Building SaaS models to serve the sector

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Facilitator: Ryan Ozimek

Notetaker: Kathryn Benedicto

What is SaaS?

  • SaaS: Software as a Service
  • Data storage/processing external to your organization
  • Turnkey solutions? cloud?
  • Multi-tenant: Lots of companies/orgs on one service
  • Virtualization of core infrastructure
  • Is Dropbox Saas? Yes, but you could have alternative storage infrastructure. Dropbox might be considered the simplest version of SaaS.
  • Something that replaces what used to be desktop software

Inventory: Go around the circle and find out what people are using

  • Resource: Social Source Commons - Needs a tag/category to identify SaaS listings
  • What services types are saturated, what's still open?
  • Google Apps, Mail, Google Drive
  • Social media monitoring platforms - Radian 6, Topsy, TweetReach(sp?) for data/graphs, analyzing sentiment/influence
  • If you're not paying for it, you're the product - some services make money data-mining your activities
  • Alternatives to Google Apps - all free, all worse
  • Some services have the business model of data-mining your geolocation data
  • Linode, Rackspace, server monitoring tools
  • Google Calendar/Apps/Groups/Docs/Drive, Vimeo, Github, SaaS versions of CiviCRM (CiviHosting, Koumbit)
  • Progressive Technology
  • Google Apps, Toggl, Basecamp, Github, off-site backups
  • Small-org-targeted SaaS: Microsoft established the office suite norm - looking at OpenOffice, Google Docs
  • Workflow - Intelligent personal assistant
  • Dropbox, surveys, mass emails, Good Done Great
  • FogBugs for bug tracking, password management, event management, surveys, PicNet's Non-Profit Soapbox solution as hosted service, Salesforce - reporting & business intelligence
  • FreshBooks, SurveyMonkey, wireframing e.g. Balsamiq, EtherPad, QuickBooks online, SaaS to self-hosted: RedMine,
  • Pivotal Tracker - agile dev process tracking, EtherSheet + EtherPad (trying to tie these two together for document management)
  • How to tie all these services/APIs together to get business intelligence, analytics
  • Chartio - import any kind of database/data store and do all sorts of charts
  • Need a "meta-SaaS"! A SaaS to manage other SaaS services
  • Listserv
  • Is file-sharing really Software as a Service, or just a...service?? :)
  • Salesforce, Dropbox, Zendesk, Jam(sp?), Marketo(sp?)
  • Github, Bitbucket, Pivotal Tracker, Basecamp, Freshbooks, Harvest, Heroku (hosted service, command-line, version control, handles scaling/sysadmin stuff under the hood simply, supports Rails), Appfog (PHP), PagodaBox
  • One org was unable to transition from QuickBooks, Excel to a SaaS
  • Platform-as-a-service or infrstructure-as-a-service versus Software-as-a-Service
  • IFTT - If-this-then-that, Zappio(sp?) - kind of like a workflow/integration engine for different open APIs/cloud service
  • Is this marketing drivel? "cloud", "SaaS", "ASP" - end-user-driven vs. developer-driven services - but a lot of the jargon is intended by vendors to show "we're different, we're better"
  • Donation processing services

What to build, what does NPO sector need?

  • Good/affordable geocoding services - legislative district-matching
  • Common app/common profile/one-stop shop for applying for grants. If you're a NPO, you have to create your profile a zillion times on different sites. Need an OpenID or Facebook Connect type solution for organizations (portable organizational identity/profile) *Good Done Great is working on this, see note below
  • And...tie into example services: Fliptop, Attentively
  • What does "big data" mean for nonprofits?
  • For some orgs/movements, issue is not whether the tools exist, it's who owns the tools? E.g. harassment from law enforcement - if Twitter/Google is turning over the data, it's no better than having no tools at all - may be able to use modern tools, but from a trusted provider
  • Petition workflow process
  • Need common metadata across different services - otherwise you can't roll info up
  • Solution "silos": accounting, fundraising, etc. - missing piece is the one "thing" to rule them all
  • Issue-focused social media monitoring (versus product/brand social media monitoring, which is well-established)

Good Done Great is in the process of building an site where any nonprofit can go and create their one definitive profile. This profile will be portable using an OpenID or oAuth method where the data can be easily reused anywhere that it's supported. There will also be an xml version that can be downloaded and uploaded anywhere and a free API for grabbing complete profiles. If you want to know more, contact

Business models for SaaS in NPO sector

  • Bootup costs + revenue for SaaS in NPO sector - not sustainable/no market incentive? There's no money for this?
  • Who to trust? Who owns the "trusted copy" of the SaaS data? Apple building its own maps so it won't have to use Google's data
  • Software as an integration game - build smallest component that does one thing well
  • What products suck? Why people use MailChimp instead of Constant Contact, Vertical Response
  • Opportunities exist when products suck :)
  • Can we learn from Obama campaign success factors? They had a ton of money, you can solve any problem with enough money. They had specific questions they wanted to answer, whereas everyone at this session each has their own set of questions they want to answer. They cross-referenced voter data with vast amounts of marketing data. Can we leverage the knowledge and tools the Obama campaign built? Could we get foundations to fund some of the Obama campaign tech people to come into NPO space and contribute their expertise/tools?