I just did an interview for the Office 2.0 Podcast Jam.
The interviewer, Anne Zelenka, was very nice. She has a great blog you should check out, by the way. She writes and is interested in many of the same topics as I am. Anyway, Anne found my little blog here and asked me to contribute a podcast to the jam about our Salesforce implementation and the way we’ve hobbled together a viable technology plan for C3.
I agreed, but I just didn’t have the time to pull a recording together. Super rushed is not the way to do something you’ve never done before. Anne offered to record an interview with me via Skype instead, so that’s exactly what we just did. It should be on the site tomorrow. Looking at the contributor list…wow, I’m in amazing company.
I hope I don’t sound like a babbling idiot. I didn’t want to script out my answers word-for-word, but I gave myself talking points to use as a guide. I think I got most of them, but I know I have a tendency to talk too fast. The mouth sometimes goes faster than the brain (or someone else’s ear) can keep up. In meetings, I consciously check myself when I speak. This being my very first recorded interview, I don’t think I thought, “shut up, you babbling fool” often enough.
Anyway, if you’re here to connect the blog with the voice, here’s the main points I was trying to make:
- Running a small nonprofit presents many of the same challenges as running a small business. I’m talking the long tail here, not the American Cancer Society or the Livestrongs. Most nonprofits are more like us than the big fellas. Nonprofits are typically started by folks with a lot of knowledge and passion, but not a lot of business sense. That comes later as the organization learns from its mistakes. How many times have folks volunteered to help a small nonprofit but never heard back? Often, it isn’t that the organization isn’t interested, or doesn’t want their help. It’s that the information is coming in so fast and from so many different sources that they can’t keep up. We are trying to avoid that from the start.
- Salesforce is doing an incredible service for the nonprofit community. Nonprofits need to keep an open mind when looking at technology. Many tools that weren’t designed for nonprofits can be adapted, sometimes quite easily, if you’re willing and able to read between the lines.
- Don’t pay for what you don’t use, but at the same time you have to imagine what would happen if you suddenly had 10 times as many records or interactions as you do now. Is the system scalable without additional investiment? At C3, we are constantly playing the “what if so-and-so fell off the face of the earth? Would we still be able to (whatever)?” game. With Salesforce, it’s our organization’s “brain dump.” We have no fear that our organization’s information will outgrow the technology’s capacity. Salesforce is not going anywhere. That’s comforting, and allows us to concentrate on our mission and not tripping over the technology.
- Work with good people. Learn from other people’s mistakes before you make them yourself. We were fortunate that my instinct led me to choose Theikos for our implementation and they sub-contracted with Meghan Morrison. As I said the interview, working with a consultant allowed us to get done in 4-6 weeks what would have taken a year of my time to learn on my own. It’s important to work with a consultant that will teach you to fish. Meghan not only answered every question, she gave me the theory behind the answer. By the time our contract with her was over, I felt very confident that I could handle the application on our own.