The Nonprofit Organization
Robin’s Nest Children’s Advocacy Center of Caldwell County (https://www.robinsnestcac.org) in Lenoir, North Carolina, is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that coordinates resources to serve child victims of sexual and severe physical abuse. Robin’s Nest’s mission is to provide hope, promote healing, and provide justice for children who are experiencing maltreatment.The organization is committed to childhood free of abuse and organizes their work in partnership with other local agencies committed to protection of our children. The name “Robin’s Nest” evokes images of safety, security, and caring – elements that are fundamental to the organization’s work. Robin’s nest serves close to 300 kids per year, with many being on their case roster for 2 or 3 years, during which time they provide ongoing advocacy support.
Staff and local agencies work closely together to coordinate services and transform crisis into healing, hope, and justice for child victims and non-offending family members, working with primary partners – law enforcement, the Department of Social Services, the District Attorney’s Office, and mental health services – to decrease trauma for child victims of abuse.
Robin’s Nest also has a longstanding, strong working relationship with Caldwell County Public Schools, and the superintendent of the school system serves on the Robin’s Nest Board. Ten years ago, Caldwell County Schools and Robin’s Nest began a collaboration, whereby the school system raises funds for Robin’s Nest through an initiative titled, “Change for Children.”
According to Shellie Bowlin, Executive Director, who has been with Robin’s Nest since 2017, the “Change for Children” fundraising initiative became a well-known annual activity in the schools over time. She shares that everyone knows about the fundraiser. “All of the kids bring in change, and the classrooms compete, the grade levels compete, and the schools compete. They all figure out their own method of competition. Even if they all don’t understand what Robin’s Nest is, they do know our name, and the kids are determined to raise money, although it was always basically loose change (or in some cases a parent would contribute a spare dollar or several dollars that their child could bring to class).”
Shellie adds, “It was really the COVID-19 pandemic that caused us to escalate looking at the possibility of using an online platform for “Change for Children”. At the time, our organization was using PayPal for online donations, and Arreva’s legacy desktop software, Exceed! Basic, as our CRM database. As our 2021 Change for Children campaign was approaching, we knew we needed to use an online platform for the campaign, and ended up choosing Classy, a separate vendor that offered team fundraising at the time.”
Although Robin’s Nest enjoyed working with Classy and was able to use the online platform to execute the campaign online and raise some money from a supportive community during the pandemic, Shellie shares that there were challenges with the platform that created frustration, “The Classy platform did not do everything we needed it to do. We were not able to truly have each classroom, grade, or school set up with their own fundraising pages. The Classy platform required instead listing each school and having those participating go in and make a comment or note telling which grade and which teacher the donation was for, requiring us to manually keep track of this information ourselves. Additionally, because the Classy platform was a separate stand-alone solution, we had significant duplication of efforts with double entry of any transactions coming into the platform to bring them into our main database, which was not only causing difficulties for us in getting a full view of our efforts in one place, but also costing us time and creating inefficiencies, which we knew we needed to overcome moving forward to our 2022 campaign.”
Bowlin adds, “Overall, these challenges extend to thingslike reporting as well, as we often needed to run multiple reports and maintain redundant spreadsheets. Of course, all this also impacted our ability to really develop meaningful relationships with our donors. We knew we needed to do things differently in 2022 and, thankfully, we soon discovered that the solution to the challenges we needed to solve for our Change for Children team fundraising campaign were closer than we might have imagined.”
In late 2021, Robin’s Nest, a longtime client of Arreva’s legacy desktop software, was very actively exploring upgrading their donor relationship management database from Exceed! Basic, and did some research on Arreva’s cloud-based solution, in addition to solutions from five other vendors, for comparison. Shellie was enthusiastic about what she learned about Arreva’s ExceedFurther, all-in-one, digital fundraising, and donor relationship management software, “It was great to learn that there were so many good reasons to stick with Arreva, who we had been with for so long. Not only did they have a great database that is so much more robust than what we were using, but the all-in-one solution also meant we could finally bring all our online fundraising applications and more together in the same fully integrated platform, which really brought us forward into the 21st century.”
As Robin’s Nest was already finalizing their decision to make the move to ExceedFurther in October 2021, and Shellie was sharing some of her frustrations about the prospect of again having to work with a separate team fundraising platform for her 2022 Change for Children initiative, she was approached by the Arreva team, including Sylvia Gastelbondo, Arreva’s CTO, with news that Arreva had recently launched fully integrated ExceedFurther, Team Fundraising.
Shellie was immediately curious to learn more about what she felt may be the solution to the challenges she was potentially facing if she stayed with a separate solution for team fundraising. “I asked Sylvia, how granular can it get? How far down can we go? Because I wanted this to drill down to the teacher level, and more. She really listened and immediately got what we were trying to do. I ardently signed on to add Team Fundraising to our new ExceedFurther solution. Not only did it make sense financially to eliminate the separate solutions with one robust, all-in-one solution, it also was exactly the right move to solve the challenges we had been facing.”
Robin’s Nest moved forward in a smooth onboarding of ExceedFurther in early January 2022, and immediately leveraged the fully integrated Team Fundraising application for its Change for Children campaign in March, which Shellie Bowlin deemed a great success from a number of perspectives, “We were very pleased with the move to Arreva’s team fundraising platform, beginning in March 2022. We had just gone live with ExceedFurther, and the support from the Arreva team in helping us smoothly get up and running with the Team Fundraising solution was extraordinary. We were so impressed with the easy setup and the way we extended the reach of our campaign to quickly raise more than $15,000 online while saving an exceptional amount of time and effort compared to the previous year with a different solution.”
“We raised more money through the 2023 Change for Children campaign than we have ever raised. It’s really just mind blowing to think about how much money we’ve been able to raise, by leveraging the Arreva team fundraising solution, by asking kids to bring in change, and to asking their parents
and other supporters to donate online in a school system in a rural community that is typically considered poverty-stricken. I attribute that success to not only the wonderful work of our schools, our school liaisons, and the parents and children who donated and enthusiastically
engaged in team fundraising, but also to Arreva for allowing us to dream big and in helping us to get the platform exactly to where we wanted it to be for our donors and our clients.”
Executive Director, Robin’s Nest Children’s Advocacy Center
Shellie is even more enthusiastic about the experience and the results of the March 2023 event, which was the second year using Arreva’s Team Fundraising. which just concluded, as well as the opportunity for continued tremendous growth of the fundraiser each year. “In 2023, using ExceedFurther, we increased our fundraising results by more than 300% with a total of more than $50,000 in just 2 weeks. The solution is so robust and allowed us to get incredibly granular at every level of our team fundraising. The dedication to our success from Ann, Sylvia, and the Arreva support team was indispensable.”
Shellie adds, “We raised more money through the 2023 Change for Children campaign than we have ever raised. It’s really just mind blowing to think about how much money we’ve been able to raise,by leveraging the Arreva team fundraising solution, by asking kids to bring in change, and to ask their parents and other supporters to donate online in a school system in a rural community that is typically considered poverty-stricken. I attribute that success not only to the wonderful work of our schools, our school liaisons, and the parents and children who donated and enthusiastically engaged in team fundraising, but also to Arreva for allowing us to dream big and in helping us to get the platform exactly to where we wanted it to be for our donors and our clients.”
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