Note: This is a guest blog post from Tom Allebach, executive director for Manna on Main Street, a community service organization that serves the needy in the greater North Penn community outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA).
By Tom Allebach, Executive Director, Manna on Main Street
Manna on Main Street was founded in 1981 and provides a soup kitchen, food cupboard and a variety of other programs to help individuals in need. Our vision for Manna on Main Street is “that everyone might be fed.” As we need to have every dollar possible directed to helping people, software to support our organization needs to be affordable, work with our existing applications and be easy to access and use for our staff and 1,000 volunteers.
Two solutions that have changed the way we work with our volunteers are Google Docs for creation and sharing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and SAP StreamWork, a collaborative decision making application available from the Google Apps Marketplace. With Google Docs, volunteers share spreadsheets, collectively author documents and proposals, and consolidate documents, whether they’re in the building, participating from home or work, or on the go. Because it’s affordable, robust and can be accessed from anywhere, it has helped Manna on Main Street to work more efficiently and collectively, thus allowing us to create and deliver on more programs to help those in need.
After experiencing the value of a cloud application such as Google Docs, we learned about SAP StreamWork, also cloud-based, and decided to give it a try. SAP StreamWork brings together our volunteers and staff with important information from the web. With it, we can apply structure to our discussions, including tracking activities, pro/con tables, SWOT analyses, e-mail alerts and polls to help us quickly come to consensus and move forward. It provides a way for our staff to connect with the board of directors and supporters for key committees and has many features for managing private, directed activities that drive participation, planning and decisions with our volunteers. Similar to Google Docs, it’s easy to use and has been adopted by participants with varying levels of technology experience.
And now, Google Docs is integrated directly into SAP StreamWork, making it even easier for Manna on Main Street and its volunteers to work seamlessly, collectively and from anywhere. With these new capabilities our board of directors and building and resource committees can drive a fundraising program to help Manna move from our current building toward our future new facility, dramatically increasing our ability to feed and serve more people in need.
Considering what Manna on Main Street must do and the needs of the people that live among us, we realize that much work remains to be done; that our families and individuals continue to struggle. We continue to give thanks to all who help in that service.