This is the first in our new series “Spotlight: Nonprofits.” More info below.
How can a nonprofit serving dozens of community partners through hundreds of volunteers keep track of who it is helping and how?
The answer: Adapting from paper-based, onerous administrative systems to one data storage and analytics web-based nonprofit software.
Web-based nonprofit Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions (as opposed to software that needs to be downloaded) are transforming how nonprofits do business.
Just like crowdfunding platforms are providing means to tap into social media networks and streamline online fundraising, web-based nonprofit software such as donor management systems provide up to date donor profiles and cultivation systems directly to any computer or mobile device in an instant.
SaaS’s also provide means for nonprofits to tackle one of the greatest barriers to successful management and evaluation – program tracking. With ever strapped budgets, funding for databases and management is often minimal or entirely absent, especially in small organizations.
That gap leads to poor evaluation capacity as well as overlap and re-work across community organizations that collaborate on projects and share goals. Nonprofits can simplify their systems and improve their evaluation and tracking results with web-based software systems like CharityTracker.
AGAPE, a Pennsylvania nonprofit with which I have consulted for a year, has been able to transform their administrative systems with this customized SaaS tool.
CharityTracker for web-based program tracking
CharityTracker is a SaaS web-based nonprofit software program with an affordable and easy to use web-based tracking and networking system for human service agencies. Their stated description is “a web application for shared case management used to gather and report statistical data for resource development, strategic planning, measuring outcomes, reducing duplication and disaster relief.”
AGAPE Love from Above to Our Community adapts to web software
AGAPE started using CharityTracker in 2015 to log project hours and also identify needs and resources for specific clients across its community.
AGAPE is not only the primary food bank for a two county area in Pennsylvania, but it serves thousands of meals and provides counseling and work programs for thousands of the area’s poorest and neediest annually. A mission-based, grassroots community resource, they rely almost entirely on volunteers.
Now, using CharityTracker, AGAPE instantaneously can download reports on exactly how many meals it has served within a specific timeframe and calculate the value of that service to the community. These statistics are used to show impact in grant writing, report back to funders and partners, and evaluate program services.
Improved case management and program services with web-based nonprofit software
What AGAPE really likes about the program is its capacity for case management for particular clients. AGAPE “fills in the gaps (in services) so no one falls through the cracks.”
A wide array of social service agencies and community partners, like the Salvation Army, refer clients to them for counseling services, to provide emergency food or clothing supplies, and to participate in special programs like a cloth diaper donation for new mothers in need.
Amber Lee, Director of Programs, described:
“Charity Tracker has really made it so much easier to track our activities. We also have our entire client database in this system and one of the best tools that helped improve our case management is that a goal tracker can be set for a client and updated as things are completed. These goals can even be printed out and given to the client so they know exactly what they have to do.”
Reducing overlap in services with web-based nonprofit software
AGAPE can share specific information to community partners as well, helping to not only identify best resources for people in need, but also to reduce re-work and overlaps in services with partner charities and social service organizations.
The system has a built-in waiver slip that can be printed and signed by the client to release information to partnering agencies in the network.
The result is a community-based model of social service to connect people to the best agencies and resources available to help them, while reducing time and cost on the nonprofit and public end.
Improving evaluation metrics for fundraising and reporting with web-based software
AGAPE can go in the CharityTracker system and quickly download quick or full reports on
1) how many programs it has had over a given time period;
2) how many people have been served; and even
3) the value of its services to the community.
These reporting metrics and their detail are invaluable in proving impact and project worth within grant proposals, as well as in reporting to donors and partners on program outcomes.
Web-based nonprofit software equals simple to use with customized support
CharityTracker customized the system for AGAPE so that they could apply the software’s capacities directly to their community programs. One of the key advantages to SaaS solutions is that they are services – the nonprofit does not have to worry about maintaining software on its computers or any of the technical details. Users within the agency just have to access the web to use the system, which is maintained and supported through their monthly membership payments.
SaaS solutions will continue to revolutionize how nonprofits do business over the next few years, providing cost savings and improved efficiency and capacity to agencies small and big alike.
Note: This is the first in our series “Spotlight: Nonprofits.” We will occasionally write about nonprofits, foundations and other charitable organizations and how they optimize their operations to increase effectiveness, reduce waste and raise more necessary funds. Please contact us if you’d like to participate and spotlight your organization!