For over 30 years, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) has stridently served the many diverse immigrant and refugee rights groups of New York State. Working in concert with local nonprofit, community, and grassroots organizations, NYIC’s central mission revolves around developing and implementing immigration advocacy and integration campaigns on local, state, and federal levels. In the first half of 2020, NYIC pivoted strongly toward COVID-19 relief for New York’s nearly 4 million immigrants, launching the #NYUnited Fund to raise support, and organizing an emergency cash assistance program providing financial aid to the immigrant New Yorkers unable to benefit from federal relief packages.
Protecting the Essential
While New York has become an example of how to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s immigrant population has been dramatically affected, with immigrants living in New York City suffering a particularly damaging toll. A sizable portion of affected immigrants work within high-risk, essential services, and many others have lost work completely due to the pandemic. Despite the added importance our society has placed onto these essential services, too often are those helping run these services left without the support, safety, and compensation necessary to ensure their wellbeing.
NYIC has been working with Cloud for Good ever since NYIC decided to replace their siloed databank system (fueled by assorted Excel spreadsheets) with a centralized Salesforce solution in 2019. Implementing Salesforce’s Nonprofit Cloud allowed their staff to track and manage their constituents and programs with ease, increasing their information-sharing efficiency across the board. Following the initial implementation, both NYIC and Cloud for Good have been working together to continue maximizing NYIC’s digital transformation and better serve the New York immigrant population. It is because of this digital transformation that NYIC was able to remain both thoughtful and nimble in the development of solutions that help band its many community members together. Through these solutions, NYIC has been able to create and deliver unprecedented crisis assistance to New York’s most under-supported immigrant groups.
Readying a Rapid Response
The Emergency Cash Assistance Program for New York City (ECAP NYC) is a city-wide initiative that NYIC proudly participates in. Other participants include the NYC Mayor’s Office and Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, among others. Participating organizations are tasked with designing and implementing their own money distribution systems.
Kiwi Grady, Director of NYIC Membership & Capacity Building, alongside Mark Libatique, Manager of Membership & Capacity Building, led the building and administering of NYIC’s iteration of the ECAP and spoke firsthand on the importance Salesforce played in empowering NYIC’s central mission and increasing their outreach. “This has been the fastest we’ve ever launched a program of this scale,” remarked Grady on the accelerated nature of developing and rolling out ECAP NYC over just a few short weeks. “We wanted to get support funds into the hands of community members as quickly as possible.”
Specifying the effort needed to get the program off the ground, Libatique adds that “NYIC really heightened our conversations among the nonprofit organizations working directly with immigrant community members. Our top priority was making sure these communities were protected and supported in the midst of their amplified need.”
Considerable legwork needed to be completed prior to the launch of ECAP NYC, ensuring all facets of the complex program were legally compliant and protective of undocumented individuals’ anonymity. Once all the prerequisites were met, NYIC moved forward full-force, training internal staff and external community members as the fast-paced development progressed. Looking back, it’s clear that the foundation laid by NYIC’s successful implementation of the Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud in 2019 set the stage for the success of ECAP.
This original implementation standardized the organization’s program management, consolidated its constituents, and provided a platform to scale alongside the organization’s tremendous growth in funding, offered programs, and constituents served. Even with less than a full year of experience with the dynamic new system, NYIC felt both confident and supported in their ability to tackle a program of ECAP’s magnitude.
Director of Organizational Development Cynthia Wong joined the NYIC right around the same time as that original implementation, and she noted just how critical their technology and Cloud for Good partnership had been to the ultimate success of the cash assistance program: “I’ve seen how much Salesforce has helped us centralize all our data and allow us to make smarter, more strategic decisions for our clients and communities. I knew Salesforce would greatly help facilitate the cash assistance program. I’ve been blown away by our success and how much engagement Cloud for Good has had with our teams and our programs.”
Collaboration in a Time of Crisis
The Cloud for Good Managed Services team has proven especially vital in the success of NYIC’s emergency cash assistance program through their creation of a specified screening process built with FormAssembly. Libatique explains, “We brought in Managed Services to help create a solution that would screen applicants for card distribution. I sat down with Managed Services, described what we were looking for, and they helped make that dream a reality so simply and creatively.” Through a short form, program applicants answer questions based on their background and the effect COVID-19 has had on their livelihood. The responses to these forms are gathered securely, then used to inform the assistance determination process.
Building a system that established various checkpoints throughout the process was a top priority for the NYIC in order to prevent fraud and ensure those that received the funds were those with the greatest need for emergency assistance. “The screening forms are central to the success of ECAP. We were able to integrate the program with Salesforce in a way that protects the information of our clients and provides NYIC with everything we need to distribute the funds,” elaborated Grady.
At just the halfway point of the emergency program’s lifespan, $1.5M had already been distributed to 3,000 individuals in the form of $500 debit cards. NYIC will ultimately send out $2.7M of direct relief aid for New Yorkers all across the state. “I don’t know how this process would have looked or how we would have been able to carry out the ECAP as effectively and efficiently if not for Salesforce,” Wong said in summary.
Fighting for the Future
Moving forward, NYIC is poised to continue its historic support during historic times. “We’re not sure how long we’ll be working remotely, so having Salesforce in this environment allows us to continue building upon and leveraging our technology, making the most of its flexibility to adapt our systems based on the current reality,” Wong proclaimed with quiet confidence.
Through a centralized Salesforce solution replacing the databank system and departmental spreadsheets of yesteryear, NYIC has been able to better track and manage their constituent engagement, share information more efficiently across departments, and increase the effectiveness of their technology efforts across the board. Libatique adds, “The CRM system we had in place prior to Salesforce was super rigid. Our organization’s membership and fundraising administration used to be organized through Word documents and Excel sheets. Practically everything is now done automatically with Salesforce, allowing us to create and customize on a whim.”
The New York Immigration Coalition serves one of the largest and most diverse newcomer populations in the United States. A mission of such critical importance demands a platform capable of reliably supporting and strengthening the mission. Salesforce has supplied that platform and Cloud for Good’s Managed Services team continue to train, engage, and assist the NYIC team in making the most out of their systems. Through Salesforce technology, a swift transition to digital outreach, and creative fundraising events (like their recent Virtual Gala) the NYIC has proven itself to be adaptable to current events, and uncompromising in their devotion to bettering the lives of New York immigrants.