With Talend and Stitch, Save the Children Germany also saves time and manual effort
By Kyle Brown
Creating a better future for children most in need
“Save the Children is the world's largest independent child's rights organization,” says Tim Winkelsett, Data Engineer at Save the Children Germany. “We just try to improve the lives of children.”
Founded in 1919, Save the Children currently operates in 120 countries, and has changed the lives of more than a billion children worldwide. The humanitarian organization was originally created in response to the poverty and suffering among children in Austria and Germany after the first world war.
More than 100 years later, the global situation has changed. “In Germany, we are quite a rich country,” says Winkelsett, “and have the luck that there are not many disasters here. So, we give money to those who really need it.”
“We are working with the Save the Children international organization, and they route the funds to the areas where money is needed most. We work with agencies who are on the street collecting donations for us. We need to integrate these donations into our Salesforce system — our CRM — so that we can do all the invoices and so on.”
Outgrowing a manually driven data integration tool
As the German NGO started working with more fundraising agencies, they faced growing pains in processing all the incoming financial data. They were relying on a niche data integration tool to process donations, and keeping their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system updated took extensive effort.
To save effort and improve results, Save the Children Germany chose to implement a modern data management solution with Talend Data Integration and Microsoft Azure. Now, Talend automates integration and quality as data moves between Salesforce and their staging environment, a Microsoft SQL Azure Database. “Before we send the data into Salesforce, it's stored at the staging environment,” Winkelsett explains. “Then, we run some data quality checks.”
“For example, is the IBAN correct? Is the spelling of the email address correct? Is there a phone number? There are some very easy checks. When the check is successful, it goes immediately into Salesforce. And when it's not, we are getting an email from Talend so we know that there is an error and we need to check the data again.”
Modern data management lets Save the Children Germany undo data silos while building data trust. “I think it's a common challenge that there are so many Excel files across departments,” says Winkelsett. “Now we have created a data warehouse that we can rely on. When we are talking about the financial data here in our data warehouse, which we have created with Talend, we can trust the numbers are right because we are checking.”
Growing up as a data-driven organization
The time savings Winkelsett has realized are staggering. “The manual process to load data from two agencies via text files used to last roughly two hours once a week. Now we load data from four different agencies, fully automated, once a day. We used to export text files every month to generate a monthly report in Excel. One person had to check and build this report, which took him around eight hours every month. Now we have access to new data every day while saving time, and we’ve improved our data quality as well.”
That’s important, because the data itself is only getting more complex as Save the Children works with more agencies that have their own ways of organizing and sharing information. “Different names for the columns, different data types for date formats, and so on. Three of them are using APIs, and one other provides us with an Excel file, sharing on SharePoint.”
If we canceled Talend right now, we would have to hire at least two full-time employees so that they can just type in the data and bring it all from A to B — and the data accuracy could suffer.— Tim Winkelsett, Data Engineer, Save the Children Germany
Plus, instead of relying on institutional knowledge to maintain a niche tool, Save the Children Germany now uses an industry-standard solution supported by world-class training. “When I have a problem which I can’t solve on my own, I look into Talend Academy,” says Winkelsett. “It has helped me a lot so far, for example on the SharePoint project. There are really some good examples to get the data from SharePoint.”
Saving time to pursue other data projects
The CRM data wasn’t the only task Winkelsett was juggling. “Since I'm a one-man show here at Save the Children Germany, I have to do everything. So, I cannot say that anybody else is going to do the donor part, while I do the financial part.”
Between Talend and Stitch, Winkelsett has more time to address data challenges across the organization. “Stitch is helping me to save some time as well. It's quite an effort to work with the different data sources here. For example, I tried to implement a Facebook connection via Java and this was quite a hassle. Stitch is just more intuitive. I just need to click.”
Winkelsett looks forward to creating a Customer 360 (or rather, Donor 360) view as he integrates more data sources. “I think this has been one of the major issues here, that we are not able to really connect the data to each other — what is the donor doing when he or she is inside the donor journey? Where is she clicking? And is she really donating? When she is donating? What has she done before? I don't have the data sources yet, so I need some more data sources. We have recently implemented GA4 and I need to adapt the data here. This is a vision for the future.”
There’s no time like the present to pursue your data-driven vision
Save the Children Germany has joined the data revolution. “Nonprofit organizations are not so data-driven yet compared to other companies in other areas, but we are going in a good direction.”
Are you a nonprofit organization interested in using Qlik and Talend together? Contact your Talend representative or submit an inquiry.