Helping Underserved Families with Exceed Beyond

For 46 years, Child and Family Opportunities, Inc. (CFO) has been delivering Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care to underserved families in Maine’s Washington and Hancock Counties, with the former being one of the most economically depressed counties in the nation. Although Head Start and Early Head Start are federally funded, Head Start is currently a half-day program – and most of the families that CFO serves require full-day child care. These families receive funding for this care in the form of vouchers, but special circumstances sometimes cause a family to lose that funding. CFO helps such families bridge the child care funding gap until their issues are resolved, relying on grants, donations, and community support to do so. For Pamela Karwasinski, CFO’s Development Associate, managing the acquisition and retention of donors to obtain this “gap funding” is her number one priority. And to do so effectively, she uses Exceed Beyond, Arreva’s cloud-based fundraising software.

The choice of Exceed Beyond came after CFO received a grant that provided the funds necessary to make the purchase, as well as thorough research into several fundraising solutions on the market. After consulting with other nonprofits that were using Exceed Beyond and following up with Arreva for product demonstrations, says Pamela, “We decided that Exceed Beyond would be the best product for us. We just love that it provides an Excel spreadsheet way of thinking about data, but has the power of a full-featured fundraising database. Of everything we looked at, and considering the cost and the service we are getting, this system really is the best fit for us.”

“Incredibly Helpful” Support and Ease of Use

CFO had previously been using Exceed Basic, Arreva’s compact version of the software, but as the organization grew, it became clear that they needed the additional functionality offered by Exceed Beyond. Pamela’s former boss, who was instrumental in choosing the product “did a lot of work to set up Exceed Beyond to how we wanted to use it, with really, really good support from Arreva,” Pamela recalls.

Pamela’s own experience with Arreva support has also been positive, particularly when she recently integrated her online donation platform with Exceed Beyond. “When I did that,” she notes, “Arreva support was incredibly helpful.”

Beyond the outstanding customer support offered by Arreva, Pamela points to Exceed Beyond’s ease of use as a major benefit: “We like the way it’s set up – if you know Excel, it’s very intuitive. I like the way we can organize our information to fit our needs. Running reports is just so easy, and that was a big piece for our department. We were practically jumping up and down, we were so excited.”

A Major Part of Fundraising Efforts

During the last quarter of 2016, Pamela has been using Exceed Beyond to manage several campaigns, including Giving Tuesday, a year-end online giving program; a drive to secure local government funding from communities receiving Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care services; and the organization’s traditional winter appeal.

“Exceed Beyond is very much a part of the fundraising I am doing right now, she says. “What’s good about Exceed Beyond is that I can go in and grab online donations and pull all those gifts directly into Exceed Beyond without having to enter each person individually. That’s huge – and awesome.”

“Exceed Beyond is where I am getting all my information for each campaign,” continues Pamela. “I can go in the system and pull out all past donors, including past and current Board members — as well as people who have never given but may have expressed interest — and see their history, including how much they contributed. I can then create targeted mailings for each group based on the information I pull from Exceed Beyond.” 

“Just Click a Button”

One of Pamela’s favorite features of Exceed Beyond is its ability to generate letters for mass or individual mailings. As she puts it, “You don’t have to write a letter to every individual. You put the information you want into the system and you just click a button. The system automatically generates the letter for you, which is fantastic.” 

Exceed Beyond also helps Pamela ensure that organizations that have provided grant funding do not receive letters soliciting donations.

“What I really like about the system,” Pamela explains, “is that while the Grants module is integrated with everything else, I can easily separate that information.  I don’t want to ask any organization or any person who belongs to an organization that has given us a grant to donate money. And not having to manually separate each group from an Excel spreadsheet is just lovely.”

Measuring Campaign Results

Pamela has found that an additional benefit of using Exceed Beyond is the ability to track the progress of each campaign. “With this system, I have a code for each program, so when money comes in I code it and say, for example, this money goes to the Winter Appeal,” she says. “So I will know when I pull a report how we did with the winter appeal, how many people gave, and what the result was. Then I’m going to look at whether people who donated to the winter appeal directed their money to a particular fund such as the Early Education Access Fund, and we’ll know how much money is in that fund. Or if it’s unrestricted, then I mark it as unrestricted and we’ll know how much money we have in that fund as well. Exceed Beyond lets me know who gave, how much, and what for, which is just beautiful.”