Assistance League of Charlotte reached out to Apparo for help with a tech assessment and plan to address their infrastructure pain points, security and policies.
Assistance League of Charlotte (ALC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families through community-based philanthropic programs by providing food, clothes, mentors, and education. Their programs are designed to address the issue of upward mobility by providing children an opportunity to succeed. The students they serve attend 27 of Charlotte’s high-poverty elementary schools.
ALC leadership came to Apparo for help with a technology plan and budget. Apparo matched them to a corporate volunteer team from Coca-Cola Consolidated to help assess their current use of a technology and provide a roadmap for improvement, including a budget. They hoped to increase operational efficiencies, improve collaboration, budget effectively for technology, standardize hardware and software and be able to access data remotely through cloud technology. Coca-Cola Consolidated also generously sponsored this project. See PDF of Project Snapshot here.
Through improved communication standards, as recommended in the tech plan, ALC volunteers anticipate the organization running more smoothly as a whole.
ALC shared the challenges that have come with a lack of collaboration throughout the organization and how they anticipate recommendations in the technology plan will help resolve these issues. Margaret Allen, one of ALC’s key volunteers shared, “Assistance League needs a broad view of our processes. People have been working on different pieces, so we don’t have everything working cohesively together to reach a combined goal.”
Throughout the organization there has been a lack of protocol regarding which tools are used to collaborate, as well as where to store information. Don Lisman, another ALC volunteer, echoed Margaret’s challenges, “I’ve been volunteering with this organization for about 13 years, and we’ve had many people join the organization who have technological knowledge, but working together has consistently been the difficult component. That’s where this initiative will really make a difference for us because we’ll have something concrete to refer back to in terms of how it should be managed.”
Sharing information more effectively across the organization will save team members 300+ hours annually.
In their current state, ALC volunteer groups store data separately, which makes it difficult to find information. When information has been tracked down, there have been problems regarding access and organization. Margaret shared, “Especially now with Kathy [Reardon, President-Elect of ALC’s board] bv coming into her new role as President, she’s going to need an easy way to access information as she onboards. Having the ability to share files across the organization will make us more efficient, and will allow us to serve our community more effectively.” Organization-wide initiatives such as sharing Monday morning emails with updates and ensuring everyone knows where to find the minutes from previous meetings will take far less time because all the information will be available in one central location.
In addition to having a central location for data, by transitioning to software solutions that work together, ALC anticipates saving time by not having to enter information into multiple systems. As Margaret explained, “If we’re working in a system that can speak directly to QuickBooks, for example, it will free up so much time just by syncing together instead of having to manually enter data into different spreadsheets, applications, etc.” Measures like this will help volunteers who handle back office work free up time, which should allow them more time to participate in philanthropy work and other aspects of the organization they haven’t had the opportunity to explore yet because they’ve been too busy with data entry and management.
These recommendations will help ALC mitigate risks by protecting donor information and securing the organization’s intellectual property.
A risk that is anticipated to be mitigated going forward is singular people having the training and knowledge to execute tasks. Kathy Reardon, the President-Elect for ALC’s board, shared, “We have one woman who is extremely talented that runs our website. She does a great job, but I don’t know that she has anyone under her wing who could take over if necessary. That’s where big gaps have been for us. So if we can start focusing on training people to take over different aspects of the operation, as recommended, that will set us up for success.” Through streamlined processes and collaboration protocols, training new volunteers will be easier so there will be more capacity to train multiple people on tasks, ensuring that knowledge is spread out going forward and tasks will continue to get done if people cannot uphold their obligations or leave the organization.
Improved technology all-around will allow ALC to tackle virtual fundraising initiatives more effectively, allowing them to increase their revenue and serve more students and families in Charlotte.
By implementing the recommendations in the tech plan, ALC anticipates having better infrastructure to implement virtual fundraising initiatives. They’ve done two so far, and have a third Mother’s Day campaign planned. Kathy shared the success of the campaigns with us, “We’ve had two mini campaigns so far. For the first one, we exceed our goal by $2000 and for the second we are currently already $500 ahead. So far we’ve been successful, but I think we can create more in-depth campaigns once we have the technology to back it up.” Margaret echoed the success of their virtual campaigns and attributed some success to the virtual aspect of them, “I would say 1/3 of our gifts for Giving Tuesday we never would have received if we didn’t make it easy to donate through a donate page.”
The money ALC raises goes directly to their programs that include supplying over 2000 uniforms to children in 2020, partnering with Second Harvest for food pantries which has helped them serve 200+ families, and Teen Court programs. “The more money we raise, the more we can do with our programs,” Margaret explained, “The technology plan is going to help us serve more of the community by setting us up for success in the back end.” ALC is looking forward to embracing virtual fundraising more comfortably with their technology recommendations in place.
Consolidating efforts to one platform that does it all for ALC may reduce costs by $2000+.
One of the main goals for ALC is to consolidate to one platform that serves a variety of the organization’s needs. By doing this, they anticipate they may be able to save a two thousand dollars or more. Margaret shared, “One of our soft costs right now is that we all use our own personal equipment. Going forward, we want to eliminate that, as was recommended, so we’ll see an up-front cost for that but I think it will save us money in the long run.”
Both our volunteer and nonprofit team shared their gratitude for the project.
Susan Brooks, one of the volunteers at ALC, shared her excitement for implementing the recommendations, “I went into this process thinking there was no way anyone could understand what we were doing. I was really impressed at how much time the Coca-Cola team took to ensure the technology plan would make sense for our organization going forward. When I saw the technology plan, it all made sense and I understood how things were supposed to be. I’m really excited for us to implement these recommendations, because I think it will make all the difference.”
Sridhar Dasu, one of our volunteers from Coca-Cola Consolidated, Inc., shared his gratitude for this experience, “Being able to give back to our community has meant so much to each of us. It’s really nice to break out of the everyday. While the processes we used are the same, being able to look at a different organization and give recommendations to someone new really keeps things exciting. Having so many people from your organization engaged with this process made it run smoothly, and I believe it will help ensure your success going forward. It was a pleasure to be part of this project.”