Posted tagged ‘Application Programming Interface (API)’

Orange Leap Introduces Orange Leap Donor Widgets and Launch of Beta Program

November 11, 2010

DALLAS, TEXAS (November 11, 2010) – Orange Leap announced today the successful demonstration of Orange Leap Donor Widgets to customers and partners last Thursday at OrangeCon, Orange Leap’s annual conference for users and developers.  As part of the demonstration, Orange Leap announced the formation of a Beta Test program that will run into early 2011.

Orange Leap provides a highly innovative and easy to use software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that strengthens relationships between an organization and its constituents and donors. Used by organizations around the world, Orange Leap On Demand is a powerful, full featured, constituent relationship management solution designed specifically for nonprofits.

Orange Leap Donor Widgets provide organizations with the ability to literally “cut-and-paste” snippets of code into their existing websites that extend the power of Orange Leap On Demand directly to donors and constituents.  Orange Leap Donor Widget capabilities initially include:

  • Website Registration – the ability for a constituent to register to enter a private area of an organization’s website.
  • Donate Now – the ability for a new or existing donor to make a one-time or recurring donation through a simple and secure form.
  • Sponsorship – the ability for a new or existing constituent to enter into a sponsorship relationship.
  • Donor Profile – the ability for an existing donor to look up their contact information and donation history and update their contact information.

Coming in the next release:

  • Event Registration – the ability for a new or existing constituent to register to participate in an organization’s event.

“Organizations have been struggling with the flow of data between their offline database and their online database as long as the Internet has been around.” Said Randy McCabe, CEO of Orange Leap.  “Syncing and ETL (extract, transform, and load) processes work fine for some organizations.  But those usually operate one-way, they’re not real time, and there is a high probability for errors.”

He continued, “Extending the power of Orange Leap On Demand to the web, giving donors and constituents a direct connection to real data in real time, is the ultimate solution.  Orange Leap Donor Widgets not only complete the communications loop between an organization and its constituents, but also ensures appropriate treatment of all constituents through the consistent application of business rules regardless of how their data enters Orange Leap On Demand.”

About Orange Leap

Orange Leap energizes nonprofits, making it easier for them to achieve mission success. The Dallas-based company offers innovative yet simple to use software-based solutions that strengthen relationships with constituents and donors. Orange Leap’s ever-growing community collaborates on advanced technology and smarter practices. Nonprofits big and small, with a wide range of missions and constituencies, choose Orange Leap to move their organizations forward. For more information, please visit www.OrangeLeap.com.

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Open Source Project: How to be a good partner with an open source software project.

June 8, 2010

A big challenge to the success of an Open Source Software project is creating and maintaining a strong community. It is vital to have strong and dedicated partnerships and have symbiotic relationships to ensure mutual success. So what exactly are good partners and how do you can we become one?


Good partners solve problems instead of asking for solutions. An important aspect to participating in an open source project is recognizing that it is a partnership and not a customer/vendor relationship. This means that you take initiative in overcoming any challenges you come up against by utilizing all of the resources that the open source community provides before engaging the developers directly. At Orange Leap this means becoming familiar with our Knowledge Base, forums, and partnerships first, and hopefully finding solutions on your own. Often, community members have come up against the same challenges that you are facing and will help to resolve the issue. In the short term this is an adjustment for many newcomers, but in the long run it is empowering to be able to successfully navigate your way through problem solving. This brings us to the next point. Contributing to the community.

Sharing and making contributions to the community. In the event that you have successfully solved a problem, it is important that you contribute your information to the rest of the community. This is vital for the long term success of the community and in turn, the overall success of the Open Source initiative. Firefox is a great example of a successful community that has provided an incredible level of success in software design and implementation because of the community participation. Helping others to be successful is the key to open source success. Here is an example of how Orange Leap contributed to Spring. SpringSource.org

Engage other members of the community, and community resources to help and encourage others to solve problems. A good way to gauge whether you are a strong community member is to look at how much you have contributed to the community. Do you log into the forums and look for problems to solve or do you only log in with problems that you need solved? This type of proactive participation is vital for the long term growth and success of a project. Here is an example of how Orange Leap contributed to Jasper. JasperForge.org

Sharing information with the community by providing solutions, customizations, and contributions to help others overcome their challenges and obstacles. This is a key ingredient. At Orange Leap, we share our source code and software for our mutual success. We try and provide resources so that non profits are no longer held hostage to software licensing fees and minimal customizations. We are interested in being a good partner and in turn we ask the same from our partners. If you come up with a great customization it is vital that you provide your solution to the community so that all can benefit. In this free and open model, it is important to contribute to the overall success of everyone.

A good partner recognizes and honors the partnership and strives to make contributions to the community to ensure mutual success. It is a core value of Open Source Projects to give back to the community, which is also a core value to the non profit world we all choose to be a part of.

What exactly do you mean by “Open”?

July 24, 2008

While some words and terms have multiple meanings, that is not the case with “open software.” So it’s very troubling to see the scores of nonprofit CRM software vendors who, in recent months, have been parading around the term “open” to describe their respective products, with each company using its own definition.

While it’s encouraging that the open software movement is forcing vendors to adopt this posture, there’s simply too much creative marketing spin with little substance. The result is a lot of messaging clutter and – no surprise – confusion about what open means, why it matters and what a nonprofit should do vis a vis its CRM solution.

To try to help nonprofits sort through the clutter, I recently wrote an article (it was featured on NTEN’s Blog, on Fundraising Success and PNN Online) on the three levels of “openness” currently available for nonprofit’s for CRM. Not all solutions touted as “open” are equal in their functionality and benefits for nonprofits. In fact, some definitions of “open” are complete misnomers.

For example, Blackbaud has been talking a lot recently about their new “open” initiatives. They point to new user forums, podcasts, blogs and “sample code” for downloading as evidence of being “open.”

I enthusiastically applaud Blackbaud for finally beginning to try to listen to customers. Engaging in a dialogue with customers can only help Blackbaud – really any firm – become a better company. (It is something we at Orange Leap learned that we cannot live without over the last seven years and I suspect that Blackbaud will wonder why they didn’t do it earlier.)

But, while forums, podcasts, demo sites, etc. are excellent communication tactics and a smart use of the Internet, including social media — they are not features of open software. The reality is that this vendor’s products and services still remain a “walled fortress”, lacking integration, access or collaboration outside of the company with the very community of nonprofit users it serves.

For any company serving nonprofits, an authentic move towards being “open” would involve:

  • Eliminating large, up front and version upgrade license fees. If we really believe organizations should be able to ‘try’ before they buy, then we should do away with license fees that cause vendor lock-in. An organization may quickly discover, once they are using a product and not being shown a ‘demo’ that it does not meet their needs. However, when a vendor has extracted huge fees up front, a nonprofit feels held hostage. That is good from the vendor’s point of view, but not for the charitable group.
  • Openning up its source code so users truly own the code in which they’ve invested. Open source makes sense for all non-profits, whether or not they ever read or develop a line of code. This is fundamental for transparency, vendor accountability, and innovation and, at the end of the day, makes the product better for everyone. It ends the idea that a software vendor knows more about your mission and needs than you do. And, it allows you to reap the benefits of incorporating other nonprofits’ innovations into your software.
  • Freely giving away application programming interfaces (APIs) for all products to allow innovation and creative problem solving by nonprofits and the entire marketplace. This is eOrange Leaping nonprofits and a true sign of “openness”.
  • Creating a partner and product ecosystem to provide services. Now customers are not restricted to using only that vendor’s services or products. Choice is power for nonprofits, so vendors should integrate with other products (like accounting packages, Web applications, etc.). Currently, nonprofits and potential partners have to blindly brute force many systems with little or no support from their vendor. Coercing customers into all-in-one software and services solutions meets the vendor’s needs, but not those of nonprofits.

So, let’s applaud the moves by all vendors to embrace an open posture. But let’s also demand that if they are going to call themselves “open,” they eschew the marketing spin and truly live up to that promise in their products and services.

Orange Leap on SourceForge

June 20, 2008

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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.