software as a service

11) What’s Your Honest Appraisal of SkillShare?

We’ve been trying out SkillShare. Honestly, there’s a lot of training offered there. It’s kind of like … Netflix for online distance learning. There are thousands of online classes. You pay a monthly fee ($12/month if you commit only monthly; $8/month if you commit annually), then study as often as you like, with whichever classes you like — in an “all-you-can-eat” fashion. They also have an interesting deal: If someone signs up with your link, that someone gets two free months to evaluate. And you, as a user, now get an extra month for free. So, for instance, here’s our link:


If you use that link to sign up, you get two free months to try it out. And for every Brigada reader who uses it, they give us a free month too, just for passing along the news.


Our take on SkillShare is that the learning community is active and vibrant. Classes are meant to be taken *together* — and the software works. But, because it’s a very broad “faculty” (anyone who wants to teach), it’s really important to review the class. Of course, since you’re not paying anything to try it, it’s kind of like Netflix. Five minutes into a movie, you can always bow out — and nothing’s lost. You can also see how many people have signed up AND there are even review scores you can read. Wouldn’t this be great for homeschoolers???


There are opportunities to make money. Once someone watches your content, you start getting royalties, similar to writing a book and getting paid by Audible. You might end up with $200/month income. Or, eventually, if you become really good, much more. (Some teachers on SkillShare are now making $100,000 plus per year.) There are nearly 30,000 courses though. You’d have to be really good to attract new students. But, we wonder — why is it that when we search for disciple-making, missions and missionary — all those choices turn up empty screens? : ) So what’s your take on SkillShare?


Remember (disclaimer), if you use our link above, you’ll receive two free months — and we receive one. But if you do so, and if you disclose your credit card, make sure you choose “monthly” as your subscription, then make a note of the date you would need to cancel your membership if you decide not to continue — please. Either way, you’d get 60 days of free classes.


10) Can Someone Tell us Why We Shouldn’t Use "OnlyOffice?"

After looking at the comparison at…


We’re trying to figure out why we wouldn’t use this app as our main way to create and view documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Their desktop version seems solid (and, in some ways, a lot clearer?). And their cloud version can be free for qualifying nonprofits. And it’s open source, right? So we can see the security holes (if there are any), right? And wow — the price is great (free for the desktop version; free for the cloud version for qualifying nonprofits). Can someone click “comment” below this item and tell us why we shouldn’t invest in this rather than corporate alternatives?

11) Taskade Offers Brigada Readers 50% Off for At Least One Year

For at least the first year of your use, the CEO at Taskade has been willing to share a coupon code with Brigada participants so that they can subscribe to the pro version of Taskade for a full 50% off. This coupon might only work for the first year but it might also end up giving you a 50%-off rate indefinitely. You’ll recall that Taskade is an outliner/to-do list/reference app that offers you unlimited workspaces, unlimited team members, and unlimited file uploads. Learn more sat


When subscribing, use the Brigada coupon code,


to save 50%. Don’t forget to check out the great apps for digital devices like iPhones and Android devices. (Thanks to John and all our friends at Taskade! And by the way, truth-in-advertising, we aren’t paid any kind of affiliate fee from Taskade. We just love and use the program ourselves.)

11) Taskade (Outliner app) Offers Pro Plan via Referrals

Beginning this past week, the outliner app called TaskAid began marketing a “Pro Plan” with lots of key new features, all for free — if you can find just 12 people per year to love the app as much as you do. (One free month for every person you refer.) Learn more about Taskade by visiting…


We love it that Taskade is quick, fun, and easy, yet amazingly powerful. Use it across all your devices, upload an unlimited number of file attachments (unlimited!), invite others to collaborate with you and edit the same task list or outline simultaneously. Use tags to keep things super-organized and search for a “needle in a haystack” to find anything you want. And unlike Google docs, Taskade doesn’t get trolled for advertising revenue. There are NO ads. Use templates, multiple workspaces, and a whole lot more. Try it today.


And sure, if you plan to register, feel free to tell them we sent you, but we’re already good for 12 months out in the future. The important thing is to use the app if it looks helpful.

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…

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…

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.

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, 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.

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

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

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…

then click to…

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…

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

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.

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

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.)

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