Diocese of Savannah
The Nonprofit Organization
The Diocese of Savannah, formed in 1850, is currently comprised of 76 parishes and missions serving more than 80,000 Catholics across 37,038 square miles in the southern half of the State of Georgia. The Diocese of Savannah is a family of faith and a community that is dedicated to proclaiming God’s word.
Erika Simpson joined The Catholic Diocese of Savannah in January of 2018 as Development Manager with the goal of evaluating the current software and assist in implementing improvements in the organization’s fundraising and donor relationship efforts. Undertaking this effort meant helping the staff of three realize efficiencies and cost-savings in terms of time and expenses through software technology.
The objective was to find cost-savings while maintaining the ability to reach their $2.6 million annual goal. In addition, the team wanted improved and more automated functionality in communications to their donor base as well as a grants management system.
The Diocese continued to use their former software through 2019 but realized that they needed to undertake a search for a new software that could provide more value and benefits specific to their digital fundraising and donor relationship management needs as a faith-based organization. Their former software was expensive, cumbersome and did not align with the needs of the team. It did not provide the easy-to-use fundraising capabilities they felt were essential to help their staff accomplish their day-to-day operations.
The challenge facing the organization was clear, the Diocese needed to find cost-savings in order to efficiently and significantly elevate the impact they can have and the services they can provide to make a difference for its community. Ministries such as vocations, evangelization, rural mission parishes and Catholic Charities are greatly impacted by the success of fundraising. If the Diocese were not to meet and exceed their goals for raising more money and reducing expenses, they would be faced with a need to consider reducing expenses elsewhere, including the services that serve their community.
Simpson came to her role with a strong technology background and knew that an important part of succeeding in this challenge was to immediately become familiar with and evaluate the software that the Diocese was using. She needed to determine whether it met the requirements that were essential to deliver on the goals for the organization’s annual appeals, capital campaigns, donor relationship management and grants management objectives.
The new software needed to answer the challenge of significantly reducing costs, elevating improvements for the annual appeal campaign and their year-round fundraising efforts, and saving time by helping them improve processes, reporting, and overall donor relationship management. Specifically, they needed a software to maintain their current practices, but also to improve grants management, increase their productivity and to serve their donors more effectively. Grants management capabilities were key as the organization wanted to fully build out and better manage their grant process within their offices.
An extensive search to find a new software led them to include Arreva’s ExceedFurther, All-in-One, Digital Fundraising and Donor Relationship Management Solution in their evaluation of platforms. After a thorough vetting process, that included a comprehensive value and benefit analysis, the Diocese decided they wanted to move forward in partnering with Arreva and selecting ExceedFurther, All-in-One, Digital Fundraising and Donor Relationship Management Software.
Simpson shared, “We were limited in functionality with our previous software. Arreva provided more bang for the buck – without having to spend more. Arreva’s ExceedFurther is very intuitive and easy to navigate, and they are right there with us to help at every step along the way. We were also impressed with their customer service and how their all-in-one software could deliver on our overall fundraising needs with flexible and easy reporting, campaign management, and grants management in a single unified system.”
Simpson also shared that the move to ExceedFurther was seamless and smooth, really reinforcing that they had made the right decision. “The data migration process was surprisingly easy. We were assigned an Arreva dedicated data migration expert. She was wonderful, providing us with very insightful recommendations and advice all along the way. The entire team worked with us to truly understand our needs and to make sure they converted the data in a way that made it easy to report on. What really impressed us about Arreva was the teamwork, the response time, and the overall customer experience.”
Simpson added, “We were especially pleased with how they helped us with our reporting needs as a non-profit organization. We have a detailed progress report that we send out to each of the churches on a weekly basis. Other vendors we had talked with could not help us. We brought it to the Arreva team and they took the time to review it and eventually built a custom report for us. They were able to construct the detailed reporting to the churches that provided church and regional target goals for the year, what was pledged, what was paid on pledge, pledge balance, total giving, one-time gifts and participation rate of families in the church. Arreva really went the extra mile to deliver what we needed.”
The Outcome and Results
Upon implementation, the Diocese of Savannah immediately kicked off their annual appeal. “The donors reacted very positively to the new donor site, which was seamless and more intuitive. Kickoff wasn’t without its challenges, but Arreva worked to resolve our issues and questions quickly and provided explanations and training along the way.”
Simpson says that the Diocese was thrilled with how they were able to build out their grants process. “We had previously been using manila folders and paper files, but ExceedFurther’s grants module allows us to manage our grants, report on them with detail all in one place, and export as a spreadsheet. No more going through paper files to search for information. Our grants process is vastly improved and we’re saving time and being much more efficient.”
“Speaking of time savings, which is essential for us with a staff of three, we have saved more than two days a month just through auto-pay for pledge payments, not to mention the time savings and efficiencies we’ve gained through reporting capabilities for mailing lists, statistics, and financials. Especially since the COVID Pandemic, we’ve needed to do more with less. Making the switch has been a major part of helping us manage our budget and look for additional cost-savings. Having a partner like Arreva with us and helping us to has been incredibly important, especially in these times. The more we raise, the more we can do with our mission to truly make a difference for our parishioners and their communities.”
In summary, Simpson truly appreciates Arreva’s understanding of the needs of non-profit organizations, “Arreva's ExceedFurther provides us with an all-in-one, cloud-based, donor relationship management and digital fundraising solution that helps us work more efficiently and save time and money. When we decided to make a change, we looked at numerous vendors and did an extensive value and benefit analysis. We found an incredible amount of value in Arreva. ExceedFurther has helped to increase our productivity which has allowed us to move the Diocese forward in advancing our fundraising goals. Arreva’s customer support is impressive. We were especially pleased with Arreva’s highly consultative data migration and implementation process. Arreva is always going further, and we know that ExceedFurther will keep up with our goals.”
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