Life after Common Ground: Not-so-final thoughts

6 weeks ago, I began a series of blog posts highlighting different Salesforce apps I’ve been working with at KELL Partners since leaving Blackbaud/Common Ground behind six months ago. Here’s a summary of those posts and the features I highlighted, in case you missed any:

While this brings me to the end of the series as I had planned it, I know I could have gone on and on. More features on the above apps. More apps. For example there’s Volunteers for Salesforce, which was rescued from the ashes of Groundwire by the always helpful and brilliant David Habib. Or Brickwork, iATS integration with Salesforce and its form building tool, AURA. Maybe I’ll do another series in the future. What apps are you using that I should be talking about here?

As I was writing these posts, I found myself focusing on a common theme. What excites me most about these products, almost without exception, are the companies and people behind them more than features. I focused on features, sure, but with each application the feature I focused on said as much about the mindset of the company as it did about its functionality.

Simply put: It’s not enough to just have something to sell.

The best part about Salesforce is that it isn’t just a platform to build stuff on. It’s a large, inter-connected ecosystem and developers have to expect that their customers are going use their apps in ways they never imagined and alongside other apps they never heard of. That fact has to motivate companies, not scare them.

Support and communication is everything. And I’m not talking about simply answering “How do I…” questions. Organizations want to feel that they’re in partnership with the companies they’re working with. From my experience, nonprofits can forgive technology that has its rough edges here and there. They have far less patience when their emails go unanswered once the check is cashed and promises aren’t kept.

I started this series because I didn’t want Common Ground users to feel hopeless just because one old-style company didn’t get it and pulled the rug out. There’s a reason around 18,000 nonprofits have adopted Salesforce over a short time. It’s exciting and innovative. There’s so much to offer. The platform is worth it. The community is worth it. Stick around and you’ll be glad you did.


5 responses to “Life after Common Ground: Not-so-final thoughts”

  1. Judi –

    Thanks so much for writing this series and speaking to the folks out there who might be tempted to “feel hopeless”. There is much hope to be had and many an opportunity for organizations to use the demise of Common Ground to strengthen their technology infrastructure.

    As for your comment about Salesforce being an interconnected ecosystem: Amen, sister! That’s one of the powerful, inspiring things about the platform and we, at PICnet, are definitely motivated by that fact.

    Social change requires a connected effort by many, many folks with all sorts of expertise contributing in all sorts of ways. That requires not just one end-all-and-be-all technology solution but an ecosystem that can grow and adapt to provide ever-evolving solutions that can knit together – something I know you are passionate about! – into cohesive strategies.

    Here’s to embracing the challenge of and being motivated by the large, interconnected ecosystem – all for the empowering of our nonprofit clients so they can shake up the world for social good.


  2. Well said, Judi! The power of the SF culture–which not everybody, including Blackbaud, gets– is that it is a relational solution to a relational mission. As the platform progresses, it is going to become useful to rate the usefulness of apps on, say, a predetermined scale of user familiarity and the ability of those apps to leverage the SF data, other databases (e.g., Constant Contact, Twitter feeds) and other apps to accomplish CRM goals for organizations. The client needs to be able to make sense of the proliferation, and determine which are appropriate, not just for their solution, but for their own staffing and corporate culture.