Growing Non Profit Helps Community, Boosted by Better Communications

By Julie Webb

Growth prompted change in non profit’s phone system and a cost savings of $450,000 with Unified Communications. 

Non Profit Saves Money Phone SystemA non-profit organization typically has a clearly defined mission. When you are so successful at furthering that mission, growth (as with any business) can present some interesting new challenges.

For the San Diego-based not for profit Community Housing Works (CHW), one set of growing pains came in the form of a hosted phone system that was no longer keeping pace with communications between employees and clients, and was also costing the organization more than they realized in terms of actual operating expenses. A move to a new facility finally prompted a closer look at the problem and resulted in a substantial savings that surprised everyone.

CHW began in 1982, with 15 employees and a mission to “help people and communities move up in the world through opportunities to own, rent, and achieve.” After three decades of dedication, the organization offers support to more than 7,000 children and adults each year. The beautiful, safe, and green communities they build provide homes that working families in the San Diego area can afford to rent and eventually own. CHW also provides financial coaching classes, academic support for kids (including after-school tutoring and homework assistance), and leadership nurturing through community outreach and various educational programs and classes.

Today, the organization has grown to more than 110 employees and three office locations. Over the years, loyal supporters and volunteers have assisted with the effort to keep costs down for the non profit by donating or helping purchase equipment. The organization’s phone system was one of the areas where the organization had previously benefitted from the generosity of supporters. When CHW made the decision to open a new facility, they took the opportunity to reevaluate the costs attributed to the existing phone system. The hybrid, hosted solution, was based in Utah and maintained by an outsourced IT firm.

Analyzing Legacy Phone System Costs Key to New Savings 

Being a busy non profit, an analysis of the legacy system had not been completed in years. The utility type service provided by the hosted company lacked face-to-face interaction, limited functionality, and very little technical support. Not to mention, the overall cost of the system was far more than anyone had realized. And every time the growing non profit added a new employee, it meant additional recurring costs. The true expense of the outdated system became even more apparent as CHW’s IT director began evaluating new systems from other service providers.  (Read more about the IT director’s process for evaluating a new phone system.)

CHW looked at four alternative business phone systems from Nortel, Avaya, Cox and Digum. They quickly found that Digium’s Switchvox Unified Communications (UC) system was the ideal system, and offered a price that seemed made for a non profit. Working with SDTek, a Preferred Digium Partner, CHW purchased a Swtichvox system, 115 phones and a Switchvox appliance (as a cold spare for onsite emergency recovery).

By replacing the organization’s legacy system with Switchvox, CHW will save over $450,000 in five years. The substantial savings goes a long way, especially for a non profit serving a large community in San Diego. That savings, originating from a simple switch in communications solution providers, can now roll back over into other areas that supports CHW’s mission and can help boost future growth and client success. It’s nice to realize that the benefits of Unified Communications can extend beyond office corridors and out into communities throughout the world.

What’s holding you back from getting real cost savings?

See how Switchvox can help your company grow and remove the fear of upgrading your phone system. Watch this on-demand webinar. 

Upgrade your legacy phone system

Learn more about the implementation of the Community Housing Work’s phone system project.

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About the Author

Julie Webb

Julie Webb is the Marketing Communications (MARCOM) Director at Digium. She joined the company in January 2005 after spending many years in the telecommunications industry. Julie and her team are responsible for corporate branding and events, most notably AstriCon.

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