It’s an unfortunate irony that in the nonprofit world, organizations often end up spending a lot of their time — and a good percentage of their budget – tracking and managing contributions, rather than focusing on their actual missions.
A Tenino-based nonprofit, though, aims to change all that.
This year, the Anonymously Yours Foundation is fully launching Compass-360, a donor management and capacity building software platform that is customizable, integrated, and substantially less expensive than most of its competitors.
In 2015, the organization expanded its client base from their three early adopters to over 30, including South Sound nonprofits like the United Way of Thurston County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County and Homeless Backpacks.
Husband and wife team Omey and Tammy Nandyal started the Foundation as a way to help nonprofits with online fundraising.
“We went out and talked to three or four organizations,” says Omey Nandyal. “And while they liked our initial ideas, the problem was they weren’t in any position to take advantage of them because they were still trying to figure out things like how to get their end-of-year thank you letters out, how to run their next big gala event, and even how to best account for a $100 check that had just arrived. There was a great deal of surface noise.”
That pushed the Foundation to re-evaluate its mission and purpose. In 2013, Compass-360 was born.
The software platform was initially conceptualized to help organizations manage two things: constituent information and donations. But when Nandyal, a self-described ‘serial entrepreneur’ with a technology background, worked with early adopters and learned about the industry, it became evident that more was needed.
He grew determined to create an affordable, scalable and more user-friendly alternative for the entire non-profit sector.
“I found that by the time you added up all of the stuff you needed, you were looking at a cost of about $10,000 to run your organization effectively,” he says. “Whether $10,000 is 10 percent or one percent of the annual budget, it’s still a lot of money for a nonprofit to pay for technology.”
For most organizations, software solutions aren’t integrated, meaning that organizations have to purchase separate tools for events, donor management, payment processing, communications and other tasks.
“A lot of nonprofits have to pay for a separate event module,” says Omey as an example. “After an event’s over, they have to take all of that data about who attended and transfer it into another system — or systems — so they can process payments, send out their thank you letters, and close out the event.”
This can be a cumbersome and painstaking process of having to merge contact information, create new constituents altogether, and manage multiple spreadsheets of financial data so that organizations can send out their receipts. Sometimes, that can take weeks, if not months, to get sorted out, and there is a lot of room for unintended error, says Nandyal.
In contrast, Compass-360 costs $1,500 annually and includes an unlimited database size, unlimited users, and a variety of web portals.
Integration also saves time and money, says Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County Executive Director Katya Miltimore. The club hosts some of the biggest events in the county, with up to 800 guests at their annual fundraising breakfast and 600 at their auction.
For such large events, having one program that does it all is critical.
“Besides guest registration, there’s procurement tracking, tracking the silent and live auctions, the Fund a Need section, and often a Dessert Dash. Every single one of them is functionally different in terms of how the money comes in and is tracked,” she says.
At Homeless Backpacks, the entire staff is volunteer, so anything that helps to save time is highly beneficial. They just began using the software, most recently at their annual fundraiser.
“Usually we have one go-to staff person to manage large events,” says Kelly Wilson, board chair. “Compass-360 became that ‘person’ for us, keeping everything in one place and organizing it. The checkout was so smooth, and there were no loose ends to tie up.”
December marked the organization’s ninth major fundraiser, and Wilson says that typically she would spend weeks and even months after the event wrapping up details.
“We’ve lost thousands of dollars in the past by not having everything recorded efficiently. This year, we captured everything. I had maybe three phone calls to make after the event.”
Anonymously Yours is able to keep its costs low in several ways. For one, the Nandyals also operate three for-profit businesses, which donate legal, marketing, web design, and development services as part of their philanthropic giving.
“We have a hybrid relationship,” says Omey. “It helps the foundation get on its feet and run, and at some point, it will be able to sustain itself and have its own employees.”
The Nandyals have also negotiated with credit card companies to keep the processing costs down.
“Most organizations are paying 3 percent or higher for their credit card processing,” says Nandyal. “With some sites, like Gofundme pages and CrowdRise, the charges are actually upward of 7 and 8 percent.
“We’ve negotiated with a merchant service company for 2.8 percent. There are no monthly service charges with that and no per transaction fee. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a debit card or credit card or reward card, which makes it very predictable for nonprofits.”
As the company prepares to fully launch Compass-360, everyone involved is excited, says Nandyal.
“It’s such an opportunity to provide a sea change in an industry that really needs it, and to become technology advocates to help these non-profits focus on their missions.”