Archive for January, 2013

Salesforce Simplified Over Coffee for your organization: Join us for this free D.C. event on 2/21

Thursday, February 21, 2013, 9 – 10 am PICnet, Dupont Circle, Washington, DC Register today! is predicted to become the leading constituent relationship management (CRM) application in the world in 2013. It is ranked as the most innovative company in the world by Forbes. That’s ahead of Apple and Amazon and others.

And it gives away its product away free of charge for up to 10 user licenses to nonprofits and higher education institutions – with deep discounts beyond those initial 10 licenses.

More and more organizations are adopting as their CRM of choice to supercharge social change. There are more than 16,000 that have done so already.

How can your organization get the most out of to transform its mission through a CRM that works as hard as you do? Read more »


Quickly escalate supporter engagement through multi-step appeals for your nonprofit

Nonprofits have several ways individuals can support their missions – through volunteering, attending an event, signing a petition, making a donation, becoming a member, and more.

Nonprofits would love to have each individual support them in ALL of the ways they provide.

Like any relationship, those steps of engagement with your organization happen incrementally over time. Just as one doesn’t meet a promising someone at a bar and instantly get down on one knee to pop the question, organizations need to work a little romance over time to nurture and expand a relationship with each individual.

That’s called moving them up the engagement ladder in nonprofit-speak.

Sky easy access

And while it does take time and nurturing, interested folks just may be down with scampering up that ladder, if you ask them the right way. Read more »


State of the B Corp highlights: A banner 2012 and big plans for 2013

As a B Corp, PICnet knows the importance of putting people and environment before profits. So we always get excited when more companies join the ranks.  

Each quarter, B Lab, the nonprofit organization that supports and fosters businesses to solve social and environmental problems, holds a State of the B Corp address where they update all the B Corps on what success they’ve had in the last quarter. And from last week’s call, I can tell you that B Corps had a banner 2012!

Here are some highlights: Read more »


3 ways your organization can use Twitter’s new mobile video service: Vine

VineOn Thursday last week, Twitter, the company that lead the world in an effort to compress text communications into 140-character snippets, announced their newest way to miniaturize human communication:  6 second videos.  Their new service, called Vine, makes it very easy to create extremely short video clips on a mobile device and then instantly share them with the world on the Twitter network.

Unlike the longer video clips that you’re probably producing and then distributing via other channels such as YouTube or Vimeo, Twitter purposefully intends to make you focus on getting to the point very, very fast.  Your video displays directly within your Tweet, and directly within your Twitter stream.  The videos you produce on Vine loop, and for those that remember the good old days of Web 1.0, definitely have a feeling of the animated GIF returning to popular culture.  Twitter describes Vine like this:

Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.

As communication professionals trying to move supporters and donors up the ladder of engagement, how might Vine be useful for your online communication strategies?  Here’s a few ideas that could be useful for organizations starting to explore the benefits of these short video clips.

Read more »


A recommitment to helping organizations crush inefficiencies

Carnival RideWhen we started PICnet back in 2001 (well, technically in 1999 over pizza near UCLA, but lest I digress), we made a decision early on that set the tone for our company moving forward:  if we can aim to crush inefficiencies in non-profits, maybe, just maybe, we can help our social sector move towards improved outcomes that can lead to a more just and peaceful world.

Pretty lofty stuff, right?

What I think is most interesting, however, is that we were talking about increasing operational efficiency for organizations as a tech startup growing at the height of the dot-com boom.  That was quite different from what other Web development firms were doing back then, most of which was pitching hip things you can do with a Flash-based website, imploring the need to invest deep 5-digit budgets into shiny bells and whistles for websites, and encouraging the building of custom or proprietary software.

So when Nancy Schwartz, publisher of the Getting Attention blog, shared her request for feedback on this year’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival, I thought it would be good for us at PICnet to share one of our dreams for the social sector in 2013.

Read more »


The importance of building your entrepreneurial social safety net

safety netIncredibly enough, in a few weeks, our company PICnet will be 12 years old.  Considering that the idea for it started during a student government campaign at UCLA in May 1999, I’ve been working at the same job for almost 14 years.  To put that in perspective, on average, most folks in my generation are on their fourth job at this point in life.

I’ve experienced it all in growing a small business, as most boot-strappers have before me. From the soaring to the highest of highs, to the falling to the lowest of lows.  Through the process, I’ve learned more than I ever could have imagined about business, but more importantly, about the relationships you build with others that keep you moving forward.  I’m so incredibly thankful to have been blessed with such a great support network of people that truly care about me.

As I say quite often, the relationships we build are more important than the tools we build.

But even with friends, family, and loved ones there to support you, few, if any, really understand what is running through that entrepreneurial head of yours.  No matter how fantastic your business is doing, as an entrepreneur, you’re always working harder than you were the day before.  Running through our minds is often the quote from Andy Grove:  “only the paranoid survive.”

If you’re a fellow entrepreneur, or you’re getting ready to venture off into the startup of your own business, I have one small bit of advice for you.  Don’t go it alone.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking about your business partner decision.  I’m talking about starting right now, today, your very own entrepreneurial social safety net.

Read more »


Project Management Quick Tip: Develop a start and end of week routine

This is the first of an occasional PICnet blog series: Project Management Quick Tip. These quick tips are lessons that we Project Managers have learned in our work to keep things on time, on budget, and most importantly, to make sure that we have happy clients.

We, the PICnet Project Management team, may not be perfect but we are constantly pursuing greatness – yes, greatness! We offer these tips from lessons learned in that pursuit.

Here’s our first quick tip that will hopefully help you in your own project management work:

Develop a start and end of the week (and day) routine

My to do list is healed and in use!

Read more »


The mysterious (not provided) keyword tracking in Google Analytics

In the past few months at PICnet, we’ve been focusing heavily on increasing our marketing efforts, particularly in our blog.  Just as we do for most top-level programs, we’ve set goals, take regular measurements, analyze the results in detail, the rinse and repeat.  Our tool of trade for building our metrics for success is Google Analytics, and it’s been serving us amazingly well.

As we’re seeing further increases in traffic, we’re interested in knowing what people were searching when they found our site.  Knowing that information allows us to better define our content strategies for the future, and give us a sense of what content is most interesting to those searching for answers online.

It seems, however, that the most popular search keyword, by huge margins, is “(not provided)”.  And when I say huge margins, I mean it’s 58x more popular a keyword than number two.  What is this “(not provided)” keyword in Google , and why are we getting so much traffic from it?

Google Analytics (not provided)

Read more »


What is SEO and what does it mean for your nonprofit?

Let me “start with the why”, as Simon Sinek proposes in his famous TED talk:

Why should you care about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Put simply, SEO can bring more visitors to your site. For nonprofits, more website visitors can mean more volunteer or member signups, more donations, and more evangelists for your organization and your cause.

Search Engines Love Content by Go Local

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) sounds intimidating and complicated, but when you boil it down, it is much easier to digest. SEO consists of the steps you take to make your website more relevant in search results for specific terms or keywords. You may also hear this described as “ranking” higher in search engine (i.e Google or Bing) results. For a more detailed explanation of SEO, check out this brilliant blog post that relates SEO to graffiti.

When you perform a search on the web, regardless of your preferred search engine, an algorithm of that search engine spits out results based on the words, or “keywords,” that you typed. These search engine algorithms are constantly changing and evolving, but the factors that decided the ranking of the results tend to be fairly constant (i.e. keywords, page titles, credible links to and from the page, etc.).

The good news is that by making small, incremental changes to your website and the way that you develop content for your site, you can improve your website’s rankings in search results for specific keywords. And again, that means more people visiting your site, which will hopefully result in more volunteers, members, donations, and evangelists for your nonprofit.

Stay tuned for more blog posts on SEO tactics to improve your site’s search rankings… for free. In the mean time, check out these free guides to get you started:

Photo Credit: Go Local Search on Flickr


Getting started using Salesforce for advocacy campaigns

Inauguration 2013With this week’s second inauguration of President Obama, and the announcement of the new Organizing for Action nonprofit, the world has seen first-hand that the future of advocacy is data, data, and data.  As the President begins his second term, we’re likely to see the debate over important social issues of our time become even more competitive than before.  Now is the time for organizations to gear up for the next wave of advocacy.

Earlier today, we covered how the Obama campaign successfully utilized it’s strong database tools to run important A/B communication testing to determine message effectiveness.  While it’s going to be rare for an advocacy group to have the war chest of funds that the presidential campaigns had this year, there’s a powerful database tool that we believe is about to see a significant uptick in the advocacy world in 2013:

The question:  how can your advocacy group get started using Salesforce, and even the open source Nonprofit Starter Pack (NPSP), to build a successful campaign database and platform?

Here’s three ideas you can implement right away to start using Salesforce for your advocacy work.

Read more »