Five years ago the team at non-profit Theresa’s Fund had an idea. After 20-plus years of successfully building domestic violence shelter capacity in Arizona through grantmaking and fundraising, why not develop the first searchable database of North American domestic violence shelters and programs to make finding help easier?
Wait, what? Yes, it was a 180-degree change in direction that some considered super ambitious, maybe even a reach. But, boy has it paid off handsomely! Since 2014, DomesticShelters.org has helped nearly 10 million people. One-third of those people in just the last year alone, making it the fastest growing website on the topic of domestic violence.
Fueling the impact has been the organization’s continuous focus on listening to victims and survivors, understanding their experiences and needs, and evolving what the website offers to match. Today there are over 15,000 pages of content on DomesticShelters.org which include educational articles, videos, checklists, books, assessment tests, event calendars and more.
“Today 90% of our visitors are there to read, watch, learn and plan. DomesticShelters.org offers its audience a level of detail on most all the situations they face and in a way that isn’t available anywhere else online,” said Rita Smith, international domestic violence expert and Theresa's Fund's Vice President of External Relations. “In the beginning, we were a shelter locator and today that’s just part of what we do.”
The website has also become a trusted resource for domestic violence advocates who work with victims and survivors each day, as well as other professional support team members in the community. Nearly one in five shelters and programs -- 428 in total -- use DomesticShelters.org's innovative wish list software that makes creating, managing, and publishing wish lists easier, and for donors, makes giving as simple as any online shopping experience. Since the launch of the software in early 2017, nearly 3,000 gifts have been made.
“There are so many success stories with DomesticShelters.org. They happen every day. There are the numbers, like our helping some 9,000 people a day. And there are the countless stories of people’s struggles and telling us, in some cases, that we saved their lives,” added Chris McMurry, a director of Theresa’s Fund. “It’s such rewarding work, and even though we've made incredible impact, we still feel like we're just getting started.”
McMurry said that Theresa’s Fund has additional, new services in the pipeline that will be announced in October (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) of this year and others that are earlier in their development process but that he called, “absolutely innovative and transformative.”
Theresa’s Fund published three short videos to commemorate the five year anniversary of its now internationally recognized online resource DomesticShelters.org: Top 5 Outcomes 5 Years After Launching DomesticShelters.org, Top 5 Ways to Use DomesticShelters.org and Top 5 Ways You Can Support a Domestic Violence Resource That’s Helping Millions of Survivors.
About Theresa’s Fund
Theresa’s Fund is an Arizona-based 501(c)3 non-profit charity started in 1992 by Preston V. McMurry, Jr. At a time when domestic violence wasn’t yet a headline, Theresa’s Fund focused on changing the landscape of domestic violence services in its home state through grantmaking, board development and fundraising for Arizona-based organizations like East Valley Child Crisis Center, Sojourner Center, Florence Crittenden, Emerge, UMOM, and West Valley Child Crisis Center. In 2014, it developed the DomesticShelters.org concept as a way to expand its reach to people across the U.S. and Canada. DomesticShelters.org is the first online and mobile searchable database of programs and shelters in the U.S./Canada, and a leading source of helpful tools and information for people experiencing and working to end domestic violence.