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Woman walking a guide dog in the snow

Lions Foundation of
Canada Dog Guides

Unleashing potential
After being matched with her dog Vesper, Ellen feels her life has changed for the better. Read the story of how Dog Guides’ digital transformation is helping support more clients like her.

Puppy outdoors in grass wearing a branded vest. Thanks to a new Salesforce CRM, it's easier than ever for Dog Guides to see all its data and manage the entire lifecycle of service dogs like adorable Flinn.

The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides partnered with Slalom to replace paper files with modern technology that helps the organization serve more people, more efficiently.

Impact

Salesforce and custom apps provide a streamlined and digitized experience, giving the organization visibility into its entire client lifecycle.

Industry

Nonprofit & philanthropy

Key Services

Data icon
Data
Organizational change icon
Organizational change & talent
Systems implementation - German icon - Systemimplementierung
Systems implementation

Key Technologies/Platforms

  • Salesforce


The Vision

The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides was ready to accelerate “paws-itive” change by becoming a digital-first nonprofit.

The Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides (Dog Guides) aims to empower Canadians with disabilities by providing them with a dog guide at no cost, helping them navigate the world with a greater sense of confidence and independence. In addition to pairing dog guides with people, the organization also manages the dog’s entire lifecycle—from breeding through retirement—and provides ongoing support to all its clients.

When COVID-19 hit, the organization was faced with a major dilemma: all the information on clients, dogs, and donors resided in physical files at the organization’s main office in Oakville, requiring team members to travel and retrieve the paperwork in person. Relying on paper files also made it impossible to see the connections between dogs and stakeholders. And having data in multiple places made it hard to get a clear picture on the overall operation. A person could be a client, volunteer, and donor but the organization wouldn’t know that because their information would be in three separate databases. It was time for a digital transformation. 



We needed to get into this century. There was a huge risk factor. If anything happened to that building or those files, all our client records and donor info would be gone. These are really critical pieces to the organization.


Bev Crandell
CEO, Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides 

Three guide dogs laying in a row on the floor awaiting a command
“When a dog’s potential is unleashed, so is a person’s.” That’s the message and mission behind the work at Dog Guides. Here, three dogs patiently await a command and the opportunity to serve.


The Solution

The Slalom team implemented a Salesforce solution with custom apps to deliver immediate and tangible impact for Dog Guides’ employees, clients, and volunteers.


We worked together as one. 

Having previously worked in the tech industry, Gina Lijoi—the director of programs and client services at Dog Guides—knew it was important to find a partner that would take the time to understand the complexities of the organization. 

 The Slalom team learned the ins and outs of the organization—such as the breeding and training program—while also gaining an understanding of the relationships between clients, foster families, donors, and other constituents. 

“Very early on, it started to feel like we were a single team. There was no division,” says Lijoi. “When the implementation team showed up, they knew who we were. They knew the titles of people on our staff. They knew what we did and understood our needs and our operation. We were astounded. So, to show up that ready, I feel like we hit the ground running.” 

Couple sitting on a couch with a dog at their feet
Dog Guides’ client Ellen and her partner relaxing at home with Vesper, a diabetic alert dog who’s trained to save her from experiencing dangerously low blood sugar levels. ​

We provided digital solutions that fit Dog Guides’ unique challenges. 
  • Among the immediate priorities were implementing Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack and a full website and data migration.  
  • We then worked with Dog Guides to customize an app that captured vital points and allowed the organization to track the end-to-end lifecycle for dogs and clients in one place.
  • One of the most intricate aspects of the organization is the breeding program. As part of this process, breeders use a “coefficient of inbreeding”—a complex formula that helps them measure the inbreeding levels and determine the ideal matches. Slalom embraced the challenge to break down the formula, verify it with the geneticist, and work with the developer to build it with Lightning Web Components. Now a chart in Salesforce dictates all the numbers in a clear, digestible way.  
  • An investment in change management and ongoing training also played a major role in the overall excitement and adoption of the new CRM. Almost 100% of users signed in on day one of go-live. 
Dog Guide's trainers with dogs
Head trainer Courtney Starr (R) and two other staff members (L) work with dogs outside on a snowy day. The new digital solutions will aid Courtney in finding the perfect matches for these dogs, and others like them.

We witnessed unexpected ripple effects. 

Now that they’re trained on a central, unified platform, employees and volunteers can spend less time on administration and more time supporting their dogs and clients. 

One example of this support happened shortly after a Slalom consultant led an #IamRemarkable workshop with a group of volunteers. A mother traveled to accept a dog for her child on the autism spectrum, but nearly left the facility after struggling with feelings of doubt and unworthiness. 

Fortunately, a staff member used what she’d learned in the workshop and coached the mother to reflect on three things that make her a remarkable person. The mom stayed and trained with the dog, and now her child will get the support they need. 

Dog Guide trainer listening to a dog
Courtney bonds with a dog guide. In addition to capturing a dog’s history—from breeding through retirement— the new tools make it simpler for Dog Guides to keep track of clients, donors, and volunteers across multiple programs.

It wasn’t just giving them a CRM—it was changing the way they approach how they support their community.

Alysa McCarty
Engagement Lead and Principal, Slalom Canada

Slalom consultant posing with a dog
To help her fully understand the mission and impact of the organization, Slalom principal Alysa McCarty completes an obstacle course used for training the canine vision dog guides. ​


Customer Impact

Dog Guides’ employees and volunteers are delighted by their ability to access information and document communication with clients.

~100%
of users signed in to the CRM on day one
1
unified digital platform to replace paper and spreadsheets
2
custom apps—Dog Tracker and Client Tracker






Let’s solve together.