Category Archives: From the team

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.

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.

connected-np

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

 

 

Fundraising Tag

No, not a new game,  but maybe it could be?  Antonina Romanova, our german-speaking lead consultant headed to Germany for Purple Vision recently… 

Fundraising Tag

Over 300 representatives of non-profit organisations gathered in Potsdam and Dresden in September for Fundraising Tag. Fundraising Tag PotsdamOrganised by fundraisingmagazine.de, and supported by sponsors including Purple Vision, the days offer a mix of sessions, workshops and networking time.

A fairly standard format, but for us the exciting element was that it was in German and would give us an
opportunity to learn more about our fast-expanding customer base in Germany.

We saw these events as not just an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience but also to learn the needs and and requirements of German organisations and get a deeper  understanding of the technology and tools they use and problems they face in their day-to-day activities.

We’ve all got something in common … 

All non-profits, regardless of where they are in the world share some common factors, but it’s the specific requirements that determine best practices, internal processes, applications and solutions.  These will always be different as they depend on range of factors including market, political and economic situations as well as regulations at a market and government level too.

Of course the other major factor influencing the people, processes and technologies in non-profits around the world is the vision, mission and strategy of the organisation – which will vary widely.

In the exhibitor area of the event we were interacting with Fundraising Day attendees. We shared our experience in non-profit industry, explaining how a proper strategy and a vision in combination with modern technology solutions can lead them to a more successful fundraising and brand recognition. Together with Account Managers from Salesforce.org Christiane  and Lisa, we showed a number of people the power that Salesforce offers non-profit organisations.

Some of the common questions about Salesforce were related to various functionality modules, such as  donation management, contact management, digital marketing, event management, grants, volunteers, data protection and, of course, costs.

A number of people were excited to hear that Salesforce.org grants 10 free licenses. However, a couple of people noticed that if you need a higher number of licenses, than they become quite expensive. I should mention that Salesforce licenses are heavily discounted for non-profit organisations. But them being not entirely free means that resources are actually invested into the product development.

Network and Learn

But Fundraising days are not just about representatives from non-profit organisations talking to the exhibitors who offer various solutions and services. Fundraising days are also about learning and networking. There was a number of sessions and seminars that attendees could attend. Each seminar was dedicated to a specific area or functionality.

fr-tage-1For example, a Purple Vision speaker Klemens Karkow was talking about fundraising for small and medium clubs and associations.

Some other speakers were sharing their knowledge on how to build a successful partnership with corporate sponsors, how to better understand donors, how to work with major donors and how to benefit from social media and e-mail marketing. Each seminar provided not just a lot of content but also gave attendees an opportunity to ask their questions and get answers from the experts.

I have also attended one of the seminars. You can never know everything and I decided to use this opportunity to improve my industry knowledge. I attended a session on Practical Tips or How to Make Friends from Enemies.

It was very interesting to hear all the tips, related to organisation and contact donor journey communication. There were, however, a couple of aspects that made me think on how to bring together time proven best practices and the tendency of donors becoming more and more digital. One of the things mentioned by the presenter was that a research showed that if you send donors handwritten Thanks You letters within 7 days after the first donation, a chance to receive the next donation within 12 months is 16% higher than if you thanks them by email or print a letter and send it per post. I agree that for certain groups of donors, this will be the right approach. But if an organisation wants to attract younger donors, it should also consider other ways. And that’s were a marketing journey with 1:1 communication comes into play.

See you next time! 

I found Fundraising Days to be a great experience for non-profit organisations that could learn best practices, talk about consultancy and technical solutions to exhibitors and discuss their problems and successes with other non-profits.

2016-09-08-dresden-fundraising-tage-2At the same time it was a fantastic opportunity for Purple Vision and for me personally as it allowed us to get a better understanding of our current and future customers on the German market and learn about other solutions offered within it. As we are an independent consultancy, we should keep looking and investigating what tools are available in order to be able to offer our clients the best options.

See you at the next Fundraising Day!

 

 

Antonina is one of Purple Vision’s Lead Consultants for non-profit projects.  As well as being a Salesforce whizz, she also speaks Russian and German (hence being asked to help our German clients) and loves dancing.  She’ll be attending the next Fundraising Tag days in March. 

The importance of being earnest

For me, one of the advantages of getting older, and hopefully wiser, is that I can be more relaxed about admitting that, sometimes, I just haven’t got a clue what somebody is talking about!

As a consultant, one of the most important skills I have to demonstrate is clarity of communication. If a client doesn’t understand what I’m saying, and I don’t understand what they’re saying, we’re hardly going to have the most productive consultancy session!

It’s vital that I take every opportunity I can to clarify ideas, make sure the client and I are truly on the same wave length, and that decisions and next steps are documented and minuted.

With my colleagues at Purple Vision, when we’re knocking around new ideas, this still holds true. Last week, we had a ‘teach-in’, where David Williams-Jones gave us all an overview of our new product ‘Total Sketch’, which, simplistically, can help an organisation identify the true demographics of their supporter base, and identify and target people just like them.

This link here explains it all…in plain English!

http://www.purple-vision.com/product-service-detail.asp?Auto_ID=17&SectionID=2&SubSectionID=3

It’s a very, very, very clever piece of kit – and the sort of thing that somebody with a) a geography degree and b) a distinguised career in charity database management should instantly get…

…but I didn’t get it. I just simply had little or no idea how it worked at all.

I had two choices a) be quiet and pretend I understood what was going on to save face or b) be frank and explain that if David had explained it all in Korean it would not have been less clear.

I chose option b. I need to understand this tool to be able to explain it’s value to our clients. I need to understand this tool in order to help deliver any projects related to it.

Ignorance would not be bliss, it’d come back and bite me very hard on my posterior. So, for the sake of several hand-in-the-air/’please Sir, can you explain it again?’ moments, I’ve saved myself some future pain – and I’m sure it’ll be worth it

“It will never work”

We’ve been working on a project recently that aims to change the culture of a complex medium-sized organisation and create a customer-centric culture.

I can already hear you crying “don’t bother”! But before you scroll down to the comments window to tell me it will never work, let me share with you some comments from one of the working groups about their interactions with colleagues when introducing business process redesign:

“when told what successful CRM systems can achieve, they are very positive about it, and give every indication of committing to the change”

“it is difficult for people to visualise something that is not yet in place and the benefits need to be neatly described to those who don’t know much about CRM

“can we think of quick and dirty examples of how the CRM will change the face of [the organisation] if we were all to sign up to it 100%. This is what we could look like it 3 years time … paint the picture and tell the story maybe?”

“I think some of them will come from organisations that have successfully implemented CRM systems and can evangelise about them”

When I hear comments like these it brings a real sense of satisfaction and achievement. At Purple Vision we spend a lot of our time evangelising the benefits of real CRM (ie not just the database) to clients and others who typically see it as a just a technology solution.

Real CRM is about building a shared attitude where an organisation collectively places its customer (aka stakeholder, client, supporter, donor) at the centre of it’s work. We reckon CRM should be about 25% TECHNOLOGY, with the rest of the effort going in to PROCESS and PEOPLE.

The members of this project team are experiencing this for themselves – and reflecting it in their enthusiasm to spread the word! This is really encouraging for the chances of success for this organisation’s ambitious plans.

OK, now you can be cynical (sorry, realistic) …