NEP Founder and CEO Drew Howitt likes to say – with a resounding laugh — that his firm has become a “27-year overnight success,” by answering one simple question: How can first responders best serve communities and make meaningful connections with constituents?
Before NEP, the standard for fundraising for local and national police and fire unions was telemarketing. Howitt, however, wanted to upend that business model, which is exactly what he did — by embracing tech and communications.
“Emergency responders are beginning to realize that NEP doesn’t sell websites. We sell power,” says Mark Treglio, the company’s Executive Vice President.
The latest example of that power: from April 1 to June 30th of 2021, Newport Beach, Calif.-based NEP experienced unprecedented growth, setting records for the highest number of website and fundraising clients signed during any 90-day stretch in the company’s history. NEP also set a record in fundraising, bringing in $2.2 million for clients to give back in support of community initiatives.
One of the points that most intrigued Stacey Yudin about NEP was its commitment to offer solutions for the two resources in short supply for these first responder non-profits: time and money.
“One of the biggest challenges in technology with nonprofits is the number of tech tools needed to function,” says Yudin, now the company’s President. “You need an email system, a text messaging system, spreadsheets — all with a separate database of contact info.”
With a background in global health and medicine, Yudin’s first engagement with NEP was 10 years ago as a consultant. “I was impressed with the mission and vision of the company. Then I realized that sure, I could make a big impact being a doctor, serving one patient at a time with one-to-one connection. But here I could also make a bigger impact by serving nonprofits who serve millions.”
NEP streamlines it into one platform to reach constituents. Instead of spending time and money purchasing upgrades for multiple systems and training and retraining on all these systems, NEP simplifies it.
The latest layer in this stack of interrelated tools is the Connect+ mobile app. With the click of a button, users can send out a push notification with this mobile app, tap the database to send an email, a social media message, or send a blog post that will update on their website all within one product.
Communicating with constituents is just one aspect of what NEP does. The company is also at the forefront of how first responders communicate and help each other.
Crowdfunding mobilizes people around a cause, and NEP saw the need to develop a platform that focused specifically on first responders helping each other, while keeping data secure.
That resource, Help a Hero, is the result of five years of beta testing culminating in a soft roll out in early 2021. From March through July 2021, Help a Hero was deployed on six occasions, raising over $130,000 for emergency responders who had been shot in the line of duty, severely injured, or passed away unexpectedly.
“When an emergency responder goes down, their peers will stop at nothing to make sure that their injured brother or sister is taken care of,” Treglio says. “Help a Hero ensures that they can raise money for the affected responder while keeping their personal security intact.”
With its innovative technology, NEP has taken a decidedly old-school approach to customer service — namely the ability to reach a real human being when you need to sort out an issue or have a question about the system.
“Our customers do not want the run-around waiting for an automated system,” Treglio says. “They are used to getting things done. They want to pick up the phone and they want to talk to somebody who can help them right away, and we provide that.”
Another way NEP stands out in the notoriously male-dominated tech world is a commitment to women in tech.
“As a female in a tech business I am incredibly proud that we have a strong presence of female coders and developers on our team,” Yudin says. “Our development lead is a woman, an under 30 up and incoming tech leader. It’s a very exciting culture to be a part of.”
One of NEP’s newest ventures that Treglio is spearheading is building the company’s radio network. This includes providing national and regional news from the world of fire safety and law enforcement. Content will flow through the Connect+ app and clients will be able to pass relevant content along to their constituents through the encrypted communication platform.
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