We deal with the really TOUGH stuff, serving the abused and disadvantaged – victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and homelessness. It’s challenging work, indeed, but we are truly passionate about it!
Simply out, we help families in crisis rebuild their lives. As the only agency providing domestic violence, child abuse programming and sexual assault services in 3 rural counties (Goodhue/Wabasha, MN, and Pierce, WI), there is, sadly, no shortage of people in need of our assistance: we serve around 1,500 each year. At our domestic violence shelter, we not only serve women and their children from southeast MN and the Twins Cities metropolitan area, but will also accept them from anywhere in the state, and occasionally beyond if there’s a safety reason to do so.
Our services are:
• Haven of Hope domestic violence shelter: 24-hour crisis line; support groups; systems/individual advocacy; emergency shelter in secure facility (24 beds); safety planning; legal advocacy for restraining orders/CHIPS (Children in Need of Protection) petitions; and information/referral. # served 2013-14: 316
• Kids Count Abused Children’s Program: youth advocacy program providing safety/support to youth 0-18 who’ve experienced abuse/neglect or witnessed violence. Crisis intervention, advocacy, safety planning, support groups, field trips for youth/families, school enrollment, transportation, referrals and community education. # served 2013-14: 153
• Sexual Assault Services: 24-hour crisis/support line; short-term emotional support; advocacy during medical exams, law enforcement interviews, and civil and/or criminal court matters; safety planning; assistance in securing emergency services; support groups; transportation (as necessary); information and referral; assistance in filing victim compensation claims; collaboration with other social service providers; and access to culturally appropriate interpreters and materials. # served April to end of October 2014: 26
• Housing Support Services: shelter, emergency housing support, transitional housing, case management, self-sufficiency skills to homeless people and those at risk of becoming so. # served 2013-14: 339
• Community Care Fund: assists families in crisis and unable to pay for basic necessities or living expenses (rent, food, utilities, medical needs, and transportation to get to work/medical appointments. Develops self-sufficiency, to reduce future support needed. # served 2013-14: 708
We have 22 years of experience in human services to the abused and disadvantaged, including 19 providing domestic violence services. Despite being an agency assisting people in the direst crises, and despite the funding challenges faced by most human services non-profits, we’ve demonstrated durability, stability, and the ability to take on new challenges (e.g. taking over at short notice last year - at the request of the MN Office of Justice Programs - provision of sexual assault services to 2 counties), all the while maintaining an array of desperately–needed services.
We’re proud of the way a supporter recently described us: “HOPE Coalition does the very best it can, in the middle of nowhere, with next to nothing, for those most in need.”
What new functionality we are looking for
Oh, where to start, given that our website is such an awful “dog’s breakfast”?! Of course, we know only too well that we need less words, more images/videos, and far better and simpler organization, so that website users don’t get frustrated, or give up, trying to get to the information they seek.
Essentially, we have two quite different website audiences, with varying reasons for coming to us: people in crisis seeking help, and donors/supporters. Consequently, our website serves a dual purpose. For those seeking help (who are likely in crisis, and acutely stressed), it needs to provide – very quickly and easily - information on exactly how we can help, what to do next, and (if we can’t help, who can). Given this, we’d like to see the following (listed in no particular order of importance) on our website:
• A “Contact Us” button, with choices regarding specific subject, that would send a message to the relevant program/staff member
• A “Live Chat” button for some services (e.g. Sexual Assault Services), embedded in the relevant program’s pages
• A way to be able to call our two emergency lines directly from the website (is this even possible?)
• Direct links to other agencies/services, if we are unable to assist.
• A map, and directions for where to find us.
• A “quick escape” and immediate “delete search history” capabilities for people looking at our domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault pages. This is to protect victims of these crimes from their abusers and to maintain their privacy.
For those using the website who are donors/supporters, we need to be able to highly effectively tell our story, and encourage support. To this end, we’d like to see the following (again, listed in no particular order of importance):
• A slider with links to our GiveMN site and different donation amounts/images, e.g. “$25.00 gives a gas voucher to a struggling family, so a parent can get to work and not lose his/her job.” “$50.00 provides a rape victim the support of a Sexual Assault Advocate during a medical exam, law enforcement interview or court hearing.”
• A “Donate Now” button on the landing page with links to our Give MN Site
• A searchable calendar on the “Upcoming Events” page
• Short videos of client stories
• Ability to purchase tickets to fundraising events, etc. directly from the website
• A “Keep me updated” button, with easy sign-up for our newsletter
• We haven’t set up Twitter yet, but when we do, a link to that feed
• The ability for churches, service clubs, and other community groups to schedule a HOPE Coalition, or program-specific, presentation, via a searchable calendar.
Finally, there are a few administrative capabilities it would be wonderful to have, too:
• Ability to allow applicants for employment to complete and submit job applications and upload resumes, references, cover letters, etc. directly from the website.
• Ability for volunteers to be able to complete and submit applications, and upload other documents to send directly to us.
• Capability for employment/volunteer applicants to complete and submit background check forms directly to our provider for this service.
• A separate and restricted “staff” section with policy manuals, forms, etc. Staff could also have access to announcements, schedules, and special trainings, for when they are not physically in the office or at work.
How the new functionality will help
Our mission is: To end domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and homelessness so that every person has the opportunity to live life to its fullest, while treating those we serve with respect, compassion, and dignity.
We fulfill it, first, by providing direct services to those in crisis, struggling with the issues listed. Among our major concerns for those seeking help from us are:
• Getting them help as quickly and effectively as possible
• Their safety
• Their privacy
A new website would help us better assist those needing help (who are often in crisis or profoundly stressed) by:
• Getting information on exactly how we can help in a far clearer and easier fashion than our current website does. When we are unable to help, direct links to other agencies/services would save people a lot of time and from missing out on available assistance of which they might otherwise be unaware.
• Enabling domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault victims to reach out for help entirely anonymously via a “Contact Us” button, and especially via a “Live Chat” button. Victims of assault and abuse have numerous difficulties to overcome in reaching out for help, not least of which can be shame, a greatly-diminished sense of self-worth, a desire for anonymity, and the watchful, threatening presence of their abuser.
• Giving victims contacting us additional safety form their abusers through a “quick escape” and an immediate “delete search history” function, and by being able to call our two emergency lines directly from the website.
The second way in which we fulfill our mission is by being able to fund it! A new website would enable us to tell our story in a far more coherent, engaging fashion and enhance fund development opportunities. For example:
• We know that our clients’ stories are very moving indeed, and to have them on the website in short 1-2 minute videos, would be far more effective than lengthy written stories.
• To date, we have used a very cumbersome, labor-intensive, offline system for sales of tickets to our fundraising events, e.g. our annual banquet and auction. The ability to streamline this online would be considerably more user-friendly for supporters and save inordinate amounts of staff time (and frustration!)
The third way we fulfill our mission is through education and raising awareness of the difficult social problems with which we are dealing. The ability to do so more clearly and effectively through a better website, and by a presentation-scheduling calendar is of immeasurable, long-term benefit.
And the final way in which we fulfill our mission is by having the right, skilled, compassionate and committed staff to do the vital, life-rebuilding work with clients, engage with donors and supporters, and inform the community at large. Operating a secure 24-hour facility (Haven of Hope domestic violence shelter) and two round-the-clock emergency hotlines is not only costly, but makes scheduling staff meetings, trainings, etc. particularly difficult. A separate and restricted “staff” section on the website would go a long way to assisting with some of these issues.
Being able to have job and volunteer applicants complete their applications online and upload supporting documents would not only streamline the process for applicants, but save considerable staff time and effort.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
50 Messages from Supporters