GCHopeLogoThis is the third of four blog posts from Joan Kasprowicz and Diana Katz, co-founders of the Giving Circle of HOPE at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, celebrating its 10th anniversary this season.

Once philanthropists cross the line into strategic philanthropy, it is truly a transformation. They acquire a panoramic view of the needs in the community and of the organizations that are working to meet those needs.  Many nonprofits are so focused on their mission and so overworked; they do not see the connections that they can make, the gaps in service that may exist, or even the new technologies that they can use. Many times, the GCH can.

The GCH experienced a transition in 2012.  A nonprofit grant applicant requested a grant for part of the salary of the person who makes phone calls to schedule volunteer drivers for their transportation program.  Because the GCH has service programs and members volunteer for our nonprofit partners, we knew that there is software that can be used to manage volunteers. We did not think that we should be funding 20th century technology in the second decade of the 21st century!

The potential grantee was told that we would not consider funding their application as it was written, but that we would work with them to find a better way to accomplish the scheduling and then fund it.

Research revealed a web-based application called RideScheduler that was written precisely to manage volunteer-based transportation programs. It was a perfect match. Six months later the now GCH nonprofit partner is operating with this new technology.  The GCH, the nonprofit partner’s board, staff and volunteers, and the riders and drivers will get statistics on the performance once the program is in use for a few months. We are looking forward to it! The expectation is that they will be offering more rides and have more volunteers all requiring significantly less staff time, and will have a much-improved reporting capability.

Watch for the next post about how this small grant became the catalyst for a new initiative for our region.