Minnesota nonprofits save $1.3 million using Catchafire

How the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation builds nonprofits’ capacity with free access to Catchafire

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation is empowering nonprofits in Minnesota by linking them to free capacity building services.

Since the spring of 2018, the Foundation has given 550 nonprofit organizations free access to Catchafire, an online virtual volunteer platform that connects nonprofits with skilled volunteers from across the country, saving organizations time, money and resources. 

Through Catchafire, nonprofits can request support in a variety of areas, including marketing, fundraising, human resources, finance and technology. Volunteers offer pro bono services on projects that can range in intensity and size from a website redesign, which can take several months to complete, to a social media presence, which can be as quick as a one-hour phone call. 

The Foundation invested in a partnership with Catchafire to provide nonprofits in Greater Minnesota and the East Metro with the capacity-building support they need to maximize the positive impact organizations make in communities they serve. So far, organizations throughout the state have benefitted from 6,259 volunteer hours contributed, and $1.3 million saved on project support.

“We only have two full-time staff and everyone else is either part-time or a volunteer,” said Dan Reed, executive director of the Highland Friendship Club (HFC).

“When I heard about Catchafire, I said, ‘Oh they can help me. Because I need help. I can’t do it all.’”

With the support of their Catchafire volunteer, HFC raised over $100,000 for their 2018 year-end campaign. The volunteer helped HFC combine their three major fundraisers into one campaign, with a marketing outline mapping out their fundraising events.

“He [the volunteer] gave me the tools, and the program director and I put together the campaign in an afternoon,” Dan said. “We just kind of followed their blueprint and it worked. The goal was to raise $100K from November 1 to New Year's Eve. And on New Year's Eve at 8:30 at night I got pinged that we hit $103,000.”

"There’s so many things that we can get done that we never could otherwise.”

Like HFC, Green Card Voices (GCV) also struggled to accomplish all the tasks they needed to complete, due to having a small staff. Thanks to Catchafire, GCV worked with six volunteers, including a web designer, engagement analyst, accountant, a research guide writer, a grant researcher and a human resource specialist, on various capacity building projects.

“We saved $37,000 from using Catchafire,” said Anna. Thanks in part to Catchafire’s assistance, Anna said, GCV was able to bring on “a foundation grant research volunteer that put together a list of grants that we could apply to for some of the more specific upcoming projects in the next few years.”

 GCV is already considering future ways it can use Catchafire, including creating brand messaging guidelines and more in-depth marketing. 

“We definitely want to continue to use Catchafire,” Anna said. “The options are seemingly endless. They just seem so expansive; there’s so many things that we can get done that we never could otherwise.”

For Dan, Catchafire “was hassle-free. I cannot recommend it enough. As you can see, the proof is in the pudding. Now that we're being able to combine those events and raise that much money literally in the course of two months.”

In 2020, Dan plans to reach out to Catchafire to re-evaluate their marketing plan and start mapping out their finances. 

“If anyone can help me do it, it's Catchafire.” 

To learn more about how you can be a volunteer, visit Catchafire.org. If you are interested in learning  how your nonprofit can access this service, contact Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation program associate Dustin Moretz.

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