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Charles Render

Gaurav Chordiya
Chaoru Deng
White Paper
GEB 5212

How Technology Will
Help Us Help the
Homeless

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Contact Information
Kent Vann, Executive Director
(352) 505-3521 ext. 310
sfhdir@stfrancis.cfcoxmail.com
Lee Smith, Director of Operations
(352) 505-3521 ext. 315
sfhfac@stfrancis.cfcoxmail.com

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Table of Contents:
Title Page
1
Contact Information
2
Table of Contents
3
Executive Summary
4
Introduction
5
Body
6
Conclusion
9
Sources Cited
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Executive Summary
St. Francis House has recently been struggling to keep up with the needs of the homeless in our
community. We have been facing several obstacles in the recent future and there needs to be a
change to the way our organization deals with these obstacles. Many of the problems we face
can be solved in a cost-effective way that will permanently push St. Francis House in the right
direction.
Some of the major problems we face include poor time management, a lack of financial
resources, and a low level of contribution from our surrounding community. An example of a
time management problem we face is not having enough time to go out and help those in the
community on an individual basis, while also keeping our databases updated. Financially, being
a homeless shelter has always been a struggle because we have no source of revenue other than
donations and grants. Although the greater Alachua County community has always been
supportive of our mission, attracting volunteers and financial contributors is a constant struggle.
Updating our technological ability as an organization will put us in a position to combat these
problems. Mobile devices can provide faster and easier access to system databases. Social media
can significantly help raise involvement and revenue in fundraising efforts. There are many other
applications where we can use technology to help St. Francis House.
Along with the strengths that come from becoming more dependent on technology, there also
come weaknesses. There will be expensive one-time costs that come with implementation. There
is also the need to train the staff.
With the move to using technology to solve our problems, our opportunities expand in terms of
how many people we can help and to what extent. The improvement of our technology at St.
Francis House will allow us to reach a larger number of homeless people who are in need of our
assistance. The technological upgrade will also give us an advantage in terms of the extent that
we are able to help. Using technology will move St. Francis in the right direction.

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Introduction
For non-profit organizations such as ourselves, we do not measure success by the amount of
money we bring in, but by how well we serve those who we are dedicated to serve.
As an organization that is dedicated to serving the homeless community of Alachua County, we
have been facing many dilemmas that have been hindering our ability to assist those in need to
the best of our ability.
One major problem we have is time management. The time it takes to reach out to a homeless
person and get important information can be one of our biggest weaknesses. Another major
problem we face is lack of awareness. People simply are not informed of the work we do, and we
lose valuable volunteers and donors with this lack of communication.
We propose that it is time to incorporate technology to help find the solutions to these problems.
Using communication technology such as mobile phones or PDAs can have a major impact on
both human capital and time management for St. Francis House.

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Impact of Technology
The advancement of technology in the fields of mobile, data, cloud and social media will provide
St. Francis House with an array of time and cost efficient solutions that will enable them to
effectively deliver service, fundraise and engage stock holders.
Delivery of Service
Approximately all the non-profit organizations use technologies to provide services to clients.
Information technologies that are mostly used by St. Francis House for program and service
delivery currently are websites, e-mail systems and databases. Mobile technologies and software
systems that allow improved communications with clients and ease of access to information offsite are used only by few. Only 35% of the non-profit organizations use mobile technologies
such as smart phones, personal device assistants (PDAs) and mobile applications to track clients,
and only 40 % of those users collect the data while in field with the client. To demonstrate the
effectiveness of incorporation of mobile technologies and its results consider the following
example: In Bolivia, 18,000 poor are enrolled in Save the Children food distribution program.
Historically this program was tracked by collecting paper forms in El Alto, traveling an hour
back to the country office in La Paz and taking 17 days per month to transcribe data into a
database and report on results. Again, by applying PDAs to this work flow, reduced data
collection and reporting from 17 days per months to just over 7 days, for gains of 57 % (Figure
1).
Combination of mobile and data will help the organization to provide faster service and also to
reach more users. As the funder’s requirement are result driven providing easy access to the
organizational data and use of collaborative software will help the onsite members to
immediately update the database and keep track of the targets to be achieved. As a result this will
prove highly beneficial for report generation.
Fundraising
To derive funds St. Francis House organization has to rely on foundation proposals, special
events. The only type of fundraising that has shown a consistent growth is online giving, which
has increased from 51% to 88% each year from 2002 and 2012(AFP, et al., 2012). Despite of this
growth only a few of the organizations use Facebook for advertising, awareness and for raising
funds. It has been found that only 3% of non-profit organizations are able to raise funds of more
than $10,000 annually through Facebook (NTEN & M+R Strategic Service, 2012). Although St.
Francis House has a presence on social media we are not able to maximize its true potential in
fundraising.

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Figure 1: Bolivia Food Distribution: Data entry & Reporting Rates

Source: Save the Children Data

The power of combining social media in peer to peer fundraising is quite extraordinary. On the
basis of research (Mike Snusz, 2011) the people who use social media platform increased their
fundraising up by 40 % and people active on twitter alone donated 10 times more as compared to
those who are not active (Figure 2) . Mobile technology especially the applications and text
messaging functions are mostly underutilized due to the lack of awareness of their ability to raise
funds. Mobile texting have become an extremely important channel to raise fund for different

Figure 2: Fund raising Twitter user vs No Social media

Source: np Engage Fundraising

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causes. Because not all cell phone users prefer using text option for donation, developing
smartphone applications is very effective alternative to engage the users to donate for different
causes. Examples are the “iKettle” app for Salvation Army in which the users can set up their
own campaigns (Idealware, 2012). Mobile apps also have the functionality of providing the
donors with an immediate receipt and also enable them to donate any amount of their choice
instead of asking them for a limited donation of $5 or $10. By developing a cost efficient
interactive mobile app St. Francis House can very well generate very impressive donations and
engagement with stake holders.
Outreach and Engaging Stakeholders
Even though St. Francis House have a presence on social networking media it is been not used
efficiently to create awareness about its causes and the impact of it in the community. Large
numbers of non-profit organizations have understood the importance of Facebook to increase
engagements and to reach out to more people: 80 % of non-profits believed Facebook generated
more awareness and provided the stakeholders with more information (Idealware, 2011).
Development of powerful mobile applications and websites will allow St. Francis House to reach
out to more consumers in less amount of time.
A highly decisive strategy for St. Francis House would be to develop a website which can be
easily accessed through smart phones and to integrate techniques like highlighting the key terms
and issues, maintaining the content in a highly organized manner, making the information more
interactive through the use of graphics, pictures and videos and reducing the text content.
Keeping the track of the current as well as historical information about the organization, the
various projects it has successfully implemented and the change it brought into lives of various
individuals can be depicted in the form periodic reports. These reports can be published on to the
website which can be viewed by stakeholders and donors aiding in creating awareness and also
to maintain transparency.
In addition a highly successful integration of different technologies into different operations,
providing high quality services to end users and clients, enhanced efforts to raise funds will
allow St. Francis House not only to build a stronger community base but also promote improved
interactions with the donors and stakeholders.

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Conclusion
We have discussed some of the major problems that we have been facing at St. Francis House.
These obstacles can be combated by the introduction of certain technologies to our organization.
Using tools such as social media and mobile devices can allow us to improve in ways we could
not imagine a few years ago. Although there are some initial costs that come with investing in
these technologies, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. There are good opportunities
available for us through the adoption of technology.
Now is the time to make our investment into these technologies. The sooner we adopt them, the
sooner we can help the homeless more effectively. Our proposal to increase technology in our
organization is in everyone within St. Francis House’s best interest because all major
stakeholders will either directly or indirectly benefit. By strengthening St. Francis House, we will
be strengthening our community.

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Sources Cited
AFP, Blackbaud, Campbell Rinker, Convio, The center on Philanthropy, Giving USA, & NCCS.
(2012). Nonprofit fundraising study: Covering charitable receipts at U.S. nonprofit
organization in 2011. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/piblications/1001601.html/
Allison H. Fine. (2011). Evaluating the impact of Information Technology. Retrieved from
http://www.innonet.org/client_docs/File/Eval_tech.pdf
Edward Granger-Happ. (2006). Ways technology Impacts Those in Need and Those Who Meet
Needs. Retrieved from http://nethope.org/images/uploads/casestudies/WaysTechImpacts
Idealware. (2012). What every nonprofit should know about mobile report. Retrieved from
http://idealware.org/reports/mobile-global-development/
Mike Snusz. (2011). Turing Low-dollar fundraisers Into Money Raising Superstars. Retrieved
from http://www.npengage.com/nonprofit-fundraising/creating-fundraising-superstars/
NTEN&M+R Strategic Service. (2012). eNonprofit benchmarks study. Retrieved from
http://www.ebenchmarksstudy.com/

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