Working with Apparo, a volunteer team from Duke Energy stepped in to help Charlotte Pride improve their use of technology so that they can serve the LGBTQ community more effectively.
Charlotte Pride is the leader in LGBTQ visibility in Charlotte and the Carolinas. Charlotte Pride presents and collaborates on programs, projects, and activities, including the annual Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, Charlotte Latinx Pride, Charlotte Women’s Pride, and Reel Out Charlotte. Since its founding in 2000, Charlotte Pride has expanded its year-round programming and partnerships to better connect community members with its mission, vision, and values. It is now one of the largest LGBTQ Pride organizations in the American Southeast.
They reached out to Apparo for help because they were facing challenges collaborating and communicating within their team and with volunteers.
Apparo matched them to a corporate volunteer team from Duke Energy: Darisee Peebles, Jamie Jones, Matthew McSparran, Michael Chando and Renee Quijano.
“Part of the culture of inclusion and belonging we foster at Duke Energy includes encouraging our employees to serve as ambassadors within our company and communities,” said Joni Davis, Duke Energy’s Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “We are proud of our employees, many of whom are part of our employee resource groups, for partnering with organizations like Apparo and Charlotte Pride to use their talents to support the needs of the local community.”
The volunteers assessed Charlotte Pride’s technology infrastructure, operations and policies then delivered a technology plan with both a recommended budget and a prioritized roadmap to address needed hardware, software, security and policy changes. See one-page printable project overview.. Watch a video conversation with the project team.
As a result of this work, Charlotte Pride anticipates not only being able to serve the LGBTQ community in a more efficient and effective way, but also reaching more of the community throughout the Carolinas. Inefficient communication tools and lack of networking infrastructure made it difficult for them to have streamlined procedures and policies. With the new technology plan in place, they will be able to run more efficiently and serve more of the community.
Upon implementation of the plan’s recommendations, Charlotte Pride anticipates that they will have nearly 150 hours of freed time annually to focus on fulfill their mission more effectively and broaden their reach.
A major pain point for the nonprofit was a desire to communicate more effectively internally and with volunteers. To tackle this issue, their tech plan recommended a full migration to Google Workspace and new policies and procedures to help the overall organization improve how it is run. These measures will help Charlotte Pride to serve their constituents more efficiently and will also ease the onboarding of new volunteers, who are critical to the organization’s success.
Currently, the majority of technology support falls on Matt Comer, Charlotte Pride’s Communications Director. Matt explains, “I’m currently spending 2-3 hours each week troubleshooting these issues. In the beginning of the pandemic, it was even more. The tech plan recommends engaging services of a third-party IT company and having a professional network in place. I’m confident these will help.”
With the time savings Matt anticipates, he will refocus his efforts to better plan marketing and outreach communications, including social media strategy. The increased focus on communications will help increase awareness of programs and projects for the LGBTQ community, helping to spread the word and increase Charlotte Pride event attendance.
Charlotte Pride will also improve their data security, helping to ensure their sustainability.
The largest event they host is the Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, which has more than doubled attendance over the past few years, to 20,000+ attendees in 2019, the last time the event was help. Matt explains that the management of this event is dependent on significant data management, from volunteer information to vendor contact information and many other logistics.
In the past, this data has been tracked in spreadsheets, that can be challenging to share effectively. The tech plan recommended a more secure approach. “With these back-up protocols and procedures in place, we’re set up to have a sustainable future to see events like the festival and parade continue for many years to come,” Matt says.
This project proved to be impactful for all involved.
Matt explains how this project closed key gaps for Charlotte Pride, “I don’t know if we would have tackled these issues at all without Apparo and the Duke Energy team, even though we definitely needed to. There are gaps we didn’t even know existed. The technology plan gives us, our volunteers, and sponsors a peace of mind that everything is secure which will help us immensely going forward.”
Jamie Jones, a volunteer from Duke Energy, also shared her love for the project, “Everyone has felt like this was a labor of love more than work. We felt like we were giving back to a good cause. Being able to play a part in that feels great.”