board development

Donor Outreach

Community Software Lab
VISTA Name: 
Eric Bryant
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

We provide free Internet hosting and low-cost custom web-based software development to non profit organizations. For instance, we provide free web and email services to 30 youth centers, homeless shelters, adult education centers, immigrant aid agencies, and disability advocacy groups. These agencies assist thousands of poor people every day.

We accomplish this mission with

* Free software (Linux, Perl, Apache, etc.)
* Below market salaries
* Volunteers
* Grants

The grant writer VISTA member will:

A) Make fundraising contacts and create fundraising processes

B) Develop and maintain relationships with funders

C) Establish ongoing donor database

D) Create calendar of grant deadlines

E) Write grants

The Community Software Lab (CSL) has never had a grant writing/fundraising position. Their director and staff members are volunteers. With 100,000 and the establishment of ongoing fundraising contacts and processes as the year-end goal, a grant writer will enable CSL to support the full-time salaries of its director and staff. This will dramatically enhance the services CSL provides to their clients.

Project Outcome: 

Originally, Eric’s primary goal was to raise money writing grants. His secondary goals were to create a process for us to continue successful grant writing, to get a handle on our bookkeeping and accounting, particularly in regard to presenting our finances to funders. We had very limited success with the grant writing and other pressing needs. Eric shifted the focus of his work to supervising interns, expanding mvhub, doing paperwork for the government, creating a process to do that paperwork in the future and looking at non-grant writing funding opportunities.

We do have, however, a good start on a plan to get a better program. One of Eric’s clear successes was expanding into Lawrence. We were struggling here. In Lowell we know a lot of people. A quick reminder phone call was enough to get people to add their information This didn’t work in Lawrence where we knew few non-profit people. Eric broke the bottleneck. He asked people to fax us their brochures. He typed the brochures into our database and got people to confirm their records and got our stalled project moving. Before Eric arrived, our workers were contractors, volunteers or Americorps/VISTA members. We didn’t need a payroll system. Eric figured out the complexity of state and federal payroll taxes for our first employee.

Impact Quote: 

It is testament to Eric’s abilities that he did what ordinarily requires a a software and a team of professionals to accomplish.”
- Dan MacNeil, supervisor

Transmission Project