Building Families Through Quality Data Collection [CASE STUDY]

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Peter Hershey

Men Having Babies, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that was spun off in July 2012 from a program that ran at the NYC LGBT Center since 2005. The organization began as a peer support network for gay fathers and fathers-to-be, offering monthly workshops and annual seminars in New York. Over time, the organization grew and evolved it’s purpose to educate, inform and guide prospective fathers on the path to having biological children via Surrogacy, IVF and Egg Donation.

Surprise! Having a Kid is Hard…

It comes as no surprise that bringing a new life into this world can be a complicated, stressful, and financially daunting endeavor – regardless of who the parents might be. But, as challenging as this entire process is, raising a child is one of life’s most fulfilling opportunities that should be available to any and everyone that is ready to take on the responsibility. While cultural and logistical strides have certainly been made in the recent past in terms of gay couples being able to raise children of their own, there are still countless challenges and obstacles that present themselves as gay couples search for surrogates to help them birth a child.

Luckily, Men Having Babies (MHB), a non-profit organization that was spun off from a program that ran at the New York City LGBT Center since 2005, is providing amazing services to gay couples looking to have their own biological children. MHB serves as a one-stop-shop for gay couples looking to navigate the surrogacy process successfully. This process is difficult enough for heterosexuals, and is filled with additional challenges for gay couples.

For same sex couples, there are additional legal and financial hurdles to overcome which may entail working with five (or more) unique parties to coordinate the process. These parties include law firms, egg donation agencies, clinics, escrow companies, and surrogacy agencies. In some states, there are laws that serve as a barrier to gay couples having parental rights of their biological child (if the surrogate were to reside in that state); therefore, it is advisable to pursue a journey in a same-sex-surro-friendly state — for example California or Illinois.

With the inherent difficulties of the surrogacy process, MHB provides the much needed services of guiding couples towards the proper informational resources, clarifying the gravity of the financial costs associated with surrogacy, and most importantly helping to keep ethics at the forefront of the entire surrogacy process. The team at MHB helps couples that take part at the financial assistance program identify egg donors, surrogates, and clinics, and also assists with everything in between these checkpoints for birthing a child. Their level of knowledge and support helps ease the overwhelming process and reminds the couples they are not alone.

The Vetting Process

While MHB aids dozens of couples annually make their dreams come true, they unquestionably deal with a profound amount of responsibility as they look to allocate their resources appropriately while searching for suitable parents. The MHB team is fairly small, and therefore it’s even more important that each employee’s time and effort is spent assisting the most qualified applicants possible. With such a high number of couples interested in financial assistance for surrogacy constantly reaching out to MHB and asking for their help, it is absolutely paramount that these applicants are properly vetted and evaluated.


Prior to using Alchemer, the applicant vetting and evaluation process was extremely manual and time consuming for the team at MHB. Questionnaires were distributed with the goal of collecting baseline information in regards to demographics, as well as questions about the couples’ relationships, financial security, and how far along or familiar the couples were with the surrogacy process.

These questionnaires would then have to be manually sorted through, and the data would be entered into an Excel spreadsheet for further analysis. For such a small team, this was an incredibly inefficient use of time, energy, and ultimately, money. Putting a family on hold while the process took place served as an added level of pressure that MHB had to deal with constantly.

A solution was needed that would allow MHB to streamline their application process, and provide an easy, intuitive way to store and segment mass amounts of cross-cultural application.

“Alchemer is the perfect tool for collection any information that you can think of for a set audience. There’s just so much you can do with this platform!”

-Cat Pursely, Membership Coordinator & Finance Manager, Men Having Babies


In 2012, MHB evaluated online data collection and insights tools that would enable them to provide their services to even more couples looking to become parents. After careful consideration, Alchemer was selected based on their needs and budget.

By taking their application process online, the questionnaires that were provided to potential applicants were able to yield a much higher volume of data, and that data was able to be easily stored and manipulated for future use. With the online questionnaire system up and running, MHB is able to process the increasing number of applicants (Stage II is up 61%) in a matter of weeks leveraging digital capabilities, versus the months of time it used to take to assess hundreds of applications in both Stage I and Stage II.

In the past, the collection of applicant information was somewhat of a bottleneck process. Demographic and other preliminary information would be collected, supporting documentation requested, then assessed, and if an applicant was deemed qualified, they would be sent further documents to move the process forward.

Today, with the customizability and intuitiveness of Alchemer’s data collection platform, MHB is able to vett qualified applicants within two weeks from the time the application is submitted. High-level baseline questions regarding demographics are presented to applicants, supporting documents are uploaded as part of the form, and depending on their responses, they are then immediately redirected to the next appropriate set of questions without any action necessary from a team member at MHB.

Alchemer has enabled MHB to yield much more granular information from each applicant without having to expend more effort on their end. This is especially important since selection criteria and required documentation varies across states and countries (MHB receives applications from almost all states and more than 10 additional countries worldwide). Thanks to Alchemer’s Logic functionality, people filling out application questionnaires are redirected to specific question flows depending on their nationality information that they’ve already provided. The survey is also available in several languages. This means that each survey is tailored specifically to each applicant, and as such, the information extracted on that applicant is personalized and precise to that individual. This requires no additional heavy lifting from MHB, and is taken care of within the Alchemer solution.

When asked what her team’s workflow or process would look like without Alchemer, Cat Pursely, Membership Coordinator & Manager of Finance at Men Having Babies claimed: “It wouldn’t exist! It’s difficult to imagine just how heavily we rely on Alchemer – not only for collecting information from applicants, but for countless other projects and initiatives that support our organization’s overall mission.”

“I have to give props to the Documentation team at Alchemer. Their resource library has enabled me to learn whatever I want about the platform, and solve all of my own issues. Everything is fantastically intuitive, well-placed, and well-organized!”

-Cat Pursely, Membership Coordinator & Finance Manager, Men Having Babies

Bonnie Kittle

SurrogacyAdvisor: Rating and Reviews of Surrogacy Providers

In an effort to promote cost transparency and affordability, MHB embarked in 2012 on creating “SurrogacyAdvisor” – the world’s only source for peer reviews and ratings of surrogacy agencies and IVF clinics. The initiative is facilitated by hundreds of surveys from surrogacy parents, gay and straight, from around the world. Summary tables list several dozen leading surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics in a descending order based on their overall ratings, and with a few major performance indicators: how many MHB members used them, overall satisfaction, first cycle success rates (for clinics), average overall journey costs (agencies), and duration of the process. The summary table includes links to full profiles with additional data and graphs, and detailed reviews.

This detailed feedback and real cost figures already proved invaluable to numerous prospective parents, and helped them save tens of thousand dollars by identifying affordable effective providers and creating downward pricing pressure.

Data Collection and Analysis at MHB

In addition to being a flexible, intuitive solution for MHB’s applicant information collection needs, Alchemer has proved to be a valuable resource across the organization.

For starters, Alchemer serves as a means to store, segment, and analyze mass amounts of data with minimal effort. Prior to Alchemer, MHB kept their data stored in separate Excel spreadsheets, but now the organization is able to leverage a centralized data storage center — allowing them to create customizable reports for various functions of their organization at the push of a button.

MHB also leverages Alchemer-powered surveys at each step of their live event strategy. Global conferences held around the world are a vital part of MHB’s ability to spread awareness, identify potential sponsors, and connect with couples looking for surrogates. For each of these events, five or six surveys are sent to attendees and sponsors alike — from the planning stages of the event, all the way through to follow-up surveys aimed at learning what people liked, and what MHB can do better at their next event.

The insights from Alchemer have enabled MHB to adjust both content, structure and logistics of its educational seminars based on the participants’ responses. For example, MHB has adjusted when certain information sessions take place to ensure it maximizes reach to fathers-to-be while balancing the ability to enable attendees to meet with providers. Additionally, the feedback enabled the organization to adjust timing – allocating more time to certain aspects of the program and streamlining other components.

After using Alchemer for collecting data at scale, based on the solution’s intuitive interface and broad range of functionalities, MHB leverages the solution to collect outbound payments on their services. By reducing the number of tools used by the organization, efforts were consolidated and the team at MHB was able to become more focused on the initiatives that contributed directly to their mission.

“We’ve been using Alchemer for five years, and we couldn’t be happier. We’re ecstatic to be partnered with a company that supports our mission, and provides a product that helps us achieve our goals each and every day.”

-Cat Pursely, Membership Coordinator & Finance Manager, Men Having Babies

Building Families Through Quality Data Collection [CASE STUDY]

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