As Non-Profit Soapbox continues to grow in popularity, our hours spent doing invoicing each month continues to grow as well. Our joy of working with QuickBooks seems to decrease proportionally with the swelling number of clients.
Being a company steeped in the Web, I began wondering recently if thereâ€™s a better way of managing our invoices. Currently, we have to manually use QuickBooks to create invoices and receipts, then PDF them, then email them. This ends up adding up to about 5 hours a month, which Iâ€™d rather have spent on new Soapbox innovations.
About 6 months ago I signed us up for Freshbooks, an online invoicing system well accepted by the Web 2.0 world. Freshbooks seems made for people just starting out with invoicing, and those that might not already be using QuickBooks. For instance, QuickBooks is our master accounting records, and where we record active clients. With Freshbooks, it seems like weâ€™d need to duplicate our efforts by posting invoices in both our QuickBooks and Freshbooks. Read more »
MoveOn.org set precedence towards virtually mobilizing left-leaning activists around the nation. Friendster to MySpace to Facebook created the social networking phenomenon that allows users to find people that share similar interests, friends and institutions with a multimedia, personalized flair. There is something that finally combines the two: MyQuire.
Working virtually is a reality for many these days. PICnet, for instance, at any given time, has employees in four different locations. My volunteer work for the Emerging Leaders Council of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), for whom we serve hundreds of young professionals, is completely virtual save two meetings per year. And now Iâ€™m finding myself in San Francisco, helping a friend in Oregon organize a fundraising event in our Southern California hometown for her younger sister who has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Being able to coordinate communications, documents and tasks in a central location is key to any project whose members are remote.
The tools that we use at PICnet, while adequate for project management on a small enterprise scale, would not hold water in the non-techy environment of AFTA or among my friends where networking is at the root of collaboration. (I actually heard of MyQuire through the annals of AFTA as I have been pushing them to become more transparent and innovative with their Council and constituent organizing.) I decided to give MyQuire a test run with my fundraising event to see how easy it would be to replicate for AFTAâ€™s purposes.
Before I begin my review, I should state that MyQuire is in Beta right now, so I am hoping that some of these issues will be fixed by the formal launch in late Fall.
Overall MyQuireâ€™s interface is great. The design is clean and intuitive and you canâ€™t beat the price. Itâ€™s free for a user with five projects or less, and it only costs $9.99 per month if you need to coordinate more projects. The founder of the company is a person with a vision to remedy a need by nonprofits, and they are even awarding grants to their nonprofit users. The application cannot be wrapped under the guise of a nonprofits’ website look and feel, but I hear they have plans to do this in the future. And that is wonderful because in the long run, does an organization want to look like it’s coordinating through MyQuire, or through its own technical prowess?
Stokes: I created our project, â€œLaurenâ€™s Fundraiser,â€ added Jason and Lisa, my co-coordinators, and we track all our communications through the website. We each have created our own profiles much like the current popular social networking sites, so you can see our interests, our other projects, any photos we upload, and who we know.
We are even given a specific email with the project name: firstname.lastname@example.org, that acts as a group email list. Another great feature is that I am able to chat live with my co-coordinators if they are online. If you are feeling like dropping a w00t! or some kudos, post a comment to my wall
Bummers: What Iâ€™d really like to show you- RIGHT NOW- is a link that goes directly to my project. Much like how you can see MySpace pages from the Web. Iâ€™d like to have a one pager that has a picture, the event details and who is coordinating the event so I could pass it around to all my friends. Even better, a way to RSVP for the event! How cool would that be?
MyQuire: Think guerilla marketing! Your domain would be in all the links.
Stokes: They have enabled a system much like Google Docs or any wiki that provides for online collaboration. I can create a meeting agenda, and Lisa and Jason can add whatever items they need to without re-uploading a new document. I have uploaded Word docs to share, however I havenâ€™t tried any Excel, Power Point or Visio files. Iâ€™d be interested to know if those fly.
There is also an area called â€œMy Hard Driveâ€ that looks promising with a Window Explorer feel. It breaks down all your items- photos, projects, files, etc- into directories.
Bummers: Lisa is Mac user and Safari doesnâ€™t support much of the mentioned functionalities. I also had trouble navigating back to the â€œFilesâ€ directory once I opened a document. There is no close or cancel button, and the back arrow on my Firefox browser landed me back to my profile. Lastly, I only see the html document I created in MyQuire in the Hard Drive section. Where are the Word docs?
Stokes: I assign tasks with due dates to Jason and Lisa and mark milestones on the project calendar. I can subscribe to my projectâ€™s calendar via Outlook, iCal, or Mozilla Sunbird and superimpose it on my Google calendar to help organize my hectic lifestyle.
Bummers: I canâ€™t track time spent on a task nor have a Gantt chart view of the project. Resource allocation and tracking would be a nice addition. Finally, the link to subscribe to the calendar didnâ€™t work.
All in all, MyQuire has been a good resource to coordinate my fundraising event remotely. I think that after their launch, MyQuire should have the solid foundation which will make it recommendable to AFTA.
I don’t know how many times I get asked, “what is Web 2.0″, but I know that even though I’ve given two speeches on it, I don’t think I got to the point as quickly or effectively as the video below does. For those not thinking or reading at warp speed, you might need to watch it twice…or three times.