Orange Leap on SourceForge
Your donors, your data…and, finally, your CRM platform
One week ago, Orange Leap’s full feature CRM and fundraising solution was accepted and launched on SourceForge, the world’s largest online development and download repository of open source software code and applications. Now anyone in the world can download and modify Orange Leap. If you are not technical, that may not seem like a big deal. However, it is a very important step in helping to drive adoption of the unique and powerful platform we provide to the nonprofit community. Let me explain, in laymen’s terms, what this means.
Historically, and with all other mature CRM and fundraising software currently available to nonprofits, you have no control to change, expand, modify or customize the software. Your only options for making changes to any software from the many vendors in our space have been:
- Lobby, beg, cry, threaten. You submit a “feature request” or something similar to the company and hope that a.) Enough other organizations are clamoring for the same feature (You would need at least 10 and sometimes hundreds of groups to also ask for this same feature to have a prayer) or b.) Your organization is high-profile enough that the vendor had to keep you happy (Unless you are the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, or the like, good luck).
- Pay for a customization. Nothing gets a vendor moving quickly like thousands and thousands of dollars on the table. However, even then, software companies dislike doing customizations because of the inefficiencies and challenges in maintaining those customizations across upgrades and new release cycles. Because software companies do not like them, the costs of customizations are intentionally set prohibitively high. So, if you were ready to spend $10,000 to get what you want, then you might have a chance.
- Build externally and integrate – Assuming your software has a decent open application programming interface (API) with good documentation that allows access to the right data and applications in the software product (and this is still frighteningly rare), you could build what you need externally and attempt to integrate with your other mission-critical applications. This can work well, sometimes. But, anyone who has been through any type of integration process knows how time consuming and painful it can be. You also know that if you change anything, on either side of the integration, it has a bad habit of breaking.
True open source software provides another way. Since March, we have made Orange Leap available as a free download (no license fees). But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now if you want to add a feature or customization or just create a specialized application for your CRM system, you can do it directly. No begging, threatening, paying or unwieldy integration. The source code is yours. Just as you own your donors and decide when and how to build relationships with them, you can now truly own and manage your software to meet your organization’s unique needs. Rather than being reliant on the mercy of a vendor to choose what tools and functionality you get … you choose.
I have gotten a lot of questions recently about why we decided to go open source with our full feature software. There are two reasons:
- We continually hear from nonprofit marketing, fundraising, development and IT professionals that they want control over how they operate and that includes control over their technology;
- Orange Leap as a company believes providing that control – which really is freedom to fundraise – is the right thing to do for the nonprofit community which should have the same powerful technology as the for-profit sector where open source solutions are widely used.
Now with powerful open source CRM readily available to nonprofits it no longer matters if we listen to our customers or not\ because they are not beholden to us. Don’t like a certain screen or the workflow of a certain module? You can change it, improve upon it and share it. Frustrated because some simple functionality you think should be included is not in the software? Write it, launch it, share it. No software company should be deciding what is best for you. Instead, why not provide the most robust, powerful platform possible , and give you full power and access to modify and integrate with the tools you need? To me, that is an exciting, market changing proposition. Instead of spending your time wrestling with your software and your vendor, we give you the freedom to fundraise the way you need to do it to help more people and effect change in the community you serve.