Community Smiles

Community Smiles required a modern website to support its work as a community poverty-driven charity.

Community Smiles
Community Smiles

Providing a pathway out of poverty

Community Smiles is a community poverty-driven charity supporting vulnerable and financially disadvantaged individuals and families from all backgrounds in the Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, and Blue Mountains areas. As a registered, not-for profit charity, Community Smiles aims to ensure people have the practical necessities they need to restore and develop their self-esteem wellbeing, and self-efficacy, and ultimately provide a pathway out of poverty.

The need for a professional online presence

Community Smiles has grown rapidly and had an existing website that presented it as a tiny charity that only serviced the Blue Mountains. As the charity has grown, so has its need for funding from donors and the government. Achieving this required improved engagement with stakeholders. The first step was to develop a reputable online presence that positioned Community Smiles as a professional and viable organisation.

Sarah Cuzner, CEO/Board Member, Community Smiles, said, “Professionalism was critical to Community Smiles’ ability to attract donations and government funding. Without a website that provides an at-a-glance view of what the organisation does, it’s impossible to get that funding.”

Community Smiles has a Facebook page but the nature of Facebook threads meant that the information people were looking for was often difficult to find. This meant that Community Smiles had to spend more money on advertising and more time explaining its charitable work to potential donors.

The Community Smiles team knew a modern, strategically designed website could overcome these issues and make it easier to communicate effectively with stakeholders, solicit donations, reduce advertising expenditure, and avoid the environmental impact of printed advertisements and flyers.

Empired offered its services

Through mutual connections, Community Smiles came to the attention of Intergen's parent company, Empired, who readily agreed to design and create the website. This provided the double benefit of giving Community Smiles the professional website it needed as well as providing Empired’s graduate team with a real-life project to get their teeth into.

The team focused on injecting warmth into the site to reflect Community Smiles’ values, and to make it more accessible and easier to use. Providing online donation capabilities via PayPal was also a key objective. The new site also offers improved access to information for volunteers.

The value of working with Empired

The Community Smiles team was delighted at the professionalism, business acumen, and interpersonal skills demonstrated by Empired’s graduate team.

Sarah Cuzner said, “It’s rare to experience such a positive and seamless working relationship when dealing with a multinational organisation. The Empired team adjusted to ensure that we worked smartly and collaboratively based on our preferred way of working. These graduates were lateral thinkers with client-facing skills and problem-solving abilities, which is not a skillset you can easily teach. The result was a fantastic working relationship that delivered exactly what we needed.

“Moreover, the team identified opportunities to implement tools that would help future-proof the charity. We didn’t know what we didn’t know and the team was outstanding in working with us in partnership. Many companies will meet your requirements but the Empired team pushed us to be better in a respectful and exciting way. This was a unique working relationship that has developed massively significant benefits for Community Smiles.”

One of the key benefits that Community Smiles attributes directly to the work done by Empired is the charity’s ability to apply for deductible gift recipient (DGR) status. This means donors can claim their donations back on their tax returns. DGR status is difficult to achieve and positions Community Smiles to achieve government funding through grants as well as through increased donations.

Sarah Cuzner said, “Now that Community Smiles have applied for DGR status, we anticipate being able to raise literally 10 times as much money this year as we did last year. This will help Community Smiles get its Indigenous sports scholarship program off the ground, which will provide sporting opportunities for members of the Indigenous community who may not otherwise have those opportunities.

“The new website has given Community Smiles a new start, taking it from a grassroots organisation to a recognised, community poverty-driven charity.”

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