“Every time that we’ve handed a physical card to a family or walked a family through the process of activating their gift card digitally, it’s been such a sigh of relief."
YMCA of San Francisco is pretty nimble for a 170-year-old organization. Their administrative team, led by District Administrative Director Cynthia Pun, is always looking for ways to simplify processes at the org.
Prior to 2022, the way YMCA distributed money to community members wasn’t nearly efficient enough given the volume of support they were issuing. At times, disbursing assistance involved driving to different gas stations and grocery stores to buy stacks of gift cards. Other times, administrators filled out and handed community members checks, which was a tedious, manual process.
Last year, Cynthia started investigating better methods for distributing funds to those in need of support.
“We realized that, organizationally, we needed a more streamlined process to buy and give out gift cards” said Cynthia. “Programs had their individual processes. It was hard to keep track of the data.”
In addition to internal inefficiencies, community members also had to deal with their own recurrent frustrations.
Jonathan Boone, studio lab and teen center coordinator, assists with a program that introduces teens to multimedia activities and technologies related to music and film. Teens who complete the program receive a $250 incentive for their participation.
“Before Tremendous, we used checks [for participation incentives],” said Jonathan. “If something was wrong with the checks, we had to go through the whole process over again. And sometimes, when the students’ families would go cash the checks, they would run into a lot of problems with IDs.”
It wasn’t ideal for YMCA SF or the communities they served. Not only was tracking and approving orders difficult, but community members occasionally had trouble using charitable disbursements in the forms they were given.
YMCA SF needed a simpler way to deliver charitable disbursements. And they needed to offer something community members could use right away, hassle-free.
Since switching to Tremendous, approving charitable disbursements has become a lot easier for YMCA SF administrators. Rather than manually approving hundreds of rewards one-by-one, they can approve orders in bulk.
And they can track and download reports on all charitable disbursements from a single dashboard.
Tremendous also automates W-9 collection within the dashboard, so administrators don’t have to track down every single recipient who received more than $600 for tax forms in person.
Eliminating these arduous tasks adds up.
“We’ve saved several hours a month since switching to Tremendous,” said Cynthia.
Fortunately, checks are now a remnant of the past.
“The gift cards make it so much easier for the kids to just come and pick them up with their parents,” said Jonathan.
“All in all, it’s just more organized and way easier.”
YMCA SF has also made use of Tremendous’ flexible sending options: they can distribute funds as emailed links, SMS messages, or physical cards.
“We send gift cards two ways,” said Karla Diaz, director of community programs & family engagement at YMCA SF. “There’s the digital way, and then my preferred way, which is the hard copy card.”
Some community members struggle with digital barriers: they may not have an email address, or easy access to a computer or phone. Having the option to distribute funds via physical cards circumvents these hurdles.
“Having the card in person is really helpful,” said Karla. “They don't have to open a link or have a device. It’s something physical they can use immediately.”
“Every time that we’ve handed a physical card to a family or walked a family through the process of activating their gift card digitally, it’s been such a sigh of relief,” said Karla.
Community members use funds from YMCA SF for any number of reasons: the money often goes toward essentials like food, school supplies, and other basic needs. It’s crucial that these funds be reliable, simple to distribute, and easy to redeem immediately.
“[Funds have] been received with an immense sense of gratitude.”
”Having the card in person is really helpful. They don’t have to open a link or have a device. It’s something physical they can use immediately.”
Karla Diaz, Director of Community Programs & Family Engagement at YMCA of San Francisco