Internet Access Should be Free for Education and Nonprofits

The thoughts behind this post came up when a colleague of mine pointed me to an “ngo-in-a-box” collection of software and my negative reaction to the Linux operating system and software that needed to be installed and configured (who has time to deal with all of that?). Then, I realized that I live in a bubble where high-speed access is ubiquitous and I can afford it. This is hardly the case in places where the world’s poorest live (like Sudan).

Even then, in my experience working in Sudan, cloud computing with limited access is more efficient for communication and getting things done than desktop software.

If cloud computing is the next big thing for nonprofits, and I truly believe that it is, then we need ISPs to step up and donate or severely discount service to nonprofits. With access to high-speed internet and donations/discounts from Google Apps and Salesforce, we remove all technological barriers to running an efficient and transparent org.

Salesforce and Google have defined corporate philanthropy for technology companies, and enjoy great admiration for their efforts. We need Comcast, et al. to step up and contribute. Massive corporations can help solve massive problems with little in the way of lost revenue and no new infrastructure requirements.

Of course, the natural extension of this is that access, at this point, should arguably be a human right. Internet access is the new gatekeeper – it holds the keys to a level playing field and all people should have the ability to open doors for themselves.

We’ll table that discussion for another day, and pick the low hanging fruit. Nonprofits are working hard to change the world for the better. They deserve to have free high-speed internet access, where it is available, at no cost. (Yes, even the ones fighting service providers for net neutrality.)

I want to give credit and thanks to mobilecitizen.org which has teamed with Clear to provide wireless broadband to education and nonprofits at a significantly reduced cost. Kudos!

If you know of any other ISPs that are providing nonprofits with free or discounted access please leave a comment!

Take care,
Nick

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NPSP – Calculating Household Donor Status

Something that is important to HELPSudan and many of the nonprofits I work with is the ability to segment donors by their giving history. I wrote a formula that will categorize Households based on the donation rollups in the new Households package in the NPSP. I thought I’d share for anyone that would find it useful.

IF( npo02__OppAmountThisYear__c > 0, "Current Donor",
IF( npo02__OppAmountLastYear__c > 0, "LYBUNT",
IF( npo02__OppAmount2YearsAgo__c > 0, "SYBUNT (2 years ago)",
IF( npo02__TotalOppAmount__c > 0, "SYBUNT (Lapsed)", "Non Donor"))))

It can easily be modified to show different or additional statuses based on criteria relevant to your organization, or added to Accounts or Contacts as well. Once you have the formula set up, create a summary report and summarize by your new status formula field. Then, you can build a pie or funnel chart to show you how your donors break down.

One other thing… if you’ve ever wanted to know how much someone has given this year relative to this time last year, the formula is simple though not necessarily intuitive.

npo02__OppAmountLastNDays__c - npo02__OppAmountLastYear__c

You could then run reports on donors whose status is “Current Donor” from the first formula, and has a negative value from the second formula (i.e. – they’ve given less money at this time this year than at this time last year). Now, you’ve identified people that are recently engaged in giving and are likely able to give again right now! Salesforce.com formulas, reports, and dashboards are a great way to turn our existing data into actionable items.

The formulas in this post should work via copy/paste with the latest version of the Householding package for the Non Profit Starter Pack.

I hope that a couple organizations find these useful!

Take care,
Nick


Cheap Salesforce.com Licenses and how to use them

As Salesforce.com grows and their licensing structure and offerings change, it can be hard to keep up with what licenses give you what features. (Note to Salesforce: Please don’t become like Microsoft with your licensing. Simpler is better.)

What often gets overlooked are the free or cheaper Salesforce.com licenses. I’ve used them for a couple things recently, so figured I’d share. Prices listed are based on prices listed at Salesforce.com today. They are subject to change and if you’re a nonprofit you can likely get a discount via the Salesforce.com Foundation.

Chatter Free (free)

Not much to say about this one. If you have people at your company that aren’t Salesforce.com Users, you can give them a Chatter Free license to allow them to participate in your social network. If you’re not yet on Salesforce.com, you can sign up for free at Chatter.com. I’ve not done much with these yet, but I know some people have set it up for their family domain.

Force.com Free (free)

Salesforce.com was shouting from the rooftops about these licenses at Dreamforce 2009, yet they remain somewhat of a secret. You can get 100 Force.com Free licenses either in a new org or added to your existing org by contacting your Account Rep. Here’s what you get.

  • Up to 100 users
  • 1 free application
  • Up to 10 database objects
  • 1GB of storage

So, what can you do with this? The best thing I’ve seen so far is a brewery app that tracks the brewing process from ingredients in the door through bottling, and even generates the regulatory documents in a VF page.
Right now, I’m building an app based on Coherence to track whether what an organization thinks they are is in line with what they say they are or what people are saying about them. The app can track data from many sources and then generates a score to show how Coherent an organization is.
You also get Chatter with these licenses so even if you don’t want to build an app, you could import and Chatter about some of your existing data as well as use Salesforce.com analytics.

Chatter Plus ($15/month/User)

I discovered these before Chatter Free was around, and there are a couple key things you get with Chatter Plus that make them actually pretty useful.

  • Accounts (read-only)
  • Contacts (read-only)
  • 10 custom objects
  • 1 custom app
  • Dashboards
  • Reports
  • Workflow
  • Calendar and events
  • Tasks and activities

As you can see, you start to get a nice set of features for a completely reasonable price (especially if you are a nonprofit). One of the biggest differences here, that you don’t get with Force.com Free, is access to the Calendar and Events.
We recently used this with a client to bring artists they contract to perform, into their Salesforce instance. Artist bookings are tracked in custom objects and the contracts are generated by Conga Composer. The contracts are then attached to the Artist’s Contact record via Chatter and approved/denied by the artist with a Chatter comment. (The security model ensures that artists only see their own contracts). The Salesforce Calendar is used by the org to track artists and resources needed at performances, and artists can see their upcoming schedule. Additionally, artists can now collaborate with the org and each other via Chatter groups.
We took a process that existed entirely outside of Salesforce and involved manually generating contracts, sending them via email, waiting for a response via email, not having a central place to track approved/rejected contracts, and managing event resources in a bad web app… and brought it all into Salesforce for a minimal license fee per artist. In addition, tons of value was added to that process by building a community within the organization that includes the artists they work with every day.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and if/how you’ve used these types of licenses.

Take care,
Nick


Observation on iPad and the Cloud

After re-reading my iPad Productivity post I realized that every single one of the apps I use for productivity is either a cloud app or has cloud-based sync. That truly is a key feature for me since I want move freely between my computer and iPad.


iPad and Productivity

My New Year’s Resolutions are to start writing, wake up early, and go paperless.  So, I’m working on all three of them with my first write up, how to use iPad to work more efficiently.

It seems like these types of articles always contain some sort of Top 10 apps you need for iPad… I’m not going to do that, but here are some of the tools I use on iPad to make my work flow more efficient.

The key is to not look at iPad as a laptop replacement/alternative, but rather as a supplement.  For the most part, I use my MacBook Pro for inputting information and the iPad to consume information.

GoToMeeting
Because I often work with clients remotely, I spend a good portion of each day on the phone, and primarily use GoToMeeting for collaborating.
If I’m not presenting, I like to use the GTM iPad app to attend meetings.  This is great because I tend to pace while talking on the phone.  Being mobile while still keeping the GTM presentation in front of me is awesome!  (Also, if you ever need to attend a GTM while driving, it does work over 3G.  Just leave it in the passenger’s seat when not at stop lights.)

MobileMe
Sure, for $99/year MobileMe has a lot of features that you might never use.  A new email address (I already have 5 Google Apps accounts), photo library (Flickr), website, blah blah blah… not the point.  If you have a Mac and an iPad (even more so if you also have iPhone) you need MobileMe for over-the-air syncing.  It doesn’t matter where I read your email or take your phone call or what device I need to get a map of your address from, my Contacts are always in sync… always.  Same goes for my Safari bookmarks.
There are other tools that do this, but none seem as seamless as MobileMe… as long as you use the standard Apple apps for Contacts, Calendar, Email, and Safari.

Dropbox
Let’s face it… document management in iTunes is less than stellar.  You can’t beat Dropbox for syncing documents between your Mac and iPad.  I also use it to keep some document templates that I reference often, such as boilerplate training guides.  Oh, and syncing 1Password… more on that below.
I look forward to Dropbox (or some similar service) sync being a standard feature of iPad apps for storing data.

Evernote
Evernote is great for any sort of notes/reference items you need to keep track of, I’m drafting this post in Evernote.  I sync my handwritten iPad notes to Evernote.  I keep Salesforce code/button/workflow/formula snippets in Evernote.  It’s basically a great place to store documents that aren’t quite documents yet.

Noteshelf and Penultimate
I tend to pick one app in a given category and stick with it.  However, I have yet to settle down with just one handwritten notes app on iPad.  Noteshelf is great for taking notes when I don’t need to write fast.  It has a “zoom” window so I can fit more on a page and I think it ends up looking better in the end.  But, if I’m taking notes furiously, nothing I’ve experienced beats the “inking” of Penultimate.
Eventually, one of these will become my clear favorite.  Before that happens, the winner needs to have:
Evernote sync
A “zoom” mode that scrolls with me as I’m writing
Inking on par with Penultimate
Quick launching… waiting for the app to launch and open a notebook to write a note is the only part that makes me long for pen and paper

OmniFocus
I use OmniFocus to manage my GTD workflow.  I used it on my Mac before, but now that it syncs with iPad I can’t live without it.  The iPad implementation is far superior to the desktop app, and if it weren’t for my need to input items on my Mac I might not use the desktop version any more.
This is actually similar to my feelings about iCal on Mac vs. iPad.  It is necessary to sometimes input information on the desktop, but I much prefer to consume/review that information on the iPad.  My iPad is my day planner and task manager.

1Password
I use 1Password religiously on my Mac.  I don’t even know 75% of my passwords.  With about 40 active Salesforce logins at any given time, there is no way I could remember all of those… I have a hard time with just the usernames.  So, being able to quickly navigate to and login to any browser based account is a huge time-saver… not to mention quickly filling in forms and credit card information.
Syncing with Dropbox and having that information available on my iPad/iPhone has been great.  I don’t like that I have to use the 1Password browser on iPad, but until Apple gives mobile Safari extensions, I guess I’ll have to live with it… much better than trying to memorize and type long passwords on iPad.

Twitter and Chatter
I prefer using social media apps on my iPad during the say to avoid disrupting my workflow on my Mac. I’m definitely impressed by the Twitter app… I want a web browser that works the way Twitter does when opening links from Tweets. Chatter for iPad is nice too, though there is definitely room for improvement.

That does it for now, I continue to bring iPad into my daily work life to be more productive and I’m sure this will all look like child’s play in 6 months.  The time it saves me more than makes up for the temptation to play games on it for 15 minutes a day (and sometimes maybe a wee bit more…), and the ability to grab my iPad and walk out the door knowing I have all my essential information with me in case of emergency is amazing.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my workflow, so if you have any ideas, please leave them below… would love to hear how iPad fits into your work day!

Take care,
Nick