Something To Crow About

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Upstart Crow Studios
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Upstart Crow Studios is a youth performing arts company. Our mission is to provide affordable arts education to all children regardless of their abilities or challenges or socio-economic status. Access and affordability keep the arts alive and thriving. Offering studio and community theatre space for local organizations such as schools, colleges, universities and other non-profits and individual artists helps to create a sustainable base for the arts in our community.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Microsoft Office 2009 fundamentally transformed the way we do business. We were unable to afford the Office upgrades and began to rely on outsourcing some of the scripting and editing for the theatrical and clerical work. From grant writing to incoming data from clients, the age and reliability of our software was beginning to show. We had been working on a PowerPoint presentation for a major fundraiser but our version was slow and cumbersome and even after hours of work on the finished product we found our version was not compatible with the venue where we were making the presentation. The Mac Microsoft Office 2009 donation through TechSoup changed all of that in one fell swoop. The addition of this software to our office made a huge impact. We are now able to create a new PowerPoint presentation for use with grant collateral materials and fundraising events. The faces of our children are vivid and powerful images. For the first time, donors, sponsors and grantors will be able to see the magic their dollars create. Teachers, students, live theatre performances – the traditional work done behind the scenes that we could only talk about to donors and grantors, will now have a visual impact as well. The data base management is much easier through the upgraded Excel. We can download registrations, ticket sales, create budgets and mailing lists much easier and efficiently. Most of our staff is volunteers so this opportunity to cut down on their workload was tremendous. We eliminated having to send work home with volunteers. We recently created an e-newsletter and what would have taken hours of transferring email addresses to the server, was done in a matter of minutes with the updated Excel. The editing capabilities with Word are phenomenal. They make proofing scripts by hand obsolete. Volunteers can make the corrections for the director’s approval - Track Changes. We can merge our different mailing lists to labels – Data Merge Manager. We can add our logo to documents and create our own letterheads for campaigns, scholarships, grants, sponsors and donors. We can generate studio calendars and send pdfs to artists to update them on any changes to the schedules. Previously we had to work with cumbersome graphic software to achieve the same results. Where we have been able to identify the greatest impact results are with our volunteers. We created a volunteer handbook, which details the duties of each activity surrounding a particular event. We can edit and tailor these activities, change dates or duties, numbers of volunteers needed for the prescribed events. This would not be possible without the new software. We generated postcards for the handbook to serve as reminders for volunteers. The coordinator has a tracking method for contacting volunteers, knowing positions that require filling and a means to organize the 50 plus volunteers that work on a particular event. Not only did this make the coordinator’s job easier but volunteers are thrilled with the new system. At our last volunteer meeting, they applauded the change and many remarked how much easier and informational the handbook made it. We saw an increase of over 50% with that first meeting in our volunteerism rate. Each week, volunteers came in and asked to see the handbook. Every position was filled. Again, since we are a volunteer organization, this was a huge impact on our ability to produce this particular event. Our revenue for the event was up 25% from the previous year. And that is directly attributable to the number of volunteers. Survey results after the event indicated the same information. Sixty percent of the comments focused on the volunteer handbook and the information that was generated to make activities accessible and understandable. One of the surveys indicated that they would like to see an informational presentation documenting the theatre program. The consensus was to document from auditions to cast party to help parents and students understand the process and their role in the program. This is our goal for the next season and with PowerPoint, we know we can put together a presentation that will be effective. We can upload to our web site and e-newsletter. We can add the music from our young musicians orchestra, demonstrating our belief in the power of creative expression. We are so grateful to Microsoft and TechSoup for making this transformation possible for our organization. We serve approximately 300 children a year, several local artists and community non-profits and thousands attend our community theatre productions and events. We provide theatre programs for underserved communities like Head Start and Lane Regional Program for the Visually Impaired. We have a 30% scholarship rate, which is climbing in this difficult economy. The need to make our dollars stretch is an understatement. The transformation we have experienced in the past few months since receiving the Mac Microsoft Office is dramatic. If for no other reason, than to thank Microsoft, we are grateful for the opportunity to submit our story. We truly have something to “crow” about!

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact