Life after Common Ground: Part 3 – Causeview

This post is part 3 in a series of articles aimed at organizations on Common Ground who need to get excited about what’s next if they decide to stay on the Salesforce platform. Previously, I highlighted favorite features in Nonprofit Starter Pack and Click & Pledge, now I’m going to talk about my favorite feature in Causeview.

If what drew you to Common Ground was the sense that you were working in a single unified product supported and developed by a single company, then you’ll probably be happiest looking at Causeview. It’s a bit like buying Microsoft Office or Adobe Create Suite, rather than using Apple Mail as your email application and Microsoft Word for your word processor and Google Docs when you want to edit a spreadsheet. Best of vendor vs. best of breed. A good argument can be made in either direction.

That’s not to say you’re compromising by selecting Causeview. In fact, there’s one area of Causeview that I love, and that’s how it enriches campaigns.

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Life after Common Ground: Part 2 – Click & Pledge

This post is part 2 in a series of articles aimed at organizations on Common Ground who need to get excited about what’s next if they decide to stay on the Salesforce platform. I started this series by talking about the Nonprofit Starter Pack, now I’m going to focus on Click & Pledge.

Click & Pledge isn’t just a Salesforce application, it’s a platform. And wow, is it robust. An organization can build their forms to “speak” to Click & Pledge’s processor. Similar to Common Ground Fundraising, online gifts are processed and posted to Salesforce within seconds. While custom forms are definitely more complex to set up in Click & Pledge than they were in Common Ground Fundraising, the level of customization makes Click & Pledge definitely worth the effort.

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Life after Common Ground: Part 1 – Nonprofit Starter Pack

Most of my time over the past few months at KELL Partners has been spent getting to know all the wonderful tools and technologies in the Salesforce world that have come along while I was too busy focusing on Common Ground. I’ve spoken to so many organizations who are now in the process of deciding their next steps. Almost without exception, they’re scared and they’re cautious. And they should be. It was a big step to adopt a new donor/constituent management system and through no fault of their own, they have to change again.

I thought it might be comforting for those organizations if I laid out some of what’s pretty awesome on the other side if they decide to stay on the Salesforce platform…to blog a series of articles each focusing on one bit of much improved functionality in different applications as it compares to similar functionality in Common Ground.

I’ll highlight what should make you smile in Nonprofit Starter Pack, Causeview, Click & Pledge, Soapbox Engage, Conga Composer, Apsona, Volunteers, and more if I can. This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just the applications that I’ve become the most comfortable working with since joining KELL Partners.

Even though I’m framing these posts with Common Ground eyes, they’ll hopefully be interesting to anyone who cares about what’s happening and what’s cool in the Salesforce nonprofit space.

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Need to leave Common Ground? Analyze first. Then react.

In the interest of full disclosure, let’s get this out of the way first: I’m employed! Or I will be as of November 1 when I join KELL Partners full-time as Solutions and Support Services Manager. I’m very excited about this opportunity to join a team that I’ve gotten to know a bit over the past few years. I’m also thrilled to be taking on a role that will have me working with nonprofits post-implementation. More on that in the future, I’m sure.

During my month of unemployment I had the pleasure of working on a few meaningful Force.com projects that have nothing to do with my upcoming role at KELL. If you’re a Common Ground (or Common Ground Enterprise) client still overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do next, this one is for you.

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Real-world Salesforce Visual Workflow for a nonprofit

I love the new Salesforce Visual Workflow.

I can’t code a line of Apex but with Flows, I can automate processes in ways that just warm the heart of my inner wannabe geek. As hard as Salesforce is trying to make Flows approachable, it still comes across as scary to many admins, especially those working at small nonprofits. I’m not finding many Flow use cases for nonprofits built out in enough detail that folks can follow/adapt for themselves. So I thought it might be fun if I documented a Flow I recently built.

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On Uncommon Ground

Last Friday, my short 9 month career working on Common Ground came to an end. I’m free (sorta) and sad (sorta) and angry (not sorta). Don’t get me wrong. Jobs come and go, especially in this economy. Startups fail. Companies cut back. It happens. My disappointment, sadness and anger is over the way too early death of a product that I believed in. That it was misunderstood and undervalued. It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m out of a job for the first time since 2005. I know I’ll be fine.

It feels good to be blogging again. When I accepted the job at Convio, I negotiated that it would be okay for me to blog. Even preferred. The reality was that I found it difficult to work for a large company and express myself here.

Overall, I’m incredibly fortunate and grateful. The support and friendship that I’ve felt in the past month from the #nptech and Salesforce communities I cherish has filled my heart in ways I can never adequately describe and will take years to feel that I’ve paid back. You know who you are. Thank you. And don’t even get me started on the people who worked on Common Ground. Wow. Brilliant, passionate and dedicated to making the best product they could while delighting customers. Definitely felt out of place in its recent environment. I will miss you all so much. I was so honored to be on this team.

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Where to find me at Dreamforce

I’m sitting here on Tuesday morning, reflecting on the New Year and all that has gone on as 5772 has ended. I find myself with something I’m not familiar with…a few minutes of free time. I’m off today, no one is home and I’ve got nothing I absolutely have to do at the moment besides pack for Dreamforce, finish a pair of socks and rest up. I’m taking a ridiculously early flight to Dreamforce tomorrow morning. Car is picking me up at 2 am to catch a 5 am flight that will get me to San Francisco in time for Marc Benioff’s opening keyonte. Sad to have missed the first day. Hopefully it will never be a problem again.

I cut my hair very short (for me). Cathartic to leave more on the floor than my head. And here I am, blogging again and experimenting with new themes. Why all the change? As most folks in my life know, my position at Blackbaud was eliminated when the company decided to “sunset” Common Ground, the product I was working on.

My last official day of employment is next Friday, September 28. I’ll need some distance both emotionally and legally before I can talk about it here. I’m so blessed to have an amazing network of friends personally and professionally who have reached out. I’ve signed some consulting contracts that will hold me for a while while I work on settling in to the next opportunity. I’ve signed contracts so far with KELL Partners and with Lisa & Martin Kornstein. These are projects where I’ll be using my knowledge and love of Force.com to help organizations make the world a better place. These are projects where I know the people behind them are are as passionate about serving communities as I am, and they’re not in this to return a profit to disinterested investors.

This week, it’s all about Dreamforce! No time to be sad and mournful when there’s 3 days of crazy with 85,000 friends to look forward to!

I’m speaking at 2 Community-led sessions this year and last I checked, neither was completely full so not too late to add to your agenda.

Apps, Apps & More Apps: This session is being led by Rhonda Ross of Appirio. Joining us will be Mario Duff and Sarah Cooper from Rhonda’s user group. We’re going to be showing off some of our favorite apps. For my four selections, I focused on “unsung heroes.” I wanted to pick apps that I am absolutely in love with, are approachable for both nonprofits and commercial organizations and don’t necessarily have the same front-page PR that other apps have. So come join me tomorrow (Wednesday) at 1:30 pm in Moscone Center West 3009/3011 to hear me gush about Rollup Helper, Apsona (and Multi-Step Reports), Loop Document Services and CalendarAnything.

Bring Good Karma with Your Admin Skills: This is my baby. I pitched the session and got a fantastic panel joining me. Tal Frankfurt of Cloud For Good (a nonprofit-specialist consulting organization), Matt Bertuzzi of Bridge Group (who has experience volunteering his mad Force.com skills to nonprofit projects) and Carol Guttery of the Salesforce Foundation (whose job it is to help build philanthropy programs). Every year, Marc Benioff honors the nonprofits in his keynote by asking them to stand up. He then urges everyone else in the room to reach out to the nonprofits and help them. But so many don’t know how. Or they think they do and they really don’t, which is worse because you never want to push away a volunteer. How are nonprofits using Salesforce that’s different than other organizations? How do nonprofits get started (so a volunteer can help them get going)? What’s the state of nonprofit apps that might be useful to a volunteer for-profit admin? Where should they go to find out more about volunteering their tech skills? Where’s the nonprofit community? The Foundation urges folks to volunteer at Dreamforce every year doing tasks like stuffing bags, and that’s absolutely fantastic. But do these folks know where they can go to help an organization build a better process for managing their programs within their Salesforce instance? Come to our session on Thursday, September 20th at noon in Moscone Center West, 3022 and find out.

See you in San Francisco!