How These 5 Real Non-Profits Use Workato

When we announced our new Integrated Business Suite for Non-Profits (WINS) at Dreamforce ’15 last week, we told you how the WINS could streamline operations and save valuable time. Still, it can be difficult to envision the impact automation with a service like Workato can have on a nonprofit in their mission to improve the world while achieving low administrative costs to keep donors and trustees happy.

The WINS makes it easy for any nonprofit – even those without a technical team – to quickly integrate the cloud apps they use everyday, from MailChimp to Click & Pledge to QuickBooks. These five nonprofits, however, were early pioneers using Workato to connect their apps even before we released the WINS and saw fantastic results. Here is how each used Workato to reduce expenses, drive better results and make more time for their mission.


About: The Knight Foundation is one of the largest US based non-profit organizations and provides grants to transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. Their projects have brought community art to Detroit, allowed the Arab American National Museum to create new exhibits, helped Code for America rewire government institutions to better connect with citizens, and expanded Miami’s O Cinema for independent films.

The Challenge: Knight Foundation is a major funder and convener in the communities it serves around the country. They struggled to manage and coordinate data about grantees and guests across cities, specifically those invited to meetings and events. Different departments had created their own solutions for inviting and tracking participants. Even after implementing Salesforce and standardizing on Eventbrite, data silos existed which required manual intervention to coordinate the information between the various systems, wasting valuable time and effort and getting in the way of the foundation’s broader mission.

As CTO, George Martinez focuses on streamlining, improving and automating Salesforce and integrating it with other applications when possible. Because Knight Foundation organizes events for its partners and grantees with regularity, George needed to find a way to standardize and share information across Knight Foundation’s departments. Workato was the answer.

“We spent a short amount of time with the Workato team on the phone to learn how it works. Then it was simply a matter of exploring around. We are now able to create a recipe in one day, which is not possible with any other software.” – George Martinez, CTO of Knight Foundation

For live events, being mobile and having the ability to update data in real time from smartphones and tablets was a game-changer. Their suite of cloud apps used for events includes Salesforce as their main platform, Eventbrite Neon to check people in at events, and other cloud-based applications, such as Mailchimp for email marketing and Fluxx to manage grants.

The Real Life Results: Zero silos, increased flexibility across departments, and hours saved.

Knight Foundation uses Workato to see who is connected to its network and to create better partnerships with grantees, like-minded individuals and organizations. Moreover, the accelerated syncing of data saves them hours of work each week, valuable time they can focus on assessing the impact of their grants.

2. THE R.O.C.K

About: The R.O.C.K. is a nonprofit that works to strengthen communities through church programs by supporting families, acting as a center for educational development and more.

The Challenge: With their customer information spread over various systems, the ministry had trouble analyzing data to grow revenue and church programs.

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Cherrice Browne is the Director of Product Engineering at The R.O.C.K. and strives tirelessly to expand its worldwide presence and grow its positive impact. The ministry’s main revenue stream comes from the sale of products across its physical stores and its online storefront. Cherrice introduced cloud-based applications to help the organization become more cost effective and reinvest the saved funds into church programs. The staff uses Salesforce, QuickBooks, Shopify and MailChimp to run its commercial operations and also iPads to run physical stores on site and gather customer data.

“When you’re in a small business, you don’t have 6 months, you have 6 days to get a system working. We need to grow customer bases every day and I don’t have time to deal with integration. With Workato, I can do it myself in a day or two.” – Cherrice Browne, Director of Product Engineering at The R.O.C.K.

Cherrice knew she had to equip the ministry with the right tech-driven tools all by herself, which is where Workato became a crucial part of their operation. “With very little knowledge, I can now connect very complex systems,” she says. “If I needed to hand this off to someone who was not a technical person, I could literally walk them through.” In just a few days, the ministry started using a recipe that creates a new “Opportunity” in Salesforce whenever a customer purchases a product through Shopify. The team can now gain a holistic view of the customer’s information and point of sale purchase data through error-free, automatic reporting. They can save time on data extraction and focus on their main mission.

The Real Life Results: A 20% increase in customer spending and ~ $200,000 saved.

Cherrice was able to accomplish her goal of running the organization in a more efficient manner so more money could go towards helping the community. By integrating multiple apps with Workato, the sales team managed to create its first-ever customer segmentation. These insights led to more targeted email marketing campaigns, which increased customer spending by 20%. The ministry also saved an estimated $200,000 in labor costs by reducing manual data extraction.


About: Sanergy builds healthy, prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible for everyone. They manufacture durable toilets and empower local Kenyan entrepreneurs to sell and maintain these products so that they may run profitable businesses.

The Challenge: Sanergy offers on-site maintenance of their products, and they needed a way to increase their response time in the field. Though the core team is based in the U.S., 90% of Sanergy’s team members are Kenyan and 60% reside in the communities they serve. The biggest difficulty was having to manually update their Freshdesk customer information when support tickets were created in Salesforce. Market insights took a long time to reach the service team and errors were often made.

Ani Vallabhaneni is a co-founder of Sanergy and has built startups in India and the US. At Sanergy, he oversees the expansion of the technical operations, including engineering and internal systems and processes. The operations require multi-user access, so all of their apps are mobile and cloud-based. They rely on Google Apps, Dropbox, FreshDesk and Salesforce. One of his main roles is to ensure he can provide all the best mobile tools for his team, a particularly challenging task when working in Nairobi, Kenya, where access to certain technologies is limited.

“Integrating all our apps would have required an entire programming team and access to technical talent at an affordable price is hard, especially in Kenya. Workato is easy to set up and run, and it doesn’t require a lot of expertise. You just put a recipe together and hit play.” – Ani Vallabhaneni, Co-Founder of Sanergy

The Real Life Results: Increased efficiency for case reporting from fieldwork and valuable time and costs saved for the IT team.

With a team scaled from 5 to 250 employees, Sanergy needed to integrate their cloud-based apps on mobile systems for four main reasons: reducing manual data-entry error; increasing efficiency of fieldwork case reporting; enabling texting from non-smartphones to update tickets; and reducing the team’s burden of manual workflows. Workato provided the perfect solution to all four problems, and the company can now focus on what matters the most: building healthy, prosperous communities in urban informal settlements through better access to sanitation.

4. B LAB

About: B Lab is a nonprofit that helps create a healthier earth by certifying businesses who meet social and environmental standards.

The Challenge: Tracking revenue from subscribers using Salesforce and QuickBooks Online.

As CTO, John Hillstrom leads the technology strategy and management for B Lab. Each day he monitors B Lab’s main platforms, their design, implementation, and which products they choose to integrate it with. His goal is to run the organization as efficiently as possible, helping his team focus on redefining business success in terms of social and environmental impact.

B Lab’s main source of revenue is from subscribers to their “B Certification”, which validates the businesses’ positive social impact. To qualify as a B Corp, your business must be certified by B Lab and meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. This is similar to a fair trade certification for coffee or LEED certification for a green building. Tracking this revenue is a complex task, which must be managed with the right analytics platforms. John and B Lab rely on Salesforce and an add-in product for credit card payments, QuickBooks, Cloud Factor, Mailchimp, Calendly, Expensify and a variety of Google apps in order to get a clear picture of their client’s profiles and payment schedules.

“We have relatively simple needs,” John says. “Our invoices and payments get generated through Salesforce, but we still do our accounting in QuickBooks. We use Workato to move data both ways.” – John Hillstrom, CTO of B Lab

Thanks to Workato, B Lab can now manage all their subscribers’ payments automatically. “We got visibility into our billing for our broader staff. Customer service reps can now know if a subscriber owes money without a bunch of manual processing,” John says.

The Real Life Results: 40 hours a month and $70K in labor costs saved.

The process saves B Lab 40 hours a month, about $70K in labor costs annually. These resources are critical for a lean nonprofit budget. B Lab can therefore focus all efforts on its main mission: encouraging businesses to create value for society as well as shareholders.

The results of their integration were immediately observable and so successful in fact, that John is now considering integrating Eventbrite with Salesforce using Workato – something the WINS makes easy!


About: Embrace Grace is non-profit organization that gives churches the tools and resources needed to offer emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women who find themselves with unintended pregnancies.

The Challenge: Embrace Grace was spending up to 40 hours each month just on exporting invoices, donations and shipping information from Salesforce and manually updating it in QuickBooks.

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Salina Duffy is the Co-Founder and Chief Ministry Officer of Embrace Grace. Her daily efforts are focused on fundraising and business operations. This entails seeking the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for the organization’s accounting, marketing and delivery of products to churches across the nation.

Embrace Grace relies on donations and sponsorships to expand and help as many pregnant young women as possible. While it receives marketing support from key partners, it relies heavily on cloud applications to run the business: Salesforce to manage all external relations, Rio for their inventory, QuickBooks for accounting and Timba for surveys and data collection.

“We have more time, more energy, more focus on fundraising with donors. We can raise awareness of Embrace Grace, and now have the capacity to do more high-value activities.” – Salina Duffy, Co-Founder of Embrace Grace

The Real Life Results: An average of 40 hours a month saved.

Embrace Grace’s Salesforce to QuickBooks integration now saves the organization an average of 40 hours monthly so Salina can help more women across the U.S.

If your nonprofit is looking for a way to save time and money, Workato’s solution for nonprofits could be exactly what you need. Visit Workato for more information on how we can work together to save you time so you can focus on your mission!

This is the final installment in a three part series on how nonprofit organizations can utilize cloud apps to their fullest potential. You can read Part 1 – The top 10 cloud apps for nonprofits or Part 2 – integrations for your nonprofit.

Image Source: Unsplash

About the author
Vijay Tella CEO @ Workato
Vijay Tella is an expert in the integration space and the founder and CEO of Workato, a powerful, DIY integration service for business users to integrate their apps. Prior to founding Workato, Tella exercised his passion for integration as the Chief Strategy Officer of Oracle Fusion Middleware and the Founder and SVP of Engineering at Tibco Software.