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Transforming Project Sunshine’s Volunteer Community Experience

For over 20 years, Project Sunshine has helped bring pediatric patients and their families a sense of joy and normalcy during hospital stays or extended waits by delivering interactive kits put together by volunteers. The nonprofit partners with over 480 hospitals and medical centers in 175 cities across the United States and three international locations. Project Sunshine reaches 200,000 children and families annually with a goal to serve 500,000 children and families per year with the help of new technologies like Salesforce. As part of the Silverline Cares initiative, Silverline has partnered with Project Sunshine for the past five years to build thousands of interactive Kits for Play for children in hospitals across the country.

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Lacking the technology to align with volunteer needs

The existing Project Sunshine org was configured with the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and had been maintained by a variety of partners. But the nonprofit did not have a NPSP product roadmap, which led to a disjointed system that did not track and connect to all of its required data and interactions. In addition, Project Sunshine had a significant amount of tech debt, including a sharing model completely dependent on Apex Sharing Rules that constantly needed to be manually re-calculated.

To scale and create an improved volunteer community experience, Project Sunshine needed to migrate its data and functionality into the more advanced Salesforce Health Cloud and stop relying on Apex sharing.

Implementing Health Cloud to ensure a sustainable volunteer community

Project Sunshine chose to work with Silverline after an extensive RFP process. Silverline implemented a solution designed to take advantage of native Salesforce functionality that included OmniStudio, Experience Cloud, and the Volunteers for Salesforce managed package. The solution helps Project Sunshine users in the United States, Canada, Israel, and Kenya to manage volunteers, donations, events, and partners, and includes: 

  • Volunteers for Salesforce package: Silverline installed and customized the package to support Project Sunshine’s volunteer sessions for in-person, remote, and kit-packing events.
  • OmniStudio: This tool was utilized as part of the overall solution to enhance and replace Form Assembly forms and add some additional logic and functionality that was previously unavailable, such as pagination and the ability to update existing records and create new associated records.
  • Sunshine Central Experience Cloud: Silverline added FlexiPages and OmniScripts to the Sunshine Central portal so volunteers can focus on specific onboarding actions as well as limit their visibility to relevant records.

A significant portion of the project focused on Silverline’s development of a custom volunteer experience that allows volunteer users to complete a customized onboarding process that varies based on the volunteer program type and the facility partner. Once a user has completed the onboarding process, they can register for additional volunteer opportunities, create support request cases, and view their upcoming sessions, information about their chapter, and chapter-specific announcements. Remote volunteers gain the ability to join or host a Zoom session directly from the Sunshine Central experience.

“There is a lot more longevity to what we can do, how we can build upon it, and what we can do for other internal users,” said Katy Kienitz, Chief Operating Officer at Project Sunshine. “I know the volunteers are really excited about being able to log in and see their hours and have this personalized journey. It gives them some autonomy without having to constantly go through our staff to get things done or get information. It just makes everything easier and faster. They can get to the thing that they enjoy doing, which is volunteering and not hunting down information.”

Chapter leaders get access to additional tools that allow them to clone previously held program sessions, update and add attendees, and post chapter-wide announcements. “The fact that we’ve run these chapters in all these different cities, the more autonomy we can give the people we trust and we’ve trained to schedule and sign up for and do their programs, the more we can do in general,” said Kienitz.

Another large focus-area for the project was Silverline’s implementation of a custom shipping integration. Through the creation of a custom wizard, Project Sunshine’s Salesforce org can now gather tracking information based on an input tracking number and generate shipping labels, eliminating previously required manual steps. 

Improving systems and processes across the volunteer experience

The Salesforce Health Cloud functionality has helped Project Sunshine better track and connect data, reduce tech debt, and improve its volunteer community experience. Key results include:

  • Automation: Silverline saved time by automating the creation of Project Sunshine’s program sessions based on a cadence (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) to automatically add recurring volunteer attendees.
  • Shipping labels: Silverline created several pieces of automation around shipping label requests and creation, including two wizards that import CSV files and two guided OmniScript screens. This allows guest users and internal Project Sunshine staff to easily request the creation and generation of shipping labels.
  • Zoom meetings: Silverline created a seamless Zoom process by implementing the ability to automatically create Zoom meetings, send Zoom reminders to volunteers, and make links to join or host a session accessible to the volunteers in the Sunshine Central experience.
  • Portal: To provide a more engaging Sunshine Central experience, Silverline created a custom volunteer onboarding process that is updated based on the program the volunteer is signing up to participate in, as well as clearance requirements specific to the facility partner.

“My favorite part is that we are on a more solid base altogether,” said Kienitz. “The system is all one system that’s meant to work together for all of our constituents rather than pieces that have been combined. I don’t feel like there is lurking code that’s going to break something. If one thing gets tweaked, it’s a system that can be more malleable and it’s less scary to change one field.”

Project Sunshine is looking forward to getting more of their constituents onboarded, like hospital partners. They hope to build a portal where hospitals can go in and request the types of kits or programs that they want, or update their hours or patients.

“Salesforce elevates us to this century of a volunteer organization,” said Kienitz. “It really makes me joyful and more proud of what we’re offering as a volunteer experience versus what we were offering before. It gives us the legitimacy that we need to attract more volunteers and ultimately impact the lives of more children.”

Hear from Project Sunshine’s Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Whitney Namm Pollack and Katy Kienitz, respectively, about the journey from disparate data to extensive, company-wide automation that makes connecting with donors and volunteers easier than ever.

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