First nonprofit cohort class shares stories of lasting impact a year after they completed the technology transformation program
The first nonprofit cohort graduated from the G.A.I.N. (Growth, Agility and Improvement for Nonprofits) program – Powered by Lowe’s – in late 2022. We checked in with them in a year later to learn about lasting impact on their ability to improve lives in their communities.
John Martin shares that Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA) has been successfully using their laptops, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint since their transition during their time in G.A.I.N. They also successfully implemented workflows in their donor management system, Neon CRM, allowing them to take full advantage of the tools functionality.
“When we first started in G.A.I.N. we did not have one true source of data. We were running 20+ different systems, which created chaos. It forced us to jump between programs and search endlessly for the files we needed. It was frustrating for our staff and created organizational waste of time, money and effort. G.A.I.N. eliminated that waste. Now everything is stored in SharePoint. We know where to find what we need and have one true, trusted data source.”
As a result of this shift to SharePoint, YBLA has:
- Saved expense that was wasted on duplicative systems
- Saved time that was wasted searching for files
- Shortened new employee onboarding time due to ease of directing to documentation they need
- Ensured security of institutional knowledge through documentation and storage of standardized curriculum
- Increased employee satisfaction by minimizing frustration and improving ability to collaborate
The use of Neon is another important benefit realized through their participation in G.A.I.N. and is helping to drive an increase in fundraising through:
- Enabling donor segmentation strategies
- Providing useful notifications on donations
- Enriching the donor experience
- Saving administrative time
- Providing data needed to make strategic fundraising decisions
These improvements have enabled significant impact expansion. As John explains, “Things are going exceptionally well. Since our time in G.A.I.N. we have experienced considerable growth. Simplifying our processes and becoming more efficient through G.A.I.N. helped us grow successfully and launch new programs. We are in the service business. As we become more efficient, we can do our work more effectively, which allows us to implement more programs and impact more people. We are now becoming a stronger organization, making a greater impact in the community. We added a high school program in Atlanta, rolled out a new college program that focuses on workforce development and an updated version of our young professional program with financial literacy and workforce development.”
Darryl Bego, President and CEO of Youth Development Initiatives (YDI) recently discussed the benefits of Apparo’s G.A.I.N Program and the monumental impact this work has had on his organization’s mission to provide hope and opportunities to disadvantaged adolescent youth.
He emphasized the ongoing positive impact the Team Training is having on the organization, sharing unexpected benefits including delivering client presentations via Microsoft Teams and holding sessions with students through Teams. Through this training, Apparo supplied the essential resources and expertise that enabled YDI to seamlessly transition to Teams, optimizing processes, communications, and alignment of business policies and procedures among staff.
Since beginning their G.A.I.N. journey, Darryl updates that the YDI team:
- Is fully Microsoft Teams operational, which Darryl describes as a “small miracle”
- Has raised $200,000 toward funding the implementation of a recommended software application
- Received exposure to technology that increased organizational effectiveness and efficiencies
- Experienced a crucial mindset shift, enhancing the understanding of the importance of streamlined technology
- Manages data that now accurately reflects the work being done, expanding funding opportunities
- Has elevated confidence due to their bolstered technology skillset
- Experiences improved day-to-day work functions, saving the organization valuable time
- Confirms constituent feedback in terms of satisfaction is at an all-time high
Darryl says, “This process has propelled us to a position where we are more and more excited about our opportunity to impact people, even virtually, and in other counties in a way that we don’t lose any fidelity to our program quality and model. Two years ago, we could not have done that with the stress, pain points, and lack of resources we had. We learned ways we needed to pivot to better serve our constituents.”
“I think the program is appropriately titled “G.A.I.N.” because what nonprofits gain from the program is invaluable. It definitely helps nonprofits gain the exposure they need to technology and then helps them assess how they’re going to increase the effectiveness of the important work they’re doing.”
“I’ve been in the nonprofit world for a while, and I’ve been disillusioned and disappointed most of the time because I feel like we have just been guinea pigs for a lot of monetary movements. Our time is valuable. With Apparo, things are different. As I’ve said before, because of Apparo I have fewer stress points. It’s truly been a game-changer.”
Taylor Justice explains that A Better World is now better positioned to fulfill their mission of empowering at-risk youth in West Charlotte through their afterschool and summer programming.
Key benefits include time and financial resources that can be directly applied to mission work:
- Realized anticipated time savings of 400+ hours a week for staff
- Opens time to focus on new programming
- New Read to Live program
- Family Fun Nights
- Weekend Reading Assessments
- Opens time to focus on direct service to students
- Saves payroll expense for hourly additional support that is no longer needed
- Became more data-driven organization
- Smarter programming decision making
- Improved capability to pull/analyze reading data for grants/funders, will lead to more funds over time
Taylor adds, “Everything is working seamlessly, so we’ve been able to shift our capacity from administrative work to more of a focus on our programming and serving students. Without our participation in G.A.I.N., we would not have had the time to focus on launching our new initiatives, we would still be focused on putting out our daily fires.
“Today, just one week into the new school year, we are already serving 34 more students with our Read to Live program (a 40% increase) and we will be extending it to 8 additional organizations through City of Hope, a coalition of ministries. The interest from other organizations is spiraling. The impact is spreading!
“Helping students address reading is critical. In CMS overall, 50.2% of students are reading at grade level, but here in the West Charlotte corridor, it’s 12.5%. I’ve had more time to not only bring more awareness to this issue, but also raise reading scores through our programming.
“Thanks to GAIN, we’re able to take the time to work ahead and plan ahead and these kids deserve that.”
Tawruss Sellars shares that the biggest impact of the G.A.I.N. journey is how well S.T.A.R.S. Math and English Academy is positioned for fundraising success. In their final G.A.I.N. Community Impact Project, they worked with a team of volunteers to select Little Green Light as their new donor management tool and have been able to successfully implement it.
“We ran our first fundraising appeal with Little Green Light in the spring and it worked out very well. We set up a single link for the appeal and didn’t have to worry about it the flow of data or donations. From beginning to end, it was the easiest campaign we’ve run.” shares Tawruss. The benefits of this new system include:
- Clarity on donor information allows strategic insight into fundraising – understanding who is donating and how, helps drive future fundraising priorities
- Ease of creating appeal-specific links makes fundraising and data management easier
- Integration with QuickBooks and direct deposit
- Streamlined process saves significant time for data storage, reconciliation, reporting, donor receipts and acknowledgments
As a result, Tawruss anticipates that they will be able to increase fundraising with less administrative effort, helping expand their positive academic impact to more underserved students.
Alissa Celek, tells us that The Shepherd’s Center of Charlotte’s Executive Director benefits deeply from the security assessment. “The security segment proved invaluable, providing us with practical steps to take in the unfortunate event of a compromise to our organization. It was an empowering and informative session that enhanced our preparedness for any potential challenges.”
She adds that although one of their main goals was to pick a customer relationship manager (CRM), they ended up going with Monday, outside of the systems they had researched, due to its nonprofit component and customizability. “The process clarified our CRM needs and revealed areas for improvement, enhancing our understanding of our roles and pointing us in a more efficient direction.”
Overall, Alissa says that the program is “a wonderful resource” for nonprofit organizations.