software as a service

4) Wow: You Suddenly Own the Majority of Getty Images

Getty ImageAt least… you now probably have the right to use them on your web pages, that is, copyright free. Keep in mind, their byline is fairly good size and, from what I can determine, it won’t reduce. But just hop on over to…

http://www.gettyimages.com

About 4 out of 5 images now have “embed code” for you to insert in your own web pages or reports. Have fun decorating your blog or report with the best images ever, all for free and no registration required.

12) Free RSVP Software Might Help With Your Next Meeting

There are lots of membership and event software offerings these days. However, maybe that’s more than what you need. Maybe you don’t even need a sign-up list. Maybe all you’re looking for is a way to determine “Who’s in?” for your next home Bible study or missions committee meeting. If that’s the case, I’m hearing a lot about…

http://www.whoozin.com

It looks easy enough. Throw out a date/time and hear back instantly, via this app, whether or not your group can make the date. Try it — and please report back here whether or not you like it. Thanks in advance for your feedback.

14) The BackPage: We’re Loving InfoGraphics

A few years ago, an elder and psychologist in a local church actually took the time to come to my office, sit me down, and talk to me face to face. He explained, “Doug, you have so many ideas and they’re so clear to you — but they’re not clear to others. You need some way of illustrating them or explaining them. Otherwise, people misunderstand them and, even if they try to follow the idea, later, if there’s some misunderstanding, they become angry at you because they feel you didn’t explain yourself well enough up front.” At the time, I remember being perplexed about it. He finally go to the point: Could you find some way to illustrate your ideas, so we know exactly what you’re proposing?

I first tried transparencies, using an overhead projector. Honestly, my drawings and my handwriting were horrible and hard to read. So it was a game-changer when I discovered Harvard Graphics (now obsolete), which prepared snazzy transparencies (for a premium price, of course). Then I tried Lotus Freelance (now also obsolete), which was easier and maybe a bit more affordable. The problem was, once the software became obsolete, I couldn’t make any more changes to my presentation — so a lot of my work was locked in the past. Third, I began using PowerPoint. (Yawn. Doesn’t everybody?) Then I happened upon Prezi (which sometimes gives me motion sickness :-) ). But regardless of what I used, I ended up with a digital presentation that was tough for my listeners to take home. They’d ask, “Could I get a copy of your PowerPoint?” If they didn’t own PowerPoint, I could use this “pack and go” deal to give them a PowerPoint viewer, but it still seemed convoluted. And they were always having to look through 20 slides to get my big idea.

So recently, my son, Caleb, said to me, “Dad, you’ve got to try infographics.” Honestly, it has taken me months to get the idea. But I think I’m finally realizing it: Today’s 20-something loves to see the entire “big idea” in one power-packed graphic. “Infographics” do exactly that. I work most directly with a small team of individuals who, among other things, tries to cast a vision of where we can go next. We try to invent the idea — then we begin promoting it. So I challenged one of our team members to take her pick of a half dozen online infographics tools which my son had recommended. We looked at the benefits and challenges of each one and I recommended two or three, but in the end, I suggested Kelsey choose the one she liked best. She chose Piktochart.

http://piktochart.com/

It didn’t take long before she started producing these cool little illustrated charts that are, in effect, like an entire segment of a presentation all in one drawing. So whereas before, I would have felt compelled to develop 30 PowerPoint slides, now, I just hand out a single chart or maybe two at most. The audience benefits because now they have a drawing they can understand in one view — and they can take it with them on the go. What’s more, I can’t explain it, but it’s just cooler NOT to have to show a big presentation. It almost seems like the understatement is valued in and of itself. And, as much as I regret to admit it, the audience seems to love the idea that my presentation has gone from a 30-minute PowerPoint down to a 10-minute explanation of the chart. The presentation happens in a FLASH compared to my previously long, drawn-out PowerPoints.

So try it for yourself. Look at Piktochart as a sample, but there are other options too. Nobody’s paying me to say this — but … we’re loving InfoGraphics. :-)

And a good illustration never becomes obsolete. :-)

What’s your take on InfoGraphics and which tool do you prefer to develop them? Just click “Comment” after the online web version of this item, available via the link below.

6) MissionMakr Revives like a Phoenix from the Ashes

Remember MissionMakr.com, that great site that would help you through your short-term trip prep, all your communication, and all your on-field reporting? Remember how it went south when the previous owners let it die? Well never fear — it’s alive again! A dedicated servant-heart named Rick has relaunched it better than ever. Check it out today and compare it to any other site for short-term trip management. We think you’ll find it favorable.

http://www.missionmakr.com

5) Make Any Application a Multi-User One Using ScreenHero!

During a meeting this past week here at Brigada, we demo’d …

http://screenhero.com/

Essentially, it allows you to take any application online as a multi-user web app. From what we could determine, it seems to be limited right now to just two people at a time actively editing, but, bottom line, if you have a need to do joint planning with your spouse or teammate, at least give Screenhero a shot. Sessions are free — and encrypted.

12) Interesting Lense on Your Neighborhood

If you live in the USA (or would just like to check out a neighborhood in the USA), fill out the form at…

http://www.instagis.com/

then click to…

http://www.instagis.com/infographics

and fill in your address. It will, among other things, tell you the average income/year for your entire state, then tell you the average income for those living within 1 mile of your address. VERY interesting to plan community outreaches. (Thanks Caleb!)

9) If You Minister to Those in the USA, Try “NextDoor”

Is your ministry in the USA? Would you benefit by a community focus in your neighborhood? If so, try the great new community-builder called “NextDoor.” A Brigada reader referred us to this new Cool Tool just this past week. I decided to try it with my own neighborhood and have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly it is catching on. Already, 23 neighbors have joined me in the new online space that is set aside just for our own subdivision (nobody else can join). Just browse to…

https://nextdoor.com/invite/zecuwzekmgnvqfzgqxxt

And sign up. It’s absolutely free — and no ads, either. You can delineate the precise perimeter of your neighborhood, and the software will automatically generate postcards and even mail them out for you at no cost. If you know email addresses, you can either send out the link for your new neighborhood yourself, or, if you prefer, provide them, and NextDoor will invite your neighborhood FOR you. Looks like a fantastic tool for community development types — and it’s completely spam-free. Love it.

11) Gospel Funder: Innovative Crowd-Funding

You’ve heard of Kickstarter as a crowd-funding technique to launch business start-ups. Now there’s such a thing for missions, churches, and you! You see, unlike Kickstarter, Gospel Funder is a 501(c)3 — so they’re one of the few (maybe the ONLY?) crowd-funding source that works for non-profits. They do regular webinars to explain their ministry. Learn more or sign up for one at

https://gospelfunder.org/

And thanks to Greg (and the rest of the “ICCM Tech” guys) for tipping us off on this.

7) VSee Adds Ipad App

We first learned about VSee from MAF, the airplane and technology folks. Now, VSee has released a new version of its app for iPad. This update supports receiving shared screens and annotations from PCs during group video calls. You can use group chat during video calls, view auxiliary camera feeds, and invite contacts from your iPad address book. It’s reportedly the first video chat app that’s FDA-registered and HIPAA compliant making it great for telehealth. And, in addition to being simple and secure, it’s absolutely free.

http://www.vsee.com

In fact, now, with the $49/month version, you get unlimited screen share for you and for your meeting participants. This is starting to look like competition even for GoToWebinar.

4) The Website Best Solution for a Start-up Nonprofit?

With so many online start-ups, I fear that we sometimes lose track of the best solutions for specific challenges. For example, suppose you want a quick-and-easy way to stage a new website for a start-up non-profit (i.e., a new mission organization). You would like to a) establish and manage your online presence, b) manage and communicate with inquirers, c) manage and communicate with donors, d) manage and communicate with volunteers. Suppose you have very little money and even less time. Suppose you aren’t sophisticated at writing HTML mark-up so you need a “website in a box” solution. What’s the best answer? Recently, one Brigada reader suggested

http://nationbuilder.com/nonprofit

Have you tried it? On the surface, it looks like it fits the bill. You get unlimited users, unlimited email blasting, custom domain mapping, a hosted website with multi-user content management, multiple themes and page types, search engine optimization and analytics, a lightweight customer-relation management software package built in, social media tools, an online fundraising, financial reporting tools, a virtual phone number, and real-time newsfeeds. You can even add an optional (somewhat affordable) package to do text-message “blasts.” It’s priced by the number of “emailable contacts” you have in your database. So… tracking contacts is easy and free. You can enter thousands without having to pay a dime. But if you add their email addresses, the costs begin to mount. $49 per month (which seems like a sweet spot) will take care of 2500 emailable contacts in your database.

Do you know of other such solutions? We’d love to hear your answer, especially if you have experience in this sort of area. Thanks in advance for taking time to share. (Thanks for the tip on nationbuilder, Caleb.)

3) Global Prayercast uses Talkshoe for Free Phone Conference

When the Global Prayercast launched on April 15, technical organizers chose Talkshoe for their system of choice as a channel for prayer leaders to hear cues from directors.

http://www.talkshoe.com

Shane, the lead tech on the project, chose Talkshoe because of its simplicity, its capacity to hold up to 250 callers, and its price (or lack thereof). Talkshoe’s basic service is free, but there’s a premium service called “TalkShoe Live! Pro” that adds quite a few bells and whistles. Apparently, the company is hoping to make its money off of upgraders, because they seemingly promise in their privacy policy not to sell customers’ personal information. Either way, if cost is a factor, it might be worth a look.

9) Goodbye SpiderOak; Hello SOS Online Backup

Some time ago, I bragged about the encryption at SpiderOak.com. However, after using the service for 7 or 8 months and experiencing constant file bloat, I think I’ll switch from Spider Oak to another product. SpiderOak just seems rather confused, in my opinion, about versioning. New versions of the same file are constantly being backed up as new files. By contrast, in products like
SOS Online Backup, which is also secured at the point of backup on my own laptop…

http://www.sosonlinebackup.com/online-pc-backup/military-grade-security.htm

new versions are NOT counted as separate files in one’s file size maximum. (Though SOS does say they count the BIGGEST version of the file.) They save all versions, forever, but they don’t count multiple versions toward my limit.

SOS has also won the PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice for 4 years straight, for whatever that’s worth. Highly recommended.

12) I Want to Learn Piktochart

Has anyone else tried Piktochart? I’m dying to get some time to learn how to do this… and then snag the time to put it to use. Sometimes, I long to stop time so I can go hide out somewhere and spend about 6 months just learning to DO something… and Piktochart would be one of the first. I can’t even describe it — except to say … it’s a way to build cool drawings on the web that can then be used in a variety of formats in a host of applications. Yes, it’s costly (about $1/day), but there are people who buy a coffee every day, you know? And aren’t those sometimes 99 cents each? So… if I were a coffee drinker, Piktochart would make me want to give it up. :-)

Try a free account. Nothing to lose. Except your coffee. :-)

11) Revisiting “Getting Things Done”

I’ve shared with you that a colleague or two and I have been using Nozbe for task management. Every once and awhile I catch a glimpse of something else and I wonder if it would be better. Then, by the time I check it out, I realize that I probably could have completed two or three tasks on my to do list, instead. :-) This past week, I checked out…

http://www.gtdagenda.com

First, I’ll tell you up front, this app is currently limited to just two (count ’em, 2!) users. However, we have a personal promise from the developer that they’re working on that limitation. Having said that, if you and your cohort (just 2, mind you) would like to try this program, it looks like it does have some strong points. It’s based on David Allen’s “GTD” strategy, which we like. It has the main features like Projects, Contexts and Next Actions. But it also other unique features like a “Goals & Vision Wall,” with multiple projects possible under each goal. You can even stash inspiring pictures linked to your goals, and have them delivered to your e-mail daily so you are motivated to take action. Goals can have Checklists for the repetitive tasks that you have to do, on a regular basis. It integrates with Evernote (shouldn’t everything?). It has native iPhone and Android native Apps that work offline and then Sync (shouldn’t everyone?), and also a mobile-web version that works from any mobile browser. A public API for third-party integrations is available too. So — if there are only two of you now, of if you’re planning on firing a bunch of people, check out gtdagenda. Or keep watch until they can add users. For what it’s worth.

10) What’s the Best CRM for Non-Profits, Missions Agencies, etc.

For some time now, we’ve used a SugarCRM spin-off called InfoAtHand, hosted internally but available globally, as our Constituent Relation Managing software or CRM. We expect a lot of it. We not only use it to help us remember the addresses for new prospective recruits, but also as a holding tank for data about our current members, donors, vendors, and more. But, we’ve used it since 2006 or so without much modification and, frankly, we’re beginning to feel some pressure to switch. Some of the pieces have now gone south (like the connector to Microsoft Outlook, which we were using to transfer contacts to our smartphones). What’s more, with spam email saturating as much as 1/3 of all internet traffic, today’s spam filters are becoming stricter about what they allow through the pipeline. Nowadays, it’s more and more common that we invest hours on a particular report or bulletin, only to find out that it’s not reaching 1/3 to 1/2 of its intended audience because of a picky filtering system. So we probably need to link more effectively with one of the major email distributors like iContact, Constant Contact, or MailChimp (rather than use our CRM to send the mail out directly). We’re also doing more and more events, which prompted us to need an online solution for registration and online payments. This resulted in adding yet another component (we’re using Wild Apricot, but there are several other equally capable options). What’s more, our CRM lags behind in collaborative tools, so we’ve added Podio to the mix (and we love it, by the way) for team communication and file-sharing. And at the end of the day, the truth is, our workers are no longer jazzed about trying to tweak our SugarCRM spin-off into handling all the nuggets of information we want to keep about every single type of volunteer to whom we relate.

The bottom line is — we probably need to switch. (The pressure under the volcano is mounting. :-) ). So may I ask — what has worked for you? Have you found an affordable solution for tracking contacts in a team environment, cross-pollinated with event registration (without having to double-enter or import-export), interlaced with personnel information as well? Obviously, it should be secure, easy, and affordable.

We’re currently considering:

CiviCRM — http://www.civicrm.org (I fear it will be too technical?)

Donor Tools — http://www.donortools.com/ (no event management)

Non-Profit Easy — http://www.nonprofiteasy.com (seems most promising?)

Non-Profit DB — http://www.nonprofitdb.org (does this seem quirky?)

Your thoughts? Anybody have any experience with any of the programs I mention above? Any other options out there that seem more promising to you? Please use the comments below to clue us in on your best recommendations.

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