Manage Client Intake and Referrals

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Create inbound and outbound referral case records.
  • Work through the client intake process.

Get to Know the People You Serve

Our fictional nonprofit, No More Homelessness (NMH), helps its clients transition from homelessness to stable housing. The group’s work is housing-first, so they prioritize getting clients into short-term housing before helping them establish long-term housing and economic stability.

Tim Hill could use some of that help. He first turns to NMH for emergency services on a referral from another organization. Let’s follow along as he goes through the intake process and starts his journey with NMH.

No More Homelessness client Tim Hill talks with nonprofit staff at the short-term housing facility.

Understand Intakes and Referrals

Case Management intake and referral records help organizations collect the necessary information to place a potential client into the right program or make sure that a client is connected with the right external organization.

Intakes help to track everything you need to qualify a client for one of your programs, from basic contact information to assessments, all guided by handy checklists you can customize for each program or intake process. You can create intakes directly from the Intakes tab or from an inbound referral.

Referrals are types of case records that track recommendations for clients to receive services from your organization or another group. There are two types of referrals:

  • Inbound referrals are for services at your organization. These can come from other organizations or another department within your own organization, such as a call center.
  • Outbound referrals are for services at another organization, like recommending a client enroll in a program at another organization for a service not offered by your organization.

We’ll use all of these objects as we follow Tim’s process with NMH.

Create Inbound Referral Case Records

Tim has been attending a program with a veterans’ organization when he becomes housing insecure. The staff at that organization knows that NMH can help, so they send an email to refer Tim to the short-term housing program.

Rosa Sanchez, an NMH Case Manager, receives the email and starts to create an inbound referral. Let’s follow along.

  1. Click Cases in the navigation bar.
  2. Click New on the Cases homepage.

    The New button on the Cases page

  3. In the New Case popup, select Inbound Referral and click Next.

    The case type selection popup

  4. In the Subject field, type Short-term housing candidate.
  5. Click into the Contact Name search box to see if Tim is already an NMH client—which is always your first step whenever you do an intake or create a referral. Tim isn’t a contact in the system yet, so we can add him as a new contact. Click + New Contact, enter Tim’s information, and click Save.
  6. In Case Origin, select Email.
  7. In Referral Organization, find and select the referring organization. The local veterans’ organization is already an account in the NMH system, so Rosa selects them. She also adds a Referral Organization Contact.
  8. In Program, find and select the Emergency Services (Short-term Housing) program.
  9. Set the Status to New.
  10. Set the Priority to Medium.
  11. Add a few details to the Description box.

    The New Case: Inbound Referral popup with Tim’s details

  12. Click Save.

Rosa gives Tim a call and invites him to the short-term housing facility to meet and go through the intake process. When Tim arrives, Rosa opens the referral record, sets the status to Working, and clicks Create Intake.

The inbound referral record

Getting to Know the Intake Page

Now that the intake record is open, let’s pause to take a look at what’s included.

The intake record

The status bar (1) shows progress on the intake. While this intake will only take a few minutes, intake for other programs could take much longer and require more back and forth with a client. For now, Rosa clicks In Progress and then Mark as Current Stage.

The checklist template (2) allows you to add a pre-configured checklist for each of your intake processes to make sure you’re collecting all of the information you need. NMH has set up checklist templates for each of its programs, so Rosa selects the short-term housing template and clicks Create Checklist. The checklist is pinned in the left rail, so it’s always visible. Plus, if your admin has configured the checklist to serve as navigation, you can click on a checklist item to quickly scroll to the corresponding section in the right panel.



Checklist templates are created using objects called Action Plan Templates and Action Plan Template Groups. For more details on how to configure these elements, check out the documentation in Resources below and talk to your Salesforce Admin.

If the checklist tells you what needs to be done, the related lists and details areas (3) in the right panel are where you do it. The right panel includes everything you need to review inbound referrals, record basic client information, upload documents, create and view assessments, record an intake decision, create program engagements, and create outbound referrals. After you complete each step, you can go back to the checklist and cross it off.

Now that we understand the intake page better, let’s get to work.

The Intake Process

With a checklist template selected, Rosa knows just what she needs to do to make sure Tim is a good fit for the program.

First, Rosa asks Tim a few details that didn’t come with the referral, like his legal name, pronouns, birthdate and age category, and some contact details. All of this can be recorded on the intake record by clicking the edit pencil icon ( An edit icon that looks like a pencil ) next to any field. As you edit, changed fields will be highlighted yellow until you click Save.

Editing contact details from the intake record

Rosa takes Tim’s picture and attaches it to his contact records, as well. 

A complete contact record on the intake record

As Rosa works, she checks items off on the checklist. It looks like she’s completed every task required in the first group, so it’s time to click into the next group and move on.

The checklist with all of the first task group completed

The next item on the checklist: intake criteria questions and some paperwork. Rosa goes through a few NMH-standard questionnaires and asks Tim to fill out a few forms and provide some additional information.

Rosa can scan and upload these documents to Tim’s intake record or contact record. Completed forms just for this program (like an intake-specific form) are uploaded to the Files box, while documents NMH needs to refer back to and keep with Tim’s contact record (like a copy of his photo ID) go in the Files for Parent Contact box. Once Rosa does this, she crosses these items off on the checklist so she knows where to pick this up later if the intake gets interrupted.

 Files uploaded in the Upload Documents area

Two of the questionnaires Rosa asks Tim to fill out give her the information she needs for assessment scores, which she can enter right on the intake record. (We’ll take an in-depth look at assessments in Unit 5, so stick around.)

Assessment scores

That completes the checklist. Tim meets all of the requirements, so he’s approved for the short-term housing program. Rosa now needs to do two things: record that Tim is approved, and create a new program engagement record that shows his enrollment in an NMH program. While it’s optional for intake, she also wants to create an outbound referral for another program because Tim has other needs that NMH is not able to help with.

First, let’s update the intake results.

  1. In the Intake Results area in the Intake Details panel, click the edit pencil icon (An edit icon that looks like a pencil) next to any field.
  2. Mark the Result as Approved.
  3. Set the Close Date to today.
  4. Add a few notes in the description. Rosa adds some quick observations she jotted down.
  5. Click Save.

    The Intake Details box

Now, let’s create a program engagement for Tim’s involvement in the short-term housing program. (If you want to learn more about program engagements and other record types in Case Management, check out the Program Management with Nonprofit Cloud module linked in Resources.)

  1. Click the New Program Engagement button in the Intake Result area.
  2. Search and select the Emergency Services (Short-term Housing) program. (You could also search and select a program cohort, but NMH isn’t using cohorts for this program.)
  3. Select a Role of Client.
  4. Select a Stage of Active.
  5. Select Today as the Start Date.
  6. Click Save.

    The New Program Engagement popup

Create an Outbound Referral from Intake

And, finally, the outbound referral. Tim is dealing with addiction. NMH doesn’t offer addiction-specific services but has a partner organization that does.    

  1. Click New Outbound Referral in the Intake Result area.
  2. The Contact Name should automatically populate.
  3. Find and select the Referral Organization and Referral Organization Contact. NMH has both its partner organization and their intake manager in the system.
  4. Leave the Status as New and the Referral Result as Unknown. These can be updated later.
  5. Add some descriptive text to the Subject and Description fields.
  6. Click Save.

Rosa clicks refresh (The refresh button) on the Outbound Referrals panel to see the new referral in the related list.

The Outbound Referrals record

Rosa could also create an inbound referral for another program at NMH. Although it may feel like an outbound referral from Rosa's perspective, it's an inbound referral from the perspective of NMH’s other program teams. Be sure to mark these types of internal requests as inbound referrals so that it’s successfully added to other teams’ referrals queues.

This is the beginning of Rosa’s plan for Tim. In the next unit, we’ll follow along as they work together to create a case plan using Case Management.



If you manage the intake process and want to see a high-level view of all of your organization’s intakes, check out the Intake Summary dashboard, packaged with Case Management. Click the Manage the Referral Pipeline link in Resources for more details.