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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!

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The country’s biggest Salesforce conference is back. Registration for Dreamforce ’11 is open and with their nonprofit discount, there’s no reason your nonprofit shouldn’t be there! Dreamforce ’11 is offering a heavily discounted registration fee of only $250 to the first 500 nonprofits that sign up. The conference will be held in San Francisco this year from August 30th- September 2nd, and there will be a good number of nonprofits who can benefit from learning about the power of Salesforce,

Wondering why you should come to Dreamforce 2011 this year? Well as usual, it’s full of learning opportunities that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else. You can get practical training in the Hands on Labs. You can get one-on-one consulting with Salesforce experts on the conference floor. You will have have more than 400 sessions to choose from, fifteen of which are especially dedicated to nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. Most importantly, you will be in a room of Salesforce users from around the country who can share their expertise, experience and resources with each other. With huge stars like Stevie Wonder and Will.I.Am at last year’s Dreamforce, it’s guaranteed to be as fun as it is informative.

The discounts for nonprofits don’t just stop at the registration fee. Dreamforce is also offering heavy discounts for the Pre-Conference Training and Certification courses. You can get a one day course for $599, and a two-day workshop for $1298.  These classes give you a deep understanding of Salesforce tools and will give attendees something new skills to bring back to their organization.

This deal goes pretty quickly so make sure you take advantage of it while you can! You can register and find out more information about Dreamforce 11 here. We’ll see you in August!

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Starting a new system for managing your donations can be intimidating, especially with all the options available to you. You can choose between something as simple as excel or as technically involved as salesforce.com. Whatever you do choose, it’s not the tools that will ultimately make the difference in your system’s success. How well you understand your goals and work process will. So what questions do you have to ask yourself to clarify your system’s goals and find the right tools to implement them. Idealware and Techsoup teamed up to build a workbook that will help you make the right decision for your organization’s needs. Below is a sneak peek of a few questions from the report that can help guide your decision:

1- Do you need a new Donor Management System?

It sounds like a counter-intuitive question but it’s probably the most important one you’ll ask yourself. If you have something that is working really well for you and your team, investing the time and resources to change everything may not be worth it. Before going any further, really think about how effective your existing donor management system is and if it’s worth it  to change it.

2- Where are you now and where are you going?

What are your top 5 fund raising activities and how do you want your system to help you execute them better? Once you’ve got a clear idea of where you are now, start to think about your organization 2-5 years from now. Take a long view with the system so that it doesn’t just accommodate your immediate needs, but is also helpful to your organization in the near future. You want something that will grow with your organization.

3- What Donor Management Features Do you Need?

Now that you have an idea of where you are and where you want to go, you can use this vision to guide the specific tools you will need for your system. The Idealware-Techsoup  report includes an extensive list of features from as basic as storing donor information, to forecasting pipelines. Determine where your needs are on the spectrum and you’ll be able to see what caliber of technology is best suited for you.

4- What Donor Management Features Do you Have?

Take stock of the existing features that your organization is implementing to meet its goals. This will help you identify which systems are currently in place and how they can be used and improved for the new system you are bringing in.

5- Should You Have Integrated Online Features?

There are several ways to integrate online transactions with a donor management system. Like any of the other features your new system will have, it depends on your needs. Functions that your nonprofit may perform like broadcasting email, managing online payments, or using an online donor portal,  are all things that could use online integration. The report outlines different scenarios that help you decide if this is what you need.

The task may seem overwhelming from the outset, but if you approach it strategically and can wade the tech solutions out there to find one that works just right for your nonprofit. Click here for the full report.

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salesforce dog

It’s February and whether you have a valentine or not, we know you’ll have a great time at this month’s Salesforce User Group meeting. It will be held on February 16, 2011 from 8am-10am and we’d love to see you there! If you want the chance to collaborate, network, and share ideas with other salesforce users who are right here in the Atlanta area, then be sure to attend this Salesforce User Group meeting! It will be at Hub Atlanta which is at 1375 Spring St. (address and parking info). Catering (coffee, breakfast yummies) will be provided by Cafe Campesino Atlanta.  Please RSVP here

Monthly Agenda

  • 8-8:30am: Networking and breakfast (coffee, bagels, breakfast burritos, pastries)
  • 8:30-8:45am: Announcements
  • 8:45-9:15am: Salesforce Demo: Skoodat (B Corporation)
    Zach McElrath, Skoodat Developer, will show you how this B Corporation uses Salesforce’s Service Cloud and Collaboration Cloud! You’ll get a sense of how to use cases for client support and internal task tracking, as well as how a distributed team uses Chatter to make collaboration effective.
  • 9:15-9:45am: Salesforce Training: Spring ’11 Overview
    Spring ’11 is rolling out now! Get a glimpse at the cool new features now available in this presentation.
  • 9:45-10:00am: Networking and planning for future meetings

Logistics

Hub Atlanta is based at the junction of Midtown and Buckhead and a short distance from some of Atlanta’s most exciting sustainable projects. We are easily accessible at the intersection of Spring St. and 17th St., just south of the I-85/I-75 interchange. By public transit we are one block north of the Art Station Marta train stop.

Limited parking is available at The Hub. You can also part across the street at The Atlanta Ballet (lots of available parking).

Address: Hub Atlanta, 1375 Spring St., Atlanta, GA 30309

If you have any questions about this Salesforce User Group meeting, you can contact Christopher at cjj@ifpeople.net. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP here.

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BLab pic

The Edelman Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding contest is awarding the nonprofit organization with the best brand presence two national advertisements in USA Today, and BLab is up for the running!If you get your votes in by midnight tonight, you’ll help  BLab get exposure to 3.3 million readers who will learn why it’s important to have B Corporations be part of our economy.

ifPeople’s support of BLab comes from being a B-Corporation ourselves.We have seen the benefit of being part of a community of like-minded companies who are deeply committed to using their business to support social objectives as fervently as financial ones. With 377 BCorps and counting, BLab isn’t just building a network of social entrepreneurs nationally, they are also providing tools to social businesses that help them become more competitive, more profitable, and more successful.

BCorps secure immense savings on products that are central to making a business run smoothly. Through discounts on systems like Salesforce or Inspire Commerce BLab has helped companies save $1million annually. They also give BCorps an edge in recruiting since some of the top business schools in the country offer loan forgiveness to MBAs who work for a BCorp upon graduation.

Lastly, BLab has built a brand that truly sets their businesses apart from a company that occaisionally dabbles in corporate social responsibility when they need good PR. BLab is a brand that encourages the public to hold business to a higher social standard and makes business owners accountable for their responsibility to their communities and environment.BLab’s brand has the power to propel us past greenwashers and instead, build a legion of companies who are fundamentally committed to building a thriving social economy.

Now if that’s not a good reason to vote for BLab I’m not sure what is. Get your vote in today!

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If you’re a Salesforce customer, you know that Salesforce is a huge system. The reports and dashboards can help you get a handle on what’s going on in your database. In fact, it’s kind of the only way to wrap your head around it in a reasonable amount of time. Salesforce has a handy tool to help understand this called the Personal Account Reviews, which is a monthly email digest of a bunch of data about your org, how it is being used, and how it stacks up to your peers. Pretty sweet…especially if you’re a data junkie like many of us Salesforce addicts.

Well, sometime in the Fall I noticed I wasn’t getting those anymore. It occupied my brain for about as long as it took you to read that sentence…until a recent conversation about how the Salesforce Foundation characterizes the usage of the tool by its clients. The Foundation looks at a variety of factors, from login rates to number of custom objects, workflow rules and dashboards – all things you got in those handy emails! Hey…wait…what happened to those emails?!

I asked about it on the Answers community and found out two things:

  • They still worked for most customers (for profits)
  • They had stopped working for nonprofits / Foundation customers.

But the good news is – they’ll be back in February! Apparently there was a change in the way this setup worked for the customers of the Salesforce Foundation (nonprofits and B Corporations) that caused the emails to stop coming.

Glad they’ll be back soon! Keep up the good work at the Foundation! Thanks for helping roll out this system to nearly 10,000 nonprofits and counting!

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salesforce logo

ifPeople is bringing in the new year with new ways technology can empower our local nonprofits!  We are organizing another Salesforce Nonprofit User Group meeting, which is on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 from 8am-10am and we’d love to see you there! If you want to the chance to collaborate, network, and share ideas with other salesforce users who are right here in the Atlanta area, then be sure to attend this Salesforce User Group meeting which will be held at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta (address and parking info). Catering (coffee, breakfast yummies) will be provided by Cafe Campesino Atlanta.  Please RSVP here

The agenda is as follows:

8:00am-8:30am – Coffee and Networking

8:30am-8:45am – Announcements

8:45-9:15am – Dreamforce Panel

To highlight the excitement from December’s Dreamforce event, we will have a panel of highlights from participants at Dreamforce. The format will be “lightning talks” – 3 minute from each of several participants highlighting their favorite take-aways. If you attended Dreamforce and would like to share your highlights, please let us know (comment below or email us).

9:15-9:45am – Integrating Websites with Salesforce

The Atlanta User Group co-leader and ifPeople co-founder, Christopher Johnson, will demonstrate how the Open Source Content Management System Plone can be used to integrate a website with Salesforce in minutes! If you’re interested to get a sneak peak at the tools, see here and this webinar, and please join us for the followup hands on session when we put the knowledge into action (Sprint on Jan 24, event info here)!

9:45-10am: Q & A

We’ll discuss potential topics and presenters for future meetings.

If you have any questions about this Salesforce User Group meeting, you can contact Christopher at cjj@ifpeople.net. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP here.

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