Do you think about your email marketing?

Email Marketing Matters – Part 1

We frequently discuss the merits of various ‘freemium’ model email providers with our clients.

Typically, an average client will say their tool of choice is Mailchimp. When asked why the response will either be ‘because we always have’ or ‘it’s free’ or ‘another non-profit recommended it to me’.

I’d like to gently challenge some of these assumptions.

It’s about how you think about your email marketing and a challenge to the assumption by many that it’s free. It’s not.

If you do anything beyond send batch and blast emails – this should be everyone but it’s not – and do anything at volume, it is time to question the email status quo.

What is email volume? 50,000 subscribers are a big list. But 10,000 is also a big list if you mail them every week – that’s just over half a million emails a year you’re sending. And in fact, you are probably mailing more than that as you’ll have some other emails you send out in between email newsletters too – about events, fundraising appeals etc.

If you’ve never done the maths on how many emails you send, it’s an interesting exercise to make you realise the importance of the tool to your organisation. I’ll wager that it is the single most important tool you have in communicating with all your audiences.

It’s a diversion to focus on the tool. Most of the time it matters not whether you use Mailchimp, or Campaign Monitor, or Vertical Response or anything else for that matter.

What we need to pay attention to is what you want to achieve – your strategy, the vision you’re trying to share and the experience you’re trying to give your users – more than which tool you use.

There are several key issues we need to consider. Let’s take some of the strategic considerations first.

Your customer is in complete control

So what is your vision as a charity, and how are you translating this into email?

Do you have a plan or do things just get randomly added to newsletters as you want to communicate them? Don’t be afraid to answer ‘yes’ to that question – it’s very common. But it’s dangerous.

If email is the single most important tool you use to reach your audiences, your customer is in complete control. They may decide not to open your missive, not to click or even to unsubscribe. And if they do that, you’ll never be able to communicate with them again via that means (legally) unless they legitimately re-subscribe.

For membership organisations and fundraisers familiar with attrition rates for membership and donations, try running similar kind of approach across your email list.

What are the unsubscribe triggers – do you have people on your list who are just there and never interact? How can you stop them from leaving? How are you encouraging them to stay – even if it’s passive rather than engaged?  Should you try changing your list approach to nurturing more clicks from different sub-segments?

Customer focused is key

What you give your customers is vital. It needs to be relevant to them, on whichever device they use (and being where we are today, that’s likely more than one place – i.e., social as well as email, mobile rather than desktop). They’re telling you what they want and like by what they click around not just in your emails but also on your website too. Email cannot exist in isolation from your other channels.

So we have the information to create something compelling for an audience.

More often than not we haven’t taken a step back and thought about email as something we’ve been doing for ages and doing with reasonable success – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix It’ being a useful phrase here, as well as the realistic ‘not enough hours in the day’.

But don’t wait for your customers to abandon you.

Strategic rather than operational approach

If email is so vital to getting your message delivered – both via the technical channels and messaging approaches you use – why is it so often ‘managed’ by one of the junior members of your team? It’s great that someone looks after it, and we’ve seen some great email newsletters so we know that charity brand and messaging is being for the most part well looked after. But we’d like to suggest that there’s a gap missing and some strategic focus and attention from the digital/fundraising and communications leadership will mean that the person looking after your email for you can easily make it work harder for you. Make some space to work with your colleagues on how to understand the role of email in your whole mix, where it fits, when and what works best. Pull the person who looks after your email into that conversation and listen – I bet they’ve got loads of suggestions about things to try if they had time, tools and a sense of empowerment and knew it was of strategic interest and importance.

There are more issues to consider – so this blog will continue with a part two shortly.

Resources

Can we help? 

Whatever your question, we’re happy to help.   You can

Preparing your team for a CRM project

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the final entry in a 4 part series  from Dan explaining project delivery issues. 

Ready, set?  Let’s go

A CRM project isn’t something that will just magically happen, sadly.  It’s something that we, as your strategic partners, will work with you on.   We need your internal knowledge to deliver the end goal, and you need our knowledge and expertise to make it happen.

It’s a win-win situation and to make the most of it, a little preparation goes a long way.

How can you prepare and plan for your CRM project?

A key element is to identify and recruit to the project team Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at the earliest point of the project.

SMEs would be expected not only to be experts in their current systems and processes but also to be experts in the new system going forward.  They’ll work with the Purple Vision project team (which will include your project manager and any resources we bring with us such as specialist developers, data experts etc.  The exact team will depend on your project.

The whole team will deliver the project together, and reports to the Project Board.  A key part of our initial discussions with you will outline overall project responsibility and who should be on the project board.

Let’s consider how your SME’s can help.

Some key tips on how to integrate SMEs into the development process are as follows:

  • Capture ‘user-stories’ from the SMEs early on in the project lifecycle. SME’s are the folks who use the systems we’re looking at day in, day out. They know what they need to do – and what they may not be able to do now that they will need to do.  User stories help us outline what success will look like for these day to day users.  We’ll explain more about all this at the relevant point.
  • The next phase of development is managed through the running of Sprints, ensuring each user story is built into the system. SMEs would work with the Development team at this stage to ensure the user stories are fully understood and interpreted correctly.
  • When we’re working with MVP (see It’s just a phase), we make sure that as soon as the base system is available, load it with sample data and share with SME. These guys – our users – will be rigorous in showing us what might be missing to make our concept turn into reality as early in the project as possible.
  • They’re gatekeepers to others using and adopting the system. Training is key to help SME’s not only work with the development team in configuring the system but in being ready to be an advocate for the system as others in the organisations start to ask questions and get involved.  A key part of this is User Acceptance Testing – the rigorous bit where teams are let loose with real case data to make it work.

Ahead of your project starting, consider who your subject matter experts may be and consider how to free up some of their time to engage in the project when it kicks off.  It need not been an arduous commitment but our experience is that it is easier to release staff to add these tasks to their to-do list if they’ve been considered ahead of time.

Read the full blog series: 

The CRM end goal

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the third and the final blog explaining project delivery issues.  

I hadn’t really considered how many sporting analogies there are in project delivery – scrums, sprints et al – and now I need to add one more.  The end goal.

It’s all very well to have an approach to implementing CRM and understand how your project is going to be phased and agree what it will deliver in those stages.

But how do you know the system is going to actually deliver what you want – your end goal?

What’s your CRM end goal?

The end goal, more often than not is not a single thing but a collection of results, such as:

  • improve processes – through new functionality
  • better integrate systems and data
  • gain maximum benefit from the capabilities provided by the system

The first priority – must have requirements

The first priority is to ensure all ‘Must Have’ requirements can be delivered in the system.  This, however, does not mean a process needs to be done in the same way as you had to deliver it in the legacy system.  Legacy systems and processes are often full of workarounds and ways to manage not-quite-perfect workflows and approaches.  Things are added and a process can expand to be quite cumbersome.  Often when we reflect on this with teams, we’re able to help them to look with fresh eyes at what they’re doing, how and why.

Our approach is, therefore, to understand what you (and your CRM) must achieve, but not necessarily focus on the area of how you achieve it.

When you’re looking at a completely new system, it would be easy to just carry on as before and very quickly you would find your shiny new system in the same state as your old and clunky legacy system.  Our switch to end goal focus helps us make sure the new system is set up for maximum efficiency and user-friendliness.

The second priority – should have and other requirements

Of course, when we looked at what the system must have, should have and won’t have, we prioritised the must haves and focus on these first.  But this same process of understanding what needs to be achieved can also be applied to all the other areas identified within the scope of the project after these essential must-have items are implemented.

Added value

Finally, and perhaps the most important stage in the project, is the stage to ensure the system is not just more efficient in terms of business processes, but that it also brings the added value.  This is the stage where we address the strategic aims of the project – which are arguably also fully or in part related to the strategic aims of the organisation and achieving areas of the business plan.

The focus in this final added-value stage is to re-assess the system, the processes, the data held, the use of the system and the skills of the users, to ensure the organisation is maximising the potential and power that the new system brings.

This is a phase that never ends, but the focus of our time is in developing an organisation’s own team to ensure plans are in place for appropriate support, training, consultancy, and ongoing project phases to leverage the power of CRM.

Can we help?

If you would like help and advice from Purple Vision regarding your CRM project, please call us via 0203 127 1249 or email us at [email protected] or via our online contact form.

6 things to do while everyone is on seasonal break.

Our Marketing Director, Mags, is a bit of a one for getting organised.  In this post, she shares here tips for stealing a march on 2017 and using the time between Christmas and New Year for maximum benefit and impact. 

It’s Christmas break! Yay.  The days between Christmas and New Year are a strange time, leaving some of us delighted to be spending time with our families, eating copious leftovers and some of us delighted to be anywhere but!  In one way or another, work continues, arguably often at a slower pace (as everyone else is off) but with a keen understanding that, come January, things will take off again very quickly.

Extensive research* reveals that there is a correlation between your boss being away and the degree to which your inbox is swamped.  This, in turn, can correlate between how on top of your to-do list you feel, how many new tasks are coming in and how calm you feel about impending deadlines.  Worse, you know it’s going to be super-busy between January and Easter (because it always is) when everyone is focused on the new year, change and getting things done.

Over the years, I’ve learned this time between Christmas and New Year is really important to stealing a march on the months ahead.

Here are my 6 to do’s for the seasonal gap. 

1          Niggly to-do list leftovers

There are always things on your to-do list that get knocked down because while you give them credence and importance, they’re either nice to haves, non-essentials or not a major priority.  Start knocking these off your list.  Go back through them, collect them into one place and figure out if they really are still to do, or because you’ve left them so long they’ve become a bit obsolete (count this as a victory and tick them off!). Can you scratch some off the list, and focus on the ones that really do matter and just get them done and dusted?   The other important lesson for me in all this is that I often end up with lists in more than one place (notebook, post-its, some in the CRM, some in my inbox). How can I keep on top of a list when I have lists of lists?

2          Get ahead with the planning

Come the new year onslaught how are you going to cope?  Get busy with your diary to get ahead of that game.

  • Block out space for regular tasks in your schedule so they don’t get forgotten
  • Schedule in recurring and important meetings if they’re not already in place.
  • Go through project plans – are they up to date? If not, get on top of them, and anticipate where blocks of your time may be most in demand to complete tasks – get these in the diary (in pencil or its digital equivalent ‘tentative’– you can’t be inflexible but you can try and take control of your own workload)

3          Research

Your planning grid will probably reveal the need for some solutions or a bit of background reading – get ahead with this now.  Set up folders and bookmarks in your web browser so you can bookmark pages and easily refer back to them when you need them but start to think about where your knowledge gaps are now and find key resources that everyone will find useful in completing a project.   This is a good task to do with a cuppa (or even a cheeky middle of the day snifter) and some Christmas cake.

4          Turn off your email

This is the perfect time to get as much stuff done as you can without interruption.  It’s a great time of year to turn off your email and avoid being distracted by other things and just crack through some of the things you need to get done.

5          Keep an eye on the clock

If you’re the kind of person that’s early into the office and often gets involved in working until later to ‘just get this finished’, make a special point of not starting work until you are supposed to and finishing on time.  I promise this will feel a bit like a holiday in itself and no-one will even notice. It’s only a few days and you should only be working those hours anyway.  And if you’ve turned your email off too you’ll be amazed at what you get done in the ‘proper’ amount of time. It is interesting how much we think other people notice if we are at work late each day – some do but in the main, no-one cares about your hours – they care about your output and outcomes instead.

6            Clear down your inbox

Once you’ve done some solid graft, take some time to clear down your inbox.  This is one of my favourite things to do before I switch off for New Year if I have been working the time in between.   I love to delete or clear out as many emails as I can.  It is virtually impossible to have a completely clear inbox, but the feeling of being on top of things that you get from having a very lean inbox is very satisfying and I remain determined to keep it as clear as I can for as long as I can.  (end of the week, usually). It’s an important psychological switch for me. I bet there are things you’re hanging onto as they’re a reminder to do something – get them on your list instead- where they belong.

* It doesn’t matter where I’ve worked or at what level this is a truth universally acknowledged.

pledge-1-3

We’ve taken the pledge – pledge 1%

Fear not, this is no pronouncement of our support for the temperance movement (though ask us after our Christmas Party and we may say differently).   This is about why we’ve chosen to Pledge 1% and what it means to us.

Read about Pledge 1%

About the Pledge

Pledgeonepercent is – in a neat and tidy nutshell – all about corporate social responsibility.  Giving back.  Being active members of the communities we live in.  It is a philanthropic movement to encourage businesses of all sizes to be good citizens as well as good employers.

Essentially, you can pledge four things

  • Equity – this is the polite way of saying cash.
  • Product – if an organisation has a software product, offering 1% of that product for non-profits to use is included in this
  • Time – the simplest metric of all – staff days or time.
  • 1/1/1 – all three of the above elements.

Why we’ve taken the Pledge

Purely and simply, we’ve taken the pledge as we believe it fits with our values and ethos as an organisation – where we are now and where we started from.  Doing the right thing and being on our customer’s side are critical to who we are and what we do, and what makes us ‘purple’ as a team.  Making sure we stay focused on our part in the world matters to us.

Of course, we could just have got on with doing our bit without signing a pledge.  Many organisations do.  We’ve chosen to sign up so that we can be counted as part of the movement, and help others to look at and consider the pledge too.  Collective impact of a movement is easier to measure – and with measurement comes the evidence of what the programme is achieving.  And thus encourages more organisations to take part in something meaningful.

How we set about doing it.

Applying to participate is the easy bit.  Understanding how our team – a group of strong individuals – want to use that time a little more complicated.

Mike, our Chief Operating Officer and organisational development specialist, opted for a staff survey to gather opinion and ideas about the kind of benefits the team would expect to gain, and also look at the initiatives we could consider as a team.

Collating the feedback was enlightening.  Not least because it revealed the extent to which staff are already freely involved in giving of one kind or another.  Most importantly, it revealed more of the spirit that sits in the Purple Vision team and the passions that drive individuals in their daily lives.

The majority in the team asked the organisation to steer away from collective activities that involved politics or religion, but these are of course a strong personal preference for many and our relationships at work are already respectful of any boundaries that these two areas can create – so it felt like a natural ask from the team and one we are happy to accept.

Our collective endeavours will focus on areas where we have identified a shared concern or passion.

What it means for us

We’re keen that Pledge 1% is real and meaningful for the Purple Vision team, so this may be all you ever learn of our Pledge.  It’s really important for us that this isn’t about PR, but this is about doing the right thing to be members of our society and community.

Mainly, we’ll give our time as individuals, but probably for one day a year, we’ll work on a project as a team together.  Quietly, without pomp, but with a lot of purpose.

For some of us it will be a continuation of the kind of things we’ve already been doing.  For others a chance to explore opportunities that we may not have had before, to participate, understand and learn.

1% is a small step in the right direction.

Of course, in an ideal world, companies would be able to offer more than what sounds like a humble 1% to achieve meaningful and impactful social change.  1% sounds small.  1% time is 3 staff days a year – that also doesn’t sound a lot on paper.

But look two things here.

  • We’re a small company and 3 days a year is a lot of potential work time. So it is a sacrifice for us to make at an organisational level.
  • For our team of 20, 3 days each is 60 days a year. 2 calendar months a year of time, or 480 hours in working time

We know we can make a difference in that time.

More info:

  • If you’d like to know more about Purple Vision’s approach to Pledge 1%, give us a ring and ask to speak to Mike, or send your enquiry via our web form.
  • To sign the Pledge for your organisation, visit the website: – http://pledge1percent.org/

Pledge 1%

It’s just a phase …

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the second in a series from Dan explaining projet delivery issues. 

Turns out your family is pretty much right. About everything.  Darn it.

Remember ‘don’t bite off more than you can chew’ or ‘you’ll never manage all that’. They were right.  Not about your ability to eat the whole Christmas selection box (just me then?).  Same as they were right when they said “it’s just a phase”.

Not about your excellent taste in hairdos and clothing (just me again, then?).

But if they’d been talking about CRM implementation, they would have been absolutely bang on.

A phased approach

When considering how to blend the right CRM implementation approach for your organisation, we very much encourage a phased approach.

We advise that you start with the very minimum you need to, and then build on all the additional functionality in phased stages after that.  This is known as implementing the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP) – “a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development

In the real world of CRM implementation, the MVP means delivering the system with the only the very essential feature in the first instance.

Moscow?! 

As part of any Discovery Phase, and during the collation of user stories, we would typically conduct a priority rating using the MoSCoW system.

  • Must have – essential features for success
  • Should have – should are essential features but not necessary to be delivered as immediately – they could be delivered as a second phase
  • Could have – typically these would be features that improve user experience or user satisfaction but aren’t functionally essential. If the budget will stretch to it
  • Won’t have / Would like (but probably won’t get!) – the key stakeholders agree that these are not part of the process because they are lowest payback, not immediately essential or perhaps more appropriate for a further development stage of the system (eg in a years’ time at review).

This begins the process of ascertaining what the MVP is that could be launched at the point of go-live.

This reduces the length of the initial phase, brings users on to the system as early as possible so they can actually see it and understand it, and it ensures a low priority requirement does not eat up time and budget in the first phase.

Add integrations … 

Similarly, with system integration, it is unlikely that all systems will need to be integrated in phase 1, so the process of prioritising the ‘Must Have’ points of integration applies here also.   We therefore recommend a phased approach to bringing in the different points of integration.

The downside to this approach is that it may not be completely understood how each area will be integrated or developed from the first point of go-live.

he risk therefore is that subsequent changes, additional costs, or difficult issues come up after the point at which the system is being used live.

This risk can be mitigated through thorough discovery and business analysis across all areas, so the understanding of those areas and requirements are well understood from the outset and the project team have less chance of being faced with a surprise requirement.

CRM Project methodology – which one is ‘right’?

Dan Lockeretz, Purple Vision Project Delivery Director shares his experience of delivering CRM implementation projects – something he’s done quite a lot of in the years he’s been a Purple Vision, and even before that in his previous life charity-side.  This is the first in a series from Dan looking at project delivery issues.

When talking to organisations about implementing a new CRM, one of the most common questions we’re asked is  ‘what implementation methodology do you use?’.

Sometimes, the question is very open as an organisation may never have delivered a technology implementation before, or previously experienced projects in the days before cloud technology when things were quite different.

More frequently, the organisations we work with have done some research or have more experience and will be expecting us to say that we use one of the two best-known methodologies for system development – agile or waterfall.

Waterfall

Waterfall is described as a sequential (non-iterative) design process, used in software development processes, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, production/implementation and maintenance.

Agile

Agile is described as an iterative, incremental method of managing the design and build activities of information technology that aim to provide new product development in a highly flexible and interactive manner.

The Purple Vision approach

Over many years and hundreds of project, we have learned that the best process to adopt for a technology project is not necessarily one approach or the other, but a blend of both.

If your organisation has significant legacy systems, then there is often a need for a specific ‘go-live’ point – a moment at which the legacy system(s) should end and the new one starts.  A project like this will benefit from a waterfall approach.

The alternative to this is to manage multiple systems for a period of time, which can be complex, costly and risky.

Agile development takes a more phased approach to delivering implementations, and so is ideal for those who have little in the way of legacy systems and therefore no need to make a switch-over at a single moment.  There are lots of advantages including:

  • It engages the system users in the project at an early point and throughout the project. This means by the point of go-live those users have a good understanding of the system and have gained knowledge of the build and use of the system
  • It reduces the risk of the end product being the ‘wrong’ solution. Experience tells us it easier to manage lots of small adjustments on a frequent basis, than it is to manage large infrequent adjustments.
  • Progress is more tangible to the Project Team and engagement in the project may remain higher as a result

The disadvantage of an agile development methodology as we have experienced it, is that is requires a high-level input from process experts on the client side and can therefore impact heavily on business as usual.  If this is planned for in advance however, we believe this is the most effective way of engaging staff in the project and building a successful system with successful user adoption.

Best of both

Our best of both approach gives us flexibility to manage a project in line with an organisations requirements and needs, staff availability and other factors.

An example is a project where an organisation is planning to replace a system it has used for a number of years with something completely different – such as an out-of-date server-based system with a move to a cloud-based solution.

As the server based system may be out of date the team using it may not be able to deliver all of their key functions via this tool and may be using other tools or managing complex work-arounds.  In this situation, we would spend time looking at initiation, analysis and design of the new system (waterfall approaches) to make sure we’re developing and delivering what is needed today and not just copying what has gone before.

We would then be ready to construct and test using a more agile approach.

Which takes longer?

Neither approach is longer or shorter than the other necessarily – the critical factor is not time to deliver, but the project which is being delivered.  To identify a project timescale, we need to consider issues like the technology you’ll be using, how much work needs to be done to tailor the tool to your unique situation, how prepared you are (see another blog for more about this) and availability of key resources (like developers, trainers etc).

Other project terms you’ll hear

  • Iterative – iterative is a fancy word for repetition or frequency. Essentially, for agile developments which are iterative, the project is broken down into set blocks or sprints where work is completed.
  • Sprints – rather alarmingly for non-runners, sprints area often talked about as part of a technology implementation project. Don’t panic!  This term refers to the blocks of time in which work is developed and delivered.  It’s more common to have sprints in Agile development but it is possible to have sprints in waterfall but for different phases. It’s as much a way of everyone planning their time properly as anything else.
  • Legacy systems – this isn’t about giving money in your will. This refers to systems that you have already that may be in use that you are replacing as part of your technology project – be that an old CRM, a series of spreadsheets or anything in between.
  • Scrum – a scrum is a process used by a project delivery team to allocate work out to deliver the project – eg technical work such as things that need building, information needed from project management team, user testing, etc. Scrums cover a set period of time (eg a week, two weeks or sometimes longer).
  • User stories – this is simply a process of mapping out what the users need to be able to do in a system or with a set of functions. Mapping out and agreeing a user story means we all know what we’re working to achieve.

Can we help?

If you would like help and advice from Purple Vision regarding your CRM project, please call us via 0203 127 1249 or email us at [email protected] or via our online contact form.

Connected Non Profit Conference – what you missed.

Last week, Salesforce.org organised an event called the Connected Non Profit Conference.  It was a small, sell-out event.  In the spirit of it all being about connected non-profits, we find some C words to describe what we found at the event

Concept

Every year, Salesforce organises Dreamforce, a beastie of a conference in San Francisco where basically a whole city-load of people all turn up and hear what’s happening with the Salesforce platform.  It sounds like a lot of fun but it is a long way away and pretty expensive to get to, especially for those on a non-profit budget.

A Mini-Dreamforce, 1-day World Tour event happens every year in London (May 18th 2017 – mark your diaries) that takes some of the content and positions it for just a day.  Other stuff happens that is brand specific.

These are all lovely.  They’re useful.  They’re exciting.  They’re a great place to meet really interesting and inspiring people. But they’re not focused on non-profit, they are focused on the entirety of the Salesforce world.  True, all the learning and new products and innovations are relevant as they are available to non-profits.  But the language is just, well, not us.

So kudos to the team at Salesforce.org in London for recognising this and putting something on just for us.  I think the size was just right for a first one – small, about 300 or so.  We can only grow from here!

Content

The stories at the event focused on – as you would entirely expect – how Salesforce has driven non-profit success.  From hearing about the new Non Profit Success Pack (Salesforce, distilled down for non-profits) and its roadmap (the new features that Salesforce will add, alongside the other features that may be unlocked via the Salesforce releases 3 x per year or the fortnightly (yes fortnightly) pushes to the NPSP), through to compelling stories and case studies.

We talked data (of course) and saw how Wave Analytics brings data to life and helps charities like RED to tell their story.  How with the help of partners, charities have created new functionality to deliver things like Gift Aid or bespoke programme management, how UNHCR use Salesforce to manage their fundraising programmes and more about email marketing and the connectivity.

This is the story of RED – their goals and how Salesforce is supporting them to deliver their goal.

This video makes me cry but fills me with so much hope.

Of course, it’s money that makes a difference but you can’t mobile, measure and deliver – or start to raise those funds – without the right tech.  Message clearly received there!

Connections

The measure of success of any event has to be two things – the quality of the content you hear and learn about, and the quality of the conversation you have with other people who are there.

One of the great things about this being a small and focused event was the ability to get to speak to so many of the people who were at the event.

Some were already Salesforce customers, some people looking at options on the market and there were a few of us partners around – and while the reality is we are ‘competitors’, we’re actually quite nice people and feel that we’re more part of a ‘community’ too if you see what I mean.

So there was lots of buzz and conversation, some free advice being bandied backwards and forwards and a lot of entente-cordiale.

And then there’s Cody

Cody is the name of the bear that features across all of the new visual identity Salesforce are adopting.  It relates to trailhead – the free learning paths offered by Salesforce to get users to adopt the system.  If I am honest, I am not convinced about Cody and campgrounds, but he keeps good company with other mascots so at least it keeps things interesting wondering who might show up next!

If you see another Connected Non Profit event pop up in our social feed, or via Salesforce.org, I urge you to act quickly to register.  This one was well worth attending.

Related Services from Purple Vision

To coincide with CNPC_16, Purple Vision launched two new services

Other Purple Vision blogs about NPSP

Steps to success with Purple Vision non profit success pack partner, Purple Visiom

Steps to success with Salesforce

This blog by Purple Vision CEO, Steve Thomas, is about the new Non Profit Success Pack.  Purple Vision has been supporting charities to adopt NPSP since we became Salesforce partners in 2010.

NPSP. 

Same acronym, slightly changed name – from non-profit starter pack to non-profit success pack.

A casual observer would be forgiven for suggesting that this change, announced recently by Salesforce.org with much fanfare, is little more than a minor makeover.

The technical enhancements that accompany the name change are comparatively light additions to the established core of the product which remains unchanged. But the change is significant – we believe that this shift  recognises the maturity of (arguably) the most successful software solution ever written for non-profit organisations.

In this way, we regard the Non-profit Success Pack more as a ‘coming of age’ than an ‘upgrade.

What makes NPSP unique and valuable?

Even in the world of charities it is unusual to get something for nothing. But NPSP really is a free gift. Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce.com, launched the Nonprofit Starter Pack back in 2008 as an enhancement to its previous Nonprofit Template.

Since that time they have supported the solution through substantial upgrades as well as continuous enhancement releases. NPSP can be provided pre-installed with the Power of Us donated licence programme, as well as in open source code from Github.

Perhaps more significantly, by consolidating NPSP as the de facto framework for all non-profits that use the world’s best CRM system, Salesforce.org is paving the way for a whole new phase of development that will leverage its ever-evolving technology platform.

Salesforce today is almost unrecognisable from its origins as (unsurprisingly) a sales management tool. It has become a comprehensive customer-facing technology platform with

The Non-Profit Success Pack continues to provide the essential baseline that enables all non-profits to take advantage of these features with a structured but flexible framework that models their unique needs.

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This unique approach to donated licences with an open source overlay has helped build a substantial and active community of tens of thousands of organisations that benefit from Salesforce.

With the latest facility for developers, partners, and even customers to build and customise their own apps and features, NPSP will encourage and support a future with even greater diversity, innovation and collaboration.

What does NPSP actually do?

In a nutshell – it’s a special layer on top of the core Salesforce system – a data architecture designed to meet the special needs of non-profit organisations.

The key effect of NPSP is to adapt the Salesforce focus on business-to business (B2B) activities so as to more closely resemble a business-to-consumer (B2C) model that is common to charities.

NPSP sets up structures to manage

  • the relationships between individual donors,
  • their households,
  • the organisations they are associated with.

It also establishes a standard model for

  • creating and managing pledges,
  • donations,
  • recurring gifts,
  • volunteers.

Where next?

NPSP as the standard for quality, reliability and innovation

NPSP was originally intended to provide an entry point for smaller organisations to get started with Salesforce – hence the former name Starter Pack.

Those with additional requirements take advantage of the 3000+ pre-integrated third-party applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, together with bespoke development by a growing cadre of certified developers and partners (like Purple Vision).

Crucially, the success of NPSP means that it is increasingly accepted as the standard model, providing an industry-wide benchmark for organisations of all types, sizes and geographies.

The development focus for Salesforce.org in future is to constantly reinforce the central role of NPSP whilst actively encouraging customers, partners and developers to innovate on this platform.

Examples of this in the Success Pack include new features such as:

  • personal profiling,
  • in-memoriam donations
  • in-kind donations,
  • campaign tools
  • upgrading the user interface to the latest Lightning standard,
  • enabling NPSP for more languages, starting with Spanish, German and French.

Innovating with the security of a solid platform

The flexibility of the Salesforce platform means that customisation is safe and straightforward to undertake, especially with the extensive frameworks for formal accreditation and informal learning and support. With such a large community, developments evolve in all sorts of new directions. This leads to innovative and successful outcomes but also, in some cases, organisations find themselves with a system so heavily customised that they lose some of the flexibility of a common standard architecture.

At Purple Vision we believe passionately in future-proofing solutions so that our clients retain maximum flexibility around their long-term strategic objectives. We strongly support the development of universal standards such as NPSP, which mitigate the danger of over-customisation and we have been accredited by Salesforce.org as one of just four International Impact Partners formally supporting NPSP.

Wherever possible we advocate well-built, proven apps over DIY customisation.

We have tested, installed and supported scores of AppExchange solutions and we know where they work well (and where they don’t), and whether they offer value for money. As the saying goes, we prefer “clicks not code”.

Our solutions almost always involve NPSP, and we have delivered scores of successful solutions that work very effectively within this standard.

For example:

Be a non profit success with NPSP and Salesforce.org.  

Find out more about being a Salesforce success:

Take action – get started with Salesforce NPSP and Purple Vision

Purple Vision NPSP Resources

 

 

The truth about NPSP free licenses

Salesforce is free! Yippee!

Let’s talk about free licenses. NPSP – that’s Non Profit Success Pack to you and I.  NPSP is having a bit of a bask in the sunlight at the moment as it’s been relaunched by Salesforce.org the non profit arm of Salesforce.com.

The distinction between the two companies is important and is key to how you get to the free (technically, donated) licenses bit.

Every year, Salesforce.com – the big commercial organisation that services millions of users and the biggest corporations in the world – donates 1% of its time, product and profit to good causes.  This is called pledge 1%. Salesforce is very vocal about it and the role it plays in their culture.  1% of a billion dollar corporation is not something to sniff at and, let’s be honest, creates quite a lot of admin to manage all that lovely 1%-ness.

Administering the pledge

Enter Salesforce.org, the good folks to administer the pledge (this does sound a bit like you’re signing up for the temperance movement or something you do to your sideboard but do bear with the language!).

There are four key things they do:

  1. Administer the time aspect of Salesforce.com’s pledge – finding and setting up the opportunities around the donated time (with things like pro bono week, and regular staff volunteering).
  2. Make grants to deserving organisations of the 1% of profits pledged.  The grant process is pretty transparent and any organisation that qualifies can apply.  The team keep track of the projects and report on their success and help where it’s necessary
  3. Distribute the 1% of product licenses that are available as part of the pledge
  4. Manage the sales of Salesforce.com products to charities and non profits so that they get a good deal and great support

Lets wind back to point 3

NPSP is the focus of the key free product distribution.  The package is  built with the needs of non profits in mind, on a structured framework, that uses the best knowledge and experience from Salesforce.com’s R&D team (but in an open source structure).  It is a great product for charities to use for their CRM, donation management and volunteer/programme management. It’s simple, but effective. Covers the basics.

And the first ten licenses of this product are free.  The Power of Us license offer donates  10 user licenses to any organisation that has the required charitable status. You log on and download.

So, are you looking for the catch?  On the face of it there is no catch.  This is a genuinely free offer.  A really and truly free lunch, so to speak. And a posh lunch at that – that’s about £10,000 worth of license costs.

Purple Vision take on this is that this presents a challenge to an organisation, but also a massive opportunity, too.

Challenge

Salesforce is quite a system.  So, someone in your organisation has to know how it hangs together to make sure it works for you. You can take NPSP ‘out of the box’ so to speak, and can make it work  – if you have the time and that kind of mind.  But we know that not many organisations necessarily do.   When you’re faced with something new it can feel like a beast to get something set up like you want it to.  So yes, the truth is that these licenses are free for 10 users.

The challenge comes in using them.  The reality is that you will likely need the support from a Salesforce partner to help you get up and running unless you can invest the time and cash into a staff member taking the Salesforce certifications you’ll need.  For some organisations who need or want a huge amount of customisation or have specific functionality requirements, this will carry some costs – though there are options that build on the NPSP framework and offer managed packages of functionality that may prove more cost effective.  For example Causeview for fundraising, or SageLive for accounting. These are typically great for medium sized, more established charities.

For smaller charities or new starters to CRM, cost is a major factor.  Limited time and budgets often place a limit on ambition.  This is why we offer our NPSP QuickStart package, to get charities up and running with the basics (no frills, no fuss and all that) for a fixed fee.  As budget is freed up you can add other features if you want to.

In all honesty though any other system – CRM or otherwise – that you might consider for your non profit would typically also come with similar kind of challenge.  In that circumstance, you typically wouldn’t be getting the license for free, and set up and management more complex.  All systems carry some kind of cost, it’s one of the facts of life.

The Opportunity

The Salesforce.org offer brings you access to more than just 10 free licenses.  It lays open all the other tools and options that Salesforce has to offer, too.  Beyond more licenses – which, yes, you do have to pay for (at a discount of around 76% on ‘big company’ fees) – there is a whole world of Salesforce.  There are specialist tools that integrate with Salesforce that cover every aspect of non profit management and cover everything from marketing (email, social, mobile and web in one integrated package), through to service delivery, business intelligence and analytics with more added all the time as Salesforce.com grows and grows.

All of these are available to non profits at a discount rate too.  Not free, but at significantly lower rates than the ‘big companies’ pay.  No two ways about it, making the world a better place becomes easier with the right technology. And with the same technology that major corporations have, your challenge instead becomes ability to deploy these tools to accelerate your mission.  Which is a much nicer problem to have than the one about stagnating performance and doing the same thing over and over again because it’s all you have the tools, time and resource for.

Complete circle

By this point, most of us have got to the point where we’re saying ‘hey, aren’t we paying Salesforce.org for our extra licenses and tools but they are a charitable organisation?’  Well, they are and yes, you are.  When you pay for your extra licenses, you pay for the infrastructure that supports non profits to be able to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity – it needs a team who know what they’re doing to make it happen, just as any other organisation does.  The advantage with the Salesforce.org model is that anything they turn over beyond overhead goes straight into the grant making pot and becomes funding for other non profits who are also trying to change the world.   Point four and two of the list above refers.

Win-win

I think we can call this whole thing a bit of a win-win really.  If you’re thinking that this isn’t actually a free lunch, maybe you’re right – it might be more of a two for one deal. But the truth is, non profits deserve world-class products to help them succeed.  Salesforce is offering a genuine leg-up  here for organisations looking at CRM for the first time, as well as those looking to switch systems from messy and outdated donor databases. And the NPSP is just perfect for anyone looking to make that leap forward.

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Purple Vision have been Salesforce partners since 2010 and are Salesforce.org International Impact Partner, Registered Consulting Partner, AppExchange partner and Independent Software Vendors (meaning we can create and sell our own products on Salesforce).  We’re also one of only 4 UK partners to be approved NPSP partners.

If you’ve got questions about Salesforce, how to get started or want to chat through NPSP QuickStart or our other Salesforce services, please just give us a ring on 0203 176 1249.