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Going Back to School with the Drupal-Salesforce Users Group

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

This is a guest blog post from Kim Snipes, Director of Operations at Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Seeing all the back to school pictures earlier this month reminded me of when the users of our collaborative technology platform went “back to school” for our annual Drupal-Salesforce Users Group. This annual gathering provides us with the opportunity to come together in person and reflect on our work and learn from each other. So much of our work occurs via telephone/video calls and in our collaborative work spaces. Being able to connect face to face is invaluable and strengthens the relationships we build virtually throughout the year.

With over 40 attendees this year, I was struck by the diversity of staff roles represented. While we may have different responsibilities, we have been charged with making our information management technology work efficiently and support the mission and strategic goals of our individual organizations. We are constantly listening for the ways in which our systems can maximize our capacity to communicate the work we do as philanthropy-serving organizations and amplify the impact of our members.

And it is this diversity of staff and organizations that participate in this collaborative that makes it so unique. Together, we have built technical solutions that we share. Together, we are continually customizing and improving our systems to meet individual and collective needs. We do not work in silos, but rather are always seeking input from the larger group. Our work is better and more technically sound when it reflects the needs of many.

That is not to say that organizations cannot undertake individual development or customize systems on their own. Each of us evaluate and make changes that are aligned to our organizational goals. However, that individual work occurs within the context of the learning and sharing that happens in this group every day. We have fostered a unique environment where questions are encouraged, staff feels supported and the contributions of many fosters a spirit of collegiality and team building.

My organization, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, launched our new website on the Drupal-Salesforce Platform earlier this summer and I experienced first-hand the expertise that runs deep in this group. Many of the features we included (invoice payments, event rosters, streamlined website user account management and back-end user interface enhancements) were developed and refined by the collective group. The sophisticated integration with our Salesforce database now provides us with real-time data that covers everything from event registrations to member information updates. Throughout the development process, knowing that I could always reach out to my colleagues if I had a question or if I needed to bounce an idea off someone, was invaluable.

It has been incredible to witness the growth of this project. With each new organization that joins, we are pushed to improve the platform and refine best practices. We are always going “back to school” each time we come together. There is always something new to learn.

Kim Snipes
Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers 

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