Our Community Investment Software Selection Process By Nathan Thompson, United Way of the Bluegrass

CASE STUDY: Lexington, KY – When we decided to pursue online software options, we settled on e-CImpact (formerly e-CFund), a product developed by Seabrooks. The software allows you to design the forms you need, collect compliance documentation online, run reports (on outcomes, etc.). It gives each volunteer and each partner agency their own web page. The Agency accesses the application and fills it out from their page. The Volunteer reviews applications from their page. The application can be printed in whole or in sections. There are many, many, many more things you can do with e-CImpact, I’ve just named a few.

We did due diligence, I spent quite a bit of time with other software providers, before we decided to go with e-CImpact. Our decision was based on a number of things:

  1. Price. We felt that e-CImpact was the best price for the capabilities we wanted. There is a one-time setup cost and monthly cost that is based on your size and system needs. It would be best to talk to Don about this.
  2. Support. Don (our Account Manager) and I spent quite a bit of time on the phone. He walked me through the system countless times, helped me think through what I needed for set up, and remains a phone call or email away whenever we need him.
  3. Abilities of the Software. I was convinced after demos and conversations that e-CImpact could do the things we needed. The report capabilities, the volunteer and agency access, and the customization of forms. Don was able to help me find solutions to even some challenges we presented to the system (i.e. each of our 9 counties run individual processes).

As far as system requirements. The software is web-based. It works best on the most up-to-date Internet Explorer. You will need Adobe Reader if you want to be able to download and print applications rather than view them online. You can export data to Excel as well.

Some of my favorite features include

  • The ability to log in as the agency or volunteer to view the application as they are looking at it. This allows for much easier technical assistance over the phone
  • The ability to collect and maintain compliance documentation (501c, 990, Board lists, etc.)
  • The Reports. I went from spending hours pulling outcomes data and success stories for Marketing to simply downloading a report
  • There is a Q&A feature that allows volunteers to send questions to Agencies about their applications. You have the ability to screen and allow the questions to be sent.
  • It has a Community Impact Agenda component that we are just now starting to use.
  • It has the capability to have new, potential partners to submit information to you via the web
  • You can have Collaborators on your system. We have not used this yet, but I hope we will. Basically, outside grant-making entities can “piggy back” on your system for a set up cost they pay e-CImpact and whatever monthly charge you want to implement. They can manage their grants on the system separate from your UW’s. It’s a great way to show leadership in this area in the community and help pay for the software.
  • It also has a news and calendar component that we are not currently utilizing.

The reaction from the agencies and the volunteers was overwhelmingly positive. Agencies loved not having to submit multiple copies of the application. They also loved that they could log in and work on the application from anywhere. Each agency can have multiple logins, allowing those at the agency responsible for completion of the application to log in and do their part, also allowing the Executive Director to log in and track progress.

The volunteers loved the ease of access. We tried to arrange wireless internet availability at our review/presentation meetings so that volunteers could bring their laptops and access the applications. The best benefit on the volunteer side was that we had a much better review of the applications by the volunteers.

We decided the expense was worth the positives. It has built goodwill with the agencies and volunteers. It has saved me hours of time that I used to spend pulling data from paper applications for our Board and Campaign & Marketing Teams. It revealed to us a number of weaknesses and deficits with our process that we are working to correct. And most importantly, I think it made the review and decision process the best it had been at our United Way in awhile.

All the best,


Nathan Thompson, MSW
Director of Community Partnerships
United Way of the Bluegrass (Metro II)
Lexington, Kentucky