The Matching Initiative: YWCA Muskoka

YWCA Muskoka is a hub for collaboration, leadership, and advocacy established through community mobilization for services and supports directed toward women and girls. Serving over 1,500 people each year, YWCA Muskoka provides programs and services that offer opportunities for women and girls to build self-confidence, strengthen independence, and develop leadership skills. With a variety of workshops, annual events, multi-week programs, youth school-based and summer day programs, YWCA Muskoka works towards a future in which all women and girls are thriving.

While operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, YWCA Muskoka began to feel the weight of not having an IT department as they transitioned to a hybrid delivery model. When contacted by The Prosperity Project about the Matching Initiative, Executive Director Hannah Lin knew it was the right opportunity at the right time to develop a digital transformation strategy for the organization.

“YWCA Muskoka is a small charity serving a broad rural community. As the demand for our services increased, we needed a more cohesive digital strategy that would keep up as we moved forward with a hybrid delivery model,” said Hannah. “Muskoka is not known for tech, and the Matching Initiative was able to fill that gap.”

After creating a project plan focused on developing a digital transformation strategy, YWCA Muskoka was quickly matched with a volunteer experienced in data management and finance. The volunteer began with an organizational assessment and met with the team to understand their current processes and systems. The volunteer looked at what was working for the team, but more importantly, they looked critically at what wasn’t working for the team.

“The volunteer took the time to understand our organization and processes,” explained Hannah. “They spoke to team members from finance to front line program delivery to get a full picture of YWCA Muskoka.”

The volunteer did a deep dive into the programs, software, and tools being used by the team to understand what was effective and uncovered that the organization was not operating efficiently, with over 40 different digital tools in use across the organization. Never done before, this analysis successfully allowed YWCA Muskoka to see which tools were most and least effective. Further, it propelled YWCA Muskoka and their volunteer to identify one primary need: creating a central program optimization hub.

“It was an incredible learning opportunity for us. It was the first time we took a step back to fully understand our digital operations and identify priorities for our organization. Without the volunteer, we would have continued with a very silo-ed approach. We are so grateful that the volunteer was able to bring us to this point.”

YWCA Muskoka is looking forward to participating in the Matching Initiative again to take the next step in their digital development and decipher which program optimization hubs are available and the best option for their needs.