In a land where weather can be as unpredictable as it is unforgiving, residents of Wichita Falls, Texas, are grateful for the help of Interfaith Ministries. This small but nimble nonprofit organization provides short-term financial assistance to families who are feeling squeezed by medical emergencies, loss of employment, car repairs, or other sudden and unexpected expenses.
“Our organization grew out of disaster relief efforts,” says Jean Payne, executive director of the 30-year old emergency center. “Just like a tornado is a disaster for the entire community, huge hospital bills or losing one’s home to foreclosure are disasters for a family.”
Interfaith Ministries helps stabilize households by contributing to things like rent payments, utility bills and prescriptions. Most people learn about the organization through word of mouth or their local utility companies after they’ve fallen behind in their payments. The organization also offers a food pantry stocked with canned and frozen food, sundries, cleaning products and hygiene items for those in need.
Together with Payne, two full-time employees and one part-time staff member help recruit, supervise, and coordinate more than 120 volunteers. These volunteers serve as the organization’s backbone by helping to identify and work directly with people in the community who need assistance.
Interfaith Ministries board members at a “back to school” rally for low-income kids - Photo credit: Interfaith Ministries
Ensuring the organization’s ongoing success requires having the right communication and organizational tools on hand. “We wouldn’t be able to function without Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher,” says Payne, who relies on these Microsoft programs to share news with the media, acknowledge donations, design and write a monthly newsletter, update training manuals, and create presentations for new volunteers and potential funders.
In April 2011, Interfaith Ministries upgraded its seven computers from Office 2007 to Office 2010 after a notice from TechSoup prompted Payne to make the donation request. “We had upgraded our server and operating system in 2007, and now it was time to do the same with our software,” she says. “Without Microsoft’s software donation program, we would not be able to keep our software up to date.”
Now that everyone — including several volunteers who work remotely — is using the same operating system and software, Payne says they are able to function much more effectively and efficiently as an organization. And with everything running like clockwork, that means being able to stretch Interfaith Ministries’ dollars even farther.
College students doing a carhop fundraiser for Interfaith Ministries – Photo credit: Interfaith Ministries
“In 2010, 33% of our funding came from individual donations,” notes Payne. “We want as much of that money to go to serving people in our community as possible. With TechSoup and Microsoft we get it all — we get to keep our technology current and our community healthy.”
Find out how you can get a software donation for your favorite nonprofit.