Ally Financial volunteers delivered a data storage strategy to improve collaboration and business efficiency for BraveWorks.
BraveWorks is a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to empower women and families overcoming trauma and injustice, bridging the gap from pain to purpose through impactful connections, inspired creations, and economic confidence. The BraveWorks team helps to transform lives through artisan enterprise, leading to abundant and purposeful lives. Women in Charlotte and around the world learn to make jewelry, clothing, home decor, handbags and more, building their confidence and helping them see their worth. These products provide supplemental income to the women and an income stream for the organization. In Charlotte, they address two key issues the city is facing: Economic Mobility – helping women who have fallen off the ladder of economic mobility re-gain that access or help women gain access to the ladder for the first time. Cross-Cultural Reconciliation – building communities where people from different races, socio-economic groups, religions, cultures, and ethnicities work side by side, getting to know and love one another.
BraveWorks leadership came to Apparo seeking a corporate volunteer team to help them with a data and document storage strategy and the selection and implementation of a standardized storage solution for their files and documents. Apparo matched them to a volunteer team from Ally who also generously sponsored this project. The volunteers assessed their needs, identified the best data strategy and storage solution, build/implement a SharePoint site, developed a document file structure to support their business needs and delivered a detailed training document. This will allow BraveWorks to have their documents/files in a standardized storage solution, easily accessible amongst staff and provide for better collaboration and business efficiencies.
Ally Financial Volunteer team: Ally Financial – Nicole Brown (Change Agent), Torita Davenport, Manju Achappa, Veena Kasula, Nitu Singh, JoAnna Klotz, Chitra Jeevananthan
Nonprofit team: Janet Manzullo, Emma Lyons
After the project was completed we met with the BraveWorks leadership team to learn about the significance of this project and the anticipated impact.
Before this project, staff were all sharing one Dropbox log in and had no standardized file structure. Some files were saved on personal computers. They faced:
- Wasted time searching for files
- Miscategorized files that were never found
- Risk of exposure of confidential information
- Risk of data loss
- Regular reorganization of files by staff trying to help improve the system, but causing more confusion
Now, using SharePoint and OneDrive, the team will have:
- Time savings of 8 hours for staff members who will no longer waste time seeking files, totaling 400+ saved hours a year
- Improved ability to collaborate
- Data security
- Increased revenue, which is invested back into direct service programming – Janet explains, “As we have better access to our data, we can make better decisions and be more efficient, so we can increase our sales and that is more revenue for our programs.”
- Ability to scale, with goal of increasing women served locally by 33% next year (increasing from 90 to 120) and then scaling up from there to meet increasing demand.
Most significantly, Janet anticipated a deepened ability to serve. She shares two examples:
- By finding and using the information they need on past successes: “We have detailed information on how we have helped women in the past who had housing needs, for example. Now we can find that information and use it to serve another woman in the same situation. In the past, we might not have found it, so we would have to reinvent the wheel.”
- With increased revenue, they will be able to meet more needs: “We have a growing refugee population with limited to no English. We were able to hire a translator for our Afghani refugees and would want to be able to do that for other groups that need it.”
In closing, Janet shared, “Partnering with Apparo and Ally on this project has been a true pleasure. We were exposed to new tools, great people and lots of learning! This effort has enabled us to take the next step in securing our records and improving our ability to find historical information. And it has put us in a much better position going forward in regards to how we operate. We were fortunate to have this team behind us!”
Impact Update: Project has helped drive 45% increase in women served and nonprofit reach growth continues.
We checked in with Lori Terrell, Operations Director, one year after the project was completed to learn about its significance and sustained impact. She shares that while the team was initially nervous about moving away from Dropbox, it was a very smooth transition and the anticipated benefits of the move to SharePoint have been realized:
- Increased security/decreased risk – ability to control who has access to which files minimizes risk of losing files or not being able to find a file kept in wrong place and gives the team “a much better sense of security.”
- Improved efficiency – organized, documented file structure makes it easy to find files and is “a huge time saver and asset to our team.” Lori shares that the anticipated goal of saving 8 hours a week of time has been realized.
- Improved ability to collaborate on files
- Improved business decision making, driven by quick access to accurate data
Most importantly, Lori explains that these improvements have helped to drive a 45% increase in the number of women served (585 in 2021, 854 in 2022) and the growth continues. “Because of these improvements we have been able to grow in our partnerships and programs, serving more women. We’re very excited about that.”
Hear the story of one woman supported by Bravework and her journey out of prison and into studying the law.
Hear Janet Manzullo on the significance of this work with Apparo and Ally.