Thursday, October 20, 2016

How SmartSimple is helping change the lives of high-risk children and youth

The numbers don’t lie; children who suffer from untreated mental health issues in their formative years are at significant risk for a future of behavioral problems, unemployment, incarceration and even suicide.
Did you know?
  • An estimated one in five Canadian children experience mental health issues
  • Approximately 60% of incarcerated males in Canada have a history of childhood conduct problems
  • It’s estimated that future costs for a career criminal can be up to $6.5M if no early intervention takes place
It’s why SmartSimple was eager to help Child Development Institute (CDI) and their SNAP (Stop Now And Plan) National Expansion Campaign. “At SmartSimple, we firmly believe technology has the power to do good things, so whenever we see an opportunity to apply our expertise to help an organization meet their goals, we’re happy to facilitate.”
SNAP is an evidence-based intervention model designed to positively change the lives of high-risk children in their middle years, and their families. It was developed by CDI, an accredited children’s mental health agency performing ground-breaking work in developing innovative programming.
Specifically, SNAP was developed as an intervention program for children under the age of 12 in conflict with the law. It has evolved into an internationally-recognized program that focuses on emotion regulation, self-control and problem-solving and teaches children with behavioral problems, and their parents, how to make better choices "in the moment."
“Finding state-of-the-art solutions for dealing with children’s disruptive behavior and lack of self-control can only benefit future generations and make life better for children everywhere,” says Mike Reid, COO of SmartSimple. “SNAP had a clear plan to do good work, and we knew, by sponsoring their National Expansion Campaign, we could support that plan in a tangible way. SNAP was a perfect fit for us, and we for them. SmartSimple’s unique Universal Tracking Application (UTA) not only ensures each child’s case is tracked, pertinent data shared with global researchers, but their confidential information is kept completely private.” SmartSimple has been given the honor of Featured Supporter of the SNAP campaign due to our assistance with their program.
“We are very grateful to SmartSimple for applying their expertise to SNAP,” said Dr. Leena Augimeri, CDI’s Director of Scientific and Program Development and co-founder of SNAP. “SmartSimple has made significant impact on the SNAP National Expansion Campaign by developing SNAPiT – an exclusive service delivery portal which will be used by 140 organizations to track outcome data, create efficiencies in service delivery processes and facilitate communities of practice from coast to coast. As a non-profit organization with a long-term vision for social change, yet with limited resources, this kind of support is essential to our work.
SNAP has proven to be effective and provide significant financial savings to society as a whole. It’s estimated that future costs for a career criminal will be between $1.5 - $6.5M if no early intervention takes place. In contrast, it costs approximately $4,000 for a child and their family to participate in SNAP, representing a savings of close to $150,000 per youth if SNAP is successful.
Ongoing research has also shown:
  • Children ages 6-12 are excellent candidates for learning self-control strategies.
  • Recent research indicates that 68% of SNAP participants will not have a criminal record by age 19.
  • A Benefit Cost Analysis on SNAP showed that there is a $17 - $32 return for every $1 invested in the program.

The following infographic shows clearly how serious the impact of children's mental health issues are on society, and how early intervention can substantially improve young lives:

“SmartSimple is truly pleased to be able to provide the solution to facilitate SNAP’s global expansion. They have an incredible pedigree and we will continue to do whatever we can to help them collect, analyze and report on the data that will assist the future of child development research.”
Be sure to check out the SNAP blog to learn more about how SmartSimple helped CDI and the SNAP initiative achieve their goals.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

6 Reasons Your Organization Should Consider GMS Essentials

You’re a grants manager with a small team. You only handle a few grant programs a year and your application and processing requirements are pretty basic and straightforward. You’ve been using a mix of emails, spreadsheets and paper files to keep track of everything.

It’s not an ideal solution, and since you’ve been thinking about expanding your program, you’re concerned that this current set-up won’t be able to handle a more complex granting process.

Fortunately, SmartSimple has introduced a new grants management product – GMS Essentials – that’s designed specifically for organizations that want to expand their granting activities. Whether that means adding more programs or introducing more complex application processes, GMS Essentials will provide the added features and functionality to manage your applications, tracking, reporting and awards processes in one centralized location.
Why is GMS Essentials the best choice for a growing organization? Here are six key reasons why it might be time to take your process into the cloud with SmartSimple:
  1. A build-as-you-go system GMS Essentials is completely scalable and 100% configurable, so as your needs grow, your platform grows with you. You can turn on additional features as you need, or have the SmartSimple team configure them for you.
  2. Dynamic key features GMS Essentials combines four robust modules – submission manager, meeting manager, budget manager and program manager – that form the foundation of the platform. Each module makes it faster and easier to manage and track your granting program no matter the number of grants, grantees or applicants.
  3. Fully configurable reporting and dashboard capabilities The intuitive interface makes building dashboards and creating comprehensive reports painless. GMS Essentials comes with a range of visual options for displaying your information in a way that’s meaningful to all your stakeholders.
  4. Rapid implementation process Our Rapid Deploy team will not only work with you every step of the way, they’ll get your system up and running quickly. They’ll ensure that every aspect of the platform is setup to suit your needs.
  5. No IT expertise required GMS Essentials was designed with the grants manager in mind, so you don’t need a dedicated IT expert to manage the system. We’ll make sure you learn what you need to maintain your platform, plus, our Support Team is always available if you need help.
  6. No coding needed We know not everyone has coding experience. Thankfully, GMS Essentials has been created to empower your grantees to code their own applications so you don’t have to.
Curious to know more?

Learn how GMS Essentials can deliver the automation capabilities to keep your entire granting process organized by requesting a demo.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

From Sea to Shining Sea: Meeting the Needs of US Government Granting

No two granting organizations are alike, and this is especially true for government agencies. The levels and layers of funding that move from federal government departments down to state agencies and out into local communities is a complex trail that is challenging to track, validate and report on.

Kenny Lew, CEO, Innovation Network
How are they currently coping with these challenges? What are the key concerns for government granting agencies at the state and federal level? We had the opportunity to sit down with one of our partners, and expert in software implementation, Kenny Lew. Lew is the CEO of the Innovation Network, a D.C. based provider of cloud-based software platforms for organizations looking for flexible automation solutions. “Our team has been working with government granting since our inception 12 years ago,” says Lew.
Lew and his team of experts are keenly aware of the unique challenges facing government granting agencies and the organizations they support at the state and local level. “Tracking and managing the flow of money is more complex because the dollars travel through multiple organizations.
"Let’s say for instance the Department of Justice provides $4 million to the State of Maryland to fund safety initiatives. Those funds would then flow from various state agencies down to select community organizations whose grant applications to the State were approved for initiatives such as educational seminars on community safety, gun safety in schools and the purchase of bulletproof vests. Keep in mind this is just a basic example, the granting process is generally far more complex.
"At the end of the day, the state agencies are responsible to not only receive and approve grants applications, but fund them, track them, and report backup to the State of Maryland and the Department of Justice. It’s a lot to keep track of to ensure that appropriate initiatives are meeting the goals of the federal government agency.
"What can add even greater complexity is that some community groups may only receive funding from a single government agency while others may be funded by multiple agencies, and it all needs to be accounted for. Plus, when you’re dealing with thousands of grants, the sheer volume makes managing and tracking funds even more difficult.”
There’s also a higher level of responsibility required of government agencies to be accountable and transparent. When you’re dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, that’s to be expected. State-funded grants are public record, so tracking and reporting must be complete and accurate.
Up to now, there has been no single tool or software platform robust or flexible enough to manage all this information. “Today, many agencies at every level use their own solution, be it custom software, paper, spreadsheet programs or a combination of all three. It would be absolute nirvana to have one, single, centralized system that could handle everything for every level of government and the community agencies they fund.”
Being a leader in grants management software, SmartSimple already had the expertise and experience to provide solutions for granting organizations with diverse and unique needs, so, with input from the specialists at the Innovation Network, we created a new product geared to meet the complex requirements of government granting agencies.

SmartSimple Revere offers a single platform solution for single and multi-state granting. Now, state agencies and the organizations they fund can track and report on every dollar granted out, starting from the state or federal funding source, all the way through to the organizations receiving their grants.
A highly flexible and dynamic system, SmartSimple Revere also has the ability to evolve and grow as the requirements of individual agencies evolve and grow.
“SmartSimple’s implementation and licensing models are conducive to the processes of granting and re-granting that’s unique to the US government. It captures all of the relevant data in one centralized platform, providing an end-to-end solution. And, SmartSimple Revere imports granting information directly from, supports Federal Grants Reporting, and supports the preferred data formatting requirements for the government,” concludes Lew.
Visit the SmartSimple Revere page to learn more about this latest solution. Curious to know more? Request a demo of the Revere 1 or Revere 2 platform to see it in action.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why 2016 US election issues mean so much – and so little – to Silicon Valley

In an industry that’s been careful not to play political favourites, it’s not hard to guess who Silicon Valley will be voting for in 2016. With the exception of Peter Thiel, “The Donald” is scaring Silicon Valley leaders. A lot.

It should be a good match. After all, Donald Trump is the poster-boy for capitalism and less government. And the new philanthropists from Silicon Valley (while reportedly much more generous with their wealth) aren’t averse to the wages of capitalism. And frankly, they just want to be left alone to go about their business. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Republican Party nominee Donald Trump (left) and Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton (right) 

Silicon Valley unites against Trump

Trump’s vocal anti-immigration stance is the prime reason he has the tech industry worried. In particular, his claim that the H1-B visas have to go has alarm bells ringing up and down the valley. It’s estimated that each H1-B salary offers a savings of $30,000 a year and that these hires are 100x more impactful than their counterparts.

Trump’s policies spell trouble for thought leadership and bottom lines in Silicon Valley, where 37.4% of the population is foreign-born (albeit not all on H1-B visas).

His staunch support of law enforcement in the FBI/Apple issue didn’t win him a lot of fans in the area, either.

Clinton’s love-letter to Silicon Valley

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton’s tech policy and wooing of the industry stand her in good stead with the tech giants. (You can check in on their courtship via Hillary’s love-letter to the industry).

And, Clinton comes with philanthropy creds. Hillary Clinton’s commitment to helping women could be a turning point for women in the U.S. and worldwide if this level of focus is shared by Silicon Valley philanthropists.

Hillary campaign CTO Stephanie Hannon, red scarf right of center, poses with supporters. Photo Credit: Hillary for America.

Why the outcome matters to philanthropy

The most important reason the 2016 election matters to philanthropy? Government has less and less to spend. The Clinton entourage has experience and proven success in brokering deals and bringing government, corporate and non-profit sectors together.

The potential impact of Silicon Valley philanthropy is staggering, given this opportunity. David Callahan provides an inspiring look at the possibilities in Inside Philanthropy.

Philanthropists participate in a Plan Bay Area Public Meeting in Mountain View, CA. Photos Credit: Noah Berger.

Why then, does 2016 matter so little?

In a nutshell, Silicon Valley philanthropists simply march to their own tune. Engineered solutions to the world’s problems. Disruption and risk-taking. A hands-on approach to giving. Corporate structures for philanthropy. These are all hallmarks of the new philanthropy that Silicon Valley has invented and embraced.

And whether you’re for it or not, this style of giving, born and bred in Silicon Valley by young, determined industry leaders, won’t stand or fall based on the next occupant of the White House.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SmartSimple is now SOC 2 Compliant

SmartSimple is proud to announce that we are now a Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 compliant organization. 

SOC 2 is the most recognized and relevant standard for cloud security in the world, and it’s a reflection of our dedication to maintaining the highest level of security standards for our clients.

“SOC 2 is the standard many organizations hold their vendors to. It shows we’re on the leading edge of governance practices,” says Cameron McLean, President of SmartSimple. “We’re also currently the only Software as a Service (SaaS) provider in the grants and research management space that has achieved this level of certification.”

SOC 2 builds on top of our compliance frameworks and concentrates on non-financial reporting controls as they relate to the security, availability, and processing integrity of the SmartSimple system. These reporting controls are commonly known in the industry as the Trust Service Principles, and outlines the standards needed to qualify for SOC 2 certification.

Trust Service Principles

  1. Security: The system is protected, both logically and physically, against unauthorized access.
  2. Availability: The system is available for operation and use as committed or agreed to.
  3. Processing Integrity: System processing is complete, accurate, timely, and authorized.
  4. Confidentiality: Information that is designated “confidential” is protected as committed or agreed.
  5. Privacy: Personal information is collected, used, retained, and disclosed in conformity with the commitments in the entity’s privacy principles put forth by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accounts (CICA).
SmartSimple’s impartial third-party audit was conducted by Deloitte, a global leader in Enterprise Risk Management.

“A SOC 2 audit is a rigorous, independent review that provides assurance on security, availability, and processing integrity,” says Mark Varma, Senior Manager, Enterprise Risk at Deloitte. “SmartSimple’s SOC 2 certification will help build trust and confidence in their service delivery processes and controls.”

Visit the Security & Privacy page of the SmartSimple website to find more information about the roles and responsibilities we and our clients’ adhere to. Plus, you’ll gain an improved understanding about the shared responsibility of SaaS vendors and clients in the cloud.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SmartSimple July 2016 Upgrade Highlights

SmartSimple’s July 2016 upgrade takes the Arcadia X user experience to the next level, giving you even more reporting and communications options. We’ve introduced new On-Demand features that bring life to your reports and dashboards. And, our enhanced email offering makes it easier to add contacts and quickly edit your communications based on specific, pre-filtered records already in your platform.

List View Charts (On-Demand Feature)
SmartSimple empowers you to create dynamic and impactful charts directly from your current list view without needing to use Report Builder.
List View Charts instantly aggregate your data into easy-to-understand, vibrant charts. This flexible new feature requires next to no effort to use, maintaining the current columns and filtering the information you want to share directly from your list view. There’s no need to re-input any details.

Seven descriptive and colorful chart types are available to display your data in a meaningful way. This feature provides the ability to see the data as tables or charts as well as being able to drill down into the data for a more granular view. Users then have the option to download the chart or table as a PNG, JPEG, PDF or vector image.

Note: This feature is available in the Arcadia X interface only; List View Charts cannot be created from the Classic interface.

BI (Business Intelligence) Dashboards (On-Demand Feature)
This feature is ideal for board members or internal team members who want descriptive graphics that clearly display their information succinctly whenever they open their personal portal. BI Dashboards offer regularly updated overviews of granting data, ensuring you always see the most up-to-date statuses.
There are six charts and a map already built in to make it fast and easy to create your dashboard. Simply select which fields are represented by which graph type and set the data filters for what you need to see (status, start date, end date, etc.).

The charts in the BI Dashboard will always remember the latest settings used and provide options to zoom in for greater detail. Use maps with current addresses to drill down information based on location for more granular analysis. Charts can also be personalized according to each user’s needs, providing the exact results they want to see, every time.

Note: The graphs displayed and their locations on the dashboard are applied by default and are not configurable.

Dynamic Field Controls (On-Demand Feature)
This feature offers you the ability to easily create smart logic to control visibility of sets of fields based on values selected on other fields.
This new feature uses what’s known as ‘branching’ or ‘skip logic’ (showing field information based on your answers. Select X to see details on Y. Select Z to see details on A, etc.). Always ensure that the data shown to every user is only the data they want and need to see.

Note: If you’re interested in exploring this feature further, talk to your System Administrator.

Group Email Enhancements (Global Feature)
Email is a vital lifeline for your community no matter where they are, so we continually look for new ways to increase the usability of SmartSimple’s email function.

For this upgrade, we’ve improved both the user interface and the user experience by making the generation and sending of emails flow more smoothly. Select any number of roles and our email wizard will instantly display the exact number of users on the final list so you know how many people will receive your communication. This new feature also gives you the additional opportunity to double check and confirm your email targets the right audience.

Additionally, you now have the ability to edit content right from within the email template, meaning last minute changes can be made on the fly. All emails are saved as an activity on the Level 1 record.

Learn More
See the full list of all our July enhancements on our Wiki. Be sure to sign up for one of our Upgrade Q & A Sessions on Tuesday, August 2nd or Thursday, August 4th by visiting our Webinars Page.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Four ways Brexit is impacting the nonprofit sector in the UK

With the final results of the Brexit Referendum of 52% to leave the EU and 48% to stay, the majority of UK citizens have voted - albeit by a small margin - to leave the EU. A surprise to many, the result has lead to not only the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, but created a great deal of turmoil in the country, leading to massive speculation about the future.

News articles abound on the impact of Brexit on the automotive industry, energy and climate change, investments, and technology. But what about philanthropy, or, as it’s commonly known in the UK, the third sector? After all, more than 732,000 people are employed in this industry by an estimated 162,000 organizations that spend approximately £38 billion annually on initiatives to assist people in need.

1. Economics and Funding for Philanthropy
It’s no surprise that the initial reaction of the global markets was panic; financial institutions never cope well with change. Not only did the pound plunge against the US dollar by over 10% to $1.32, a 30-year low, investors “...have started to flock to the safety of US Treasuries.”

This, unfortunately, doesn’t mean a windfall for the US. In the short term, market volatility will impact everything from the dollar to trade to tourism. Should economic uncertainty continue for any length of time, it could slow down growth in the US while both businesses and consumers reconsider current spending habits — including, potentially, donations to nonprofits.

There’s another major funding issue that Brexit has created for the third sector. As part of the EU, the UK has been able to tap into the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). This funding had been key in offsetting the ongoing government cuts to the not-for-profit sector, so its loss in conjunction with a highly devalued pound and loss of investment income will certainly be felt.

How much was the UK getting from the ESIF? The Third Sector published the results of a report produced by the Britain Stronger in Europe Campaign. It stated, “British charities would lose more than £200m in funding each year if the UK votes to leave the European Union... 249 charities received £217m from the EU in 2014, the most recent year for which there are figures.”

This is a bad combination at a time when 70% of charities predict demand for their services will continue to increase. How can organizations whose missions are to support those in need keep up with the societal demand?

2. The Future of Employment and its Impact on the Third Sector
The impact on the workforce is also a hot topic. Companies that have been able to take advantage of the open trade and movement of employees across the EU will become a thing of the past. This is making many large global companies rethink their UK office locations.
An article in The Guardian contained a warning from Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JP Morgan, that “between 1,000 to 4,000 UK jobs at the bank could move overseas.” Morgan Stanley is also apparently thinking of moving UK jobs to Europe.

If those jobs go, leaving the people working in them unemployed, what happens to their taxable income the government uses to fund initiatives? What happens to any donations they would normally make directly to charitable organizations? What if they themselves need services?

This leads to a “double whammy” for the third sector, says Paul Palmer, professor of voluntary sector management and associate dean for ethics, sustainability and engagement at Cass Business School. Combine the drop in donations with continued government cuts and the impact is twofold.

3. Charitable Services after Brexit
If funding starts to disappear, what happens to the people that rely on the services these organizations provide?

The Third Sector spoke with Danny Corry, Chief Executive of New Philanthropy Capital, who said, "The Brexit vote means we are entering a period of uncertainty for charities. The government will now be tied up for months negotiating what happens next, sucking time and energy away from making sure charities are in the best position to make a social impact.”

4. University Research Grants Already Feeling the Impact
One victim has already fallen: university research grants. Forbes reported some UK universities have already been told future funding applications are likely to be put on hold. That’s 19,000 jobs generating £1.86 billion for the UK economy indefinitely delayed.

So what’s next?
Remember, until the UK invokes Article 50, the separation is not “official.” Article 50 comes from the Lisbon Treaty that each member of the EU signed in 2007. This is the formal declaration by the Prime Minister that the UK is leaving and triggers a two-year countdown where both parties negotiate the separation agreement between the UK and the EU.

In the meantime, however, uncertainty rules.

Leaders of the third sector have requested an immediate summit to discuss the possible recovery of revenue to be lost in charitable sector funding, but, to date, no meeting has been set.

It’s a bit early to say what the ultimate outcome will be. There’s wide range of opinions regarding the legality of the vote and whether the vote alone is enough to invoke Article 50. It’s entirely possible that, should Brexit go to parliament for further discussion, the outcome of the referendum may be considered too close to be considered official. There are also legal concerns that Article 50 cannot be called into play until there has been an Act of Parliament, meaning a separate vote by MPs.

The longer uncertainty stands, the more optimistic the talk becomes that the UK may not leave the EU after all. In that case, this last couple of weeks could simply be considered a valuable learning opportunity and potential warning to any other country considering such a move. Still, there’s a strong belief it will come to pass, so it’s imperative the third sector put as much pressure on the government as possible to keep their issues top of mind.