One of the great things about Common Ground is that organizations have access to a whole array of innovative and easy to deploy tools available through the Salesforce AppExchange. With over 1,000 apps and counting, many of which are free or discounted for nonprofits, the AppExchange is a great place to look for enhanced functionality, productivity tools and more. Here are a few of our favorites at ACF Solutions:
Conga Composer allows you to create complex documents and reports using any of the data in your Common Ground system including combining data from many different areas of Common Ground. Users can set up reusable templates that gather data from multiple sources, turning that data into complex PDF, Word or Excel documents.
Why We Love It
When our clients need to create documents beyond the capabilities of the core Common Ground/Salesforce document creation facility, Conga Composer is an excellent, low cost solution. We’ve used it to create customized PDF certificates for membership, complex acknowledgements that include volunteer hours, event attendance and donations and complex sales quotes for our clients who sell complex products as part of their mission.
Free for 30 days and discounted subscriptions for nonprofits and NGOs.
This is the must-have data upload, de-duplication and data manipulation tool. No Common Ground administrator should be without it!
Why We Love It
First, it’s free to nonprofits! Second, it makes importing and updating data in Common Ground much easier than relying on the Data Loader. For advanced users, there are also great additional benefits such as making mass changes within the system without having to export the data for manipulation.
Technical and Productivity Tool
Free for nonprofits
Action Plans is a free app that allows users to standardize a set of Common Ground tasks into templates. These are great for automating any repetitive, multistep process.
Why We Love It
Action Plans eliminates the need to manually create follow-up tasks and meetings without the need to custom code. It’s a great way to set up grant and major donor cultivation plans that require multi-step action plans. For example, if your donor cultivation plan includes a follow up call 3 business days after a donation over a certain amount is made, followed by a letter from the Executive Director, and then sending additional organizational material in the mail, a template can automate putting this plan into action.
Grid Buddy allows users to make edits to multiple Common Ground data objects in one spreadsheet-like view. Users can make mass updates, deletes, inline edits, and create new records in line.
Why We Love It
For clients who need to allow users to make mass changes to their data, Grid Buddy is a great time saver and having the one screen view makes for a lot less clicks back and forth. There is also the ability with this application to define security and field level validations.
Technical and Productivity Tool
Free 14-day trial with discounted subscription pricing for nonprofits
The VerticalResponse for AppExchange interface connects your Common Ground database with VerticalResponse for mass email communications.
Why We Love It
The VerticalResponse for AppExchange interface is easy to deploy, easy to use, and provides access to your mass email statistics from within Common Ground. VerticalResponse also offers 10,000 emails per month for free to nonprofits.
No cost for the integration and the first 10K emails per month are free for nonprofits. Per email costs for emails sent beyond 10,000/month varies based on volume.
Dear Event Fundraising Fans,
I hope everyone’s enjoying the summer and looking forward to a fun 4th of July! I’ve been hard at work here at Camp Convio with a dedicated team of analysts and event experts, drumming up our 2011 Peer-to-Peer Benchmark report. The paper is still underway, but I wanted to give you a quick glimpse at what’s to come…
Keep your eyes peeled for the 2011 Peer-to-Peer Benchmark Report, and come join our session at Convio Summit 2011 - ELEVATE for discussion!
Have a happy and safe holiday weekend.
To me tomorrow’s date, June 30th, has always seemed like a cruelty of nature. Like that of covering a dog in hair and then not giving him/her sweat glands, for many organizations 6/30 means the last day of the fiscal year… the last day to meet your fundraising goal and balance the books for the fiscal calendar. The cruel part? Trying to raise money during what many see (and has always been the case for me) the slowest fundraising time of the year.
I’ve never understood why organizations that have a 7/1 – 6/30 fiscal calendar don’t approach 6/30 like they do 12/31. I know the “spirit of giving” wave isn’t rolling in during the heat of summer but the deadline is still just as important. You have a forecast to meet… A budget to balance… Programs to fund.
So if your fiscal year is ending tomorrow, what have you done this month to reach (or exceed) your goals? What is your plan for a final appeal tomorrow? I’m willing to wager that less than 2% of nonprofits whose fiscal year ends tomorrow have a “last chance” appeal queued to go out tomorrow.
If you don’t have an email ready for tomorrow, here’s my recommendations…
Spend the rest of today looking at every budget line-item and see where you can make one last appeal for support of a specific program. Strongly appeal to supporters that by midnight tomorrow night your budget has to be balanced and that the gift they make could be the difference between your organization continuing vital services or being forced to reduce resources for those in need.
Don’t have enough time to create a new email? Take a look at your past year’s appeals. Which one performed the best? Can you revise it into a new appeal that gives an update? I bet if you look close enough you’ll find a gold nugget of an appeal that would be perfect.
I know time is short if you haven't already started, but if you have time, take a look at your donors whose last gift was during your end-of-year campaign, especially your last-minute 12/31 donors. These supporters should receive a message acknowledging their EOY gift with an appeal stating the importantace of meeting your 6/30 goals.
And my biggest recommendation…
(In my best southern-drawl double-negative voice) DON’T DO NOTH’N! Finish your fiscal year strong! You're almost to the finish line... or back to the starting line... depends on how you look at things. After you're done, celebrate reaching your 6/30 goals by taking a cool dip in the pool!
Happy 4th of July and Happy Fundraising
On Friday, New York joined the ranks of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. in legalizing same-sex marriages. The fight for marriage equality is far from over, but the victory in New York is a wonderful step in the right direction. There was no doubt, plenty of blood, sweat and tears to help make this happen, so I wanted to use my small little space on this blog to tell you all CONGRATULATIONS and thank you! I cannot even imagine the amount of work it took to bring together the coalition of organizations, legislators, volunteers, celebrities, voters, passionate constituents and dollars to pass this bill. I hope you all are celebrating like crazy because you deserve it!
At the cornerstone of this history-in-the-making moment, was of course, the Human Rights Campaign and their genius use of people and technology. Their effective constituent engagement strategies from mobilizing their supporters and the coordination of staff, field teams to their use of their web properties, social media sites, mobile, Google, video, and much more – is a perfect example of how multi-channel campaigns should work. Let’s take a look at their numbers:
After you've lifted your jaw of your desk, remember that it doesn’t stop in New York. According to a recent HRC blog post, “the decisive leadership of Governor Cuomo combined with the strong bipartisan support in the legislature will likely influence other states—New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island–that are considering extending marriage equality to their residents. In the past year, a number of national polls (Washington Post/ABC News, Gallup, and CNN) have shown, for the first time, that a majority of the country supports marriage equality. Support for marriage equality has increased by 19 percentage points since 1996, according to the Pew Research Center.”
HRC is capitalizing on this recent shift in public opinion, and their campaign continues on – they are urging people across the country to text notes of support of marriage equality and the message displays on a very cool Google Maps mashup. And check out their New Yorkers for Marriage Equality microsite outlining the details of this monumental effort.
Regardless of cause or size of org, HRC is a leading example of what can be achieved through an integrated, multi-channel approach. They came at the issue from all different directions with a throng of engaged constituents and used a unified, consistent message to achieve their desired outcome. I'm not saying its easy, but they're a shining example of what's possible.
Over the past couple of years I’ve developed a little bit of a love affair with one of our clients: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). WCS is a global conservation organization that manages five living institutions in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo. Hardly a month goes by when I don’t find myself impressed by one of WCS’ advocacy or fundraising campaigns.
In February, I swooned over their Name a Roach Valentine’s Day campaign. In April, they took advantage of national press about an Egyptian Cobra that went missing at their reptile house (and was later recovered) by holding a naming contest for her.
And on practically a weekly basis I hold WCS up as a positive example of how online advocacy CAN make a difference. In the age-old activism vs. slacktivism debate, WCS’s annual campaign to protect their state and city funding is a shining example of how an organization can successfully leverage their supporters to drive a message home to elected officials – and win that campaign.
As you can read in this case study that Convio recently released, in last year’s campaign, WCS…
Another best practice to learn from this campaign is that WCS used every online and offline tool in their toolbox to make the campaign successful. In addition to using standard action alerts, they spread the word via Facebook, published a YouTube video that got over 11,000 hits, had folks sign the petitions in person at the zoo, and, of course, their staff leveraged the relationships that they had with State and City officials.
In the end, this campaign succeeded in restoring $3,378,451 of the city budget and $4,500,000 of the state budget. That’s one great example of how grassroots advocacy can help with an organization’s bottom line. I have to imagine that the effort it would have taken to raise that $8 million directly from their constituents would be exponentially higher than running this advocacy campaign.
Unfortunately, almost every year WCS has to defend themselves against proposed budget cuts in NYC and Albany, so they are at it again right now. Sign up for their list and/or take action to see some of their best practices first hand. And of course, watch this year's YouTube video (below).
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