School on Wheels

School on Wheels Uses eTapestry to Quintuple Its Database in Just Five Years

Indianapolis’ School on Wheels seeks to enhance and enrich educational opportunities for school-aged homeless children. Its vision is to break the cycle of homelessness through education. School on Wheels provides free tutoring services and educational advocacy; engages homeless parents in the educational success of their children; provides resources to adequately prepare homeless children for college; links homeless children with the appropriate services that will pay for their college degrees; and develops strategic educational and financial partnerships, as well as public awareness, that enables the organization to enhance additional educational opportunities for the children it serves.


School on Wheels used Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets to manage its data, but staff could not query for mailings to board members, corporations, foundations, etc. Further compounding the problem was the fact that different spreadsheets were kept across the organization and there was no visibility into the data, its accuracy, or the overall well-being of School on Wheels.


More than five years ago, a board member introduced the organization to eTapestry, and as a small organization, School on Wheels began using the free “under 500” database (the very first offering in the eTapestry family). Since then, the organization’s database has grown to 2,500 records and staff now use eTapestry’s eCommerce, Web 2.0, and Executive Reports modules.


Staff recently completed a successful online fundraising campaign, raising $30,000 in just one month! They also used the solution to process auction items at the organization’s recent gala, which raised more than $40,000. (For this event, staff used Web 2.0 to manage online giving, which was a huge success.)

“Every year we use the database more and more,” said Janet Hiatt, vice president of development. “It’s so user-friendly, and ‘instant message’ support is so convenient - the chat feature makes it so easy to contact the support team when we need to.”

School on Wheels staff have built stronger relationships with donors and better engaged board members with eTapestry. Executive Reports has been especially useful; board members can personally call, write, or email donors to thank them for their gifts. Plus, staff can update the records with information about why each donor supports School on Wheels, how they got involved, and more, and they can quickly identify donors who have lapsed or downgraded so that the board can ask for their continued support. They say it’s a great way to engage board members in the fundraising process and keep valuable information about donors in one place, all while retaining and even upgrading donors.

Looking Ahead

Staff recently purchased the Benchmark reporting tool to help assess how they are doing in terms of donor retention and acquisition throughout the year. This way, they can gauge performance quarterly and make necessary adjustments to their fundraising plans. In addition, they will use the data to apply for grants since potential funders want to see actual program assessments rather than anecdotal stories. They are looking forward to using benchmark reporting to be able to show black-and-white, concrete ways their programs have been successful over the past five years since using eTapestry, in order to secure those valuable grants.

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