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Network created to assist those in need

By Dave Rogers | Published Saturday, April 28, 2012
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Murvelle Chandler not only looked into a new venture last summer.

She bought in.

And now the former United Way of Wise County board member is making the rounds of those who make it a habit of helping others to convince them to join the Wise County Assistance Network.

Developed as a result of communication problems between charitable agencies that became glaringly obvious after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Charity Tracker is a secure Internet service designed to help area agencies share information and do a better job in delivering services to those who need them.

Charity Tracker is the networking software that will power the Wise County Assistance Network.

“We have met with people representing Wise County care and emergency service providers, to include faith-based organizations and the Wise County fire marshal, about this network, and they are all looking forward to it,” said Chandler.

“It’s not just for United Way care providers. While the program will be administered by the United Way of Wise County, the network is open to all care providers, charities, churches and emergency assistance providers in Wise County.”

The Wise County Assistance Network will help agencies share information and resources; instantly broadcast network-wide bulletins and alerts; rapidly identify needs and mobilize resources; and encourage better accountability and efficiency.

“Anybody can put out an alert saying, ‘I’ve got a guy who just had a fire, and he needs help,'” Chandler said. “Just the bulletin and alerts features alone are worth the membership.”

The cost to join the network, she said, is less than $10 per month.

“There’s a two-hour training they have to go through before they log on,” Chandler said. “But this has confidentiality, it meets all federal regulations, and this is HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] compliant. The fee is not a problem, because you’ll be saving so much time.”

Besides streamlining operations, the network can also save money by preventing fraud.

“One of the things I like best having been on the [United Way] allocation committee for three years and seeing the economy tighten up, this points out where the duplication is,” Chandler said.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of abuses where people take advantage of the system. This will point out who’s taken what already.”

Besides storing data and sharing it, the network software can also generate reports and detailed community demographics.

“This is something that not only is important to the agencies and organizations and the people they serve,” Chandler said. “It’s important to donors and funding sources as well.”

According to the Charity Tracker website, the service is in use in nearly 500 communities, has tracked more than $80 million in assistance dollars since 2007 and has saved organizations using it an estimated 18 percent per year.

Chandler said she was first introduced to Charity Tracker last summer.

“A salesman contacted Martin [Woodruff, executive director of United Way of Wise County] about an Internet tracking service currently in use by more than 400 organizations throughout the country,” she said.

“I started investigating this service, and after eight months of investigation, presentations and discussions with folks in the community, and many meetings with the UWWC board and executive committee, the Wise County Assistance Network is about to be launched.”

For more information about Charity Tracker, see www.charitytracker.net. To request Wise County Assistance Network membership, go to www.wisecounty.charitytracker.net.

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