cars for causes

Agency of Record

Cars4Causes is the Original Car Donation Charity.

The Challenge

Cars 4 Causes, a long-standing 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, approached ISBX with a very specific requirement - to increase the efficiency of its internal operations using technology solutions, in order to maximize the donor contributions to their partner charities.

As a result of the broad requirement, ISBX proposed for the deployment of an onsite team to visit the offices of Cars 4 Causes and better understand the donation workflow from receipt of the donation request to the delivery of the donation to each partner charity. After a month-long scoping session, ISBX determined several key areas for improvement:

Digitizing their Current Donation Workflow - Despite processing over 13,000 vehicles per year, the client was still handling each donation using pen and paper. A single donation resulted in a 25-page folder complete with an attached CD of photos. The facility had rooms full of completed donation documents across one hundred file cabinets that required significant overhead to track each donation through its lifecycle.

Integrate an Online Donation Form with the Digitized System - The existing site was designed some seven years prior, and although it could accept online donations, the process involved an email form sent to a donation specialist that would then hand scribe the contents of each email into the physical donation forms.

Automate Tow Dispatch and Pickup - The current process of dispatching a tow truck to pick up the donated vehicle involved manually tracking each donation, contacting the tow facilities, and then communicating with each tow company to follow up on the status of each pickup request. In some cases, a pickup was unsuccessful as a result of the owner not being present, the vehicle being inaccessible, or other reasons, necessitating a follow up communication with the owner and a subsequent dispatch. The process was cumbersome and manpower intensive.

Integrate Better Reporting - Because of the manual nature of the existing donation workflow, generating reports was a time consuming process, involving the manual tracking of each donation, and utilizing an older AS400 based accounting system. The depth of data was limited by lack of real time insight with management concerns that donations were not yielding the highest possible proceeds.

Website Redesign - The existing site design had remained relatively untouched for the previous seven years. Compounding this issue was the lack of any formal user experience design, information architecture, or creative design process. Calls-to-action related to making donations were not readily evident and users were easily lost in accessory pages of the site.

The Solution

Based on the scale of improvements proposed, ISBX implemented a multi-phased approach that identified the most critical business issues and prioritized development accordingly. ISBX utilized the breadth of its experience by implementing a multi-pronged technology solution as described in detail below.

Digitizing their Current Donation Workflow - ISBX created an online donation form that mirrored the existing donation form that the "donation takers" were currently using. This donation form could be created, edited, saved and recalled for later use and served as a permanent record of the donation. This also enabled a donation that originated on the website to pre-populate the form and enable donation takers to perform more efficient follow-up of donations submitted through the website. This then gave the opportunity for Cars 4 Causes to adapt and enhance the form to contain vehicle specific questions for motorcycles, RV's, and boats.

Integrate an Online Donation Form with the Digitized System - By digitizing the donation forms into a web interface, ISBX was able to pave the way to build a comprehensive and scalable content management solution that would enable continual enhancements to the donation platform. ISBX chose Drupal, an open-source content management framework written in PHP, to serve as the underlying framework for the system. From there, ISBX was able to enhance the system with several critical features:

  1. The ability to create and assign various user "roles" that were specific to each portion of the process.
  2. The ability to create and assign specific individuals.
  3. The ability to annotate on each form and track individual comments.
  4. The ability to have a submission and management approval process for various sections of the workflow.
  5. The ability to index and search records.
  6. The ability to export data to other dependent systems.

Automate Tow Dispatch and Pickup - With the backend system in place, ISBX was able to propose a novel way of interfacing with each of the two facilities. A tow request could be automatically initiated by making a request from the online system itself. A Tow Manager could approve the request in the system and initiate an automated email to the tow facility. Using this email, the tow facility would have the necessary pickup information, such as the vehicle location and owner contact. Since Cars 4 Causes worked with various tow facilities, ISBX was able to duplicate the process and have emails sent to the various partner towing companies, negating the requirement to individually call and follow up with each facility several times a day. But simply automating the tow dispatch was not enough - the client required a confirmation that the tow truck driver was able to successfully pick up the vehicle, which previously required another phone call from the tow driver to the client's office. Using our system, we were able to integrate an Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) feature that allowed tow truck drivers to call into the system and, using voice prompts, confirm a successful pickup. The system was designed for compatibility in English and Spanish and linked directly into the donation backend that ISBX had built. The completed feature automated the tow dispatch and pickup process, while updating the backend system in real time. Without ever having to pick up the phone, tow operators at Cars 4 Causes could determine the status of nearly one hundred tow events per day.

Build and Configure a Local Server - At ISBX, our technology expertise extends beyond the design of software systems. We can consult on an array of hardware solutions to support your mission critical systems. ISBX worked closely with Cars 4 Causes' in-house IT teams to spec out and build a local server. ISBX then migrated the donation system over to the local server, dramatically increasing the on-site performance for all connected workstations. ISBX then built a web-service to synchronize the local server with our scalable web server to ensure redundancy of recorded information and to enable web originated donation requests to be synced to the local server as well.


By consulting with the client and understanding its core business, ISBX was able to implement a robust software solution that made the client's previous outdated way of doing business obsolete. This enabled a multitude of benefits, including, but not limited to:

  • Higher Donation Conversion Rate
  • Increased Follow Up Response
  • Faster Donation Taking Process, Beginning to End
  • Shorter Donor Call Times
  • Better Automation
  • Reduced Requirements for Personnel
  • Overhead Cost Reduction
  • Better Reporting and Tracking
  • Increased Transparency
  • More Accurate Bookkeeping
  • Easier Integration to Other Software Systems

By making the donation workflow process more efficient and cost effective, ISBX was able to successfully implement a technology solution in an effort to reduce the operational overhead of its client, and to preserve the charity's mission to maximize the donation proceeds.

We believe this particular engagement serves as a testament to our wide array of expertise and success in technology consulting and software development. Not all engagements are mobile centric. Some businesses approach us with requirements to build a complex system with no immediate need for a mobile platform.

  • Website Development
  • Backend Donation Management
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Increased Marketing and Sales Reach
  • Searh Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Multi-System Integration
  • Secure Customer Data and Accounting
  • Vehicle Location Tracking
  • Data Managed in the Cloud
  • Donation Real-Time Tracking
  • Coupons-4-Causes Browser Extension
  • Call Center Support
  • Tracking of scanned documents
  • Detailed System Analytics

donations through revised system