CiviCRM Donor and Events Management for Nonprofits

This post was first published on CiviCRM community web site. 

At first glance, one might think CiviCRM donor management for nonprofits is just another tool for development officers, fundraising professionals and executives.

One might want to take another look.

There is a jungle of nonprofit donor management systems on the market today. Capterra lists over 140 different systems  All promise the heaven on earth but, in reality, few other open-source systems offer what you find in CiviCRM.

Aside from its fully integrated system which manages all contact information and activities around all people involved in your organization, CiviCRM is also state of the art technology with a very attractive price point as open-source. There are no licence fees. It’s all installed on your host if you’d like to stay in control of your environment, data and security. As with any software system, it needs its fair share of set-up, configuration, maintenance and training.

I have been burned with open-source software quite a bit in the last decade but working with open-source has also been the biggest delight. There are open-source software communities that stand out and CiviCRM is definitely one of them.

How to judge an open-source software and avoid the pitfalls?

As with any technology project you have to look from three different angles: the technology, the processes, and the people involved.

Technology

A motherboard for computers

For most mature technology projects, the technology is sound. The engineers put their hearts and souls into it and gave it their best. I always assume it’s really good.
Most technology projects don’t fail because the technology decisions were wrong. Most of the time, it’s the people and the processes which become the hardest to align.

CiviCRM has been built with PHP probably, the most used web programming language. It runs on a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP). It is an open-system for developers. It has a managed public API and maintains an infrastructure for custom extension. If a software has been around for almost 10 years and successfully installed around ten-thousand times, it’s safe to assume most of the bugs in the core were already discovered and fixed.

Both the maturity of the CiviCRM system and the managed infrastructure for developer contributions make for an excellent basis upon which to build organization’s core administrative tool for employees.

Processes

Flow Chart (Processes)

Next step on my CiviCRM journey was to dive into the processes of the CiviCRM community.

In this case, processes mean to me: where to find documentation and discover how current it is; find out how can I ask questions, what is the process to report bugs or errata in documentation; discover how forums are run, how was the wiki assembled and how does the issue tracker work.

I witnessed first hand how the community came together and jumped through hoops to become an official Stack Exchange public forum and sunset the existing forums on the site. This was a major effort. You need to prove to Stack Exchange there is a sufficient enough community to support a forum on the site. Stack Exchange doesn’t want ghost towns. The process opens up the community to even more users and also allows for many more people to help each other out while relieving the core contributors from the vast amount of forum posts to be answered and moderated.

I read through all the documentation and successfully installed CiviCRM on top of WordPress, in our company’s test server.

Again, a pleasant surprise. I did not experience a single hiccup or mismatch between the documentation and what I saw in reality. Until this experience I found it quite normal that complex systems would not always behave like the best case scenario in the documentation.

I don’t normally get it right the first time. Nine out of ten times, luck would have me hit a roadblock or surface a bug no one else had found. With CiviCRM I didn’t encounter any of it.

The developing contributors did a fantastic job testing the code before is was released and thoroughly documented the phases of installation and configuration. We all love when a plan comes together. But when you have been around technology long enough, you really don’t expect it to go smoothly right off the bat.

While testing the systems and diving into several different use cases and requirements for the my first project, I received plenty of assistance through the people volunteering on the forums. When I read through the documentation I mostly found the necessary additional information on how to handle special cases of events or a so-called household memberships.

For fun, I also read about scheduled reminders and scheduled jobs. Of course, at this point I was set-up with higher expectations but CiviCRM did not disappoint at any level of my self-paced, fast-paced education. I tested the membership module, events module, the email mass mailing software and the contributions module. Nothing brings more knowledge and lets me test drive a system than when applied to a real life project. So later that year, I took on migration of a membership organization from Filemaker 7.0 to CiviCRM.

People

People

Equally important to technology and process, if not more important for its success, are the people who run the software and the community around it. Who are the people involved? How large is the community? Who are the leaders? How approachable are they? How welcoming is the community to newcomers? How can normal everyday users get help? Is there a network of consultants available to do the heavy lifting for organizations which don’t have their own IT departments?

I started interacting with the CiviCRM community about 15 months ago, when I was searching for a speaker for the local Tech4Good group.

In my search, I reached out to Donald Lobo, CiviCRM’s founder, and David Greenberg, co-founder, got back to me. What a delight. Although as I mentioned I didn’t know any of them, their status in the community soon became quite clear. Both were very helpful – I felt quite welcome. Unfortunately, we didn’t find an evangelist for CiviCRM in Florida. If there is a need, and my interest is peaked, I normally run with it and research some more. Donald and David definitely planted the seed.

After a few months of testing and documenting some of the lessons learned, I started to get even more involved with the CiviCRM community. I signed up for the CiviCRM User Summit in September 2014 (Check out scheduled CiviCRM Events ) and was really amazed about the climate of collaboration and community. The CiviCRM User Summit started with a social showcase gathering the night before in an art gallery with four presentations in which implementers and nonprofits showed-off their use of CiviCRM or discussed new modules or extensions.

The presentations and presenters at the User Summit the next day were outstanding. I was totally intrigued by the versatility of CiviCRM software and the generosity of the consultants, implementers, contributors and community managers.

I finally met David Greenberg and CiviCRM newsletter editor, Linda Wu Pagano, in person after connecting with them often on twitter and on the CiviCRM site, it was like meeting long time friends again. I also met new people, like Tony Mazzarella of Web Access, who showed off some amazing implementation for a political campaign; Nate Porter of Ukuu People, who I met again at WordPress Camps as well as at #15NTC; Frank Gómez and Michael Daryabeygi, the fearless CiviVolunteer code wranglers of Ginkgo Street Labs, and Paul Keogan from BackOffice Thinking, who with his team around Linda Wu Pagano and Brad DeForest started the newest NPTechClub in Pennsylvania. There are so many more interesting CiviCRM people with whom I hope to connect.

The CiviCRM community radiates a genuine spirit of making this world a better place with the best tools available and that spirit enables better software and collaboration.
After working four years extensively with WordPress, I learned to embrace the community driven software. I have the choice to work with open-source vs proprietary software, open-source wins every time.

Fill out below form to learn more about our Implementation Services for CiviCRM and we schedule full demo session with you.

How to create a Stripe Account for Online Payment Processing

For our business clients ,we mostly connect their website to Stripe payment processor.

Here is a short tutorial on the steps to create a Stripe account so that you can accept online payments or contributions.

About Stripe

The two Irish developers, John and Patrick Collison, started Stripe 2010. They wanted to provide an easier way for developers to implement payment gateway system for apps and websites. Later on, Stripe partnered with Visa and other credit card companies and it now one of the most secure, payment systems with a strong focus on fraud prevention. It was also one of the first payment gateways besides PayPal that allows for recurring charges on customer credit cards. The combination of ease of integration and high security makes it the most popular payment gateway system.

Step 0: Have all information ready

  • Who is the Admin person? Probably You.
    • What’s her email address
    • what will be a good password
    • What’s your last four digit of Social Secuirty Number
  • What’s your bank’s routing number
  • What’s your bank account number

Step 1: Enter the Registration Page on Stripe.com

Open your Internet Browser and go to https://dashboard.stripe.com/register

Step 2: Fill out the form to create an account

stripe-1.png

Notes: On this form all information is used for the admin user account. Make sure the email address is a specific email address and only the person dealing with company financials has access to it. It’s also the email address that will be contacted when you need to change your password. During normal business operation, this email address will receive notifications about payments and other important messages about your online account. When selecting a password, make sure it contains at least one lowercase, one uppercase, one number and one special character. 

When you are ready,

  • enter your email address,
  • password,
  • confirm the password,
  • check next to “I am not a robot” and
  • click on “Create your Stripe account”.

Step:3 Confirm you are the company representative

Stripe will needs additional information from you to properly identify you.

https://stripe.com/docs/connect/identity-verification

Optionally, you can use your facebook account, your LinkedIn account or your Google Account.

And you have to fill your personal identifying information

  • Your personal legal name
  • Your Date of Birth
  • The last four digits of your Social Security Number

Step 4: Enter Bank Details

You would need to have available your Routing number and your Account number. Fill out the blanks and then click on “Activate Account”

Once your Account Application Status is Approved you are able to take transactions.

Step 5: Get the Keys to connect Stripe to your Web Site

Go to https://dashboard.stripe.com/account/apikeys

Or via Dashbaord > Developers > API Keys

First you need to send to your web developer  Test Keys so she can test that your website is connecting to the Stripe account.

Your webdeveloper needs the Publishable key and the Secret Key (you need to click on “Reveal test Key Token)

Important: Please copy/paste the keys, as it’s very hard to type them from a picture.

Video: How to get your API Keys:

Once the configuration and integration work, your web developer would need also the live keys. On top of the screen is a toggle slider that lets you switching from live to test and vice versa.

And then click on “Reveal  live key token” to display the secret key and copy/paste that as well.

Step 6: Get the Webhooks

For the Contribution form to work the background communciation also need Webhooks.

Please Go to Dashboard > Developers > Webhooks

And add a Webhook: https://dianeflagg.com/?callback=gravityformsstripe

Video: How to add a webhook (GravityForm)

At that point your web developer needs to change your website to be on a secure socket layer and have HTTPS enabled on the server.

That’s all you need. Feel free to send use your questions

How to Use WordPress Image Gallery?

WordPress Image Galleries are built into the WordPress core and, as such, provide a very useful, entertaining and colorful enhancement to your content – and your content marketing.

This is a post that was orginally posted at the site of WordPress Meetup Southwest Florida

For Relevanza, and a Google+ Hangout on WordPress gallery, I produced the two videos. In the first I  walk you through the task to created an image gallery to be displayed in a post or a page and how to change some of the display options for Thumbnail Grid and Slideshow built into WordPress Core. You don’t need to install any plugins to make this basic functionality work beautifully on your site. As mentioned before the basic WordPress gallery is built into the Core of WordPress.

How Jetpack Modules improve WordPress Gallery

Once familiar with the WordPress Image Gallery built into WordPress Core, Jetpack gives you additional options and and features to augment the look of your gallery or to display various galleries in the side bar widgets.

 

 

Rebranding government agencies requires precision, tenancity.

Rebranding any company or entity is a difficult task on any level but rebranding a government agency requires precise attention to detail and tight coordination behind the scenes. 

Florida’s job and unemployment agency – now called CareerSourceFlorida – started its rebranding in January to the current name from the former Workforce Development Board, known in Southwest Florida as SWFLWorks. 

The online rebranding effort needed to be coordinated among and between the agency’s 24 regional centers. Pauli Systems, LLC, has been the contract website coordinator for the Southwest Florida center for a decade and worked statewide to restyle and reconfigure the center to its new moniker, CareerSource SouthwestFlorida. 

All the work is intended to align Florida’s nationally recognized workforce system and improve customer awareness and use of system’s services and resources. 

“A unified brand will help identify the world class talent available not only for Southwest Florida but throughout the state and help in their recruitment and expansion of the business” said Ken O’Leary, board chairman of CareerSource Southwest Florida.

Quoted: Southwest Florida Business Today

The new revamp was the fourth over the last 10 years. The new site went online on February 9th and was a team effort between Pauli Systems and the Workforce Board’s communications team with James Wall, Curt Bradbury and Priscille Chagnon. 

A huge website revamp in 2013 laid the groundwork to make this follow-up rebranding possible without any disruption of services, without content migration or any major change for the content providers and that proved to be an invaluable step for the eventual 2014 effort. 

The site is built on WordPress and Genesis Framework and, as a result, is highly flexible. For the revamp, the main task was to build another WP Child Theme incorporating the new brand assets into and existing content flow. Existing features such as FrontPage Slideshow, Featured Posts, One-Stop Career Centers Calendars and Hot Positions – Occupations In Demand look-up page were easily incorporated with the new design. 

Pauli Systems Team members doing the heavy lifting included Blair Daly, PHP developer and server admin wizard and Karen Wegenhenkel graphic designer and WordPress theme genius. The project was managed by Pauli Systems, owner Birgit Pauli-Haack. The site was finished and rolled out successfully a day ahead of schedule. 

Although the website and new domain for CareerSource Southwest Florida are now online and working for the public, behind the scenes there are still a few things that need to happen to retain Search Engine Ranking, make Analytics Data consistent, and provide redirecting of links posted on social networks and bookmarked in browsers. 

 

GooglePlus Photos make mobile pix Auto Awesome

Photography is my way of trying to stay in the moment just a few seconds longer, cherishing it by freezing it in time.

Time is fleeting and change relentless, especially in technology. Not much time remains for dwelling in the past. Despite living in technology, I resist change as much as the next person. Photography gives me a chance to hold on a little while longer, to the peace, the comfort of the known and customary behavior, before charging again into the next unknown, the next adventure, the next level where I unlearn what I know and become a rookie all over again to new plateaus and new sites and other ways of doing things better in my profession.

Read More

CFCamp Interview with Birgit Pauli-Haack


The following is an interview with Birgit by CFCamp officials:

Birgit Pauli-Haack, President/Founder of Pauli Systems, LC was chosen as one of the speakers for the Fourth Annual CFCamp 2013 to be held October 14-15, 2013 in Germering near Munich, Germany.  The CFCamp has established itself as a fixture for Coldfusion developers and offers again this year many interesting sessions by well-known speakers.  Birgit’s session topic will be Mango Blog “How Mango Blog works and how easy it can be extended”.

Tell us a little about yourself (your work, passions etc…)

Web and information sharing, publishing online are the topics around which most of my life is organized, be it programming in Coldfusion + JavaScript for web or mobile, be it by speaking about information sharing, collaboration, online advocacy, or teach content creation for small business, nonprofits and individuals. All technology although quite exciting by itself, needs to be paired up with relevant content and passion to distribute around the internet. Apart from my work, I play tennis, enjoy dinner & movie with hubby, and experiment with mobile photography and oil painting.

What motivated you to speak at CFCamp 2013?

With CFCamp being held so close to my hometown, I wanted to participate in CFCamp last year, but I already had committed to NCDevCon, where I gave a presentation two years in a row. With a little planning of time, it worked out much better this year. I cherish the occasion to be able to meet up with the European Coldfusion Community and spend additional time with my family. When I contacted Michi regarding my registration and ask if I can help in any way with organization, he asked if I wanted to speak. I pitched a few topics, and he suggested I talk about MangoBlog. 

There are lots of interesting speakers lined up this year, what other presentations are you looking forward to

Yes, the presentation line up on the schedule is very, very interesting! And I am looking forward to CFWheels, Bootstrap, MangoDB, Fusion Reactor, and Raillo

What technologies excite you and where do you see the future of web development?

Definitely quite excited about context-sensitive information in mobile development, integration with 3rd party APIs, as well as the semantic web.

Have you been to München before and do you have plans for your visit

München is hometown for me. My family is from Starnberg, a small-town 15 miles (ca. 24 km) south-east of Munich and my parents live there. Beyond catching up with family and friends, I don’t have any plans yet, but at some point I will be visiting München’s newly re-opened Lenbachhaus (@Lenbachhaus), and I will be making an appointment with Alexander the Great in Rosenheim’ @LokschuppenRO

Final question: TSV 1860 München, FC Augsburg, FC Nürnberg or FC Bayern München?

Not doubt: FC Bayern.

“Google+…oh yeah, you need to be here!”

Southwest Florida's Small Business Resource Network (SBRN) is once again diving into social media training for small businesses this summer.
This program kicks off its Social Media Summer Series on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at the  Holiday Inn, Fort Myers Airport @ Town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Drive, Fort Myers with a focus on “Google+ …oh yeah, you need to be here!” 
Birgit Pauli-Haack, the owner of Pauli Systems and co-founder of Relevanza, will present tips for using Google+ in small business. The amazing opportunities of social media have yet to capture the attention of some business owners and as a result, social media has yet to become part of a strategic plan to reach consumers, constituents and the public at large. For many small businesses – and larger businesses alike – the world of social media can still be a scary place.   Birgit will show you how Google+ will ease your fears and how you can easily use it to spark conversation about your business and discover the synergies between being social and being discovered on internet searches.

Cost for SBRN members is $15 per person, which includes hors d’oeuvres. Guests and unaffiliated small business owners pay $25 per person.  This meeting is sponsored by GreatFlorida Insurance.
Register online or contact Lorna Kibbey, coordinator at the Small Business Development Center at (239) 745-3700.
Come on Thursday, June 20, 2013 and learn why you should embrace Google+.

OlgaTDesigns on the Interwebs

T-shirts have come a long way since tie-dyes and single-frame silk screens. 

OlgaT Designs, prints the shirts, creates strategic alliances with shop owners, updates the company website and goes out to sell all OlgaTDesign products at two local farmers markets in Southwest Florida: Thursdays at Coconut Point in Estero, and Fridays at Lakespark Farmers Market in Fort Myers. 

We have been working with Bryan to augment his online presence and search engine visibility and advise him about on-site SEO.  We also connected his 3Dcart store on http://www.olgatdesigns.com to Twitter. We used the built-in feed and IFTTT.com. A new Tweet appears automatically when new products are posted on the web store. 

Recently, we visited him at the Farmers Market in Coconut Point and used our iPad to shoot some video footage and photos. The windy, chilly morning was a challenge for visitors and merchants. We created a short video in a matter of minutes with the help of Qwiki, a free app for iPhone and iPad. I just love it. It’s easy to use, very customizable, nicely combines photos and videos. Of course, once uploaded you can share the Qwiki on all social webs and embed it on a webpage. Qwiki is not yet available on Android. Just a matter of time. 

This is for now but I am sure you will hear and see much more by Olga & Bryan and OlgaTDesigns in Southwest Florida. 

Being online is today part of business

“So how is business?” a friend asked me quietly the other day.  I could see the barely disguised fear in her eyes at the prospect of having to hear in reply another devastating story of how the Great Recession has turned yet another business into … let’s say a non-profit entity.  Imagine her delight when I told her that I feel blessed and business for Pauli Systems  has been fantastic.  “People are now coming with bigger dreams to our boutique web development and design shop on Radio Road,” I added.  

SBDC Distinguished Entrepreneur Award 2013Once upon a time we were seen as a mere office supply store, where one just buys something to put up on the web and is forgotten until something new is needed on the web.  Gone are the days when one hops from web developer to web developer, who invariably rip up an old website and installs a new one, which then an instant small business website & ghost town.

I never cared for those cookie-cutter web site shoppers who only want a Number One spot on Google Search and want it with a single key phrase, like “real estate” (in a town with 7,000 Realtors) and want it instantly, without any sense of content or context.  “Water removal,” “pet grooming.” .

The conversation has changed and I am very happy about that.

Business owners and managers realize today that “being online” is part of their business and content is king.  High demand for story, data and image sharing online have become a strategic part of savvy business plans and daily operations.  And the savviest business owners come to us looking for a partner to take them beyond single parts and who offers a broad spectrum of tools, services and guidance. We share our experience to help build systems flexible enough to grow with the business’ and customers’ needs but also stable enough, scalable enough to integrate into operational processes of a growing business.

SWFL WorkForce Development Board

We don’t have a chinese menu, from which one picks and choose. Online presence and online marketing has so many different moving parts that picking one over the other is like asking which pencil an architect might use to design a structure. As with building a house, we first need to better understand your vision, goals and budgetary outline.

Our motto is “Form follows Function” or “Form follows Content”, all depends on what you want your web site to be or do and what you think your various groups of visitors would want to see or do on your website; and in which context will they interact with you.

Similar to architects, we will find the right combination of software, tools and services that would best fit your overall content strategy, internet marketing plan and budget. Then we will oversee implementation, acquire resources (software, developers, graphic designers, services providers) and manage the configuration and assembling process.

Clegg Art - Responsive Design - Browsing imagesMost online systems integrate with APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the trend now goes to single purpose apps.  That’s what mobile phones and tablets brought us but as an enterprise you depend on the best integration of systems. You need a consultant who has a good working knowledge in many systems and is able to weigh advantages against trade-offs and manage the gaps between systems or innovations.  

Within the new paradigm, there are, however, challenges.  One of those is to keep fresh content filling a content management system, content to share over the social webs, keeping it fresh and real.  As most of you know, I founded two years ago, with journalist, author and friend, Steve Hart, a new company, Relevanza, to integrate all aspects of online technology with the ongoing need to produce relevant content and meet customers on their terms and within their own context. 

Business communication is not driven any more by corporate speak, no-one wants to speak to a 501(3)(c) any more (waving at Kivi Leroux-Miller).  On the other hand, businesses need to tell the stories of their products, how they are produced, what’s in them and how to put them to use.  Business news editors do that for industry publications  and that’s what your business needs to do, too.

Relevanza News RoomAt Relevanza, we provide the missing link. We are your own news room.  We help you speak, tell your story and, then, let the whole world know using the “new” online tools and social media. 

Each organization needs to develop an online community to be reachable, approachable and transparent.  The biggest challenge now is to understand what a business has to say and say it with authenticity, integrity and honesty.  That’s part of the contract with your customers. They chose you because you are able to build a relationship of trust.

Businesses now have plenty of data about their customers and can meet them on their own terms and within their own context. Yet most businesses are still not able to put the data to the best of their knowledge. 

It’s still hard to connect the real life interaction in the store, in the restaurant, in the classroom or in your office and continue your online relationship.  But how much richer does the business interaction become when you get personal and meet your customers as individuals. Most business schools don’t teach that kind of interaction and most corporations discourage that kind of approach to customer service. 

But, as a consumer yourself, how much do you like, perhaps even expect, personal interaction, personal services and customizable experiences? Your customers and clients are just like you. 

Pauli System’s Birgit Pauli-Haack taking SoMe excitement, knowledge to Hodges University

Pauili System's founder, Birgit Pauli-Haack, is once again taking her knowledge and skill in social media on the road – this time to Hodges University

In a presentation set for April 30, Pauli-Haack will explain social media's role, advantages and opportunities in today's business world. 

Come join Birgit each Friday @ Noon for an organic lunch and informal round table discussion, Q&A, on all topics Social Media at Food & Thought in Naples, Florida. 
 

By 2014, nearly 1.7 billion people around the globe will use social media on public networks like Googele+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, YouTube and over 300 other social networks. Most users (51 percent) will access these platforms via mobile devices like smartphones, tablets or eReaders enabled with web browsers.

The presentation by Pauli-Haack will give an overview of social media strategies and tactics placed in the overall context of integration with business communication and business data systems. 

You wil leave the presentation with a much clearer vision of social media's role in today's business world and where to learn even more about how to plot a path through the social media landscape. 

To register for the event call Kevin Van Duser at (239) 598-6143 or email:  kvanduser2@hodges.edu.