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This Nonprofit Uses Technology To Improve Families’ Lives — Here are the Apps That Make it Possible

Zero to Three uses a Salesforce ecosystem to support its work with children and families. The technology became especially critical during the pandemic.

Two children play on a rug while smiling at a caregiver.
Zero to Three’s initiatives ensure children and families are prioritized, and it helps develop public policies toward those goals. [Studio Firma / Stocksy]

Research shows that the human brain develops more between birth and three years of age than during any other time in our lives. That’s why Edima Elinewinga, chief technology officer at Zero to Three, is passionate about advocating for children. “All babies need a good start at life, especially in underprivileged communities,” Elinewinga shares.

Zero to Three (ZTT) is a nonprofit that has worked with families and young children for the last 45 years. ZTT’s initiatives ensure children and families are prioritized, and it helps develop public policies toward those goals. It works with the court system to reunite children with their families, for example, and advocates for daycare, family leave, and healthcare access.

Elinewinga is passionate about technology and its power to transform organizations and improve lives. As CTO, she provides the technology that supports the organization’s mission and goals. She talked with me about the tools and applications that help ZTT support early childhood professionals and families, as well as how the organization uses a Salesforce ecosystem to support its work and business processes.

Read on to learn how Elinewinga and her team are continuing to pursue their mission and help families and children. It’s all part of their plan. And it’s all using technology.

Edima Elinewinga (left) with AppExchange team member Miriam Kahn (right) at Salesforce World Tour D.C. in 2022.

What is the technology that makes your organization run?

Edima Elinewinga: With Salesforce as our centralized system of record, we are able to have a 360-view of our constituents, as well as data standardization for metrics and holistic reporting. This addresses the challenges of aligning different objectives and prioritizing data governance standards, stewardship, personalization, data security, and more.

Salesforce supports different programs and initiatives across the organization, and enables us to connect to other technologies from AppExchange. Doing so minimizes costs by using shared services, which reduces integration complexity.

Which apps are you using, and what are the use cases? Do they work together?

EE: ZTT provides resources to early childhood professionals, including a membership program, professional development, continuous education certification, and an annual conference. To manage these efforts, we use Fonteva, which is built on top of the Salesforce database. Fonteva is our new association management system that provides an enhanced membership experience, product sales, and events management.

Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is a app that improves our fundraising and donor management to effectively work with donors, prospects, funders, sponsors, and the sales pipeline.

Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, our email marketing system, supports our mass email and marketing automation, connecting ZTT contacts, constituents, donors, sponsors, and champions. It powers our engagement series for our members and various collaboration groups within ZTT. We also use it for campaigns, policy and advocacy, webinar invitations, resource sharing, and fundraising. Pardot is a big communication tool for us.

KnowWho is our policy and advocacy congressional directory that supports policy initiatives and other advocacy efforts. Their app, Action Center Toolkit, reaches out to our members of Congress when we want to make recommendations or push for specific bills.

We use other products within our Salesforce ecosystem, such as Conga Composer for email crafting and FormAssembly to build forms to communicate with our constituents and advocates. 

How have the last few years impacted your mission and your organization?

EE: Our work has become even more important since this pandemic as our constituents are impacted in many ways. Families are now dealing with job losses. Parents who have managed to work from home now have to take care of their children while doing their job. Even worse, there has been an increase in child abuse and some daycares will never be able to reopen.

Before COVID-19, about half of our employees worked remotely, while the other half worked at our headquarters. When the pandemic hit, our organization transitioned to 100% working from home in one business day. With the support of our management team, the transition was possible because we had a plan and a mission: everyone should be able to work from anywhere.

Families are now dealing with job losses. Parents who have managed to work from home now have to take care of their children while doing their job. 

Edima Elinewinga, chief technology officer at Zero to Three

How else has technology helped you during this time?

EE: There is a real benefit of being proactive and prepared. Having a partnership with Salesforce and leveraging the AppExchange ecosystem for solutions like Fonteva ensures that we are utilizing tools within the Salesforce ecosystem and reducing integration issues. Our Salesforce ecosystem has enabled us to continue on without any major delays as we’ve transitioned from an in-person to a virtual world.

We use Pardot to send resources, communicate with our audiences, and send virtual event invitations. We have been conducting more webinars to support families and early childhood professionals on how to deal with the current situation.

Our virtual events registration runs through Fonteva, and we use Zoom and GoToWebinar for hosting. During these events, our subject matter experts or a member of Congress can answer questions directly from families, daycare providers, and others in the field.

How did you know which technology to use to set yourself up for success?

EE: When I joined ZTT two and a half years ago, I went on a listening tour across the organization to understand our needs and challenges. This helped me to put together a holistic strategy that addressed the technology gaps across the organization. From there, we worked with our Salesforce consultant, Cloud for Good, and apps like Fonteva, to build the Salesforce ecosystem to support our technology strategy.

We had a solid technology infrastructure in place to continue our operations, so while this 100% working from home model is not typical, we didn’t have to make significant changes to adapt to this new normal.

What would you say to other customers looking to put technology in place for their organization?

EE: Whatever technology you put in place, it must be technology that employees and customers can access from anywhere, at any time. If I’m sick, or if I need to care for someone, I should be able to work from home and accomplish the same tasks as in the office. Earlier this year, I worked from Tanzania for three weeks caring for my mother. Because we had the right technology, it was just like sitting in the office. Salesforce gives us the ability to support our mission and provide flexibility to our employees.

Whatever technology you put in place, it must be technology that employees and customers can access from anywhere, at any time. 

Edima Elinewinga

Every disaster comes with something positive. This pandemic is going to provide a lot of technological opportunities for organizations around the world. One lesson is that it is critical to have flexibility. We’re now doing virtual home visits using Zoom accounts that are HIPAA-compliant. For our families, there’s telemedicine, digital learning for kids, and more.

I like to look at this entire situation as a technological opportunity. We can all do things differently in the future with technology.

Elinewinga and her team at ZTT have set the technology bar high because they have high expectations to meet the needs of their customers and support the goals of the organization. Their approach delivers results beyond what any of us could ask for now and in the future. And at the end of the day, Elinewinga and her team continue to help families across the U.S.

Amanda Nelson drives the community and communications strategy for the AppExchange. She is a conference speaker, published author, and a social media professor. Nelson has worked in content marketing, social media, and community marketing for B2B tech startups and Salesforce since 2013. In addition to marketing, Amanda is passionate about writing, running, and border collies.

More by Amanda

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