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Nonprofit Apps: Animal Response Team Finds AppSheet Solution Quite Fetching

When Kelly Benton joined the Kansas State Animal Response Team as a unit coordinator, recording and accessing information was like herding cats. Hundreds of volunteers in several regions across Kansas were using paper to track animals in shelters, record the veterinary care they received, and collect information about their owners so they could be reunited later. The data was scattered all over Kansas. Someone would later collect those papers and enter the data into a computer. But then the data was on one person’s computer. That made it inaccessible to other volunteers throughout the state. So Kelly set out to find a more accurate and time efficient way to input and access the data. That led her to AppSheet. “I’ll be honest, I’m a geek,” said Kelly. “I believe everything should be done electronically. I’m just wired that way.” Although Kelly spent a couple decades in IT production control during the mainframe days, she was never a programmer. But that wasn’t a barrier, she said. AppSheet is “very intuitive” and doesn’t require users to do programming. Kelly got started by creating different Google Forms for the animal information, the owner information, and the veterinary treatment. Then, she loaded that information into AppSheet. And it was ready to run. The resulting app allows volunteers to use any smart device. They can work offline in a disaster situation if needed. And they can simply upload data later when an internet connection becomes available. “It’s perfect,” Kelly said. “AppSheet really fit the bill.” The Kansas State Animal Response Team has used the app Kelly created at two disaster response exercises to date. The first drill was in September, just after Kelly finished work on the app. The second was in March. The drills provide an opportunity for the Kansas State Animal Response Team and area vets to provide homeless and other poor people with pets a free animal clinic twice a year. They used these community events as an opportunity to give the app a test run as well. Using the AppSheet-powered app, volunteers at the March event gathered information on 102 pets in three hours. That would’ve taken much longer using pen and paper, said Kelly. "With pen and paper, we only scheduled 30 to 40 pets in three hours." One reason the manual method was much slower, she explained, is it required volunteers to fill out duplicate paperwork about owners with more than one animal. But with AppSheet, volunteers input information about the owner just once, and then add data about each of that owner’s pets. The AppSheet app also allows animal clinics to easily access and record information about when people and their pets visit. It also records what immunizations or other treatments are provided to those animals. The Kansas Department of Agriculture was impressed by the app, which it saw in action at the March event. That department handles large animals, so it could potentially use a similar app to address the needs of those animals in emergency situations, Kelly said. Kelly also has been working on a second app. That AppSheet-powered app could launch as early as September. It’s focused on doing inventory on Kansas State Animal Response Team equipment trailers. The organization has stationed seven or eight stocked trailers throughout the state. The trailers hold kennels, water and food bowls, a generator, and other gear. They can be used to help shelter 50 pets at a predetermined location in the event of an emergency situation such as a fire, flood, or tornado. Using AppSheet to meet the needs of the Kansas State Animal Response Team, and the animals and pet owners it serves, has been a rewarding experience, said Kelly. And she urged any organization that wants to improve their operations to consider using the AppSheet platform to do that. “It is so worth the time and effort. Just do it. Try it,” she said. “I can’t image how someone came up with this idea,” Kelly added. “But it’s great. It’s really amazing.” Is your organization helping to better our world? We want to help you do it. We offer non-profit organizations and educational institutions a 50% discount on AppSheet plans.   

Innovator Spotlight: How AppSheet Helped Nonprofit Translators without Borders Support Humanitarian Field Workers and Interpreters

One of the best things about my role at AppSheet is learning about how our customers use the AppSheet Platform to make their businesses and organizations more efficient. And when this includes influencing positive changes in the world, it’s gratifying and humbling at the same time. Translators without Borders falls into the gratifying and humbling category. It’s a nonprofit organization that offers language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies. Imagine, for a minute, just how difficult it must be for those in crisis to navigate what is often a bewildering landscape of relief support. This is made more difficult when language becomes a barrier to understanding what support is available. Enter Mirko Plitt, Head of Technology for Translators without Borders. His goal: develop glossaries that support humanitarian field workers and interpreters so that they can communicate more effectively with the people they are helping. Mirko used the AppSheet Platform to build glossary apps that were then used in the field, in online and offline situations, by translators. As Mirko puts it: “These glossaries help to bridge a communication gap in the field because many terms are technical or administrative in nature and are not commonly known to translators… Due to the nature of our work, it’s critical that we are able to access this information when there is no internet access of any kind.” To learn more about Mirko, Translators without Borders, and the glossary apps, watch this AppSheet Innovators Series video. About Translators without Borders Originally founded in 1993 in France as Traducteurs sans Frontières by Lori Thicke and Ros Smith-Thomas to link the world’s translators to vetted non-profit organizations that focus on health, nutrition and education, Translators without Borders is a U.S. non-profit organization that aims to close the language gaps that hinder critical humanitarian and international development efforts worldwide. TWB recognizes that the effectiveness of any aid program depends on delivering information in the language of the affected population. By maintaining a global network of professional translators, TWB helps non-profit organizations overcome communication barriers, increasing access to critical information and services while fostering a climate of understanding, respect, and dignity in times of great need. 

How a Great App Platform Helps Support Our Data-Driven Non-Profit

  Fruits and vegetables are a beautiful thing. They’re nutritious and delicious. But nobody ever said they had to be perfect. However, to make it onto grocers’ shelves, produce needs to meet conformity standards. You’d be amazed at the amount of produce that goes to waste simply because it’s not pretty. A gigantic carrot or misshapen onion may be fresh and ready to enjoy, but everything needs to fit just right on a grocery store shelf. And if produce looks a little out of the ordinary it’s headed to the trash heap of history. Grocery stores reject ugly produce. Actually, this food might not even make it that far in the value chain. Knowing grocery stores won’t want it, distributors might not even try to sell it. Sometimes farmers don’t even harvest it in the field. But when they do, distributors and farmers may donate it to food banks. That’s where we come in. What We Do Brighter Bites brings the donated food to families who otherwise wouldn’t have access to fruits and vegetables. We bag it and add tip sheets on how to prepare it. Then we deliver it to families at schools in low-income areas in which affordable produce is hard to find. When families pick up their two bags of fresh produce, we stage food demonstrations and offer snack samples. We also provide recipe suggestions. These gatherings occur at 70 school locations, 16 weeks out of the school year, and during eight-week summer programs. The schools are in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, our headquarter city. Our employees and volunteers also stage demos and distributions at our new schools in Washington, D.C.; New York; and Immokalee in southwest Florida. Our 501c3 non-profit has 30 full-time and 20 part-time employees. We have hundreds of volunteers weekly – mostly parents from the schools, but also community members. And about 15,000 families are enrolled to receive Brighter Bites’ produce and services. A lot of people and resources need to come together to make the program work. But we’re happy to make it all happen, because providing fresh produce and related education to these families is the Brighter Bites mission. So we continue to work to bring our families these important sources of nutrition. And, as part of that effort, we strive to make our organization more efficient and data-driven. That’s where AppSheet comes in. The company now powers about 16 Brighter Bites applications. These applications mean our employees and volunteers can spend more time working with families and less effort on data entry. Data collected with AppSheet-powered apps also is more accurate. Plus, the AppSheet platform provides Brighter Bites and its donors with quick access to the most current information. And they help us in several other areas. I’ll tell you more about all our AppSheet-powered apps in a moment. But let me start by telling you what brought us to AppSheet in the first place. Brighter Bites keeps track of who attends and gets produce, recipe cards, and tip sheets (like how to slice an avocado) at our distribution events. We check in several thousand families on our roster weekly. The distributed produce changes based on what’s available. So we use a roster to track the contents of a standard bag on a given day. We also track the employees and volunteers working each event. Now that we’ve embraced AppSheet, we even track the weather on one of our apps. That helps us understand how storms and other weather events impact attendance at our events. Our Pain Point Prior to adopting AppSheet, Brighter Bites used Excel to track family attendance and bag pickups at our distribution events. Sometimes the spreadsheets were printed out, so workers had to re-enter the data later. That process was error-prone and inconvenient. Some of our schools are an hour or more from our offices, so data re-entry meant data wasn’t immediately available. Other times our workers used computers running Excel. So they spent a lot of time scrolling to the right column and row to input data. And they had less time to interact with our families. But data input errors and on-site inefficiencies were just part of the problem with Excel. Another major issue was that our data was so disorganized. It was everywhere. So creating reports was an extremely painful exercise. As a result, we typically compiled our data just once or twice a year. That meant if our leaders or donors had questions, we’d have to scramble to create a special report, or they’d just wait for the annual report. Brighter Bites is a data-driven organization, so this situation couldn’t continue. We like to know and show that we’re making a positive impact. And when our funding sources – whether it's a private donor or the Department of Agriculture – request information, we need to deliver. A Better Way So, having recently joined Brighter Bites, I decided it was time to centralize our data and improve out input process. We started out using Google Sheets. But then I found AppSheet and realized it was the perfect match for our attendance rosters. AppSheet greatly improves data entry and editing, and access to data. And AppSheet apps can run on a laptop, a PC, or a smartphone. AppSheet allows for quick and easy field-based data input. If no connection is available at a school, it syncs the data when connectivity becomes available. And it offers workflow features like notifications, which are really great. The Power of Notification A big part of my role at Brighter Bites is program fidelity. That means making sure we’re implementing our program correctly and in the same way everywhere. So I like to provide tools to our leadership team that offer updates on our programs in each city. Notifications enable that. We also do a survey at every school distribution. After someone at the event submits the survey, the AppSheet notification feature delivers it to the person who filled it out and to his or her supervisor. It comes to them instantly via email, so they don’t have to search for it. Notifications also allow us to send alerts when we add a new produce items or tipsheets. The roster, our initial AppSheet-enabled solution, and the daily site survey are our two primary AppSheet apps. All our workers use these data-specific apps, as we call them. We also now run various internal apps and research apps on the AppSheet platform. That includes internal apps that allow our employees to request data from our marketing team or help from out IT team. For example, if someone at Brighter Bites is preparing a speech or getting ready to be interviewed by local media, they might use the app to request talking points from our marketing folks. And if a Brighter Bites employee is having computer problems, he or she can use the app to find someone in IT for assistance. This app makes it much faster and easier for people to access the resources they need when and where they need them. Our research apps, meanwhile, help us better understand the effectiveness of our program. Here’s one example of a research effort AppSheet is helping enable. Fifth graders at select schools have enrolled in a study through which we track what they select, eat, and trash for lunch during the school day. We post four research staff in the lunchroom to record this information – one to enter the data and the others help with observation and ensure entered data is correct. The aim is to help us understand whether and to what extent our program is prompting the children of our families to eat more produce. Between 40 and 50 people use our internal applications, 30 to 40 use our data-specific apps, and about 10 use the research apps. They are used every day, constantly. I mentioned we’re in 70 schools, well we’re probably active in 40 or 50 of them at a time. I built nearly all of these applications. For some of them, like the IT help system, I used an AppSheet sample app to get started. Others I created from scratch. In fact, I built so many apps that some people were challenged to keep track of them. It’s funny, I feel like every time I have a problem, AppSheet a week before I contact them about it introduces a solution. In this case the solution was App Launcher. App Launcher is a single app through which people can access other apps, group the apps and sort them by access. People love it. And it helps me too. If I have an update, I just do the update in App Launcher. What’s Next As you can see, we’ve already created a strong stable of apps using AppSheet. But we just keep coming up with great new ways to use the platform to support our efforts. For example, I’m creating an app so we can send customized messages to our families. We plan to use this to inform our families what to expect at select events. News of a specific demo, or that we’ve added a certain fruit or vegetable to our bags, may prompt a family to make the trip out to an event. The app, which will also leverage Google and Twilio technology, will also support one-on-one conversations. That way if a family is running late and needs us to hold their bags, we can do that. We’re also working to introduce a new roster app notification to deliver alerts to our families when they check in at our events. The alerts might be something like “You attended two bag pickups this season. That’s more than 100 servings of produce you’ve received!” I’ve been using the AppSheet platform for a while now. And, as you can probably tell, I’m still pretty excited about it. Here’s why I love AppSheet. They don’t stop releasing new features. With other tools, you buy into it, and there’s silence. But AppSheet continues to innovate. The AppSheet platform has so many uses. The way we work now is that if a need arises, we say “Can we do that within AppSheet?” The answer is almost always yes. Greg Bounds is director of analytics at Brighter Bites (

How Rotary International Is Using Apps To Help Rebuild The Hurricane-Ravaged Caribbean

Managing Disaster Recovery Efforts: Rotary International Creates an App for That When disaster struck the Caribbean in the fall of 2017, Rotary International District 7020 and its clubs stepped in immediately to help coordinate relief efforts. But managing resources during times of uncertainty and chaos is extraordinarily challenging. To help create structure so that they could manage, process and organize recovery projects and resources, the Rotary worked with AppSheet to create apps that their members could use easily—from anywhere—to communicate and coordinate the distribution of immediate relief supplies of emergency shelter, water, food and clothing as well as coordinate other much needed and longer-term recovery projects for affected communities on different islands. Normally this kind of business software development effort takes months or even years, but by building apps on the AppSheet platform, the Rotary’s apps were up and running in just two days and helping to coordinate Rotary’s response. “Using AppSheet, we were able to design and launch a full end-to-end app in just two days. When we decided that it made more sense to have two versions of our app, it took us less than an hour to deploy the second one. And now, we can make changes to either app immediately to accommodate new features or improve the user experience in a well-managed deployment. Altogether, it’s a fantastic platform — and perfect for any civic organization that is looking to improve information management and resource distribution,” says Michael Terrelonge, Rotary International 7020.  

AppSheet and New Incentives: Helping to Immunize More Infants in Nigeria

Each year, only five percent of the $240 billion that individuals in the U.S. give each year is donated internationally, with the rest going to domestic non-profits. And one of the biggest reasons why is because people are skeptical about donating money overseas, where they can’t easily see how their funds are being used. At New Incentives, a U.S. nonprofit operating in Nigeria, we are turning the international relief process on its head — and AppSheet is playing a huge role in helping us do it. We offer a health-based reward system for families that allows them to receive flexible cash in exchange for achieving a health-related goal such as getting a vaccination. We communicate with private donors, and then use tracking and data collection to ensure that their money winds up directly in the hands of people who need it the most. With this system, we are building an environment where donors can ensure that the majority of each dollar actually goes to people in need. What we are doing has a direct impact on peoples’ lives, and so we knew right from the start that we needed to ensure our company is highly-transparent, and driven by quality data. Every week, we collect about 1 million data points from various sources, and we use it to constantly try and determine how to make our mission better. As you can see, this is a tremendous amount of information to manage. At first, we used a range of different apps to manage data. For instance, we used Expensify for expense reporting but found it did not match our needs and use cases. We needed a powerful and cost-effective app that we could easily update and customize based on our specific needs. So, we turned to AppSheet’s app maker platform. Since switching to AppSheet, operations have dramatically improved. In just one week, we designed a powerful app and have since expanded to a total of 16. Many processes across our organization now run on AppSheet. It has helped us with everything from tracking daily expenses to using photos of financial recipients without compromising their privacy. AppSheet allows our employees to refer to photos inside of our app when following up on program defaulters in remote areas even without connectivity. AppSheet also helps us eliminate fraud and abuse, too, which is important since our employees receive pre-funding for expenses due to cash flow constraints where we work. We give employees petty cash, and use the app to make sure that it goes only towards approved expenditures. AppSheet gives us the tool that we need to ensure accountability. We can easily detect fraud and abuse when it happens. Since working with AppSheet in August, 2016, the results have been amazing. AppSheet has helped us deliver our program to a total of 32,954 low-income mothers and their infants. This estimate does not include the infants so that it is an exact number of caretakers we have directly provided the cash incentives to. The AppSheet team is also incredibly easy work with and highly supportive. They have been working with us every step of the way to design powerful apps. So they don’t just give you a platform and expect you to make something on your own. If you need assistance, there will be no shortage of it.  

Environmental Threat (Weeds) Meets Its Match, Gamification-Style

  Buddleia is one of the 13 common weeds, or Dirty Dozen, threating native habitat in New Zealand. Editor’s Note: We love all our AppSheet creators but once in a while we come across an ingenious use of our app making platform. Picture this: an environmental threat (weeds) meets its match in the form of a game. Here’s what you need to know: Environmental weeds pose a great threat to New Zealand’s parks, reserves and coasts and they’re not fun to remove. And New Zealand has no standard protocol for reporting and monitoring environmental weeds. Enter AppSheet creator Dan Ducker, Research & Strategy Lead with EcoMatters Environment Trust, with a big idea: Make weed reporting, monitoring and removing as fun as playing a game. Whether you’re a weeding novice or expert, conservation coordinator or simply a person who enjoys walking in the bush, this game (app) is for you. We asked Dan how AppSheet helped with his game-changing idea, and this is what he had to say: “The primary benefit that AppSheet provides is the ability to rapidly prototype ideas. AppSheet is awesome because we’re not spending heaps of money contracting app developers to experiment with our ideas - it enables us to actively experiment for ourselves, rapidly and at low cost. This is of huge benefit because we can trial ideas, and if they’re not working well can refine or discard entirely, and not feel huge pangs of remorse. Also because it’s only moderately technical at the back end, collaborators feel empowered to try new things and innovate. More diverse eyes early in the development process equates to a better, more innovative product, quicker. Finally, the functionality provided by the platform gives us the ‘palette’ to explore new and interesting ways to make progress on our mission to nurture environmental guardianship, and the development team at AppSheet regular introduce new functionality enabling us to continually improve too.” Thanks for the kind words Dan! Dan  submitted his brilliant idea to the 2017 WWF Conservation Innovation Awards and we may be a bit biased but we hope he wins! Check out his award submission below. Download the War on Weeds player guide here.  This was originally published on WWF New Zealand. Dan's original submission can be found here. A mobile and web browser app that turns spotting, identifying and removing environmental weeds into a fun, engaging game. Whether you’re young or old, a weed novice or weeding expert, a conservation coordinator or simply a person who enjoys walking in the bush, this game app is for you. Spot an environmental weed? … gain points at the push of a button on your mobile phone - marking it on a map. Confirm the existence of a weed or help others to identify weeds they’ve discovered and gain additional points. Go on a mission to remove invasive species, mark your weeding efforts and improve your score. Confirm where weed removal has been successful, and where further work may be required. As your score increases so does your rank, and the credibility of your observations and actions. Sign up or create a local “battalion” and work together on weeding missions. Easily see the progress you are making on reducing environmental weeds in your neighborhood, as well as your collective impact nationwide. Main view shows actions in your immediate vicinity. Blue: your location. Red: weeds discovered. Orange: already attacked. Yellow: injured. Green: removed. What conservation problem are you trying to solve? Environmental weeds are not sexy, they’re not particularly fun to remove, and yet they are a huge conservation problem. Auckland has the dubious distinction of being the “world’s weediest city” yet it is remarkable how little we know about the specific location and spread of environmental weeds. What knowledge we do have can be hard for the general community to access. There are a great number of small, awesome environmental groups doing weeding work in local areas, but these have well known challenges. For example, getting volunteers, maintaining morale, keeping track of efforts, communicating actions and finding funding are just some of the difficulties which have been highlighted. At a broader national level there are no standard protocols on the reporting of environmental weeds, which means reporting and monitoring is inconsistent. Predator Free 2050 has the potential to increase the threat of environmental weeds (a greater dispersal of weed seeds due to birds). How are you going to solve this conservation problem? The Tend your Planet/War on Weeds game will provide: A fun way of learning for people who have little or no knowledge of environmental weeds Collection of weed data on a scale we have been unable to achieve in the past, on both public and private land Sharing of data between and within organizations Better definition of reporting protocols, through collaboration and discussion about appropriate points scoring mechanism in the game. Increases in voluntarism for environmental restoration and participation in environmental groups Enhanced funding opportunities through mission and prize sponsorships Enhanced capacity for research on environmental weeds (e.g. dispersion, effect of predator free policy, etc) We’ve developed a prototype! Try it out at: Install link for mobile device (iPhone and Android), for browsers. Player Guide link. What makes your idea new and unique? As far as we are aware this is the first time that identifying and removing weeds has been turned into a viable game. There is some novelty also in the simplicity of the location based tool for mapping, monitoring and reporting conservation data.  We will be making two different user interfaces, one Tend your Planet is inspired by the book “The Little Prince" which emphasizes weeding as a form of local guardianship, the War on Weeds interface has a more tongue-in-cheek combat theme. These interfaces connect to the same underlying database, and this novel way of engaging different audiences will increase reach and interest (and enable fascinating opportunities for competition and research). Another great feature is the low cost involved for collection, storage, and maintenance of environmental data (shout out to Google and AppSheet for reduced NFP rates) which means we will be able to provide the game hosting service for free indefinitely into the future.  Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit? We strive to make environmental connection engaging, fun, and honor the contributions of individuals and groups. Our principles are therefore about keeping things simple, providing open access to data in real time, and using the contributions of participants to expand the overall knowledge and understanding of weed species. The Tend your Planet/War on Weeds game concept has been designed with the intention of being useful to a wide array of people and groups. Participants with little weed knowledge will have fun learning about weed threats to our ecosystems, community groups will find it to be a useful way of tracking weeds and volunteer actions, experts will be rewarded by seeing reductions in problematic weeds, researchers will benefit from a new credible environmental weed dataset. Municipal and national authorities will benefit for more uniform conservation reporting. What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant? The initial prototype provides a demo of the possibilities for game development, and is essentially only the first step. The next phases of development will include: Demoing, testing, and refining the early prototype Developing the Tend your Planet user interface Adding additional features (e.g. mission deployment, text messaging of reminders, enhancements to Te Reo language option, new ideas) Exploration integration, with the Naturespace website/app iNaturalist and online events/calendaring (e.g. Facebook, Eventbrite) Collaborations across organizations (Local, Regional and National Organizations, MfE, Weedbusters, DOC, Forest & Bird and others) to work on a protocol for reporting which will be embodied in the gameplay Broad deployment (hopefully with the assistance and support of the above organizations) Acquisition of sponsorship. We’d like to invest $5000 of the grant funding to generate $25,000 in sponsorship for community weeding groups as prizes. Read more about his idea here. Check out the 2017 WWF Conservation Innovation Awards here. For more AppSheet app creator stories, please go to Citizen Developer.  

Mobile App Platforms are Helping to Feed Those in Need

  As the holidays approach, we can’t help but think about the less fortunate. For those who serve in the University of Arkansas Razorback Food Recovery Program, this is a year round mission. On average colleges throw away 22 millions pounds of extra food every year. With that wastefulness in mind, the Food Recovery Program formed to recover this extra, wholesome food that would otherwise be thrown away. Razorback Food Recovery (RFR) volunteers work with Chartwells Dining Service employees to recover the surplus food on a daily basis. The process begins when dining hall employees take pre-packaged or bakery items to a designated refrigerator for RFR to use. Each morning volunteers go to that location to weigh and log the food and from there it is delivered to be donated either to Full Circle Campus Pantry or another community partner. Christian Bourdo, RFR Chair, has the main responsibility to oversee and lead their leadership board. “We use AppSheet mostly for data collection,” states Christian. “This data is very important to us because we track food waste data on campus and then use it to help food producers limit over-production and track the success of our program. This also tracks our food from the source to where it is eventually served.” Christian decided to use AppSheet in August 2015 because their data storage was recorded on Google Sheets and AppSheet didn’t require him to build a new database. Before AppSheet, the data collection was done by Google Forms. “Switching to the app has made data collection extremely easier. The data is collected by volunteers handling the food, and we now have over 75 total student volunteers in the program,” explains Christian. “The forms on the app are much simpler and quicker to use than the previous forms we used, plus all of the forms can be kept in one platform rather than having a list of many different Google form links.” Not only does the mobile app maker aid in food recovery and distribution, but it additionally organizes the complex duty of organizing the teams of volunteers. “We can more easily communicate with volunteers thanks to the app. Volunteers recover food between lunch and dinner. Volunteers separate the large pans of surplus food into individual, freezable meals that can then be given out to community partner agencies.” The University of Arkansas’ program continues to grow strong. Not only was it one of the first schools in the SEC to start a food recovery operation, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the university for its leadership, collaboration with businesses, and effectiveness in food recovery.  

These Apps Could Improve Productivity at your Nonprofit

Managing a nonprofit often means operating on a shoestring. There’s not always the budget to streamline processes or outsource tasks to specialists. You have to make do with what you’ve got and be creative about finding solutions. That means everyone has to pitch in to get things done.  Often it’s the small or seemingly insignificant tasks that end up taking the longest. You can spend hours every week updating social media or sending emails late at night to keep your team updated.  With a few simple apps, you could potentially clear hours in your week to focus on the big picture strategy and really making a difference. Spread the Word Managing social media can be a time sucker, but it’s absolutely essential for nonprofits to keep communication channels open. An active social media presence means you are continually building awareness and encouraging word of mouth promotion of your cause.  And of course, social sharing is key to successful fundraising these days.  There are numerous tools to help you manage all your social feeds, but one of the most highly featured and reputable is Hootsuite. Hootsuite has the advantage of mobile and tablet apps which mean you can manage your social media strategy wherever you are.  With Hootsuite you can compose and schedule posts on 35 social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Instagram right from your phone. You can engage with direct messages and shares, track performance, and get performance reports, all under the free option.  There are many other social media tools like Buffer which is great for scheduling and broadcasting messages across multiple platforms, and Sprout Social, which has an intuitive interface but no free option. This great analysis gives you a rundown of all the pros and cons of these and other social media management tools. Create Beautiful Images It can be tough for nonprofits to present a professional visual front without a big graphic design budget. These days if you don’t have in-house design skills, you can fill the gap very nicely with an app that does the job for you. Canva is one such app that lets you create gorgeous graphics and documents without any design experience.  Available as an iPad app, you can use simple drag and drop features and standard layouts to whip up a presentation, invitation, poster or collage in minutes. With templates for Facebook, Instagram, Google and Twitter, it’s easy to make a big impact on social media. PicMonkey is another app that nonprofits can use to turn any photo into a beautiful shareable collage, quote or promotion for maximum impact.  With PicMonkey on your phone you can snap an image, add filters and text, and update your social media feeds in moments. Connect Your Teams With so much to do, it’s important for nonprofits to keep staff engaged and excited. A big part of this is to make sure team members feel like they’re part of a united community with a common, important goal.  This is especially relevant if the team is distributed geographically rather than sitting together in the same office every day.  Slack is a desktop, tablet and smartphone platform that can keep people connected and get the conversation flowing.  It’s a messaging and communications app for teams with a free option that would work for most nonprofits, and only a few dollars a month for advanced features and unlimited storage. You can set up a channel for each team, project or office location and share documents and files that you want to discuss. One of the great things about Slack is that you can carry on conversations across multiple devices.  You can share a file at home using your laptop and get feedback later when you’re out with your smartphone. Manage Tasks and Calendars If you’re using Slack at your nonprofit to keep communication channels open, a great option is to add a productivity app like Kyber directly into Slack. Kyber lets you set up to-do lists, assign tasks, create appointments and manage projects right within Slack.  If you have fairly simple workflows and tasks to manage, then this could be your free, one-stop productivity tool. Another good option is Trello which uses lists, cards and checklists to help you manage projects collaboratively. It’s accessible across all devices and lets your team collaborate effectively to deliver even the most complex projects. There’s a free option that may do everything you need or for $10 a month you get advanced features and deep integration with other tools like Mailchimp and Salesforce. Streamline Productivity Even with all these great apps, every nonprofit has unique situations that they need to manage. Perhaps you oversee a team of volunteer drivers that pick up donations around town, or you need to schedule home visits and keep track of client health or support needs.  Most of the time you’d be lucky to find an existing app to meet your specific needs and no doubt you’ve come up with paper systems or spreadsheets that do an OK job.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could convert these systems to simple apps that streamline workflows and make your teams more efficient?  At AppSheet we provide a platform that lets you turn spreadsheets into simple apps within hours, with no programming experience.   By standardising processes you can ensure no-one is re-inventing the wheel each time a task comes up again. An app can help you document what works best and direct everyone through the process.  The right app can help everyone on the team gain access to the information they need and be crystal clear about what has to be done.  We’ve created a number of standard apps to show you what’s possible. Could your non-profit benefit from an app that simplifies these tasks: Schedule drivers to pick up or drop off Items Enter locations and pick up details so that drivers can quickly check in and see what’s been assigned to them. A great way to replace printed or emailed delivery lists or ad-hoc job scheduling on the fly. See the Driver Dispatch Sample App. Capture details of orders, sales or donations Enable staff and volunteers at multiple locations to enter details of orders, sales or donations into a single app. You can see at a glance how you’re tracking against target and use the data to make on the fly decisions to manage resourcing and stock levels. See the Order Capture Sample App. All of these apps can be downloaded and customised, or you could get started with your favourite spreadsheeting platforming and create your own. You may even have an existing spreadsheet that you’d love to convert to an app. Check out the amazing benefits of converting your spreadsheet to an app.   Track staff and volunteer hours Instead of juggling timesheets or updating a spreadsheet manually once a week, staff and volunteers can enter their own hours into this simple timesheet app each day. You’ll have all the data at your fingertips without the hours of administration.  See the Time Sheet Sample App. Train team members and new starters How many hours do you spend running through systems and procedures with new staff or volunteers?  A simple training app could consolidate all that valuable knowledge and information in one, easy to update location. Trainers could use the app to coach new teams on site, or team members could simply access the app to learn at their own pace. See the Employee Training Sample App. Share a Contact Directory Do your teams have lists of useful contact numbers on printed pages at their desks, or on sticky notes around their monitors? How often do you have to refer to an old email or document to find the number you’re looking for?  What if you could consolidate all of these numbers in a central contacts app that everyone can access? See the Contact Directory Sample App Using apps to streamline processes can make a huge difference to productivity at your nonprofit. Apps like Hootsuite, Canva and Slack can simplify processes and help you and your team get things done in less time. Add to this a suite of custom apps to meet your nonprofit’s specific and unique needs, and you’ll unearth hours of additional time every week to devote to making a real difference in people’s lives.    

Clean Water in the Third World, Made Possible by TerraClear and Mobile Apps

Dan Rice works for TerraClear, an organization whose mission is to improve access to clean drinking water among rural populations in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). Lao PDR is on the United Nations’ least developed country list, and therefore largely lacks basic resources to keep water clean for its citizens. TerraClear makes an affordable and effective ceramic water filter for household water treatment. The organization sells the filters to individual families at a subsidized rate and offer a payment plan in order to make the technology accessible to everyone. Empowering families to purchase the water filters, as opposed to giving them away, creates a sense of ownership and responsibility for taking care of the filter, and helps everyone gain a greater understanding about the importance of and process behind water sanitization. In order to run the water filter program efficiently, Dan and his teammates need to be able to keep track of customer data and payment information. Paper forms create more work and opportunities for data loss and errors. TerraClear needs the ability to record information digitally. And because the team is often in remote areas where Internet connection isn’t available, they need the functionality to record information securely while offline. Dan built an app with AppSheet and is using it to manage customers and payments. The app is allowing the organization to operate more effectively and rapidly, and ultimately enabling them to help more Laotian families in need. “We had been looking for efficient and simple ways to manage our information capture without a lot of duplicated paper systems. We explored some quick app building tools, but found AppSheet to be the easiest to use for our staff. The ability to access data offline and sync after capturing data offline were critical features that have really performed well. We’ve been very happy with AppSheet and see a lot of opportunity to use it to build apps in the future to help us manage our operations,” he says.