customize error messages, but the recipes are also easy to fix or change.” Though a dedicated onsite developer helps with integration, she continues, Workato is simple enough that the organization’s IT support staff has picked it up as well. “There’s a lot of product support, too, which is something we haven’t seen with other apps in general. The product learning sessions have been very well done.”

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