Building Our Capacity to Serve

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Associated Ministries
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Building community that is humane, compassionate, and just through education, advocacy, and service.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Homelessness and poverty are major issues that impact the well-being of any community. In Pierce County, homelessness has grown by 19% in the last year and the poverty rate is higher than the state average at 12.8%. Associated Ministries’ mission focuses on helping homeless and low income families and individuals in Pierce County meet basic needs and become stable enough to rise above poverty. Our long term goals include serving as an Anti-Poverty and Resource Center, or one-stop shop, where those in need can come to have most or all of their needs met on their path toward stability and self-sufficiency; a place where someone might enter homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless and leave ready to take advantage of opportunities for job skills and training, education, and home ownership. Founded in 1969 to help meet the basic needs of a few thousand people, Associated Ministries has grown from a staff of 2.5 to 27 with over 20 programs, contracts, and projects serving 160,000 people annually; 1 in 5 Pierce County residents. In 2007, we realized we had outgrown ourselves and to meet our long-term goals, we would need to invest in building the capacity of our infrastructure to keep up with agency growth. Thus, we partnered with the Stewardship, Sequoia, and Ben B. Cheney Foundations on a three year capacity building project to make our financial operations more efficient, strengthen our development efforts, and increase our presence in the community. The objective of the project is to build the agency’s capacity to expand services and reach more people in its path toward becoming an Anti-Poverty and Resource Center.

Microsoft products have played a significant role in our capacity building project. One of the greatest problems we have as the agency grows is that as we continue to expand our programs and serve more people, demands on our 1.5 Fiscal Office staff also grow. Our Fiscal Office accounts for the financial operations of the agency and its 14 programs, 3 major events, and the distribution of over $1M in emergency food and shelter assistance to partner agencies. In May 2008, we were able to use some of our capacity building funds to update and network our financial system with Microsoft Dynamics software. Microsoft Dynamics GT will enable us to achieve efficiencies in our financial operations without having to incur the costs of hiring additional finance staff, which in turn allowed us to use capacity building funds to hire additional development staff to help raise money for the Anti-Poverty and Resource Center. Updating and networking our financial operations versus hiring additional finance staff saved the agency approximately $20,000, while at the same time building the capacity of the agency to expand services to include utility assistance and over $250,000 more in emergency food and shelter assistance in 2008. We will serve over 5,000 more families in 2008 than in 2007, in large part because we have the financial operational capacity to do so.

Microsoft products will also play a role in strengthening our development efforts. As we move forward and work toward providing more services to more people, we will need to have the capacity to raise more funds. As mentioned above, we were able to achieve efficiencies in our financial operations using Microsoft Dynamics financial software that prevented us from having to hire additional staff in the Fiscal Office, and allowed us to hire additional development staff. With the hiring of additional development staff, we now have the capacity to implement the agency’s first ever long term fundraising plan to include an Annual Fund, a Major Gifts Campaign, Planned Giving, an additional fundraising event, and stepped up marketing and outreach efforts. We will use Microsoft Office products in these efforts to create mailing lists, do solicitation mailings, keep in touch with donors and clients, write grant proposals, and develop reports. To implement the development plan, we will use Microsoft Office products to build on how the agency is already using Microsoft Office products in daily operations to write the Annual Report, create and distribute the Pierce County Religious News, build quarterly and event mailing lists in Excel, and create informational pamphlets and brochures.

Associated Ministries served 1500 more homeless and low income families in 2008 than in 2007, and as the economic recession continues, expects those numbers to be greater in 2009. We could not have served this many more clients, or built the capacity to serve even more in the coming years without Microsoft products. The impact of Microsoft products on our ability to serve the homeless and impoverished in Pierce County is immeasurable, except for to say that without them we would not have the capacity to respond to increased need due to the recent economic recession. Our Fiscal Office is able to keep up with the financial operations of providing more services to more people because of Microsoft Dynamics financial software.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
Supporting Work Files