Here at Cloud for Good we are using many cool and exiting online tools to manage our relationships with clients, partners, and staff. We are always amazed by the amount of free tools that can make our clients work – individuals, nonprofits, and businesses – more productive and effective.

Therefore, I started a new tradition on Cloud for Good’s Facebook page. I shared 10 tools that we not only like but also, I find quite useful. Here they are:

1. Rapportive – Check it out if you haven’t done so already. Rapportive is a little browser plugin that provides you with information about the people you talk to via email.

2. Dropbox – Dropbx might make you want to get rid of your USB!  It is the easiest way to store, sync, and, share files online. It makes online storage and sharing of files dead simple — as simple as dragging files into specially market local folders.

3. Skype Screen Sharing – Many people are not aware of this… Skype has a screen sharing feature. Once you are logged in to your Skype account, you simply click the share screen button and then will be able to see either the whole screen of the person with whom you are talking or the portion of the screen that they select. An incredibly simple yet highly effective tool that cuts down on messy feedback. It makes you far more efficient especially if your business is online.

Skype scree share

4. Tungle.me – The hardest part of making meetings happen is knowing when is the best time. Tungle.me makes it simple for everyone to know when is best for you! You control your availability and remove all the guessing games. Check it out and if you want to schedule a call/meeting to talk about your organization’s technology needs… Tungle.me/talfrankfurt


5. MyStickies – This is simple but brilliant little app that essentially lets you place little stickies all over the web to remind you of stuff when you get back there at a later date. You can write messages for yourself and they’ll appear next time you navigate back to that page.

6. Mozy – All the important information in your life/business is now stored on a computer. Whether it is photos and music or business documents and financial records, everything is digital – Mozy offers a great backup to the cloud service that will help you sleep at night knowing that your digital life will always be there when you need it.

7. Remember the Milk is a great task manager. It allows you to create “to-do” lists in the easiest manner possible as well as being able to access those lists from pretty much anywhere.

8. Google Apps – I know, this one is so obvious and many people already know it …However, if you have not checked it out yet, you really should-immediately (FREE for nonprofits). It is great for collaboration, email, shared calendars and tons of other online features. It is one of, if not the most essential tool that I am use today. Contact us for help with implementation, migration, and training!

Google Apps


9. Soluto – Frustrated by your sluggish and unresponsive PC? Soluto’s goal is to bring an end to the frustrations PC users encounter. Soluto’s technology detects when you’re frustrated by your PC and tells you which application is causing it.

10. PDF Unlock – PDF files can have restrictions that prevent you from being able to do many things with them, such as copying text from them or editing, printing or merging them. PDFUnlock! can remove these restrictions.

Well… it depends.  

It depends on your needs, the complexity of your business process, your data, the number of staff to be trained etc. We receive a number of inquiries every week for Salesforce and Google Apps implementations; many of them do not contain enough information for us to respond.  

To expedite the process of finding your ideal technology partner and to receive an accurate proposal you should create a request for proposal (RFP). This comprehensive document should contain all the project’s requirements. There is no standardized or absolute format for an RFP; however, it should be structured in a manner that best conveys all aspects of your project to potential vendors.  

RFP 

I would like to share a few tips with you that, from our experience, will help improve the response rates to your RFP:  

1. Do your homework  

You might never be able to debate the merits of Apex code (the programming language that executes on the Force.com platform) and that’s Okay. However, before you write the RFP, figure out what you want and what is possible; reach out to other nonprofits in your sector, consult with volunteers and board members, and read related publications.  

2. Introduce your organization   

Include a brief introduction of your organization’s mission, and detailed information about the programs/constituents/organizations you need to track and manage.  

3. What is the nature of your project? What are your needs? What are the expected outcomes?   

While you answer these questions in your RFP, make sure to also include the project goals, including your current pain points. Remember, each department might have different goals and pain points. For example: “Difficulties tracking programs’ graduates” or “Unable to track volunteer’s registration”.  

Additionally, state where you want to be as a result of the project, for example: “Build and maintain long-term relationships with valuable donors by creating personalized experiences across all touch-points and by anticipating donor needs and providing customized offers.”   

4. Yes, we need to know your budget  

Always include your budget. You may be thinking that you should not disclose your budget because it does not leave a place for price negotiations, I disagree. A budget estimate would allow me, as a technology provider, to evaluate if we are a good fit. Furthermore, it will show me that you are serious about the project, aware of its complexity (you did your homework!), and that you have the budget to execute it.  Here is what you should not do: don’t create your project’s budget based on the proposals you received.  

 5. You should have a timeline  

“We would like to have this project done as soon as possible” – this is the second most common answer I receive when I ask a client “what is your timeline for the project?” The most common answer is “two years ago”.  A lack of timeline indicates to us that the potential client did not do any preparation and/or that the organization does not have a budget approved for the implementation.   

Your timeline should indicate at least the deadline for choosing the vendor, a date for the beginning of the discovery, and the date you would like to have the solution fully implemented.  

6. Distinguish between need and want  

Indicate what your most urgent needs are, what is important to have, and what would be nice to have in a world with no budgetary restrictions.  

For example: 
  • Must to have: Know why key donations are lost
  • Important: Accomplish administrative tasks more easily
  • Nice to have: Capture donations from the website

  

7. Additional helpful information: 
  • Define key aspects of your processes and diagram the process flow.
  • Identify some fields associated with your processes.
  • Decide which reports you need.
  • What database(s) do you currently use?  How long have you been using it? How many records do you have? Is your data accurate? Is it clean?
  • How many people will use the new system? How many are using it now? Will other people need access to information (board members, volunteers, students…)?

    

Ready? Contact us to schedule a time to talk about your needs.   

ScheduleMemphis

If you have ever moved from your home town to a new place you probably know that, for a while, everything looks different. The street signs, the roads, the people. It is an opportunity to meet new people and learn new things, but where do you start? How do you find out what is happening in town?

A few months ago while surfing through Facebook I read a post by a native Memphian complaining that he has to attend 4 launches tomorrow and he wished that all these organizations would coordinate their activities and avoid scheduling conflicts.

I did not know about any of these launches and they all sounded very interesting. I recently moved to Memphis, TN. For me, it is not only that the signs look different; they are in a different language. I was very active back in Israel and after I moved to Memphis I had no idea where to start.

So what could be done to make all the events, meetings, workshops, conferences, and shows in Memphis more accessible to everyone and help the organizers avoid scheduling multiple events during the same times?

To address these issues a solution should:

  1. encourage collaboration and sharing
  2. be accessible from anywhere at anytime
  3. be quick, we need to be up and running in a very short time
  4. and most importantly, be easy to use for both the organizations and attendees

Being in the “cloud business” I did not have to think twice. Cloud technology is revolutionizing the world because it is open and flexible. In my eyes, this is exactly where technology should serve the community and support social change.

ScheduleMemphis

Therefore, in an effort to serve and support the community, I chose to use the Google platform and created www.ScheduleMemphis.com, the first community-wide calendar with all events in town.  The calendar is a one-stop-shop for community organizers who are trying to avoid scheduling conflicts and are having trouble reaching out to the greater community. Additionally, individuals like me can use the website to be more informed.

How did I do this?

Well…The website was built on Google Sites which enabled me to deliver the platform in less than a week. I use Google Forms to collect nominations for new organizations –non-profit organizations nominate themselves to use ScehduleMemphis. Then, I create a unique Google calendar for each organization where they can simply create and update their events. All calendars are shared on the website.  It was simple to create and is easy to update.

The website already has 10 organization’s calendars and I have 20 more in the funnel. I found that it is also democratizing the organizations’ outreach efforts. It does not matter if you are a multi-million dollar organization or a one man (or a woman) show, you receive the same access and use the same platform, for free. (I am not charging the organizations).

Visit www.schedulememphis.com and let me know what you think.

This is one of Gmails’ most widely requested features and I am so happy that this day is here and Google is finally releasing a rich text support for Gmail’s signature.

Next time you log into Gmail go to the Settings and customize your signature in the signature editor section. You can add links, images, and create stylish formatting.

Gmail rich text editor

Click on the image to enlarge

Additionally, as of today, Gmail supports a unique signature for each email address associated with your account.

unique signature for each email address

Click on the image to enlarge

Don’t forget to add you social networks links!

No More Dots!

04/21/2010

I would like to declare this day as the official No Dots Day! As published in the Google Operating System blog today, it is not required anymore to include dots in our Gmail username.

It means that I can log in to my Gmail account as tal.frankfurt or talfrankfurt. Additionally, Gmail will ignore the dots in the username when receiving a message, so you will get all the messages sent to johndoe@gmail.com, john.doe@gmail.com, john.d.o.e@gmail.com and other similar addresses.

Gmail Login

I love saving time therefore, I was very excited about the new feature Google recently released. Until recently, when I wanted to attach files to an email, I had to use the “Attach a file” button, but not anymore!

If you are using Chrome or Firefox (soon in Explorer as well) the new drag and drop feature will make your life easier.  Just drag and drop files into the body of the email to attach them. It’s really that simple!

Google Attachments Drag and Drop

A storm of applications is coming… Google unveiled their Google Apps Marketplace today. With 25 million users in more than 2 million businesses, there is clearly a need for more collaboration tools than Google Apps can offer today. Sound familiar? Unlike Salesforce.com’s AppExchange, developers don’t need to build their apps on Google’s platform (with Salesforce.com you have to develop on the force.com).


The big advantage of these applications is that they will integrate with your Google Apps so you can better share and collaborate with your team. Once you download an application into Google Apps, it will appear on your main Apps Dashboard alongside all the other Google applications you use. It will even appear in the “more” drop down across the Google properties.

I could not resist the new Marketplace and had to download an application – Manymoon. It is a cool project management/team collaboration solution. Manymoon allows your team to attach Google Docs to tasks, projects and events; add project information to shared Google Calendars and much more. For nonprofit organizations this is a great tool to manage educational programs, fundraising campaigns or even advocacy efforts. Best of all it is free!

To add an application to your domain from the Marketplace:

1. Click “Add it now
2. Agree to the vendor’s Terms of Service
3. Grant access to the data that the app is requesting
4.  Turn it on and start enjoying your increased productivity

Did you find a useful application? Please share your experience in the comments.


Here’s a short clip that explains what the commotion is all about:

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