The global pandemic has shifted our reality from one day to the next, but this hasn’t stopped The Mom Economy, a non-for-profit organization that supports moms while they navigate their careers before, during, and after having children.
According to Founder and Microsoft employee, Brittany Valdes, the impact of the pandemic on the organization’s day-to-day has been minimal. Since before the COVID-19 crisis, the organization leveraged Microsoft technology to stay organized and communicate. Microsoft 365 products such as Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint are everyday essentials that help the Board exchange emails, manage data and create presentations, respectively. They also use Microsoft Teams to chat and conduct their Board meetings. “We communicate everything through Microsoft Teams, it’s changed the game for us,” affirms Brittany.
However, the same can’t be said for upcoming events they had planned for in 2020. The pandemic has caused many events around the world to be cancelled or postponed. In fact, according to Microsoft’s Work Trends Index Report (April 2020), as a result of customers moving events online, the number of Stream videos – the service that powers live events and meeting recordings – in Teams per week has increased over five times in the last month with hundreds of hours of video uploaded per minute.
This wave of cancellations also included the nonprofits’ annual Mother’s Mercado, an important initiative in the form of a fundraiser that is done in partnership with Shopify and Simon Malls, to support mompreneurs. Since making its debut in 2018, the event had consisted of a business bootcamp along with a full shopping day featuring mother-owned businesses where 20 to 30 of them compete for a pop-up retail space in a Simon Mall. Typically, 20% of all the proceeds from that day go back to the Mom Economy.
Having to cancel this flagship event was a serious concern to Brittany and her team, as the money raised through this initiative went towards the nonprofits’ Maternity Leave grants, which provide maternity leave for mother–owned businesses that can’t take time off. “We think that this grant is just life changing for our moms,” she explained.
When forced with this reality, Brittany, who comes from Cuban family of entrepreneurs, and The Mom Economy teamed up with Shopify to create Shop Mom Saturday, a fully-virtual experience that Brittany coined “the stay–at–home shopping event of the season.” As she puts it, going virtual has opened the doors and given us more opportunities, generating interest from all over the world and allowing us to be more inclusive.
The nonprofit’s goal was to make Shop Mom Saturday as interactive as possible, letting mothers from across the U.S. to connect and chat in real time. The event will offer participants mentorship and leadership conferences, along with live shopping sessions with each of these mother-owned businesses. “We think it’s going to be exactly what people need to feel like they’re getting out of their house and going through this virtual shopping experience.”
Having great partners and a tech infrastructure like Microsoft Teams, made it possible for The Mom Economy to pivot quickly from this large physical event to launching a 100% virtual event. It’s also allowed them to branch out and discover new ways to support its members during this time. In addition to Maternity Leave grants, the nonprofit created a COVID-19 Small Business relief grant for small businesses affected by the current pandemic.
For a long time, there was a clear divide within the Mom Economy’s audience between those who embraced technology and those who didn’t. “COVID-19 ripped the band–aid for digital transformation, even though it has been a difficult time, great things have come from this pandemic like creativity and nonprofits pushing the boundaries on how we use technology to help businesses scale and build their business. We’re hoping we can lead them in the right direction,” explained Brittany.
The Mom Economy’s success is attributed to staying true to their niche, which is also Brittany’s advice to the nonprofit community. “Listen to your audience and pivot quickly – identify and stay true to your competitive advantage as an organization and make sure you’re relevant with the time.” This is an opportunity for nonprofits to get creative and figure out and discover what their specific competitive advantage is. For Brittany, it was raising money for grants for maternity leave and now small business relief grants to achieve the mission of helping working moms to thrive.