CHARLOTTE — Meet Apparo, a nonprofit for nonprofits, as its website states.
But more to the point: its mission is to help others leverage technology for good.
The Charlotte nonprofit began as NPower Charlotte Region in 2002. Ten years later, however, it transitioned to its current nonprofit model and renamed our organization Apparo, which means “to provide” in Latin.
These days, the group is actively raising its profile. WRAL TechWire recently had the chance to find out more. Here’s what they had to say:
What is the mission of Apparo?
Apparo transforms the community and improves lives by connecting Charlotte-area nonprofits to technology expertise and resources that amplify their impact. We deliver free and low-cost technology advice, education and solutions through our own staff and local corporate volunteers. By convening the nonprofit and corporate technology sectors, we help corporations fulfill their social responsibility goals and nonprofits multiply their effectiveness for a better Charlotte.
What is the “secret sauce” that makes working with Apparo unique/different?
Strongly grounded in both the nonprofit and corporate worlds, we act as the much-needed pro-bono bridge. We ensure that no one gets lost in corporate- or nonprofit-speak, projects stay on scope, corporate volunteers enjoy their experience and nonprofits receive actionable, sustainable advice and solutions. Nearly 100% of our volunteers say they want to work with us again and appreciate their employer for giving them the opportunity to engage in skills-based volunteering. Nearly 100% of the nonprofits we have served found their experience rewarding and would recommend Apparo to another nonprofit.
What strengths does Apparo have, from management to workforce, intellectual property to expertise, that makes you an organization in which donors and clients should be interested in working with?
Because of our unique model, every dollar of funding to Apparo delivers nearly two dollars of value to more than 100 Charlotte area nonprofits each year. We put the technical skills of our own staff and that of our corporate volunteers to work to address business process and technology related problems that would otherwise go unsolved. We leverage our strong, trusted relationships with our corporate partners and technology vendors to deliver services that nonprofits can afford in the short and long term.
Tell us a bit of history of your organization (who-what-when-where-why).
Apparo began as NPower Charlotte Region in 2002. In 2012, we transitioned to our current nonprofit model and renamed our organization Apparo, which means “to provide” in Latin. Some key milestones:
- 2008 – we launched our Technology Innovation Award, now Mission Possible: The Economic Opportunity Award, for nonprofits and with Accenture.
- 2011 – our IT Coaching and Community Impact Project initiatives, also for nonprofits, began.
- 2012 – we kicked off our CIO Insights series, which engages hundreds in the corporate technology space each year.
- 2010 – we launched the first nonprofit class in our Simplicity, now GAIN, nonprofit accelerator
- 2019- we established our TechExec Community Impact Award
Is sustainability important to Apparo’s thinking, and if so why?
Sustainability is critical to Apparo and the nonprofits and corporations we serve. When volunteers take their valuable time and skills, and nonprofits use their valuable time to work behind the scenes of their service, it is very important that the work they do together creates results that last beyond the time the volunteer is there. We pride ourselves on the fact that 88% of the solutions we provide to nonprofits are sustained 2 years and beyond. Nonprofits’ resources are thin, and their time and effort cannot be wasted going down rabbit holes and exploring complex solutions. We deliver resources with which they can thrive and put to work to enhance their ability to fulfill their missions over time.
The pace of change in technology keeps increasing – how does Apparo adapt and stay ahead of the wave?
Our deep relationships with the brightest minds and smartest technology leaders in our community keep us ahead of the game. Our corporate volunteer teams and CIO Hosts (Charlotte CIOs who volunteer their time to participate in Apparo events and provide other support and guidance) are incredibility generous with their support of our work.
Recruiting talent is a challenge most organizations face these days with low unemployment and high demand for certain skill sets. How do you compete for talent? How do you retain talent?
Our corporate culture is truly unique and that helps us attract and retain talent. Our leadership fosters self-awareness and self-leadership. Fundamental to our success is our organizational agreement to a set of “rules of engagement” which provide a roadmap for working together and moving our mission forward. They help ensure healthy working relationships and team effectiveness. We know our salaries will not always win out in the bidding war, but our work environment of flexible work schedules and PTO, as well as serving a compelling and engaging mission attract people who want to stay.
Why do business in Charlotte?
The Charlotte corporate community has an unwavering commitment to corporate social responsibility. We are proud to engage with them as our partners in service. Further, as Charlotte is one of the leading tech cities in the U.S., implementing our model here makes sense.