Kelly O'Halloran
March 29, 2018

At most companies, staying late to help a client might win you little but favor with the boss.

At Social Solutions, staying late to help a client might mean members of the local homeless population can find a warm bed, food and shelter for the night.

And that’s no lip service. Julia Bonaventure, a corporate trainer at Social Solutions, said the company received that exact feedback from clients after a colleague put in some extra hours to help troubleshoot.

Social Solutions, which develops software for nonprofits, is steadfast on helping mission-driven organizations survive and thrive. We talked with the team to learn more about what it’s like to work in an environment where you have the opportunity to make a real, measurable impact in someone’s life.

 

ping pong
Photography by Rudy Arocha.

Lunchroom

social solutions

 

FOUNDED: 2000.

WHAT THEY’RE UP TO: Providing software that helps nonprofits focus less on compliance and more on ensuring the effectiveness and impact of their programs.

NOW SERVING: Nonprofits and social services organizations that support child services, homelessness, victim services, re-entry, foundations and more.

EMPLOYEES: 200 nationally, 119 locally.

IN A NUTSHELL: Fast-paced and mission-driven.

IDEAL CANDIDATES: Approach work with a consultative attitude — and love breakfast foods.

WALKING THE WALK: Each employee gets eight hours of PTO every quarter to volunteer for a cause of their choice.

 

Diddy wall

social solutions
photo provided by social solutions

 

Julia Bonaventure, Corporate Trainer

Julia Bonaventure has volunteered at nonprofits throughout her life. But that personal passion turned professional when she joined Social Solutions in 2016 as a recruiter. After being promoted to corporate trainer last year, Bonaventure now leads and develops the company’s new hire orientation. She describes working at Social Solutions as “immensely gratifying.”

BEYOND WORK: Bonaventure is a farmer’s market regular and an avid chef bent on cooking up great homemade pasta.

 

Why did you want to join Social Solutions?

Bonaventure: The company’s mission. When I moved to Austin in 2016, I knew the next role I took needed to be closer to the nonprofit sector. I was really impressed during my interview process by the people I spoke with, and I could tell our mission was critically important to them. I am still sort of blown away any time I get to volunteer with a client or share cool client stories with new hires. I still think to myself, “I’m so lucky to be a part of this.”

I still think to myself, ‘I’m so lucky to be a part of this.’”

Tell us about a project you were especially proud of.

Bonaventure: We’re in the process of launching our new High Potential program, and I could not be more excited. Our executive leadership team will lead five sessions during 2018 — one on each functional area of the business. Employees who are accepted will learn directly from our executives about how the business works and the strategic initiatives we’re working on. Participants will work on case studies and present their solutions to a panel of judges. I’m honestly geeking out over the whole thing.

 

What's your favorite example of how Social Solutions has helped a nonprofit?

Bonaventure: The Umbrella Story. We have a client that focuses on graduating kids in underprivileged communities from high school. They used our software to track the dates kids were missing school and noticed a pattern of several students missing on the same days. Someone had the idea to map weather data on top of the dates they’d collected and discovered that the students all missed school on days when it rained, because they had to walk to school and didn’t want to get wet.

Using that information, they organized an umbrella donation drive for the kids. Give umbrellas to kids, attendance goes up, graduation rates go up. In theory, it’s such a simple solution. But they wouldn’t have been able to figure that out without tracking the data in our software.

 

You won the Social Solutions Mission Minded award. Congratulations! Mind telling us more about it?

Bonaventure: The Mission Minded award recognizes employees who embody our mission daily by improving our processes and fostering strong relationships with our clients. I think I was nominated because of the work I’ve done around championing our Volunteer Impact Program. I modified our new hire orientation process to include a VIP activity for new hires, which helps them understand the impact of the work we do here. Additionally, I’ve organized, promoted and managed multiple VIP activities for the company and for my team.

 

social solutions

social solutions
photo provided by social solutions..

 

Jill Guffey, Senior Solutions Specialist

Before joining the Social Solutions team in 2013, Jill Guffey led implementation of the company’s products for a team of more than 300 people. Now, she brings valuable insight to the table as a senior solutions specialist. With more than 18 years of experience working with and for nonprofits, she’s right at home at Social Solutions, where she highlights the connection between programs and outcomes for current and prospective customers.

BEYOND WORK: Guffey became a foster mom within the last year, and recently transitioned her first foster child to an adoptive home.

 

Why did you want to join Social Solutions?

Guffey: I was a customer for six years prior to joining the staff. From the first day I met Social Solutions, I remember saying to myself, “If I ever leave the nonprofit I work at, I want to work there.”

I’ve lead a staff of 300 through many technological changes, including the purchase and rollout of our software.”

How do you commit to Social Solutions' mission, both in and outside of the office?

Guffey: I had worked in nonprofit organizations for 18 years prior to joining Social Solutions. It has been my life’s work, and I felt that coming here was expanding that scope of helping people serve more people.

It’s important to me to connect to the philanthropic community. I currently support my local Foster Closet organization in Jacksonville, where I invest both time and monetary donations. I’m also a subject matter expert volunteer for a foundation called Greater Sum foundation. My current project is working with an asylum seekers' organization based in New York.

 

How has your background influenced what you do today?

Guffey: It is super helpful to our prospects and clients when they can talk to someone who understands their situations and has been in their shoes. I’ve lead a staff of 300 through many technological changes, including the purchase and rollout of our software. That insight is invaluable.

 

How does your company's culture mirror its mission?

Guffey: I am so thankful for our Volunteer Impact Program, which allows us to volunteer each quarter. It’s important for me to work for a company that gives back. I love that we also provide resources like webinars and papers to equip nonprofit leaders with industry knowledge.

 

social solutions

social solutions
photo provided by social solutions

 

Shelly Johnson, Director of Apricot Essentials

As director of Apricot Essentials, Shelly Johnson helps nonprofits with 10 or fewer employees purchase and implement Social Solutions’ case management software. Straddling the line between sales and support, Johnson said she constantly strives to inspire new ideas for how clients can improve internal processes and maximize impact.

BEYOND WORK: Johnson is an animal lover and loyal customer of Yard Bar — alongside her dog, Stella.

 

How has your background influenced what you do today?

Johnson: Giving back to the community has always been a passion of mine, and I regularly look for ways to give time and resources to missions I’m passionate about. I spent two summers working at Connect to the Kingdom, an inner city mission camp in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, which partners with local housing initiatives to repair and paint houses in the community. Having firsthand experience that parallels many of the organizations we work with has helped give me a better understanding of what nonprofits do and how they do it.

Our mission is to provide nonprofits with resources and tools that help them measure and accelerate the progress they bring to the world.”

How does your role at work connect to the company's mission?

Johnson: Our mission is to provide nonprofits with resources and tools that help them measure and accelerate the progress they bring to the world. My job is literally that, but focused specifically on the smallest of those nonprofits — the organizations with two to 10 staff members and minimal resources.

 

Walk us through some of what you're working on with Apricot Essentials.

Johnson: Apricot Essentials is the newest of our product offerings. We recently launched the Apricot Essentials Go Live Guide, a comprehensive tool navigating new customers through the product and offering training and activation assistance. I’m proud of what we did with the Go Live Guide because it helps new customers get up and running with minimal help from Social Solutions, ultimately automating the process on our end and improving the overall customer experience.

 

What's your favorite Social Solutions success story?

Johnson: Catholic Charities of San Francisco has been a favorite customer of mine for several years, both because of their staff and their focus on constantly improving how they serve the community. Catholic Charities is meticulous in the collection of assessment data across all of their programs, using that data to analyze the program’s effectiveness and identify opportunities to improve. They use Apricot to collect and report on that information, comparing assessments over time and analyzing the results of each program.

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