WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2015-2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/596643

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Page 111 of 211

changing patterns in both how people heard about NEADS and why they apply for a service dog. DeRoche says NEADS started as a hearing dog program. Another program was created for veterans returning with physical disabilities but increasingly serves those with PTSD. "Also, for some reason, some people apply for a dog and then disappear," he says. "We wanted to know why." "We created a business case statement and the team stayed true to that," says DeRoche. "There were two project leaders so one was avail- able when the other couldn't be, and each team member brought a unique expertise. One was very strong in social media, another in mar- keting, another in analytics, and so on. They were well organized, doc- umented everything they did, and often bounced things off me, keeping us informed all along the way." DeRoche says he and his coworkers spent hundreds of hours working with the team and col- lecting information for them. At the end, the team did a thoughtful presentation to his board. "Paid consultants would have cost much more than we could afford," says DeRoche. "The volunteers took time to learn what our business is about and why we do things the way we do. To the casual observer, some things might seem crazy but they kept quiet until they understood why. I really appreciated that their work was all based on analytics, so it was all actionable." "What really surprised me," he continues, "was how they gave us a clear understanding that our website and our approach are dog-cen- tric, not client-centric." For example, the team's research found that someone searching online for a dog for an autistic child would be unlikely to find NEADS because the organization refers to trained "social dogs" and "assistance dogs," using an industry term, while most people call them "service dogs." In addition, information for applicants was buried too deeply in the website. As a result, about two-thirds of those who initiated applications for dogs were not qualified, wasting their own time, and that of the NEADS staff. Wellesley resident Lorri Veidenheimer brought her skills to NEADS as a volunteer. She has helped companies bring consumer products to market, notably Sassy Baby Toys and several Kraft foods. She also did ten years in business-to-business. "They didn't come to us with a clear issue," she recalls. "It was diffi- cult [at first] to get our arms around it. As with many nonprofits, the numbers aren't always available. They can't keep up technologically. 110 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 5 / 2 0 1 6 Community Consulting Teams Jordan and Patriot

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