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Partners In Health manages gift review process with PowerApps

Headshot of article author Sameer Bhangar

Partners In Health banner image

“This kind of tool is going to totally transform our work.” – Aubrey Davis, Senior Development Officer, Partners In Health


Partners In Health is a Boston based social justice and health care nonprofit that serves impoverished communities in 10 countries. By establishing long-term relationships with sister organizations based in settings of poverty, Partners In Health (PIH) strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and to serve as an antidote to despair. PIH adopted the Power Platform to transform their gift (donation) review process – they use PowerApps for gift officers to review donations and take action, and Power BI for management to get rich insights. The solution was built by Bella Chih-Ning, a Manager on PIH’s Analytics and Applications team who did not have any prior app development experience.


Business Scenario

Partners In Health relies on its individual donors for about half of its funding each year, while the other half comes mainly from government grants, corporations and foundations. They have about 10 gift officers who are responsible for stewarding their 1000+ most generous individual donors. PIH wanted to improve gift officers’ abilities to manage their portfolios by seeing gifts as they arrive as well giving them a 360-degree view of their donor portfolios.

PIH’s Gift Review PowerApp in action PIH’s Gift Review PowerApp in action


Before Power Platform – business process, challenges and opportunities

Gift officers lacked a defined process for managing portfolios. They would save reports and donor lists in various formats (Excel, CRM, etc.) and in various places (desktops, shared drives, SharePoint, etc.), which posed several challenges:

  • There was no standardization, data governance, or any agreed upon process for storing or sharing information. As a result – important data was getting buried in emails, lost, and confused when instead it could be leveraged to optimize operations and donor relations.
  • They used a CRM system which was old and rigid. It had limited capabilities for reporting or workflows, and gift officers were struggling to gain actionable insights into their data. They also found the user interface to be clunky and had difficulties with access on mobile devices.

PIH needed a solution that would standardize data sets, optimize workflows, and enhance overall gift officers’ abilities to manage donations and donors.


Power Platform solution – Gift Review App

Bella Chih-Ning, Analytics and Applications Manager at PIH, first learned about PowerApps at a local App-In-A-Day training in Burlington, MA. Bella was familiar with SQL and analytics tools but had no prior experience with application development. After the training session, despite not having traditional development experience, she felt empowered to digitize the gift review process into a consolidated app solution. What transpired was a PowerApps canvas app that gift officers could use to manage many aspects of donations, and Power BI reports to gain insights.


PiH App In A Day Quote


Upon launching the Gift Review PowerApp, gift officers could view donations immediately as they come in, add relevant notes, and ensure they are assigned to the appropriate fund. This creates a To-Do List for them to complete. For example, if Microsoft makes a donation, the gift officer would review the donation to ensure it is assigned to the appropriate campaign, coded to the correct gift type, and assigned to right fund. If there are questions, they can email the DevOps team directly within the PowerApp. Once everything is clear, the gift officers mark the check list as “done”, which becomes visible to their managers.

Throughout the Gift Review PowerApp development process, Bella conducted requirements gathering meetings with various gift officers, managers, and supporting teams to gain a holistic understanding of the current process, desired process and potential pitfalls. Together they leveraged PIH’s SQL based data warehouse to transform raw CRM data into usable datasets for PowerApps and Power BI. Data is stored in PIH’s SQL data warehouse and SharePoint Online. When gift officers complete the review of a gift, the review data gets pushed from SharePoint to PIH’s SQL data warehouse for reporting.

Together, these tools not only give gift officers the visibility they need, they also serve as a management tool when reviewed together with supervisors. Gift officers can work with their managers to ensure they are focusing on the right areas of their portfolios and are on track relative to their individual and team goals.


The PowerApp shows donor gifts and the status of the To-Do list


Overlay screen to update the To-Do list with actions completed


PowerApp features:

  • A simple user experience that works while traveling
  • A view that defaults to the portfolio of the gift officer who is signed in
  • Various filtering capabilities to search for gifts in question
  • Checklist, with dynamic questions, that users can use to keep track of their to-dos for each gift
  • A simple way to email the DevOps team directly from the app

Power BI features:

  • Managers of the gift officers use Power BI for reporting, which includes individual portfolio reports that provide a holistic view of donors, goals for the year, and upcoming To-Dos. Features:
  • A simple, clean user experience
  • Ability to filter by gift officer to see only their portfolio
  • All relevant data in one place (donors, gifts, actions)
  • Link to Gift Review PowerApp and data
  • Interactive filters so gift officers can utilize the report to answer various questions


Power BI portfolio details shown in a map view


Power BI: portfolio actions shown in a calendar and list view


Benefits from using the Power Platform

Partners In Health has benefited in the following ways from this solution:

  • Overall improvement on portfolio management with a shared understanding of portfolio metrics and real-time, enhanced visibility into portfolios
  • Notifications and workflows tied to donations, ultimately enabling gift officers to be better at their jobs, spending more time with donors rather than spending time digging up information
  • Clean and simple user interface that is easier to use for non-tech-savvy gift officers
  • The Power BI reports have made report creation and management extremely scalable with easy to implement updates and a single version of a report that serves a large audience
  • The Gift Review App has created a foundation for connecting and enhancing other business process and has led to the development of additional Power Platform scenarios, some in development and some in ideation

Overall the Power Platform is providing Partners In Health with the tools necessary to raise more money, which ultimately means they can better serve their patients and succeed in their mission to bring first-rate health care to those most in need.


Solution architecture



Additional Power Platform solutions

The Gift Review App has created a foundation for connecting and enhancing other business process and has led to the development of additional Power Platform scenarios. Here are a few examples:


Site Quarterly Dashboards (In Production)

Power BI reports are reviewed quarterly by global management teams. A PowerApp embedded in the Power BI dashboard allows site leadership to explain trends and performances while using the dashboard.


PowerApp embedded within a Power BI dashboard


Project Management Help Requests (In Production)

Simple request app embedded in SharePoint for folks to request project management help from the Project Management Working Group. Project Management is one of PIH’s professional development focus areas.


Donor Engagement Requests (Pilot)

Simple request app embedded in SharePoint for folks to request Development Team resources for donor events.



Formulary App (In Development)

Mobile PowerApp for PIH pharmacists and clinicians to view what medicines and medical supplies are on the PIH formulary, including relevant details for each.