Virtual volunteers give Central Texas nonprofits much-needed support during pandemic
Published April 12, 2021
In January 2020, as part of its ongoing commitment to support the organizational health of nonprofits in Central Texas, St. David’s Foundation launched a statewide capacity building initiative called One Texas Catchafire.
The purpose of One Texas is to provide virtual skill-based capacity building support to nonprofits through Catchafire, an online platform that strengthens the social good sector by matching professionals who want to donate their time with nonprofits who needs their skills. Through the Catchafire platform, nonprofits can easily request virtual support in a variety of areas such as fundraising, marketing, finance, and technology. Catchafire’s volunteers, who are professionals located throughout the world, fulfill these project requests that range in size and scope, from a brief one-hour consultation to 50-hour projects worth over $10,000 such as website redesign, newsletter development, and evaluation planning.
This initial investment in One Texas, in partnership with the Meadows Foundation and Texas Rural Funders, provided free Catchafire memberships for 250 nonprofit organizations in Central and rural Texas. In 2021, St. David’s Foundation expanded their support to 300 nonprofits in Central and rural Texas.
Human capital is required to build well-functioning organizations, but often limited access to funding creates a barrier to talent, which restricts effectiveness and resilience. Since launching One Texas, other grantmakers have joined the initiative, expanding access to Catchafire for organizations in Dallas and San Antonio. As of January 2021, 11 funders have helped to launch programs supporting more than 800 organizations across Texas though Catchafire’s on-demand capacity building support, saving them an estimated $867,000 with more than 4,400 volunteer hours donated in just one year.
“I am Catchafire’s biggest fan. I have been able to post every kind of tech, HR, or marketing project on there that we have zero skillset in working on ourselves. Being able to fix our forms, have updated templates that *actually work,* and get HR questions answered quickly is a game changer for our small organization.” Rachel, Guadalupe Neighborhood Development Corporation
The One Texas initiative is rooted in St. David’s Foundation’s belief that supporting straightforward and empowering ways for nonprofits to invest in their organizations has become more essential than ever—especially as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a time when nonprofit services are in such high demand as communities respond to the pandemic, they are also facing disrupted revenue streams and fast pivots to their working models due to social distancing. Having access to professional services at no cost has been vital to many organizations as they build capacity to meet growing needs.
“The process has been seamless and super easy to navigate. Catchafire is a force multiplier. They make it super easy to engage volunteers and that is a treat.” Candyss, IT’S TIME TEXAS
Intuitive and easy to use, nonprofit users shared that getting started on the Catchafire platform was a simple process allowing them to quickly benefit and immediately tap much needed professional resources.
Funding members of the One Texas initiative believe that even when the pandemic subsides, nonprofits will continue to rely on virtual volunteers to improve capacity building to strengthen their organization ability to serve their mission. The COVID-19 crisis has forced the country and the world to reexamine how we work, showing many advantages to distance work. Catchafire’s model, with more than 84,000 registered volunteers, has become an invaluable resource to many organizations across the country and here in Texas.
“Virtual volunteers are the future of volunteering,” said Rachael Chong, CEO of Catchafire. “That was the case even before COVID-19. But now, nonprofit staff and leaders have a new understanding of how virtual volunteers are able to continue to help them build capacity. Catchafire helps level the playing field for community nonprofits—so they not only survive but thrive.”
One Texas Catchafire was a three-year capacity building initiative funded by St. David’s Foundation. During that time, Central Texas nonprofits in the cohort collectively matched with skilled volunteers to complete over 500 projects. While this initiative has ended, nonprofit organizations can still learn more about how they can use Catchafire here.