International Center for Research on Women

A CRM system to engage and empower women


No woman or girl can reach her full potential if her basic right to a healthy, safe life isn’t honored. To this end, ICRW has been the world’s premier applied research institute focused on women and girls for almost four decades. The organization uses evidence-based insight to optimize programs, influence policies, and identify scalable solutions that help women and girls lead safer, healthier and more empowered lives.


Like many nonprofits, ICRW had multiple data silos that had been set up over the years, and getting all their data in one place was a time consuming, mostly manual process. While they began using the Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack in 2010, it was only used to integrate data from their website and they simultaneously maintained a separate donor management system. Initial efforts to migrate everything to Salesforce resulted in thousands of duplicate entries and other data errors. As a result ICRW had very little usable data. They couldn’t run reliable donor or revenue reports among other critical functions. As ICRW’s Salesforce administrator Robin Gardiner explained, “There’s no way we would have been able to effectively fundraise if we had left our Salesforce instance as it was post-migration.”

ICRW also struggled with configuring Salesforce to match their internal processes while still leveraging its standard functionality. This severely hobbled their ability to use Salesforce’s robust reporting capabilities as well as out of the box Salesforce and Nonprofit Starter Pack automations.

Finally, ICRW staff wasn’t adequately trained on how to use the system, and extensive staff turnover further compounded this issue. By the time ICRW  staff engaged North Peak to help, all institutional knowledge was lost, and they were extremely confused and frustrated.


ICRW engaged with North Peak to help. When the organization first contacted North Peak, the challenges they were experiencing with the system were overwhelming and the many issues to solve seemed insurmountable. Reflecting on her initial meeting with North Peak, ICRW’s Gardiner recounted the conversation. “My first call with North Peak was probably just a huge dump of information and complaining, but they were able to take that information and make it digestible and achievable. Mostly, I was confused about why someone would ever choose or recommend Salesforce for a nonprofit, but I now realize this was only a result of our poorly done migration. The beauty of Salesforce is everything is customizable.”

Because of the myriad of challenges, North Peak took a systematic approach to solve the various problems—breaking down items between easy to solve items and more complex challenges and a schedule to tackle these issues. Recognizing the crucial need for training, North Peak took a partnership orientation to the project and incorporated staff training throughout to help ICRW truly understand the system they were configuring and managing.

Throughout the entire scope of the project, North Peak trained ICRW staff while meeting the major milestones of rehabilitating their Salesforce instance, migrating and cleaning data, and setting up integrations with their digital systems for events, donations, and broadcast emails.

Photo courtesy of International Center for Research on Women

“North Peak could have easily taken advantage of my lack of knowledge and spent all of their contract hours very quickly. Instead, they have taken a ‘teach a man to fish’ approach, and I’ll be able to work without them soon.” ~Robin Gardiner, Development Associate & Salesforce Administrator


The team approach and associated training and knowledge transfer resulted in success that was immediately replicable by ICRW staff. ICRW’s tracking and reporting processes became significantly more efficient, accomplishing in minutes what used to take hours or days. To top it all off, their total fundraising increased by 38% in the first full fiscal year of utilizing the new system, in large part due to the improved system and processes.

38% YoY increase in total fundraising from Fiscal Year 2014 to 2015*

Perhaps the larger accomplishment, however, was a major shift in the organization’s understanding of how Salesforce could support all departments at ICRW. After witnessing the transformation with the way the Individual Donor Relations team used Salesforce, ICRW’s Business Development department approached Gardiner to see if Salesforce would be a good replacement for their complex web of spreadsheets. It was, and with support of the Business Development team along with Gardiner’s improved level of Salesforce expertise, she was able to complete the full customization—including complex automations—and the migration of all of the data completely on her own. The Business Development team is now poised to launch their new Salesforce solution.

*ICRW’s FY 2014 was Oct 2013 – Sept 2014, and FY 2015 was Oct 2014 – Sept 2015

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