Life after Common Ground: Part 4 – Soapbox Engage

This post is part 4 in a series of articles pointing out what’s cool about some of my favorite Salesforce apps for nonprofits. Previously, I highlighted favorite features in Nonprofit Starter PackClick & Pledge and Causeview, now I’m going to talk about my favorite parts of Soapbox Engage.

Truth be told, my favorite thing about Soapbox Engage isn’t a technology feature. It’s the company itself. When I was laid off from Blackbaud last summer, one of the first calls I made was to Ryan Ozimek, CEO of PicNet, the company that makes Soapbox Engage. Every time I talk to him, he reminds me why this all matters so much to me. There aren’t enough words to describe my respect for Ryan and the team he’s built and what they’re trying to do, penguins and all. If there was a dictionary definition of an application developer that’s in this market for all the right reasons, it would point to PicNet and call it a day.

But let’s talk favorite feature of the software. Soapbox Engage is way to take a stand alone front end for donation and event registration forms and easily get its data to Salesforce…a combination of a platform built on the open source CMS Joomla and Salesforce app. It’s part of the full Nonprofit Soapbox platform that PicNet offers, separated out for those who just want to sync data to Salesforce and don’t need the entire CMS platform.

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Salesforce crossroads: A decision reached

Back in February, I did a little “thinking out loud” about where C3 was going with Salesforce.

We started using Salesforce as our main database in 2006, following the nonprofit best practices of the time. Now, 3 years later C3 has grown exponentially and we’re quickly outgrowing the structure I set up in 2006. Not outgrowing Salesforce by any stretch. There were simply some assumptions I had made in setting up our data model that were true and valid in 2006 that no longer apply. I had a big decision to make on where we would be heading next.

Over the last few months I’ve talked to many folks I trust and respect in the Salesforce nonprofit community. People who are a lot smarter than I am on many levels. They confirmed what I already suspected: There are no easy, obvious answers. Whether I decided to install the Salesforce Foundation’s Nonprofit Starter Pack, Convio Common Ground or something in between (or nothing at all), I would have some concessions to make.

After weighing all the options, and with a little help from some friends, we’ve decided to purchase Convio’s Common Ground.

I feel good about our decision. Read on for why…

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Spaceless in Gmail

Heads up if you produce email newsletters…there’s a new bug in Gmail that is stripping out paragraph margins in HTML email. This only started happening earlier this week.

A colleague and I both noticed that C3’s Feedburner email subscriptions were suddenly coming in with no spacing between paragraphs.

In Gmail:

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In Mail.app (and I assume other desktop email clients):

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Google Apps and Salesforce – Finally! A first look

There were rumors for weeks that this was coming. And here it is. Salesforce has finally rolled out its integration with Google Apps. Not just a simple “add email to Salesforce” from Google or “write document from Google Docs,” this is a whole suite of tools and settings to integrate every corner of Google Apps with Salesforce.

The obligatory demo video is below.

Here’s a first look at what it all really means, from the point-of-view of a nonprofit organization that uses Google Apps for email, chat and some documents and Salesforce for the main constituent database, calendar and inter-office task delegation.

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Connection Cafe interview with yours truly

I was honored when the folks at Convio asked me to be the first interview they featured on their new Connection Cafe blog on nonprofit technology.

The interview is now online.

Anyone who has ever had a real-life conversation with me knows that two subjects you can’t get me to shut up about colorectal cancer and nonprofit technology. Someone who wants to hear what I have to say on both topics better grab a cup of coffee and settle in before reading.

Seriously, thank you so much to Jordan Viator who could have edited me down to “visit CoverYourButt.org, take action and use Salesforce/Convio” but instead decided to go light on the editing pen, giving readers a really good picture of what C3 is about and how and why we’ve been operating the past 3 years.

By the way, the picture on the post was taken at the NTC Science Fair. On my head is the NTENny award I received at the NTEN member reception for Most Likely to Win a Pulitzer by Blogging, hence the “take this picture quick because I feel really silly” look on my face.

Thoughts from NTC

I am so glad I finally made it to a NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference). I’ve been here in New Orleans since Tuesday night, heading home tomorrow morning.

I get jazzed about technology…not just about what it does or all the geeky parts, but about the problems it solves. Even before I started working for C3, I leaned towards the nonprofit world and nonprofit clients. I feel like I’ve been a nonprofit geek my entire professional life, but I didn’t know it until a couple of years ago.

I’m surrounded by people who react to this stuff as I do. Folks who think about how technology can and should change the world, and not just “isn’t this cool?!?” They’re just as passionate about the nonprofits they work for or represent as they are about the tools they use. Brilliant people who could make much more money working in the private sector but instead focus on using their geek for the greater good. Inspiring.

Over the next few days I’ll parse it all into smaller, more coherent posts on relevant topics. For now, some personal and babbling highlights, generally in chronological order…

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