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Blog September 22, 2021

CapTech and Apparo Bring Some Jazz to Community Impact

CapTech believes that technology can create a better future. We’ve worked closely with Charlotte, NC-based Apparo since 2013 to bring that vision to life in the local community. Apparo connects area nonprofits with volunteers from companies like CapTech whose expertise helps them harness the power of technology to further their missions. Apparo also pairs volunteers with nonprofit employees seeking to grow their technical proficiency for no-cost coaching.

Across 2021, CapTechers have served as coaches in Apparo’s IT coaching program and participated in a pro bono project for JazzArts Charlotte. Both of these experiences have been rewarding for the volunteers involved as well as the program participants.

CapTech VolunteerS: CapTech Volunteers Tina Schurr, Halle Bryan, and Rocco Esposito

Empowering Nonprofit Employees Through Coaching

Apparo’s IT coaching program enables corporate volunteers to work with nonprofit staffers seeking to improve their proficiency with technology-driven products such as Outlook, SharePoint, and Excel. Instruction ranges from general topics to more complex features, and most of the coaching sessions take place over multiple, one-hour visits.

One recent IT Coaching participant had this to share: “[My CapTech coach] would slow down, repeat, and was very kind, humble and grateful to be able to volunteer with us. We appreciated not only how he taught us, but how he shared his appreciation for the work we do. It can be intimidating to learn from someone in your organization. You don’t want to say that you don’t understand. A volunteer from the outside helps overcome that problem."

Meanwhile, CapTech volunteers enjoy impacting communities by sharing their expertise:

“I find IT Coaching through Apparo incredibly rewarding. I get to take the skills and strengths I use as a part of my day-to-day job and share those with nonprofits to help people spend less time figuring out how to use their technology and more time on furthering their mission.”

The G.A.I.N. Program Assists JazzArts Charlotte

Apparo’s “Growth Agility and Innovation for Nonprofits (G.A.I.N)” is a two-year program that equips nonprofits with the technology and expertise that can help them overcome operational challenges and reach their full potential. Over the past few years, CapTech has dedicated multiple teams and countless hours to Apparo’s GAIN projects.

Most recently, CapTech volunteers provided 150+ hours in support of JazzArts Charlotte's journey in the G.A.I.N. program with services ranging from technology assessment and planning to network infrastructure, custom development, project management, and more.

What JazzArts Needed

JazzArts aims to enrich the community through music education, live performances, and musician support. This nonprofit suffered from inefficient business process protocols that were slowing down the work of staff members and impacting its ability to put together performances, classes, and other music related events in a timely manner.

Ron Baldwin, CFO of JazzArts Charlotte expressed the need this way: “We’re ecstatic to be part of G.A.I.N. and enthusiastic about the journey ahead. We’ve been so focused on client service that we haven’t had the time to plan for our use of technology. Our hope is to be able to step back and focus on technology planning, efficiency in terms of both operations, and expenses. I know we could be more efficient if we were able to improve our internal communications.

CapTechers addressed JazzArts’ challenges with a two-phase approach:

Phase One: Technology Assessment

In the first phase of the G.A.I.N. Program, CapTech performed one-on-one and group interviews with staff members of the organization, compiled the findings, and paired actionable recommendations with each of the problems. These recommendations were compiled into an end-to-end technology assessment and visualized in a roadmap that outlined what, when, and how JazzArts should proceed. The technology assessment resulted in:

• Improved efficiency by 10%, which saved staff members significant time and allowed them to focus on mission fulfillment
• Increased revenue, driven by improved marketing and fundraising
• Realized annual cost savings of $2,500+
• Increased community reach

At the conclusion of this phase, Apparo’s CEO and President shared her thoughts: "I want to thank all of the volunteers who have supported us in the G.A.I.N. Program. I appreciate the time and attention that they put into helping JazzArts Charlotte, completely pro bono. The value to us is priceless. It’s going to go a long way in helping us move forward."

Phase Two: SharePoint Migration

Shortly after the conclusion of the Technology Assessment phase, CapTech was asked to support the next phase, which involved moving the nonprofit to SharePoint. CapTechers assisted with setting up a new SharePoint site, implemented the file structure, and guided JazzArts in a data clean-up and migration exercise – a key milestone in the roadmap deliverable from phase one. At the conclusion of this phase, JazzArts was able to:

• Improve its ability to share files inside and outside the organization
• Increase the level of data and information security
• Gain efficiencies with the ability to edit documents in the Cloud
• Reduce cost by eliminating duplicate software

Ron Baldwin had this to say: “Our volunteers have been awesome. Matt and Justin were very patient with us. Everyone on our team was ecstatic and really appreciates them. This is another important step in our G.A.I.N. process and improving the way we work through technology.”

CapTech Volunteer: Justin Bonaparte

For CapTech’s part, we could not have been more pleased with the results and the process of working with the JazzArts Charlotte team. We saw, once again, how Apparo’s G.A.I.N. program is a great example of how people and organizations can come together, share their knowledge and passions, and make their communities better places to live.

Rocco Esposito, Jr. CapTech volunteer, summed it up well: “Volunteering through Apparo is great opportunity to do work that’s really meaningful and helps the community. My knowledge of the community has been broadening and I got to flex technology and project management skills that I don’t always get to at work.”

CapTech looks forward to continuing our partnership with Apparo and together helping elevate the impact of Charlotte-area nonprofits through technology.