RunningWorks leadership reached out to Apparo in 2016 for help improving their use of technology. As a very mobile organization, they needed to work more efficiently via the cloud.
RunningWorks is a Charlotte nonprofit that serves 550 people annually with a 3-prong approach to empowering their clients to break cycles of abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness:
- We Run: RunningWorks’ health and wellness programs and initiatives are designed to promote healthy lifestyle habits and choices while addressing clients’ physical, mental and social health needs.
- We Work: Creating pathways out of homelessness and poverty by increasing access and opportunities for education, career advancement, personal development and financial literacy.
- We House: Supportive housing initiatives, which are designed to connect homeless individuals and families with affordable, low-barrier, permanent housing opportunities.
As Meredith Dolhare, Executive Director, explains, “We support everyone from newborns to seniors. We just put a a blind man, a former vet and a long term convict into housing. We help a very diverse range of people.”
In 2017, Apparo matched RunningWorks to a corporate volunteer team from Polypore International, an Asahi Kasei Group Company. They also generously sponsored this project and have been working to support RunningWorks ever since. Going well above and beyond their project expectations, Polypore has implemented most of their recommendations and serves as an ongoing technology partner to RunningWorks.
Apparo and Polypore are credited with “revolutionizing” the nonprofit organization and enabling the creation of their new housing initiative that enriches their ability to fulfill their mission.
We checked in recently with Meredith Dolhare, Executive Director, and Matt Sharp, Chief Operating Officer, to learn about the impact of their work with Apparo, their Community Impact Project and their ongoing relationship with Polypore. See PDF of Impact Update Snapshot.
Meredith remembers, “We met Stephanie in 2015 and she asked us, ‘How is your technology infrastructure?’ and I laughed and said, ‘What tech infrastructure?’ Basically, we had no infrastructure. It was a disaster. We couldn’t even share files. We needed laptops. We were not tracking anything. All the metrics that are important to funders were handwritten or in my head.”
“Apparo and Polypore have revolutionized our IT landscape and have taken us to the next level. I don’t know what Polypore must have thought when they first met with us, but they were very gracious. They really adopted us. We are a family with Polypore now. They serve on our Board, fundraise for us, run with us and stop by to fix our technology problems whenever we need them. It’s a very special relationship.”
A key part of the project was the identification of Neon as the best donor management and fundraising tool. Matt explains, “Before, we used a marketing platform and several other systems. Managing all of those systems and passwords was difficult. Neon allowed us to have it all in one place, which gave us more time to provide resources to our clients and to gather the funding to support them. To provide more than bandaids, addressing the systemic issues they were facing. We were taken to the next level and beyond.”
Meredith explains that with Neon they were able to launch a powerful social fundraising campaign: “Social Butterflies.” They were able to triple their fundraising, up to $300,000 in 2019, compared to their initial efforts before Neon. Because of this strong fundraising, they were about to start their new housing program in 2018 and have housed 53 people.
Meredith describes the new housing program. “Before, I would pound the pavement, trying to help people get housing. Now, we partner with Lotus Campaign to house people in our own program. We have also expanded our support. We help them get utilities, furniture, bedding and kitchen supplies. It’s turnkey. They walk in and it’s all done. It’s amazing. Our goal is to maintain strong, deep relationships with those we’ve placed in housing and ensure their success. That’s the beauty in being and staying small. The work we’re doing is heavy. I need to know everyone’s name.”
In today’s pandemic environment the technology enhancements are especially appreciated by RunningWorks and the clients they serve.
“We are using this time working from home to catch up on inputting new client data into Neon. Without this system that we can access remotely, we would be falling way behind,” explains Meredith.
Matt adds, “With the laptops and software that Apparo and Polypore helped us put into place, we are able to work and serve our clients effectively remotely. We can keep connected and look up whatever information we need without having to go to the office. Instead of waiting until we get back together in person, we are continuing our Life Skills workshops virtually via Facebook Live twice a week. We are engaging 15-30 of our constituents in support and conversations that we would would not have felt comfortable or been able to do before this work. Polypore and Apparo launched us and we want to continue this sophisticated use of technology post-pandemic.”