Increased Efficiency = Bigger Community Impact

Organization Name
Seattle Works
Mission Statement

Seattle Works connects volunteers, develops emerging leaders and inspires dialogue.

City & State
Question 1
The Before: What was the challenge, issue or problem your organization was facing? Or, what was the opportunity you were not able to take advantage of before you put a technology solution in place?

Answer: When the economy hit some rough times, so did many nonprofits and Seattle Works was no exception. We saw both corporate and individual gifts decline and knew we needed to make some changes in how we were spending and raising money if we were going to survive the storm. In a scary and uncertain time we took a leap and invested in technology and were able to ride out the storm with serious success! The first place we looked was at our fixed costs and the most apparent was the cost we were absorbing from our office space. It was an astronomical expense for our physical office, parking, phones services, hardware and data storage. Insert the cloud: a solution that seemed more like a dream than a reality at first. We shifted our notion of what a workspace looked and felt like and embraced the change with open arms. When all was said and done, the net difference was almost $20,000, which for a small nonprofit like Seattle Works is a considerable cost savings!

Question 2
What Microsoft software have you used/are you using in your organization to more effectively engage your beneficiaries, donors and/or volunteers and/or to make a difference in your community?

Answer: Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010 (Includes any of the following: Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, OneNote, Outlook, and Word)
Other: Windows 7, Visio, Microsoft Publisher

Question 3
The After: How have these Microsoft products allowed you to engage your stakeholders more efficiently or effectively to make a difference in your community?

Answer: We use a dozen or more of Microsoft's products, but the one we want to share is how we have engaged our board using Microsoft SharePoint. Our board is comprised of smart, talented and very busy individuals. The time that they spend on behalf of Seattle Works is time we want to maximize and use wisely. In response, we've given the board their own SharePoint site where they are able to collaborate with each other and have instant access to the information they need, all without additional log-ins or in-boxes clogged with emails. It's important that the board has a place to collaborate that is separate from the staff's space and SharePoint has given us the perfect solution that meets everyone's needs with ease.

Question 4
What about these products (the features or the way you used them) made them particularly helpful in enabling your organization to expand and improve upon its community impact?

Answer: The combination of SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange have enabled our team to work from anywhere in the world – literally; we have sent weekly emails from Washington DC, from 10,000 feet in the air and even from Egypt! Cloud computing is the future and one of our guiding principles is our commitment to innovation, so we were happy to lead the way with this new technology and prove its success. Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.

Question 5
Please provide any examples, stories or data that illustrate the difference the use of Microsoft software has enabled you to make (i.e., # of new clients reached, new program added, increased dollars raised, increased volunteers, etc.

Answer: It's hard to put numbers on the increases in efficiency, but we do know that all of our programs have grown since we switched to a flexible work space. We've been able to offer more projects, trainings and opportunities for people to engage with their community because we are operating more efficiently. In 2010 we've seen an increase in volunteer hours both in our Hot Projects (one-time volunteer projects) and our Team Works programming (four-month-long team volunteering) by 23% and 21% respectively. We grew our Bridge program 35% in 2010 by offering more sessions than ever before. On top of all of that, we launched a new program called HandsOn Leadership. This new training gives participants the knowledge and skills to successfully develop and lead their own volunteer projects.

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Seattle Works