When disaster strikes, the Red Cross is there - and technology is a key component

Organization Name
Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross
Mission Statement

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers and guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, will provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

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: The Mt. Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross depends upon Microsoft software every day of every year as we prevent, prepare and respond to disasters in our community. We have more than 350 volunteers covering a 4,000-square-mile area. They teach classes, respond to emergencies, track services, and raise funds. Last year, our chapter served 10,828 people in our community. At the root of our operations is the computer system. But we are sadly behind the times. Our software and server is outdated. Our dedicated, volunteer IT team struggles with a beleaguered system that manages budgets, volunteers, clients, fund raisers, classes and donations. We are living “The Before.” This is one of three grants we have applied for to support a $42,310 computer hardware and software renovation program.

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: Other (Please specify – Windows 7, Communicator, Visio, Project, InfoPath etc.)
Other: Win XP, Office 2003, Win 2003, SQL 2000, Exch 2003

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 know that we want to be able to communicate more efficiently and more securely. We want Microsoft Visio to create network diagrams, organizational diagrams and disaster headquarters layouts. Microsoft Project would allow us to easily make program timelines. We need to know in advance how many volunteers we must train, and how much time it will take us to deploy in a disaster. SharePoint would strengthen our Intranet, allowing communication between departments, and between folks running shelters in emergencies and headquarters.

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: With Internet Explorer 8, our Disaster Action Team uses the Client Assistance System (CAS) program to track volunteers, their training and class participants. The Mt. Baker Chapter is 98 percent volunteer driven. Volunteers are kept in the loop on classes, chapter functions and other activities through http://www.constantcontact.com. Explorer 8 also runs online class registrations, instruction and an instructor’s web page. Microsoft Exchange Server is used to schedule classrooms for Health and Safety Classes and Disaster training courses. Last year, our chapter served 10,828 people in training classes and disaster services.

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: From the moment Red Cross staff and volunteers are notified of a disaster they have two hours to have shelters in place. Computer capability and speed are of the essence. Our classrooms become headquarters where we categorize hundreds of volunteers by qualifications and training and notify them to deploy. Our laptops connect to the Department of Emergency Management to coordinate relief efforts and to NOAA for weather briefings and predictions. Using Word and Excel and we are able to display flood gauges and maps on the wall, manage sheltering, feeding, bulk distribution, client casework, and medical and mental health services. Power Point presentations are used to teach spontaneous volunteers on site.

Upload photos or other supporting works/files

Supporting Work Web URL
Special directions needed to access your work

Upload org logo or other identifying graphic