The Ottauquechee Community Partnership (OCPVT) is a locally funded non-profit organization with a focus on connecting young people to the community, bringing community resources to schools and building positive relationships through youth-adult mentoring. For the past several weeks, we have worked with the organization to integrate digital tools and become more efficient.
“As a result of our work with Rob Fish and the Vermont Digital Economy project we will save $1,296 per year that we previously spent on phone, email and website. This is money that can now go directly to our local programs,” said OCPVT executive director Jacqueline Fischer. “In addition, Rob built our capacity as an organization through giving us the skills to manage our own infrastructure. This investment in our community is considerable since we make a little go a long way. Thank you Rob!”
Here is how OCPVT did it:
1. Email Service – As a registered nonprofit, Google Apps for Nonprofits allows you to send and receive email at your domain for free. In addition to email, Google Apps for Nonprofits provides a calendar and cloud storage for your organization. Switching to Google Apps for Nonprofits saved OCPVT $20/month they had previously been spending on email. You can learn more about Google Apps for Nonprofits in this tutorial.
2. Phone Service – Small organizations are often saddled with high phone bills. Business lines are expensive. Small organizations also face a conundrum if they shift from a commercial office to a virtual office with employees working from various locations. After OCPTV switched from having an office space to having two employees working from home, their telephone service provider offered to forward their phone calls for a cost of $70/month. This is a function provided for free by Google Voice.
Switching a business phone number to Google Voice is a bit tricky. Business lines currently cannot be ported directly to Google Voice. As a result, OCPVT ported their business phone number to a prepaid mobile phone and then to Google Voice. Now, if someone calls OCPVT, the call is forwarded to the two part-time employees’ cell phones or goes to Voice Mail. A transcript of the voicemail is then forwarded to their email box. (Please note that a guide on this topic will be available soon.)
3. Website – There are many services that offer easy-to-edit websites for a yearly fee. In the case of OCPVT, the service provided the equivalent of a very basic WordPress site for a cost of over $300/year. At times, these make sense. They are easy to set-up, edit and you do not have to find a different company to host the site. OCPVT switched to a more cost-effective alternative. First, they examined their website and realized that their site, like most template-based sites, could be easily and inexpensively migrated to WordPress. Then they signed up for free web hosting at Dreamhost.com. Dreamhost.com offers any nonprofit free hosting for life. For the cost of less than a single year of their previous service, OCPVT now has a website that they can manage on their own.
Using digital tools is a key to becoming a more efficient and productive organization. OCPVT was paying $20/month for email service, and $70/month to have their phone calls forwarded through the company that previously managed their phone system. Through the use of digital tools, the organization saved a great deal of cash that can now be redirected to core services.
According to OCPV executive director Jacqueline Fischer, “The $1,300 that we have saved through working with the VDE project will support the recruitment, screening, training and matching of two new mentors in OCP’s Mentor and Buddy Program. These mentors will be matched with young people from our communities, and will make a lifetime of difference – to both mentor and mentee!”