Posts Tagged ‘soapbox’

Soapbox is for Winners: The Hitachi Foundation & Global Fund for Women

Phil Penn Gwynn must be feeling like a proud papa penguin!  Two of our Non-Profit Soapbox sites took home 2011 Wilmer Shields Rich Gold Awards from the Council on Foundations for their websites!  These awards recognize effective communications efforts to increase public awareness of foundations and corporate giving programs.  Please put your fins together for The Hitachi Foundation and the Global Fund for Women! Read more »

 

Soapbox 2.2.0 Release: Create powerful maps to convey your message and mission

Some nonprofits stories don’t fit fully within the confines of words and sentences.  To convey the scope of their activities, they need to offer not just the what but the where.  They want to do more than tell.  They want to show.

We’re suckers for a good story and want to provide the tools you need to weave a good one.  That’s why we’ve created Soapbox Mapper, a powerful add on service for Soapbox that allows you to take your story to a whole new dimension – from north to south and east to west – with interactive and searchable maps customizable to meet your needs.

Soapbox Mapper screen shot

Interested in learning more about how Soapbox Mapper can open whole new directions for your nonprofit’s website? Check out the Soapbox Mapper overview and demo site.

Ready to chart a new direction for your site with Soapbox Mapper? Contact us today!

 

Green hosting with Soapbox: carbon neutral and efficient

Green hosting seal - largeHosting means much more to us than providing powerful and reliable servers to run Soapbox sites. It’s an opportunity to make real our triple bottom-line focus on people, planet, and profit by providing green hosting through the quality services of our data center.

We focus on the following concrete steps to make Soapbox sites as green as an envious tree frog in a rainforest:

Carbon Offsetting

Our data center has partnered with Green Mountain Energy, the leading provider of cleaner energy and carbon offsetting solutions, to purchase carbon credits to offset the emissions of our hosting operations. On behalf of our data center, Green Mountain will invest in renewable energy sources like wind and solar power as well as biomass facilities – many of which have been setup as a result of their initiatives. Funding will also provide support for reforestation projects through Green Mountain’s relationship with the Pacific Forest Trust. Emissions levels are reviewed annually and carbon credits adjusted accordingly.

Reduced Energy Consumption

While overall emissions may rise as business grows, the long-term game plan is to actually reduce our data center’s emissions on a per client basis across all operations. This means that the carbon emissions generated by delivering service to a client today are less than they were a year ago and going into the future we hope to reduce them further. Many steps have already been taken on the technology front to achieve this such as investing in more expensive but far more power efficient computer processors, like Intel’s latest Nehalem line of CPUs. Likewise, where in the past the data center would install sixteen 1GB RAM sticks in a server they will now install four 4GB RAM sticks instead, giving the same computing power but reducing power usage by around 30 watts per server. This adds up to a lot of savings across an entire data center. With the rising cost of electricity, reducing our energy consumption makes both business and environmental sense for our data center.

Data Center Cooling Improvements

It is a little known fact in hosting that for every amp of power used to run a server in a data center it takes on average another amp of power to run the climate control systems that cool it. Our data center has been working to reduce the amount of power consumed in cooling operations in several different ways. Firstly, they have installed filler panels in all cabinet slots that are not actually filled by servers. This means all of the cold air is forced through the servers instead of passing through gaps above or below. It takes lot of energy to cool the air in a data center, especially in the summer months, so not passing all of the cool air through the servers is wasteful which is what the filler panels help to prevent. Secondly, the data center’s exclusive server hardware vendor, Supermicro, designs the best rackmount system chassis available in terms of air flow design. By deploying servers with the best possible air flow it actually raises the ambient air temperature of data center floor by around two degrees Fahrenheit without compromising service in any way at all. By raising the floor temperature slightly, the load on the climate control systems is reduced. Lastly, our data center also invests heavily in other technologies to improve airflow and cooling like raised flooring with perforated tiles throughout the facility and efficient hot / cold isle cabinet layouts on the data center floor.

Recycling and Reducing Wastefulness

Where possible all of the packaging our data center receives with new servers, switches and other items in is fully recycled. Vendors like Supermicro are also working to reduce the amount of packaging their servers require as well. Our data center works to reduce wastefulness by keeping printing to a minimum.

 

Soapbox site launch: Weatherize DC

weatherizeIn February, PICnet collaborated with our design partners and DC neighbors Free Range Studios, to launch a new Soapbox site for Weatherize DC. The campaign is part of The DC Project, a DC non-profit founded by former leaders of the Obama for America campaign. The DC Project advances economic and environmental justice by creating clean energy career opportunities for people who need them most. Staff are trained in grassroots organizing techniques rooted in metrics-based, data-driven field methods that empower neighborhood volunteers to affect systemic change.

Here are a few highlights from the project and the website:

  • Integration with Democracy-in-Action (DIA) donate, events, and e-newsletter subscription
  • Real time Twitter updates
  • Facebook Fanbox widget that allows for dynamic display of current fans and provides option for end user to become a Facebook fan from the Soapbox site
  • Embedding of WeatherizeDC YouTube channel
  • Custom design for new Soapbox Slideshow on home page
  • Use of new Title Manager

And now a word from Free Range Studios designer Kathi Bahr: “It was truly a pleasure collaborating with an organization that’s doing positive (and tangible!) work for the DC community. We were given complete creative freedom in order to build the new WeatherizeDC brand from start to finish, beginning with a logo design and then website design. It’s rewarding to know we were part of a team that established a creative tool that community members will see and interact with directly.”

In summary – great project, great partner, a great success. Excellent job, team!

 

Soapbox Site Launch: Turtle Power!

turtleA couple weeks ago, we launched a really great new site for a great and deserving organization – the Turtle Survival Alliance. Now this is a TSA I can get behind! The TSA has been transforming passion for turtles into effective conservation action since 2001. They are involved in some pretty amazing conservation efforts all over the world thanks to their wide network of supporters. For example, check out this incredible story on the rescue of the world’s only known wild Rafetus swinhoei (Yangtze giant softshell turtle) in Vietnam.

This project reinforced some valuable lessons for me:

1) Sometimes it’s the little things One little thing we did on this site that made a big difference was using custom action buttons throughout for Buy Now, Donate Now and Join Now. What an easy small thing it is to replace the standard PayPal buttons to make a more compelling and custom-looking shop.

2) “By your powers combined” (thanks to Captain Planet for this valuable wisdom) The TSA’s site combines the super-powers of some pretty cool third party tools that complement and extend Soapbox. These include PayPal for donations and the shop, Wufoo for membership applications and tracking, Constant Contact for e-newsletters, Embedr for the video gallery, and social media/sharing tools.

Read more »

 

Soapbox 2.0.10: Powerful page titles, slick slideshows, just for you

We’ve been hard at work putting the finishing touches on Soapbox 2.0.10, the latest upgrade to your website management system.

What do those numbers and dots mean to you? Two things: powerful page titles and slick slideshows. Both available now.  And both part of the Soapbox service you’re already paying for.

Let’s dive into the details, shall we? Read the juicy details at our Help Desk. If you have any questions related to your version of Soapbox or on these particular features, give us a shout!

 

Stellar support, simplified systems

Recently, we helped migrate a newly designed Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to the Soapbox platform, after they were seeing diminishing service and support from their old system. The organization wanted an option to have support 24 hours a day and to build a relationship with their platform provider.

And boy, did we build a relationship! As project manager, I spoke with Ladd Everitt from CSGV almost every day – as their PR/media person, he had a great personal investment in the website, and he was very involved with the decision-making and details from the start of the project.

We originally were going  to use the eblast system Vertical Response, tied into the Salesforce CRM to manage CSGV’s contacts.  However, upon understanding the small staff they had and the technical literacy which these two systems required, I decided to look into Network for Good’s My Emma Email Now! This turned out to be both a simpler and more affordable solution for the client. Now CSGV has petitions, contact forms and surveys running through the form creation on Email Now, and they are also able to send out well-designed html email blasts through this very simple and easy to use system. I also want to give a quick shout out to Kate Purcell, the designer of the site.

The relationship PICnet built with Ladd for this site was great for overall communications and for the momentum of the project.  He was a great example of a smooth client-vendor partnership – always delivering on time and was available at all hours during the holidays for launch.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. Learn more here.

 

Soapbox site launch: Mercy Investment Services

We recently launched another great Soapbox site, this time for Mercy Investment Services,  an asset management program for the collective investment and professional management of the endowment, operating, and other funds of the Sisters of Mercy and the eligible sponsored and co-sponsored ministries that choose to participate, all of which are tax-exempt organizations engaged in religious and charitable activities.

The idea behind the program is that, by combining their assets, participants may obtain lower costs for the investment of their funds and access to better performing investment managers than each would otherwise have.

Here are some of our favorite, and notable features for the new site:

  • Flash maps that display where the reach of their socially responsible investing in the United States and around the world
  • Use of a taxonomy product PICnet built to classify the socially responsible investments not just by geographical area but by Type of Investment, making the information more accessible to site visitors while not increasing administrative overhead on staff to upkeep the site

Mercy Investment Services is connected to the Sisters of Mercy Communities,  for whom we’ve built several community sites. You can read more about those here and here.

 

Supporting Schools through Soapbox

NYCCharter_screenshotWe recently helped The New York City Charter School Center launch a new Soapbox website in partnership with design firm Big Duck. The organization helps new charter schools get started, supports existing schools,  builds community support, and trains new leaders so that highly effective services can flourish.

The new site is informative and engaging, with aggressive integration through Democracy In Action for events, campaigns, and eNewsletter sign-up and templates. It also includes liberal use of WuFoo custom forms for robust online grant and fellowship applications.

One final cool feature is a Google Map integration displaying more than 100 charter schools in New York that links to more details and content within the site and to the individual schools’ websites.

Learn more about the New York City Charter School Center.

 

Come hang out with us on Soapbox Tuesdays!

If your holiday calendar isn’t full yet, we’ve got something to fill it with – PICnet is reinstating Soapbox Tuesdays, a monthly forum held at our offices  for Joomla and Soapbox users. We’ll discuss the up and coming, answer your questions, brainstorm, and give feedback where needed.

We’re excited to create a space where people can bring their lunch and their questions to chat about how technology is changing the non-profit world. As the year wraps up, it’s time to gear up for last minute changes to your Non-Profit Soapbox and Joomla Web sites. What better way to do this than by sharing some lessons learned with your fellow Non-Profit Soapbox and Joomla! users at PICnet!

When: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30pm ET Where: PICnet’s DC Office – 1605 Connecticut Ave. 3rd Floor, Washington, DC (across the street from the Dupont Circle Metro station’s north exit, next door to Subway)

We hope to see you there! Click here for more details.