Posted tagged ‘Orange Leap open’

Orange Leap — Simple

November 10, 2010

A simple explanation of how Orange Leap On-Demand software can help organize and manage constituent and donor relationships for non-profit fund raising organizations.

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Tanzanian rats sniff out mines (and they use Orange Leap as their CRM solution!)

November 8, 2010

A project in Tanzania is teaching rats how to save human lives. Blessed with a keen sense of smell, they are being trained to detect land mines and have so far helped clear nearly two million squared… Find Out More

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.

Stock Prices of Vendors to Charities Getting Battered

May 12, 2008

Yesterday I read an article in the Nonprofit Times about the stock prices of several public companies who work with nonprofits that are struggling. Ostensibly they are struggling because of the meltdown in the subprime mortgage market. Actually, except for the possible exception of Blackbaud, I think many of the companies listed might be struggling regardless of the present economic woes.

Blackbaud is another story. They clearly took a hit a month ago when Jefferies & Co. analyst Ross MacMillan speculated that because of the recession, nonprofits would be spending less and therefore Blackbaud would close less business, etc… “Given the outlook for more potential weakness in giving, we think non-profits are slowing the rate of spending on technology.”

Obviously, it’s a complicated issue. I’m not sure that our clients are seeing giving slow down that much. But assuming nonprofit giving does slow down, I agree that overall technology spending would decrease (especially spending on technology infrastructure) but I would hope that technology spending on fundraising and relationship building tools would not slow. After all, these are the tools that an organization needs most in a difficult economy.

Of course, this is just another reason why open source is such a beautiful model for nonprofits in any economy. Admittedly, open source software is not “free”. For instance, an enterprise class open source CRM like Orange Leap needs implementation services and ongoing support in order to get the greatest value from it. But, because an organization doesn’t have to write that big up front check for license fees, they can spend the money needed to implement software correctly and still save 40% to 60% over comparable closed and proprietary software.

Thoughts from NTEN and AFP

April 9, 2008

Several of us at Orange Leap, myself included, have spent the last couple weeks traveling around the country, meeting with a wide variety of nonprofit professionals at a few of the year’s major conferences, including the Nonprofit Technology Network’s (NTEN) annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in New Orleans and the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) annual international conference in San Diego. As exciting as it always is to visit these wonderful cities, the real thrill for us has been introducing Orange Leap Open to the nonprofit community. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, as we believed it would be.

For some time now, the nonprofit community has been hungering for truly open constituent relationship management (CRM) solutions. With increasing reliance on technology to run their daily operations, today’s organizations need to be able to easily integrate data between disparate systems such as donor databases and website content management systems. This is key for effective communications and marketing to constituents and donors – to drive giving and increase their lifetime value to a nonprofit.

As a whole, the NTEN crowd – a more technical group heavy on nonprofit IT professionals, technology consultants and systems integrators, and folks from software companies – “got it.” Many of the people we spoke to used terms like “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” when they learned that we are providing access to our source code. At AFP, the response to Orange Leap Open was similarly positive but for different reasons. Many organizations were “wowed” about the fact that Orange Leap is powerful CRM software that is as good and in many ways better than Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge AND available for no license fees.

But people at both conferences had questions about what exactly we mean by “open.” There is quite a bit of talk in the nonprofit technology market these days about “open,” in part, because some software companies serving nonprofits have launched heavily marketed “open” initiatives. These initiatives mostly have consisted of vendors releasing application programming interfaces (APIs) – or software “connectors” – so customers can integrate a vendor’s software with another solution.

Some have done it better than others. For instance, Blackbaud’s “open” attempt gives you the ability to integrate the company’s own proprietary Raiser’s Edge database with its proprietary NetCommunity website content management system. Now really, you shouldn’t need APIs to integrate two proprietary products from the same vendor, especially when the vendor is selling an “all in one” solution.

Convio is doing a better job by developing a number of APIs to make it easy to integrate their website content management system with several CRM systems, including Orange Leap. Convio takes a best of breed approach to working with clients so it is very important that the company makes it easy for nonprofits to plug in the solutions they choose to their systems.

The bottom line is, when it comes to “open” initiatives, the more, the better. But, as Orange Leap’s CTO, Leo D’Angelo likes to say, “Nothing is open like open source.” By giving a client access to source code, he/she can modify the software to meet his/her organization’s unique needs. The nonprofit user has more control and options over his/her technology and is not so dependent on a vendor. This is what Orange Leap is doing and what has jazzed the nonprofit professionals we’ve met on the early spring conference circuit. We’d like to see more vendors do the same but in the meantime, we are optimistic that everything is trending open, putting more tools, control, and options in the hands of nonprofits.

As an established company, Orange Leap offers the best of both worlds – a mature, full feature and powerful CRM product for no license fees PLUS a complete professional services organization that will convert your data, train you, re-engineer your organizational processes, and then support your ongoing use of the solution.

It is very rewarding to introduce a new business model to the nonprofit community. It is what we believe the community wants and needs, and response so far is validating that. High quality software for free. Options to integrate and build around the software. And a complete line of professional services and support to maintain a mission-critical application.