1. Principles of Open Source Collaboration

    First, let’s get clear about what Open Source collaboration looks like. This is something that Tirza and I undertook a few years back since we couldn’t find a clear document about the principles of open source collaboration. So after digesting a few more books, interviewing peers, and comparing notes, we came up with: 

    1. Users are contributors (leaders lower the barriers for users to contribute)
    2. People are free to contribute how they choose (leaders motivate and coordinate volunteers across modular opportunities)
    3. Governance is by a do-ocracy, not democracy
    4. Community is a vital asset to any open source project. 
    5. Well-defined communication and systems are vital
    6. Contribution process is rigorously defined. 
    For a deeper dive into Open Source and how it works, please check out our presentation “An Open Source Approach to Collaboration” (on Slideshare) here.
  2. Building Community

    While code is important, the community and culture around any open source project is arguably more important. With that in mind, building community is vital for any leader in an open source project. Dries Buytaert, creator of the Drupal Content Management System, which has led to one of the largest and most active open source communities, has been sharing the keys to successfully creating a vibrant community in a variety of venues. His insights, summarized: 

    1. There is no quick fix (it takes time!)
    2. Growing pains are good
    3. Build an architecture for evolution. For Drupal, that included modular components, centralized code management, and accessible scripting language.
    4. Provide the right tools. Dries emphasized coordination over planning. 
    5. Make money, pay with trust. Build a commercial ecosystem around open source. 
    6. Leadership trumps management. Leadership is about higher purpose.
  3. Leadership Lessons

    One of my favorite “leadership lessons in 3 minutes” is from Derek Siver’s talk from a TED 2010 talk. For leaders: Be easy to follow, Be public, It’s about them (followers). And don’t be afraid to follow a lone nut you believe in!

  4. Share
    First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy
  5. Got other ideas that inspire and inform community-based leadership and collaboration? If so, please share!

“Aww, man. Tang Tang died!” Tirza said.

Tang Tang was the oldest fish in our salt water aquarium. There were a few fish that had taken a hit up to that point but I think when Tang Tang  croaked, we knew it was time to make some changes to our tank situation. Interestingly enough, renewing our aquatic ecosystem came at a time when we were making some changes to ifPeople’s internal ecosystem as well.

The past few months ifPeople has been going through quite a renewal! We’re slowly seeing some exciting changes in so many aspects of our business and it is setting a foundation for an even more optimistic future. We’ve added two new team members who are bringing new energy and ideas to solve client challenges.So far, Betty and Matt have been great and are accelerating our progress.

We are gearing up for a brand new website that communicates our purpose, our values and our vision in a new way. Like any business that has had to navigate different economic landscapes, and respond to the changes in our community in the past decade, we’ve evolved as well. Our core focus on delivering impact through technology will always remain constant but we’ve expanded our core values to reinforce collaboration, innovation, and accountability in our work.

There are also some cultural shifts taking place. We’ve made our staff meetings shorter and more action oriented with stand-ups.  We are also experimenting with using Remember the Milk to store,share, and keep track of our daily tasks. We’ve literally cleaned out some of our closets, gotten rid of some old furniture, and made space for a new white board and some some new art in the office.

When Tang Tang died, there was a little pang of heartache. The kind of sting that comes with leaving behind something that out of comfort and habit you’ve grown to love. But now we’re preparing to get a freshwater aquarium with new fish, is easier to maintain, and may spruce up the office in a new way. This is a lot like the changes a company or organization goes through in order to stay relevant. In business, sometimes the unpredictable end of something can be disappointing, but can facilitate a lot of changes that help you grow. As we go through this stage of expansion and experimentation, we are excited about the company we’re growing into.

Stick around to see the changes for yourself!

Salesforce Chatter has added some new features that are going to make it easier for your team to be even more collaborative on the platform.If your team edits and revises several drafts of a document in a given time, then you’ll love the changes that Chatter has made to the files feature. You’re able to now:

  • Upload documents to be shared rather than having to email them to coworkers who are collaborating on them
  • Select who you want to give access and determine what their role is on the document
  • Make it easy for collaborators to upload revisions without duplicate copies

If you want to get a closer look at the new files feature, check out the video below!

If social media were a kingdom, it’s fair to say that Facebook reigns supreme. With over 400 million users around the world, it’s one

of the first places nonprofits and businesses build their social media presence on. Even though Facebook is so wildly popular, it’s better for achieving some marketing goals than others. Knowing what Facebook does well can help your nonprofit be more strategic about how you’re leveraging social media for your organization.

So what is Facebook really great for and really not so great at doing for your nonprofit? Idealware’s latest report shares some interesting insights:

Facebook is Great at Getting People to Your Events

70% of the respondents in the survey could see a demonstrable difference in how much enthusiasm was generated around an event when Facebook was used to promote it and get the word out about it. Facebook events makes it easy for you to invite people, but also makes it very easy for people to invite their friends and to let others know that an event was going on.

Facebook is Great at Increasing Traffic to Your Site

If you’ve just launched a website, got it redone, or just want to see more people stopping by on a regular basis, Facebook is a great vehicle for doing just that. By posting regular content that leads people back to your site and through raised brand awareness, you’ll find yourself rewarded with more more people coming to the site. More than 70% of the surveyed nonprofits in the Idealware report saw an increase in traffic to their main site from Facebook engagement.

Facebook is NOT Great at Attracting Donors

Fundraising efforts directly through Facebook are still pretty low so if you have expectations of bringing in big bucks through the platform, you may be disappointed. Email still ranks as the most effective way of bringing in donations online so you may want to use Facebook as a tool to enhance fundraising efforts on different channels however it’s probably not a good idea to put all your fundraising eggs in the Facebook basket.

All social media channels are not created equal, and even within a particular channel, you may find that they deliver different results for different aims. Knowing how to anticipate these outcomes will help you make the most of social media’s potential for your organization.

Why is change inside a system so difficult? There have always been moments inside of an organization where everyone went along with a process that didn’t quite work as well as it could. Maybe there’s been mayhem at volunteer events because of disorganized paperwork and mismatched up schedules. Or a lead for a potential donor went cold during busy season at your nonprofit. Even when important things slip through the cracks, sometimes we find ourselves maintaining the same methods that are creating unfavorable outcomes.

Sometimes the reason things stay the same is because the changes we make are not deep enough to really bring about different results. It’s like having a leaky roof in a house and covering the hole with duct tape. Sure, that may resolve the immediate issue at hand for a short period of time, but the structural issues that generated the problem are still in place. Under pressure… there’s bound to be another leak. Band-aid solutions to problems that really have to more fundamental flaws, eventually lead to running into the same problem later. So how can you go from making Band-Aid renovations to true innovation inside of your organization?

Luke Williams shares insight into innovation by pointing to how disruptive a hypothesis is in this Fast Company piece. If you want to make sure that the changes you’re making get to the core of the issue, it may help to purposely turn the structure on its head. Williams suggests 3 steps to doing this:

1- Defining the situation – What is your problem area? What consistently yields outcomes that don’t meet your standards? Accurately identifying the problem is the first step to a solution. Drawing the parameters of the box you’re going to turn over and rebuild is important.

2- Define the cliches- What are your default processes? What does your team do automatically without questioning it? Finding the cliches is the most difficult part, after all these are the things that barely register as anything that could be changed.Researching how other organizations achieve the same tasks may give you some insight into the ideas that guide and define your own system.

3- Turn the cliche around– Now think about how to change the cliche, the thing that nobody thought to adjust because it was just how things were. Luke recommends doing this in one of 3 ways; by inverting the action and doing the opposite, scaling the process and changing how accessible it is, or using denial to completely drop elements of your cliche.

This  is especially important when you’re thinking of implementing new technology systems in your organization. Salesforce can do a lot for the efficiency of an organization, but it’s only as good as the quality of the model it’s built on. Before you add a new software that supposed to help you do WHAT you do better, make sure you have done the work to make right adjustments to HOW you do what you do and your tech changes will go much further!

There are some nonprofit campaigns that will hold an indelible space in our minds. They actually represent more than just one organization’s effort to get money. They have become cultural and social references in our every day conversation, and some of these were actually before the internet! What sets these campaigns apart, especially in the primitive pre-facebook days? Well after finishing Chip and Dan Heath’s NYTimes Best Seller Made To Stick,  it offered some concrete ideas for why these campaigns worked so well. Even though we’ve moved from TV to twitter you can still implement these concepts in your own organization’s work.

“This is Drugs. This is Your Brain on Drugs. Any questions?”

After this PSA, by the Partnership for a Drug Free America was released, I think it’s fair to say that many of us looked at drugs…and perhaps breakfast…the same again. Maybe now, this may seem like a dated and corny appeal, but it sticks with us. People remember it 20 years after it was made. Why?
It’s overwhelmingly simple, and concrete. The entirety of the ad is held in only 9 words that are easy to remember because they are coupled with such a powerful metaphor for the idea being driven home. When you are raising money for your organization, how simple or complex are your ideas? Are they pared down to their essence? Or are they complicated by unecessary details. What metaphors can you use to get the ideas across? Keep it Simple.

Feed the Children-
How many times do you remember sitting at home on a Thursday night, enjoying your favorite mid90s sitcom when during commercial break you’re suddenly met with the close up of a cute child’s face. As the camera zooms out you see that they’re barefoot, wearing ill fitted clothes, and sometimes have dirt caked on their faces. A voiceover tells you the little girl’s name is Anna, who doesn’t eat every day and lives in a small one room house, but for only a $1 a day, I could changer her life for the better.

The Feed the Children campaign uses 2 elements of story and emotion masterfully. By naming the child, they build a schema for what her life is like as someone who is poor in a developing country. For all the issues of paternalistic charity that are embedded in many of these ads, it does very effectively pull at your heart strings. It presents a problem that feels bad to the viewer, and then offers a simple and manageable way for you to be part of the solution with only a dollar a day. What’s your organization’s story? Are you appealing to your audience’s emotions. People may forget facts and figures, but they’ll rarely forget how something made them feel. Look for the story and characters in your work.

Truth Campaign

The guerilla marketing tactics of the TRUTH campaign are definitely memorable.One of their more memorable ads shot real life reactions to hundreds of body bags littering the sidewalks of huge corporate buildings that represented tobacco companies. Much like the drug PSA we mentioned above, there is a great deal of power in making the impact of drugs concrete in such a memorable way. However the biggest element of the campaign that the Heath’s laud in their book, is the virtue of unexpectedness. Nobody in NYC expects to see body bags on their way to work. And nobody watching TV at home would expect to see body bags in a cosmopolitan city either. The image interrupts their daily schema too much to ignore it. By presenting their idea in a way that disrupts people’s expectations of what’s normal, you carve out a very distinct place in their memory. In today’s socially connected world, you also give them something to share to their friends. So when you’re designing your fundraising drive, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and reach for something unexpected.

All of these things are easier said than done. But it helps to know what you’re shooting for when you want to make something that will stick. When you aim for simple, concrete, story oriented, emotional, or unexpected appeals, you’ll likely see the response you want and get more of the s upport and exposure your organization needs.

Volunteers are often the life blood of an organization and keeping track of all the important details needed to keep everyone productive and fulfilled.With the need to manage communication, coordinate schedules, and track hours, having a volunteer management system can be crucial to keeping you on track.

Idealware and Techsoup have released a report comparing several volunteer management systems.The report rates 3 Standalone systems and 3 Consolidated Systems on the basis of how good they were at executing certain tasks that are common in volunteer management.

Among the Standalones, eCoordinator  rises to the top and quickly sets itself apart from a few systems rise to the top as highest rated volunteer management systems. For the Standalone system, eCoordinator sets itself apart from Volgistics and Volunteer Reporter.  eCoordinator sets itself apart with an intuitive volunteer profile that volunteers can fill out an keep updated. They also have a robust email system that uses well designed templates, and allows you to personalize messages with mail merge function.

Consolidated Systems

Among the Consolidated systems, it was a little bit harder to identify which was the favorite. The biggest advantage among all of the consolidated systems that were reviewed, is that they make it easy to manage other constituent information. This is crucial because volunteers are very strong candidates for donors and vice versa. Having a system that can accommodate the overlap between volunteers and other influencers in your organization can be very useful.

To decide which Consolidated system you like best depends on the features that are most important to you. If tracking your volunteer’s activity is really important, you’ll want to go with Donor Perfect. It allows you to track many details about your volunteers, from their interests, to their weekly availability.

If scheduling is a really important part of your volunteer efforts, then you may want to consider Giftworks is a solid system. Its scheduling function makes it very easy to match the available jobs for volunteers with their available schedule. The choices that you make should ultimately be guided by the needs of your organization.

Where’s Salesforce?

It’s great to see all these volunteer management systems out there, but we wonder how Salesforce would have rated! Groundwire released the Volunteers for Salesforce App last month and it is proving to be a valuable tool for volunteer management on the powerful platform.

It enables you to track Volunteer Jobs under campaigns so that you can easily track which volunteers are doing which tasks in once central place.

It also makes it easy for you to optimize scheduling for volunteers with their “Volunteer Shifts” feature.  It tracks how volunteers are needed for events or projects, how many of the shifts you’ve filled, and how many are left to be filled. If logging hours is important, as is often the case with students, then the “Volunteer hours” tab makes it easy to track how long people have worked and to generate cumulative reports over a period of time. With the system being so new, it’s understandable why it didn’t make it into this year’s report, but we think it will measure up pretty well against the other volunteer management systems reviewed.

Regardless of which technology you go with, systems like these will help move your volunteer efforts forward in meaningful ways. It’s worth it to make the financial and time investment in any one of these systems because it will lead to more efficient staff, happier volunteers, and ultimately an organization more empowered to do good!

If there’s one thing we can say we’ve been seeing at Innovation for People this season, it’s growth.  As we prepare to take ifPeople to a new level, we’re thrilled to add new skills and smarts to the our team so we can continue to deliver the tech solutions your business needs. Meet our newest team members, Betty and Matt!

Betty McKibben

Betty is our in-house Salesforce Consultant who keeps our clients happy by designing and implementing Salesforce systems that best fit their needs. Betty received a Masters in Library and Information Management (MLS) and has applied her research skills in a wide variety of positions. She draws on her penchant for structured access to information and database design to devise solutions for specific business challenges. Her experience in nonprofit, corporate, and government positions managing  information have taught her all the different facets of satisfying the customer. Betty is passionate about bringing smiles to the customers’ face by saving them time and effort with the solutions she offers. When she’s not being a customer service rockstar, she’s tending her garden of herbs, vegetables, and flowers, reading, writing, or making lists in her spare time.

Matt Abernathy

Matt is our lead Technical Support Engineer. He’s the one who comes to our rescue when something isn’t working technically on any of our client products. He is currently studying computer science and physics at Georgia Perimeter and will continue his studies of computer science at Georgia State soon. This will build on the skill set in system administration and quality assurance that he’s developed at other jobs. Matt is passionate about helping people and solving creative problems so he’ll be enthusiastically working to support our clients and applying his social networking skills to help Innovation for People reach a wider audience. When he’s not making sure things are running smoothly in the office, he’s creating or playing music, blogging, or skateboarding.

We’re glad to have these guys join the ifPeople family. They’ll definitely help power our progress as a company and enable us to deliver even better quality solutions to our clients.

At United Way’s Colloquium on Social Enterprise, we had the pleasure of participating in a panel about how technology can be used to effectively manage social enterprises. As a company that serves non-profits and social businesses around the country we’ve seen up close how technology can make a difference in a business’s productivity, efficiency, and bottom line. IfPeople’s project manager, Marty Maxwell, shared some great points on how Salesforce specifically plays into a social business’s success. We wanted  to share the hi-lights from the panel with you here.

Why Social Enterprise?

Before getting into how technology is helping social businesses, it helps to consider why technology matters to socially driven business’s success. Purely for-profit businesses have some standard systems that technology supports. They are looking to monitor sales, marketing efforts, product inventory and cash flow. Non-profits, though a different entity also have standard systems that technology supports. They’re often looking for ways to manage volunteers, grants, or in-kind donations. Social Enterprises are often a blend of the two and there are a wide variety of ways the for-profit and non-profit systems may come together in one company. There is an inherent complexity in systems that support social business and it makes them even harder to manage manually. Salesforce is a great tool for automating and simplifying all the processes that keep the wheels running smoothly. Not only that, it’s also customizable enough to build a system that best fits the unique blend of a company’s for-profit and nonprofit provisions.

The Advantage of Automation

One of Salesforce’s biggest advantages, is that it automates tasks and processes. Marty pointed out three main ways that automation through Salesforce helps our social enterprise clients

  • Enforces the rigor of your process:  Whatever processes are in place for your day-to-day business functions, once you’ve implemented it in Salesforce, the chances of inconsistency are drastically reduced. You can exert more quality control over what volunteers, interns, or staff are doing and create better communication across different entities within an organization.
  • Gives volunteers/interns the opportunity to have more meaningful roles. They do more because they need to know less: Sometimes, if you have new recruits for limited periods of time, without a solid system in place, it’s hard to delegate substantial work to coworkers. Without a system, processes are usually executed by individuals with inside knowledge about how the organization works.  Salesforce alters that and creates  a way for you to spend more time on the element of the business you like most, and the part you want for
  • Frees up time for the work that matters.: Instead of pushing paper or doing the same set of meticulous tasks over and over again, automation can reduce the time and energy needed to accomplish a variety of tasks. It can give you time to do more of the work that drives the business and keeps you on tasks that require more creativity and mental energy.
St. Louis ARC and Salesforce 

St Louis Arc is an organization that offers low-cost services to support individuals with developmental disabilities. One of the programs they run, is called respite services. They provide reimbursements to people who are taking care of a family member who is living with development disabilities. However in order for the organization to file for the reimbursement, they must submit very specific forms with a lot of rules and regulations around what is being submitted.

They were running into the issue of submitting the forms incorrectly and being denied reimbursements because of mistakes that broke a rule. In one month, ifPeople installed a Salesforce system that achieved higher accuracy that what has been produced in the past 11 years that the organization has offered this program. Improving accuracy put them on a faster path to receiving their reimbursements and keeping their constituents happy.

Salesforce is a tool that is helping all different kinds of organizations, but we’re happy to see how well it can be used  to address the very specific issues social enterprises face. We’ll continue to use this powerful platform to increase the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of businesses and nonprofits that are doing good.

Homelessness is a palpable social ill in Atlanta. Experts estimate more than 10,000 people in the state become homeless every day. There’s no doubt that homelessness has a grip on Atlanta’s streets and one organization that is intimately engaged with the issue here in Atlanta, is United Way. United Way has been working to reduce homelessness for decades and now they are starting a new conversation about how to approach this complex social issue.

On April 29,  United Way hosted a Colloquium on Social Enterprise. The city’s leaders in Social Enterprise gathered to discuss how social enterprise can be a big part of the solution to homelessness in Atlanta and what lessons we can learn from each other as businesses that are dedicated to the social good.

The Colloquium was exciting because it addressed a breadth of issues within social entrepreneurship but addressed challenges that are most prevalent in Atlanta. The event opened with the question of what social enterprise is and some of the special challenges that come with being a social enterprise that’s addressing homelessness.

All the guests enjoyed a lunch where we were able to enjoy some really solid keynote speakers each with a distinct perspective on social enterprise and homelessness. Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, Program Director of the King Center, Wesley Tharpe, and President and CEO of the Social Enterprise Alliance, Lisa Nitze each delivered inspiring and informative speeches.

It then went into various panels and workshops that broached subjects like collaboration, sustainability, and our favorite subject, technology and business management. We were glad to be represented on a panel about technology’s role in social enterprise management. Marty Maxwell, ifPeople’s Project Director discussed with other panelists how technology can be used to strengthen and maximize the efficiency of social enterprises.

At Innovation for People, we know an idea is only as good as the quality of its execution. We work tirelessly to help social enterprises use technology as a tool that brings our clients closer to their goals.All the ideas that are coming to the surface through this event are an encouraging signal for us. It’s a sign that the sector is growing locally and values driven businesses are taking their place in the market. Let’s continue to put our heads together through events like these to build the kind of thriving social economy we want to see.