The Union Mission is dedicated to ending homelessness in the Savannah area. "Last year, we ended homelessness for 322 people," the group's Rev. Micheal Elliott told us. "That's our bottom line and every year that's how we measure ourselves."
To succeed, they rely on the support of the community. "We have a substantial number of people who live in this community who regularly send financial contributions to support the work that we do," said Rev. Elliott.
About six cents on the dollar from those contributions go to administration. Currently almost all donations come in the mail. Copies are made for the different departments, and the information is then manually entered into a donor database. All this means administrative overhead.
But Savannah web development firm Systems Connect is working to change that by enabling online donations. "Union Mission will no longer require paper. You know, either copies of checks or manual entry of data into the database," said the company's Kurt Schmidt. "It will automate the entire process...it's a lot more efficient and there's a lot less administrative costs."
"In order to help us achieve our mission of ending homelessness in this community, we want to have the best tools in our arsenal to help us accomplish that," said Rev. Elliott. "What Systems Connect is doing for us is making sure that we have state-of-the-art technology so that we can fulfill our mission statement."
The work itself is a donation. "What we're doing is probably going to take probably 50 to 60 hours of web design time that normally is worth about $75 an hour," said Schmidt.
But the company says it also makes good business sense. "We view this as an investment. If we can help Union Mission to make Savannah a better place, that in the end will help us and help our customers. Our customers are local businesses, restaurants, hotels, those kind of things, and the better Savannah is in terms of a place to live and work and operate, then the more potential customers we all have. And so in the long term, this helps everybody."
"The Union Mission exists because the people of Savannah want it to exist," said Rev. Elliott. "And the way they demonstrate that is to give their time, give their money, give their resources and guidance to create the organization."
Which is just what's happening here.
The new site is scheduled to go live in January, at the same address, unionmission.org.