Technology Innovator of the Week: For Love of Children (FLOC)

floc logoFor Love of Children (FLOC) provides educational services beyond the classroom to help students succeed from first grade through college and career. FLOC brings together students, volunteers, families, and community partners in proven programs that teach, empower, and transform.

FLOC is 501cTECH's Technology Innovator of the Week for their resourceful use of multiple online communications and donor management platforms to improve their operation.

How does technology make your work life easier?

FLOC has been integrating technology into many aspects of our work for the past two years.   We have used our website and a variety of social media platforms to recruit new volunteers, share our students' stories, increase our donor base and streamline our application process for both students and volunteers.  We have purposely and consistently grown a social media profile to increase FLOC's presence in the community and to highlight our work.  We are active users of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WordPress and YouTube.

We also have embraced new technologies to help improve, strengthened and grow our work with volunteers and students.  In order to better serve our students in the Scholars Program, we connect with them through all the social media listed above and have created online distance learning opportunities for our students pursuing postsecondary education. We have invested in iPads for our Program Coordinators in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program to use during tutoring nights, allowing them monitor tutoring pairs and look up valuable resources on the spot.  Through a partnership with Acumen Solutions, we developed an online volunteer application and corresponding volunteer database using Salesforce.

How do you use technology to achieve your mission?

Finding ways to harnessing available technology to help our nonprofit has greatly impacted our ability to serve our students and volunteers, by streamlining processes and opening up new resources. We have grown our volunteer base by establishing an online application process that is linked directly to our volunteer management database in Salesforce.  The online application was set up in April of 2011, and almost immediately it became the primary tool for volunteers to submit applications.  Roughly ninety percent of our new volunteer applications are completed online and 45% of this year's new volunteers identified the web as how they heard about us.

As mentioned above, purchasing of iPads for our program coordinators in the Neighborhood Tutoring Program allows them to find creative activities, additional resources and needed information for students and their volunteer tutors immediately and while staying engaged with that tutoring pair.  Building on that success, we are researching ways to further integrate tablet technology into tutoring.

For our Scholars program, we have developed a series of online distance webinars for our students enrolled in post-secondary institutions. The program was launched in January of 2012 with webinars on finding summer internships, time management, and financial aid.  We also hold open office hours on our Facebook Page for all postsecondary Scholars and use a variety of social media sites to send encouraging messages, stay engaged with them and provide useful resources.

Lastly, we share our stories on our blog, website, and through Facebook and Twitter.  Technology helps us achieve our mission by spreading awareness about what we do to the online community and getting our message out there. Our stories highlight the importance of education and giving back to your community, which can impact and inspire our followers and we are also able to reach out to volunteers and families looking for our services in DC.  Technology provides an easy means of communication among organizations where we can collaborate and share ideas to improve parts of our organization without having to "reinvent the wheel" each time.

How has technology changed the way your organization does business?

We have been leveraging technological innovations to improve and grow out work in a number of ways.  In terms of fundraising, for the past two, FLOC has participated in online giving competitions that use the power of social media to attract a large number of new “micro –givers.”  Last year, FLOC was the grand prizewinner in the first “Give to the Max” day, raising the most money of any nonprofit and qualifying for the Community Foundation’s $25,000 Grand Award as well as more than $80,000 in direct contributions.

This year, we heavily promoted the newly branded “Do More 24” day through our website and social media platforms.  Leading up to the day, we posted information about the event on our website and on our Blog, managed through Wordpress.  On the actual day, we used our Twitter and Facebook accounts to publicize our Executive Director’s appearance on Fox News morning broadcast and an official Do More 24 United Way sponsored event at our offices in the afternoon.   For the second year in a row, we raised over $80,000 and were awarded the top prize for bringing in the largest amount of donations through the campaign.

Lastly, we use our social media profile to collaborate with other organizations and companies.  In January 2013, we highlighted one of our corporate sponsors, The JBG Companies, in a blog post.   We then promoted the post on our Facebook page and tagged The JBG Companies. They were delighted, since the post caused a spike in traffic to their Facebook page.  By highlighting our partners in our social media posts, we can drive traffic to their sites and strengthen our connections with them.

Through technology we have also been able to send out a monthly e-newsletter that reaches donors, volunteers, and partners.  The e-newsletter allows us to tell our story and share what is going on in programs as well as ask for support at events, volunteers, in-kind donations, or monetary donations.  Through the online program, we are able to track how many people read the e-newsletter every month and who clicks on the embedded links.

Through social media, we are able to better tell our story and collaborate with our partners. One example of a way that we’ve been able to collaborate with other organizations over social media was a blog post we did in January 2013 that highlighted one of our corporate sponsors: The JBG Companies.  Our development associate wrote a blog post to thank them for their generous gifts and advocacy of FLOC, which we promoted over Facebook and tagged The JBG Companies.  Later, they were very pleased to tell us that the post caused a spike in traffic to their Facebook page.  By highlighting our partners in our social media posts, we can drive traffic to their sites and strengthen our connections with them.

In terms of our Twitter and Facebook posts, our pictures and inspiring quotes about education are liked and shared the most often.  Our Outdoor Education Center did a great campaign called “FLOC-stacio” where they set up a photo booth at their community health expo and took pictures of the participants with props.  They then uploaded the pictures on to Facebook and encouraged people to “like” their photos.  The people in the photo with the most likes at the end of the week were the winners and got a small prize.

Is there a piece of hardware or software you can’t live without?

013_social-media-collageOne of the biggest lessons we have learned is the value of creating and then actively and consistently using our social media profile.  We have a Recruitment and Outreach Assistant who manages many aspects of our online profile by recruiting different staff members, volunteers and students to write entries for our FLOC blog, to “like” us on Facebook and to re-tweet information that we send out.  Twitter and Facebook are a great way for us to interact with our supporters and network as a whole and share FLOC’s mission and what we are doing by sharing relevant articles, photos, stories, and up-to-date news.

Have technology questions or want to learn more about how Tech Impact can help your nonprofit?