The immaculate Golden Gate Bridge. The iconic streetcar. The waft of fresh sourdough from Boudin Bakery. San Francisco is loaded with charm, but it comes with a price tag.
The "city by the bay" is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. As such, families and individuals need to keep pace with rising costs, like home/apartment rents of over $4,000 a month. Churches and nonprofits also must navigate this increasingly tricky financial landscape.
How do you not only survive, but thrive in a city like this?
Money can be a touchy subject, especially in the church world, but it's a necessary conversation in a city like S.F, a city where "churches come to die."
For Reality San Francisco, a church located in the Mission District, the opposite has happened. In fact, they're more alive than ever.
Reality SF has been a fixture in the Bay Area church scene since 2010, when it was established as a church plant of Reality Carpinteria – the "sending" church in a network of other church plants.
To keep up with growth, El-Ansary and his team partnered with Overflow to pave new pathways of generosity. In just 8 months, Overflow has helped facilitate and bring in over half a million dollars in stock & crypto giving, and that's just the start.
Tarik El-Ansary, administration and finance pastor at Reality, heard of Overflow via Scott Harrison, founder of Charity:Water. He eventually was intrigued by both its dynamic momentum and the passionate leadership of CEO Vance Roush.
Despite being a bit hesitant about the fee structure, El-Ansary and his team recognized that the benefits outweighed the initial costs, and would alleviate headaches brought on by the previous stock giving process. They were looking for a "high visibility, reputable, excellent service provider to handle stock donations." They soon added the option to give crypto as well.
How did Overflow help fulfill those needs, and what has been the fruit of the partnership so far?
The "traditional" way of giving stocks is a nightmare for any efficiency-conscious organization. As we've detailed in other blogs, the cumbersome process involves a series of back and forths with the donor/organization/broker, and also paperwork and proper accounting.
On the flip side, Overflow's simple and user-friendly dashboard management platform stood out to El-Ansary. Reality SF had historically worked with other giving platforms like PushPay and Cocatalyst, but ultimately found Overflow's "back end" technical support second to none.
Despite not heavily emphasizing giving or finance to the congregation, Reality SF has an abundantly generous community. In the last three years (despite a pandemic and unstable economy), their giving has steadily increased from $5 million in 2019 to $6 million as of last year.
The church had accepted stock gifts in the past using the aforementioned "traditional" process.
Prior to Overflow, their biggest stock donation year on record was $225,000. Within less than a year of working with Overflow, the stock giving total had more than doubled to $500,000.
But before we get into monetary results, it's important to note how easy it was to transition to Overflow's services. Implementing the Overflow giving platform was simple, and the donor base acclimated well.
Tellingly, El-Ansary and his team are confident in the level of support and sturdiness of the system.
"There were a couple of times with [other companies we used] that the system broke. People said:'I tried giving online and did it go through?'' And we have yet to have that happen [with Overflow]," he said.
As El-Ansary mentioned, there hasn't been a massive marketing campaign or some broad announcement. Most of the awareness about Overflow has been spread through word of mouth or periodic announcements around year-end giving.
Yet even without a "strategic marketing plan" in place, the church is averaging stock donations of $15,500 via Overflow's stock giving platform – almost 50% more than the average Overflow stock donation. That level of capital will only boost future projects such as their recent building campaign.
After prayerful discernment and feedback from the community, they decided to buy an existing church building previously owned by Bethel Church on the corner of Valencia and 24th St.
In a city where church buildings are often converted into recreational spaces, Reality SF wanted to reestablish the presence of the church and steward the space for maximum community impact. They desired to maintain and expand a food bank that operates out of the building space, start a Center for Christian Thought & Practice, and open the doors daily for those seeking a quiet, peaceful refuge from the city.
Beyond building campaigns, the church is excited about having a reliable platform to hone the appreciated wealth and generosity of a high-income, urban area in order to better serve the neighborhood and meet needs in the city. That starts with confidence and trust in Overflow's mission and services.
"We're fully committed to Overflow," El-Ansary said. "You guys are definitely the leaders in the [stock and crypto giving] space. No one else comes close to what I call 'white glove service' that Overflow provides."
Partnership & The Future
From a customer-facing standpoint, Overflow endeavors to put people before profit by ensuring that the relationship, expectations, and communication is handled with care. What excites us most is when customers feel valued and seen. The consistent check-ins and thoroughness of Overflow's team really stood out to El-Ansary:
"It's as good as it can get, really. I feel completely supported. I don't have to worry about anything. You guys are available. There's high communication around a lot of different things," he said.
Given that the partnership is still relatively fresh, there's an abundance of possibilities when it comes to giving. For instance, the church has received an all-time high in stock donations but only a few crypto donations. Once both channels of giving are fully unlocked, it'll only further Reality SF's mission to reach "San Francisco as it is in Heaven."
And as mentioned earlier, there's already been high success with relatively little fanfare or announcement. Reality SF sets the tone with financial transparency by holding an annual vision and prayer which "outlines the year-end financial summary of where the money went, and how it's being spent."
In summary, there's a lot to be expectant for and encouraged by:
"You know, we've just barely scratched the surface of really doing that promotion, fundraising to where we can get some quantifiable [metrics]. This is all still at the very beginning - we're eight months in," El-Ansary said.