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Hi! 👋 My name is Justin Bowersock, and I work as a financial advisor based in the Jackson Hole area.
My firm, Rockhill Advisors, is investment focused. So naturally, we approach our charitable corporate giving like investors.
Really, that means our philosophy is that investing in expanding a nonprofit’s capacity is how we can make the greatest impact.
But our philosophy needed a practicality partner. And that was CauseMic.
This is a story about how CauseMic exponentially expanded the service capacity of the nonprofit recipient of our charitable gift.
Okay, so imagine getting a 400% increase in requests for support in a matter of weeks.
The feeling of overwhelm is very real here.
This is what happened at the Community Resource Center of Teton Valley (CRCTV) at the beginning of the pandemic.
- CRCTV is a regionally-focused nonprofit providing critical resources to those facing crises.
- Their services include housing assistance, healthcare access, food security, employment assistance, and case management services.
- When the pandemic hit, a lot of folks in the tourism industry here lost their jobs. Also, Idaho and Wyoming, the two states over which the Jackson Hole area sits, have razor thin to non-existent social safety nets to support folks.
With all this in mind, we chose CRCTV for our charitable gift. Our firm reached out to CRCTV to talk about our investment and learned that the organization faced three major challenges.
First: CRCTV was not staffed or organized to meet the expected, unprecedented need for help (the 400% spike I mentioned!).
Second: CRCTV didn’t have sufficient nonprofit donations or funding resources to provide help.
Third: Despite years of delivering essential services, many people (donors) didn’t know they existed.
Enter: CauseMic. I’d seen the kind of inventive and brilliant development work the team at CauseMic did to grow Team Rubicon from $250K to $40M when many of them worked there. Now offering their expertise to all nonprofits, CauseMic came in to help CRCTV expand their capacity.
So we made our first grant. The goal: to systemize and digitize the way CRCTV collected and processed requests for support.
One week later, CauseMic had a Salesforce CRM and Form Assembly solution up and running, which had converted all of CRCTV’s paper forms to online. Plus, they translated them into Spanish for increased accessibility. In just days, we cut the amount of time it took CRCTV to process intake forms from hours to minutes (critical to helping folks suffering the effects of the pandemic, fast) and opened the door for Spanish-speaking community members needing assistance.
Next, we made a second grant along with several other local donors. The goal: attract leads, expand CRCTV’s supporter base, and convert new leads into donors - quickly! (A.K.A. Implement a nonprofit fundraising strategy to bring folks into the early part of the nonprofit fundraising cycle (identify > qualify > cultivate > solicit > steward).
CRCTV needed to increase nonprofit donations and funding to meet the needs from the 400% spike in requests for support, such as emergency rental relief, food, and financial assistance to pay for utilities and medical bills. (Historically, the CRCTV had raised most of its funds through a once per year fundraising drive organized by another local nonprofit. This approach seemed insufficient for the challenge ahead.)
CauseMic helped us think bigger: What if we could help CRCTV get hundreds of nonprofit donations by identifying and closing on new donors, while increasing giving from existing donors? What if we could establish an ongoing, sustainable source of donors?
CauseMic worked closely with CRCTV to craft compelling and personalized storytelling to engage supporters across six channels: email, website, paid social advertising, direct mail, local newspaper, and radio. The result: a 106% increase in email subscribers, 348% increase in transactions, and most notably, a 520% increase in average gift amount over the year prior.
Then, we made a third capacity grant. The goal: elevate CRCTV’s brand awareness to further attract major donors (the ones with large disposable incomes that live and/or play in the Jackson Hole area) and monthly donors (those willing to invest small unrestricted gifts regularly).
This last capacity grant was an enormous boost for CRCTV too. A board member called to say that they had received a huge unsolicited donation from a first-time donor—a family foundation—that would cover 20 percent of their projected operating costs in the coming year.
“Without your vision for what CRCTV could have been and a commitment to helping us move forward in innovative ways, there is no way people would have found us!”
CRCTV Board Member
I’m so excited that CRCTV has a larger, more diverse donor base than it did before, and it can serve more people, more efficiently than ever before.
This is the best outcome we could have hoped for.
My advice is this: Contact your favorite nonprofit, contact CauseMic, and consider a capacity grant to fund the adoption of 21st-century strategies, processes, technologies.
For professional development folks: Our journey with CauseMic started with a strategy call. If you're wondering how to build your online nonprofit fundraising program, I recommend you schedule some time with them.
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