Establishing a reliable record-keeping system is an important task to approach in the first few months. While administration and paperwork can seem tedious and may take program staff time away from working directly with Dreamers, keeping detailed records serves many valuable functions.
Good record-keeping does the following:
- Documents Dreamers’ progress. IHDF has the unusual advantage of working with a group of students over a long period of time. Keeping detailed records of each Dreamer’s progress in many areas provides IHDF staff with the information they need to identify a student’s strengths, foresee potential problems, and provide appropriate services and individual guidance to the Dreamers.
- Ensures program continuity. In the event that a staff member leaves the program, good records enable a new staff member to assume his or her responsibilities with a basic knowledge of the Dreamers and their personal situations.
- Facilitates program staff & funder communication. Part of Affiliate leadership’s role is to keep the board and funders informed of Dreamers’ progress. By keeping thorough records, programs can easily provide status reports on each student and an overview of the program’s operations.
- Assists in program evaluation. Consistently recording information about the Dreamers and the program’s activities will allow Affiliate and program leadership to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the program and make adjustments accordingly. Much of this type of program improvement occurs informally through observation and trial and error, but good records help pinpoint specific trends in the program and allow the program to substantiate its efforts to adjust with specific facts. Sharing this information with the National team will help to ensure appropriate support, training, technical assistance, and partnerships are provided to support the success of each program.
- Supports fundraising and outreach efforts. As Projects set out to raise funds for special initiatives or establish partnerships within the community, they will often be asked to furnish certain information about their programs. Projects should be able to easily answer questions such as: How many Dreamers participate in the after-school program two or more times per week? Do Dreamers who attend tutoring have better grades than those who do not? What percentage of Dreamers read at grade level? Once grants or in-kind donations are received, funders will also want documentation of the effectiveness of the initiatives they have financed. Good record-keeping practices will help the program illustrate to donors the value of their support.
Setting up your data management system
Upon formation and approval of an Affiliate or new program, the leadership team will be contacted by a member of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation for training and onboarding onto Salesforce, the central IHDF data management system. At this time, staff members will be provided with login credentials, be trained on using the system, and learn about reporting requirements.
At the start of the program, a profile for each Dreamer will be entered into the system. For more information about what data affiliates should collect at intake, download the Intake templates linked at the top of this page. You may also access them here. Having a consistent intake and reporting process will save countless staff hours and improve service and case management.