Three years after working with the Traction Bandits, the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council is scaling across continents.
Just how do they do it?
That’s what larger nonprofits wonder when they speak to Kai Williams, Executive Director of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC). “The other groups are surprised that despite our tiny budget we’re able to do a lot for the people we work for,” she says. “We finally hit an operating budget of $200,000 (for 2018), which is exciting — but sometimes these organizations have budgets of a million dollars or more.”
The investment of technology can be overwhelming for a smaller nonprofit like the IWRC but it’s something worth investing in, according to Kai. She says it’s “everything” when it comes to expanding their reach and fulfilling their mission. Kai is adamant they wouldn’t be where they are as an organization without it. “Not on this scale. No way,” she says.
Investing in tech is good for biz
We first met Kai three years ago on the Bandit Tour, an initiative of Traction on Demand’s community engagement program. Traction for Good, as it’s known, works to increase the capacity of nonprofits by donating Salesforce service grants and sharing industry expertise. At the time, the IWRC had been on Salesforce for a year after turfing their old system, and they had two main challenges:
1) Their data was stored in different places, meaning they actually lost data
2) Their system wasn’t optimized for virtual communications because they weren’t operating in the cloud
This resulted in frustration and lost time for the IWRC and, worse, frustration for their donors and members. “It just didn’t look professional,” says Kai.
Since implementing Salesforce, though, the IWRC has expanded into the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America, Europe and South Africa. They now offer 30 classes and books translated into Spanish, and membership keeps increasing as well. Kai points to the data as a determining success factor. “We became confident in our data. That’s the really big thing. Through our work with Traction we got better quality data, which meant that we were able to do more of our mission-based work beyond data entry and triple checking the data.”
Enter the Traction Bandits
The Bandits will be back at it again this month when they meet with more than 16 nonprofits; but it won’t be all work and no play. There’s always time afterwards to hang out and get to know one other. Kai reminisces about their her first Bandit meeting in Coos Bay, Oregon. “I still have a coaster from the brew pub we were at because it was such a great experience,” she says. This year, Kai is meeting the Traction Bandits in Portland. “Since we’re based in Eugene, it’s a great excuse to go on our own mini road trip!”
The IWRC is proof it’s not about the size of the engine but rather the vision of the engineer steering the train. “Technology allows our small staff to spend our time helping wildlife and the people who care for them. It’s our fifth staff member. Sure, it requires management like any other staff, but it’s a valuable member of our team that allows our human staff to shine.”