What do you get when you take Soapbox Events and expand its options for collecting attendee information as part of the reservation process?
Why, online event management that’s made to order and integrates seamlessly with Salesforce.
‘Cause sometimes you just need to ask “Want fries with that?”
By Ehren Foss
Founder and Managing Partner of CloudFixer
This nonprofit-focused Salesforce stuff is pretty snazzy, don’t you think? People are building everything from online fundraising apps and wealth data sources to special migration tools and lots of other things to lower the cost of doing good.
Soapbox Engage and Soapbox Mailer for Salesforce have assembled several widely trusted components (Joomla and Amazon Web Services) into something many nonprofits need, like simple event signups, donation forms, and a mass email tool integrating with Salesforce. These basic components can be quite a challenge to assemble and interconnect without a service like Engage.
It’s the “little” things that can bog down a DIY nonprofit person, like mobile-friendly templates. Having many of these snags taken care of by the platform is a plus. I also like how Soapbox unobtrusively inserts data as Leads, thereby working more seamlessly with the many different Salesforce data models we’ve seen in the wild.
One other “little thing” that can drag down your organization is data hygiene. If you aren’t careful, you might not end up so happy with duplicates, staff turnover, and unused reports. Read more »
By following Google’s instructions for verifying authorship of content on a website, search results will display your Google+ Profile headshot and a link to other content you’ve written, increasing the likelihood that your link will get clicked:
We followed the instructions provided by Google for our own blog and can report back the following: Read more »
Google just released some major upgrades to Google Analytics that make it extremely valuable for anyone managing a website. So, if you haven’t logged into your account for a while, or if perhaps you never got around to signing up for one, now is the time to immerse yourself in Google Analytics.
Here are a few things that have changed:
Think your nonprofit has inadequate technology to get the job done? You’re not alone. Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Listening Post Project released a study showing a whole lot of folks in your shoes feel ya. In fact, I believe that was one of the survey questions:
No surprise, right? Nonprofits often feel like the youngest kid in the Walton family getting the hand-me-downs from brothers and sisters. Poor Jim-Bob.
Though Hopkins didn’t ask me, I feel ya, too. When I read the story in the Chronicle of Philanthropy about the study, I couldn’t help but think of a gig I had prior to PICnet for a great nonprofit where I was cobbling together donated broken down IBMs and a couple Mac IIe machines to form a reasonable representation of a computer network. Whether your nonprofit is in that meager a state or not, the Hopkins’ study likely isn’t news.
Even in better economic times, a good number of factors contribute to the nonprofit challenge of meeting technology needs. Donors are loathe to bankroll equipment and software. Staff specializes in the doing of the mission, not the wiring of the mission. Equipment costs require significant initial cash outlays that are hard to come by. Technology advances at the blink of an eye so money spent on boxes and software seems to become obsolete faster than your iPhone can stream Ray Charles’ “I’m Busted”.
What intrigues me about the study isn’t the obvious finding but how industry trends toward software as a service (SaaS) models can help nonprofits deal with the dilemma. Rather than buying software in shrink-wrap off the shelf at your local office supply store and installing it on your computer, software as a service leaves the software with the provider and you access it over the web. Undoubtedly, you and your nonprofit already use some SaaS options. If you are a Non-Profit Soapbox client, you definitely do since all you need to update your website is a handy dandy browser that connects to the software we house and update on our servers.
There are at least five reasons why this is trend helps combat the finding of the Hopkins study. As for the sixth I’ll tentatively toss out, I’m down with any and all comments that enlighten me as to its validity.
1) Reduces hardware costs
Software as a service means more software in the cloud and less software on your computer. The less software on your computer, the less you need to expect from your machine. That lowers the price point of new hardware and extends the life of old hardware. Have an old machine without enough horsepower to effectively run Adobe Photoshop? Pop open a browser and tackle that image alteration with Pixlr or any number of other online options.
2) Reduces staff time invested in upkeep
Software has updates that need to be run on machines. That requires someone running those updates and standardizing versions across computers. Software as a service models eliminate that because the software doesn’t live on your machines. Case in point: when PICnet pushes the latest Non-Profit Soapbox release next week that will add some great new features for Soapbox 2, your site will automatically have the new functionality ready to be used as you wish.
3) Pay as you go to use what you need
Initial cost of many software as a service models is generally the monthly fee you will normally pay, reducing the initial out-of-pocket expense and flattening out the cost curve over time. And services scale to allow you to gradually increase your use over time also on a more graduated cost curve and fitting more neatly into annual budget cycles.
4) Nonprofit-friendly pricing from various SaaS providers
This is a trend we love to see: great services sold at a reduced rate to nonprofits – or given away for free to nonprofits. And while free or reduced priced software could always be come by before, the SaaS model makes it easier to systematize discounts and removes barriers to your nonprofit scoring a deal. From big boys like Google and Salesforce to elegant tools that are more targeted like Wufoo‘s form solution, plenty of SaaS models (heart) nonprofits.
5) Free options
Some software as a service providers don’t care that you’re a nonprofit. They just give theirs tools away for free regardless. While some are worth exactly what you pay, many – like Pixlr.com noted above – are just plain groovy, depending on your needs.
That’s five benefits. Here’s the tentative sixth that I’ll leave up to you to assess the validity of:
6) Easier to find funding from willing donors?
With the monthly pricing model associated with software as a service models and their pay-for-what-you-need approach, is it easier to fund software as a service costs through donor funds if there is a clear, definite use of that service for purpose of a given program activity?
To put it another way, can software as a service costs be viewed less as overhead and more as program costs?
Tired of boring old static webforms? Feeling restricted by limited confirmation emails you can send after form submissions? Sick of taking out the trash all the time? Well, the gang at Wufoo has great news for you — they’ve introduced conditional logic and branching to make their webforms smarter and more effective! Sorry – still waiting on that trash bit, though.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up. Whofoo? Conditional What?” For those of you out there asking yourselves these questions, let us take a step back. Wufoo is a super easy and affordable webform solution that we’ve found works well to fit many of our clients needs – as well as our own! As they’ve put it on their FAQ page:
We at PICnet are big fans of Wufoo and the great work that they do over there. For more information on why you might want to look into using Wufoo (hint: 50% discount for nonprofits) check the Tips & Tricks in our Help Desk.
Wufoo recently announced some awesome new functionality to make forms even better. With conditional logic and branching, you can now:
Even better, they’ve managed to make constructing the conditional rules as easy as we could have ever imagined in our wildests dreams (trust us — our dreams about webforms have been wild). Want to learn more? Check out their conditional logic blog post for more information and how-to screencasts.
Not yet using Wufoo? Unsure if it’s right for you? Check out Wufoo’s site to get the get the lowdown.
We’re happy to unveil the latest release of Soapbox 2 and introduce you to seven handy tools we dropped into the toolbox in the wee hours of the morning.
Manage standard content more efficiently, reduce spam, mix up slideshow transitions, alert folks when they’re leaving your site, monitor the disk space you use, customize page not found errors, and maximize Google Analytics.
Whew! That was a mouthful for just the overview. For the full details, check out our Help Desk and Happy Soapboxing!
A 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
2) “By your powers combined” (thanks to Captain Planet for this valuable wisdom)
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!
We often recommend Flickr to clients as a robust photo management tool because it’s fast, easy to use, and offers nice-looking slideshows that can be easily embedded on webpages.
But no-profits looking for more sophisticated slideshow options might consider checking out a new tool we just found called PhotoSnack. While Flickr focuses on photo sharing and organization, PhotoSnack takes online photo album displays to another level. They have a variety of slick, professional-looking photo albums and slideshows that can be embedded on your site. See some examples here.
Free accounts are limited to 250mb and are branded with the PhotoSnack logo, but a premium account is available with 5GB storage and no branding for just $99.99/year.
If you know a site using this or have tested this out on your own, let us know how it goes!