Building a nonprofit program management system with Airtable

Building a nonprofit program management system with Airtable

How nonprofit She’s the First manages events and student leadership programs using Airtable.

She’s the First campus programs manager Katie Riley has something of a reputation at work: “I’m the one obsessed with efficiency and productivity tools,” she says. The small nonprofit, which began in 2009 as a YouTube video by the founders Tammy and Christen, still operates with a lean staff, so Riley relies on carefully-designed systems to amplify her efforts and help the organization achieve its mission of providing college scholarships to girls from low-income countries. With 200+ high school and college chapters scattered across the United States, as well as global destinations such as Sweden and Nicaragua, Riley’s mandate is to manage all student and volunteer programs, including conferences and an internship program.

It was such a nightmare to do it in a spreadsheet.

“We live in Google Docs as an organization, and a huge part of the administrative headache of my job is keeping contact info for every single chapter and updating all the student information while keeping the school info the same,” says Riley. The first Airtable base she made simply cataloged all the disparate contact information. “That itself has probably saved me days worth of work,” she adds. “It was such a nightmare to do it in a spreadsheet.”

Since finding success managing contacts for the organization in Airtable, Riley started planning the She’s the First Leadership Summit, an annual conference that attracts students from around the country. After starting with the Airtable Nonprofit Gala template, she customized her base to fit the needs of the summit, from venue selection to scheduling. She also set up a form that captures student requests for financial assistance to cover travel so that she can easily manage the logistics involved in wrangling hundreds of students in a single location.

Riley has expanded to other potential use cases for Airtable, setting up bases to manage everything from the intern hiring process to tracking new mentor and chapter inquiries. “There’s a lot of hesitation in older nonprofits to learn new stuff, but it is so worth learning Airtable,” says Riley. “We’re a five person team — a tiny, tiny operation in terms of man power — and I’ve always had to do all my administrative work, so I can’t say enough how much time this has saved me. In a nonprofit, every minute is money.”

More for the record