Catchafire: Equipping Nonprofits with the Power of Skilled Volunteers

Silas Bronson Library in Waterbury opened its doors 149 years ago, but rich history aside, it didn’t want to look like a 19th century relic.

The library, the largest in the area, serves 110,000 people and is a modern, vibrant hub of activity for people of all ages. Community conversations, story times, and chess and coding clubs are just a fraction of the activities offered, and the library hums daily with people doing research and job searches or indulging in the simple pleasure of reading.

“The people who live in Waterbury need us,” said the library’s director, Raechel Guest. “The library is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. But our budget is about half of what it should be and we have a bare-bones staff.”

Guest and municipal leaders managed to secure outside funds to upgrade much of the library’s physical space, but Guest knew a refreshed marketing look— from logo to website—would improve the library’s image and help it raise critical funds.

Guest turned to Connecticut Community Foundation, which provided access to the national online platform, Catchafire, for a skilled volunteer to create a new logo for the library.

In 2018, the Foundation invested heavily in Catchafire in order to connect its nonprofit grantees with volunteers from all over the country who offered skills and expertise—for free!—that the organizations couldn’t typically afford or access.

Recognizing that technical assistance, especially at the organizational level, is critical to helping nonprofits deliver on their missions and serve the community over the long term, the Foundation made Catchafire available to 150 nonprofits  serving Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills in the pilot year.

Powered by Catchafire, organizations broadcast potential projects that further their mission to 50,000+ talented professionals around the country.

Volunteers apply through the Catchafire website to take on the work, highlighting their respective skill sets, areas of expertise and passions. Nonprofits interview and choose volunteers who best fit their needs.

Through Catchafire, Guest found Gabriel, a Seattle- based graphic designer with a growing portfolio that included Amazon and Starbucks. He ran with Guest’s vision of a logo that reflected  the rejuvenated library. From Gabriel’s many design drafts, the library settled on three finalists, which they put to a vote of library users. The winner: a design based on the brass whale that graced the library plaza for more than 35 years.

Guest estimates that the logo design process has already saved the library a few thousand dollars, but they’re not done. Soon she’ll post another project  to Catchafire to find a volunteer who can revamp the library’s dated website. The savings will be thousands more.

As Guest explained, “We need to grow our own funds to operate and support our programs since municipal funding is insufficient. Catchafire is an amazing resource for us to progress from refreshed imagery to  a new website to fundraising more effectively.”

At top: A patron enjoys reading at the Silas Bronson LibraryView more photos of the Silas Bronson Library

2019-05-24T10:31:33-04:00 May 24, 2019|2019, Grantees, News, Stories|