Dave Van Patten, Editor
Over the next few weeks, I have asked several mentoring experts to comment on how technology solutions can help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of mentoring programs. In this post, Brian Sales discusses various cutting edge, technology solutions that mentoring programs are using to improve their case managment. Brian has twenty years of first hand experience running mentoring programs and has provided hundreds of others with onsite technical assistance. I am confident that his practical, on-the-ground knowledge will be valuable to the rest of us..
Post by Brian Sales
Over the past decade, mentoring programs have increasingly used technology to solve their problems around case management. For some mentoring organizations, managing the relationships of their matched pairs often involved cumbersome spreadsheets, folders in file cabinets with case narratives, and sticky notes with phone numbers of mentors, parents, and mentees.
Just as challenging for program staff, are various documents required for internal controls, outcome data for funding sources and evaluators, and contact information of an often transient target population. Many program directors have sought solutions that allow case managers and match support specialists to easily input data, access content, track information about a matched pair, and report these outcomes for program improvement to their funding sources.
For many mentoring programs with hundreds, if not thousands of matches, a technology-assisted solution was necessary. As a result, mentoring organizations have been actively collaborating with technology companies to design software solutions that address these case management problems.
For the last decade, I have been deeply involved with hundreds of mentoring programs across the country and have seen firsthand how technology solutions can transform case management. My practical experiences leading mentoring programs in the Washington, DC area combined with my experience as a consultant for Dare Mighty Things, conducting training and technical assistance on a national scale have provided me with a unique perspective. Here are some of the technology solutions that I have found most useful:
- Social Solutions created Efforts to Outcomes (ETO). Contact: email@example.com
- Youthfriends developed a Volunteer Information Access database (VIA). Contact: Kim Talbert, firstname.lastname@example.org and 816-842-7082
- Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America created Agency Information Management (AIM). Available only available to Big Brothers and Big Sisters agencies
- Innovative Mentoring. Contact: Stacey Bajema, email@example.com
- Civicore based in Denver. Contact: Rich Rinaldi and firstname.lastname@example.org, 303-477-0900
- MENTOR developed MentorPro. Contact: Tammy Thai, COO, email@example.com
Just recently, MENTOR and Civicore announced that they have joined forces to promote a new technological solution that combines program management and outcome reporting. This is designed specifically to expand the access of their tools, formerly limited to mentoring programs that had mentoring partnerships, to reach organizations seeking a customized database that will better serve their needs in support of the mentoring community at-large. Phases of the launch will begin at the upcoming National Mentoring Summit to be held in Washington, DC in January 2013.
Here are a couple of other examples of cutting edge programs that have adopted a range of these technology solutions:
Program Director for the New Orleans, award winning organization, Volunteers of America, Sherlyn Hughes, “absolutely loves” Innovative Mentoring’s database because it has helped their organization become more effective managing their data on their matches.
Wilmington Leadership Foundation’s visionary Executive Director, Orlando Newkirk, named their technology solution, “Managing the Mission.” He and his program director, Charlon Turner, realized that they needed a customized technology solution because they lacked the resources to purchase multiple systems. Newkirk was insistent that their own CRM database system should be accessible for their partners by having customizable data fields, allowing mentors to fill out the application on-line, and enabling real-time solutions for all information including the capture of paper applications that were previously scanned to Google docs.
In the end, Orlando and Charlon’s technology solution transformed how they and their partners approached case management and volunteer documentation, improving their reported outcomes for their funders. For more information on how the Wilmington Leadership Foundation uses free and low cost technology, take a look: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYoUWPHBVV8&feature=youtu.be&hd=1
In the last decade, technological solutions have improved the efficiency and effectiveness of case management in the mentoring field. By combining easy to use, web-based applications, end users can engage these tools from almost anywhere and become even more effective with both the capture of critical data and with reporting.
I invite you to join us in the discussion. What experience have you had with these and other tools? What products have you found, that meet your case management, and other data reporting needs? Certainly there are many tools out there, that are not mentioned here. What’s working for you? Please share your experiences with our growing practice community, so that we can all gain success as we strive to change and improve lives through mentoring.
Brian P. Sales, Senior Consultant, Dare Mighty Things, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org)