Augustine Literacy Project (ALP) reached out to Apparo for help efficiently tracking student and volunteer tutor data and metrics.
ALP used Bloomerang to track the tutors and Excel spreadsheets to track student data, making it difficult and time consuming to create reports and share impact stories with the community and donors. Apparo matched them to a volunteer team from Duke Energy to help them tackle this problem.
The volunteer team conducted a business process assessment and created the business requirements needed for a CRM application. They also provided marketplace research, demos, price comparisons, and a final CRM recommendation of Apricot 360. ALP is able to take advantage of a grant that provides 50% off the price for 5 years.
This Community Impact Project yielded “a big leap forward.”
At the project wrap up meeting, Ellen Babb, Business Office Manager at ALP, shared her perspective on the issues that brought her to Apparo and the impact of the project.
“Before this project,” Ellen explains, “we were contorting our donor CRM system (Bloomerang) to try using it as a program management tool. It was not designed to do that and it made assessing student progress, tutor retention, school-specific performance and other key metrics very difficult and time consuming. We would download data into Excel for tracking and used a lot of manual workarounds. When you needed to track a specific time period, you had to hope that someone had downloaded data on the right date. Our data is critical for program management and our ability to demonstrate and communicate our impact to grantors, donors and the community.”
Today, they anticipate reaping many benefits with Apricot 360:
- Having a proper case management tool will enrich service to their students and allow ALP to expand into new programming. Ellen explains that “instead of searching through a list, we can get a full view of every student and match them for more programs. That’s a big leap forward for us. It’s going to help us a lot. To pull this off before, we would have been swimming around in deep spreadsheet land. When the data is efficient and online and everyone had access to it, that’s better for our whole program.”
- The efficiency of the new system is anticipated to save over 160 hours of staff time annually, equating to $3,200, which will allow staff increased time to focus on serving students.
- Enriched service to students is likely to yield more impact, which may result in increased donations and grants. Improved data and reporting will allow ALP to tell their full story, also potentially increasing funding.
- Risk will be decreased through elimination of manual reporting errors and controls that are in place to easily track compliance and training activities, photo sharing permissions and outstanding items.
Duke Energy volunteer Heather Liechty shares how she benefited from the experience. “This taught me a lot about balancing a nonprofit’s budget and required features when approaching the marketplace for a solution. I also worked on my skills as a consultant, figuring out the best way to deliver advice. It opened my eyes to ways to improve my communication.”
Ellen shares her appreciation of the volunteers and Apparo. “I was really amazed at how fast the team absorbed information about our organization and was able to use their expertise to zero in on what really matters. When people are good at what they do and can bring that to nonprofits through Apparo, that’s hugely beneficial. We couldn’t otherwise afford to have that kind of tech expertise. I am so grateful to Apparo and Duke Energy. Apparo provided directional knowledge and structure while Duke Energy provided team members with technical expertise and insight. ALP is excited to have a software solution that allows us to fully improve and grow our mission.”
One year after the project was completed, we checked back in to learn about the impact.
Ellen explains that they uploaded data into Apricot as the pandemic began and then they shifted their focus to transitioning to virtual curriculum. At that time, Ellen reached out to Apparo for IT Coaching support to select the best virtual platform to support this change. Apparo’s very own Jennifer Ray provided her with detailed support on the use of Zoom, which was “extremely beneficial and very much appreciated.”
And while they have not yet been able to train their full staff on the use of Apricot, ALP is already benefitting. “The pandemic threw us into a tailspin, but it didn’t make this work less important. Actually, having Apricot in place was even more important because of the time it helps us save during this very difficult time. It has all of the capabilities we were looking for. I feel very good about the selection that we made.”
Apricot saves time that was previously spent looking through multiple spreadsheets and trying to connect data across them.
Ellen explains, “Before it was difficult to just answer how many students we had served last year. Now we have the information at our fingertips.”
- Surveys to tutors are automated – easy to send and capture the data
- Signed forms can be uploaded and are easy to find
- Student assessment data is captured and easy to find
- Reporting and tracking metrics over time are simplified
- Tutors training and work is tracked in a way that helps improve volunteer management
ALP’s ability to fundraise is also improved.
Because of improved ability to track trends and create reports, ALP’s ability to apply for grants and provide reports back to grantors is eased. They are also better at pulling together what they need to tell their story, how they successfully transitioned during the pandemic, which helps with fundraising overall. “It’s been a great fundraising year,” Ellen shares.
As a result, students benefit.
The time freed by the operations efficiencies delivered by Apricot has allowed ALP staff to focus on how to deliver the best possible curriculum virtually. Additionally, because assessment data is now captured and easily accessible, it can be shared with CMS as additional data used to make sure students get all the support they need for continued success.