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The Future of Social Good Is Now

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The need for social services has reached an all-time high. This article takes a look at how the social good sector can learn from the private sector’s adoption of technology and data to help serve the most critical needs of our communities.

The need for social services has reached an all-time high. How can the social services sector learn from the private sector’s adoption of technology and data to advance operations and help serve the most critical needs of our communities?


Public sector and nonprofit organizations on the front lines of pandemic recovery efforts address the most urgent needs our communities face — food insecurity, unemployment, health care, education access and much more — yet, remarkably, these organizations are often still using pens and paper, spreadsheets and outdated technology that significantly limit their capacity to meet the ever-growing need for the services they provide.

The program enrollment process alone is a critical and often emotional time for those seeking help. They have stories to tell, forms to fill out and changes to navigate in real time. Public-sector and nonprofit organizations are experts at assisting. But when these organizations use paper to conduct intake, the process becomes challenging and time-consuming. Paper also leaves room for human error, as mistakes can often happen when manually transferring data from paper to a spreadsheet or database.

But the program enrollment process and reliance on paper and spreadsheets actually serve as a symptom of a much larger issue within the social sector. For decades, our industry has deprioritized operational investments, which has halted capacity and innovation dead in their tracks — whether we’ve known it or not. Private enterprises on the other hand made the transition from pens, paper and spreadsheets to much more sophisticated software programs long ago, which enables them to scale, grow and use data to showcase impact. In 2019 alone, the private sector spent 22.5 percent of its revenue on technology.

And in an increasingly digital age, the private sector’s decision to pursue technological innovation should come as no surprise. Technology has the means not only to drive innovation but also to improve growth and efficiency across the board. On average, those same companies who invested in technology reported better time to market, superior customer and employee experience, and higher operational efficiency. Of course, both revenue growth and profitability inevitably follow. Yet the social sector remains behind the curve.

However, with pandemic relief efforts underway in small and large ways all around the world, this is the time for every social good organization, regardless of size or mission, to embrace innovation.

The U.S. administration has called our current situation a “once-in-a-generation economic crisis” and has duly made a “once-in-a-generation investment” to ease the burden for as many people and organizations as possible. This investment promises millions of jobs, modernized infrastructure and the ability to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity. We believe that there is a second opportunity at play here: a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity for social good organizations to leverage additional funding to propel programs and operations forward — to work together to harness the unmatched power of technology and data.

Once we do this, we can transform operations, improve outcomes and maximize impact to recover stronger.


Technology and data have unmatched power to help social good organizations scale quickly and serve more people, and case management software is one key technology to support this goal. Case management software allows social good organizations to track and improve service delivery, adapt to program changes as they happen, and monitor results in real time. Through customizable reporting and analytics, case management software even allows organizations to quantify and clarify the effectiveness of program outputs over time.

By implementing case management software, social good organizations can achieve the same efficiency milestones as their private-sector counterparts — including an average of 35 percent reduction in time spent on data capture, a 40 percent reduction in the time spent managing service delivery and a 40 percent to 75 percent reduction in the time spent on reporting and analysis.

The results go beyond the numbers too. The reduction in manual effort spent gathering information and compiling reports has freed up valuable time for hard-working front-line staffers at the heart of our industry to focus on what really matters — serving people, families and communities — and not on filling out spreadsheets or cumbersome paper forms. In turn, with data and analysis more easily accessible, organizations can assess and optimize the programs they deliver in order to maximize their impact and more efficiently demonstrate that impact to stakeholders and funders.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, our clients rely on Social Solutions more than ever. Our technology has allowed them to adapt to a highly virtual environment faster than ever — in some cases, overnight.

Caseworkers often spend way too much time managing data manually and dealing with communications, compliance and reporting challenges — rather than spending their time directly serving people in need. A large part of this issue stems from the fact that many social organizations are simply spread far too thin.

Case management technology alleviates these kinds of issues once and for all by helping social organizations allocate their scarce resources as efficiently as possible and drive productivity gains by allowing staff to input relevant data into just one database, rather than spreading it out across multiple different applications.

This gives program participants the ability to enter their own information wherever they are, remotely or in the office, and provides the tools social good organizations need to reduce time spent managing service delivery and reporting, allowing staffers to focus on driving better outcomes for their communities instead.


Technology remains at the heart of helping organizations in the social sector stay afloat in a post-pandemic age. To illustrate this, let’s revisit the example of the program enrollment process. Giving participants the option to enroll online rather than just in person — and on paper — makes the process of getting help significantly less stressful. It’s also much more straightforward.

Have you ever tried to create a comprehensive and accurate participant document based on handwritten notes and documents that are incomplete, illegible or filled with mistakes? When an organization makes the switch to digital intake forms, staffers don’t have to decode what participants are trying to say, and participants don’t have to go through the stress of discussing their situations face to face.

This also gives participants the freedom to go “beyond the page” and include a deep dive on personal information that paper may not easily accommodate or that may be too emotional to discuss in person. Lastly, there is far less room for error. The information provided is clear — allowing organizations to determine a fit quickly and efficiently while improving the overall data quality of a program.

If the pandemic made one thing clear, it’s that the time has come for the social sector to choose innovation. A foundation of technology and data will allow individual organizations to partner together and make a real impact on the communities we serve. With powerful technological tools on our side, community-based organizations can create a network of care that is coordinated, connected and data-driven — one that better meets the needs of individuals and communities alike.

There’s no doubt that public-sector and nonprofit organizations deliver extraordinary impact. That’s why it’s important we provide access to every tool available, including the same kind of data and technology that businesses in the private sector have harnessed for years. Together, we can break down barriers so that all community-based organizations can tap into the power of technology and amplify the power of their work. This is truly a once-in-a-generation chance to work together and create lasting change. The future of social good is now.

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Social Solutions

Social Solutions, a Public Benefit Corporation, is the leading provider of cloud software for nonprofit and public-sector social service organizations. Our Apricot, Penelope and ETO products offer clients the most comprehensive and secure social good platform available, including case management, participant connection, data insights, outcome analytics and funder enablement solutions. Based in Austin, Texas, Social Solutions was founded over 20 years ago by social workers who saw the potential of technology to improve outcomes and help accelerate lasting social change in the communities they serve. To date, more than 90,000 users have adopted the Social Solutions platform to improve their data by measuring and optimizing outcomes. It was recently announced that Social Solutions is combining with EveryAction and CyberGrants to create the second-largest and fastest-growing social good software company in the world. Social Solutions is backed by APAX and Vista Equity Partners and serves clients in the U.S., U.K., Canada, New Zealand and Australia. For more information, please visit our website,, or follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.