4 Nonprofits We Fell in Love With

Michael Evert

Since our foundation in 2004, the vast majority of our employees have worked at nonprofits before joining Neon. It’s a longstanding point of pride for our company. In fact, Neon was created when our co-founders Lei Zhang and Jeff Gordy met at the Kidney Cancer Association — a nonprofit organization in Chicago, where they worked at the time.

Over 85% of our staff knows nonprofits intimately. We’ve been able to bring along some of our favorite organizations by having them utilize our services. Today I wanted to share a few of these organizations that our staff has a personal connection to.


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CHIRP is a volunteer-driven, community radio station that focuses on music, arts, and culture. They are live and local every day of the year from 6am-midnight from their studios in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. Since its foundation in 2007, the city they live in is a key part of everything they do. CHIRP Radio plays a wide mix of local, independent, lesser-heard, and just generally good music from a variety of genres and eras.

CHIRP worked hard to help the Local Community Radio Act get passed and signed by President Obama. As a result, over 700 new community stations have been able to be launched around the country, including CHIRP launching its own terrestrial broadcast in October 2017 ( listen at 107.1 FM if you’re in Chicago, or stream us at chirpradio.org from anywhere).

Neon’s Kyle Curry serves on the board of CHIRP. As he explains, “I’m proud to serve on the board of CHIRP radio, an independent Chicago radio station. Over the years, CHIRP has used the built-in peer-to-peer fundraising functionality to leverage the enthusiasm of hundreds of volunteers to bring in thousands of new donors and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Brent House

Brent House is the home of the Episcopal Campus Ministry at the University of Chicago. It is a large, comfortable, and historic house located just blocks from the main quads. They are the metaphorical home of undergraduate and graduate students seeking to grow in their lives with God.

It houses a cozy basement chapel, a spacious kitchen, ample room to lounge around, and a small residential graduate student community. They welcome a great variety of people, from those who have found a spiritual home in the house to those who simply come in search of the famed (and typically Episcopalian) ministry of hospitality and food. As they spend time together at Brent House, they are constantly aware of the presence and strength of this affirming and nurturing community.

Neon’s Nina Giviyan-Kermani used to work for Brent House and utilized our company’s in-kind donation program. She explains, “I donated my system to Brent House because they were my refuge on a campus largely hostile to people of faith or figuring out their spirituality. Rigorous inquiry and religion go hand in hand at Brent House. I am so happy that our software helps their fundraising efforts. It’s my small legacy to a place that really shaped who I am.”

Reading With Pictures

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Reading With Pictures advocates for the use of comics in the classroom and beyond to promote literacy and improve educational outcomes for all students. They work with academics to cultivate groundbreaking research into the proper role of comics in education. They collaborate with cartoonists to produce exceptional graphic novel content for scholastic use.

Most importantly, they partner with educators to develop a system of best practices for integrating comics into their curriculum. At Reading With Pictures, they get comics into schools and get schools into comics.

Neon’s Tim Sarrantonio joined Reading With Pictures at its founding as an original board member. He immediately knew how important NeonCRM would be to the nonprofit’s growth. He explains, “As an all-volunteer organization, the automation and data centralization of NeonCRM has been a lifesaver for Reading With Pictures. I recently had us start using Neon Payment Processing and its saved us so much time.”

Chicago Repertory Ballet


Chicago Repertory Ballet is Chicago’s most exciting contemporary ballet company, pushing the boundaries of ballet today. Artistic Director Wade Schaaf founded it in 2012. Schaaf’s vision marries ballet and contemporary work to create dance that defies labels. Over the past 5 years, Chicago Repertory Ballet has produced works such as “The Four Seasons,” “Bolero,” and brand new ballets such as “Macbeth.”

Chicago Repertory Ballet was spotlighted as a case study of moving from Excel into a CRM, with board member and Neon’s own Joe Marren heading up that project. He explains, “I’ve long been passionate about the arts, and joining CRB’s Board of Directors allowed me to help this amazing organization streamline and grow. This system has allowed us to gain new insights, and plan like never before. I’m passionate about helping CRB because I believe in the work they’re producing. I look forward to sharing that work with as many people as possible!”

Whenever we talk with nonprofits in our communities, we are excited to share our passion and expertise. We were founded to make change. Anytime we can help raise money, save time, and build capacity we’re going to do anything and everything we can.

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