Christine Stanco talks about how the Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association used the GrowthZone fundraising and online store modules to raise six figures to help 52 downtown businesses.
A private citizen in your community started an Angel Fund to help small businesses. How did you use GrowthZone to make that a reality?
My name is Christine Stanco and I am an administrative assistant at the Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, we realized as an organization that we would need to come up with ways that we could help and support our many small businesses. We’re very fortunate, we have two main streets here in Fuquay-Varina and many thriving small businesses. We wanted to do what we could to help. A private citizen here in the area set up the Angel Fund. It was a great idea and immediately got a lot of traction. We realized that because we had the GrowthZone systems in place in our organization, we could be the conduit to establish a central place where people could put their donations and we could run them through our system. At that time we did not have the fundraising module. I called GrowthZone and immediately Mia got on board and offered her help. Within one business day, we had the fundraising module set up. GrowthZone was kind enough to switch out a module we had that we weren’t utilizing with the fundraising module. For us in those uncertain times, we were concerned about money like everybody else, and it was just a huge relief that we could do this. I was on the phone with GrowthZone for most of the day, but everyone was on board. The support that we got was amazing. That was what really helped get this Angel Fund going. Very quickly, we were able to raise about $123,000. It was wonderful because we had everything listed in one place, we could run reports, or whatever we needed. It was great.
How did you use the GrowthZone fundraising and online store modules in your efforts?
What was easy for us was that in the initial setup we were able to explain exactly what our need was and how we needed (our system) to be set up. It was the detailed work in the set up and the support team working to really understand what we needed that made it extremely easy. All we did was attach a link to all our social media and other platforms so that people could donate right there.
Why was the Angel Fund effort important to your community?
As an organization, we have a personal relationship with all the small business owners here in town. Seeing them closed because of Covid-19 and knowing how their businesses are part of their everyday life, it really hurt us. Being able to do anything to help them, especially during the shutdown, made us feel like we had some power and like we could do something about it. Many businesses have expressed so much gratitude. I think the beautiful thing about our community here is that some of the businesses that are up and running now and doing okay have already given some of that money back in hopes that they can pay it forward to help somebody who is not open yet. This is not something that has stopped, it is continuing on. It just shows the strength and beauty that can come from bad times.
You also implemented a “Love Local” program. How did that impact your members?
The second part of our response to Covid-19 was organizing a “Love Local” program. We wanted to sell downtown dollars where people can purchase gift certificates through our organization to use in our downtown business. We wanted to adapt that to put more money into our downtown economy. We decided that if we sold some t-shirts and some bags, we could offer those downtown dollars at a discounted rate. People could purchase these items from stores as a way to show “Love Local.” But we needed some way to do that so we called GrowthZone and talked out the store module. Through the store module, we sold out of all of our downtown dollars and were able to provide local gift certificates that will go directly back into the economy. To date, we have sold $7,000 in certificates which can only be used here in downtown, and that program is continuing. This is how the store module has helped us. We had this idea, we knew we could get the shirts and do the downtown dollars, but we needed to know if we could do the store module. It was one call and the store was set up in one day. That has really helped us. As a very small organization here in town, I feel like with those two modules we were able to really make a difference.
Describe what it’s like to partner with GrowthZone.
In terms of GrowthZone customer service, I am never concerned about using anything in GrowthZone. I know that if I call customer service that I will generally get the same people, they’re going to remember me, and they’re always helpful. I never feel rushed and I always feel like they will answer my questions. They’re very good about acknowledging when they are not sure about something, escalating that up, and saying “I’ll get back to you as soon as I know something.” For me, that is the thing that sets them apart. Sometimes when you escalate something to a higher level it takes a couple of days to get a response, but they will always send me an email that says they are working on an answer to my question. To me, this is really the strength of GrowthZone. The people that I’ve worked with are just amazing.