Monday, July 29, 2013

Crowdfunding: Not Just for Entrepreneurs

Crowdfunding isn't only in the domain of new businesses and entrepreneurs. Organizations, scholars, researchers, and those wishing to raise social awareness can take advantage of crowdfunding's unique opportunities and connect with audiences far beyond their immediate geographic region.

The recent JOBS Act in the U.S. has made this web-based fundraising model more legitimate than ever. However, like any source of investment, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider. Is crowdfunding right for your organization or project?


Pros

 

1. With the streamlined, 'automated' process of online fundraising, organizations and leaders can devote more attention and resources to other aspects of their projects. For instance, those involved in academia can use the time to strengthen or elaborate on their research goals.

2. Crowdfunding introduces opportunities for those who did not have the financial advantage previously. This means that funds go to a more diverse and intelligent group of thinkers and leaders, rather than an exclusive group of for-profit ventures. Educational projects, for example, are given the spotlight thanks to education-focused crowdfunding sites like Funding4Learning.

3. Crowdfunding establishes a solid, engaged audience right from the conception of your project. Rather than attempting to build an audience through cold calling or social media, most services allow your funders to be notified of every update and milestone.

A crowdfunded project to build a community center would already have potential built-in clientele from its peer funders. Additionally, every step of the project - gathering building materials, establishing the framework, all the way to the opening date  - is easily communicated to backers.

4. More complex and creative ideas that would not normally be supported through traditional investor channels are given exposure and international awareness. For example, the Invisible Brain Injury Project on FirstFunder works to shed light on and search for cures to post-traumatic stress in army and war veterans.

Cons


1. Spending less time pitching one-on-one to investors means you lose valuable, constructive feedback that can allow you to hone your startup or project. Researchers, charities, and advocacy groups might miss out on key details in their pitch (such as realistic goals, end-dates, etc.) that would make their projects more attractive to backers.

2. The distance between investor and project is widened through crowdfunding, making both sides more susceptible to fraud. Additionally, backers might not have the information necessary to make informed decisions about where their money is going.

3. Crowdfunding might not be in the best interests of those with long-term projects. Backers generally want to see results within a short period of time. For instance, local community programs are a more realistic crowdfunding service than large scale projects such as building infrastructure in underdeveloped nations.

4. While creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged, projects or causes that are overly complicated or too difficult to explain in a simple paragraph will leave potential funders feeling cold.

For inspiration, read the successful science research grant proposals on Microryza like Crowdcuring the Blues or Analog Genetic Circuits for Interactive Learning. They're concise, clear, and tell you where your money is going.

Crowdfunding Services

 

Fundageek - Research, education, community support
Funding4Learning - Educational projects
First Funder - Community-based projects
IAmScientist - Academic research
Microryza - Scientific research
PetriDish - Scientific research
Rally.org - Educational, medical, and charitable causes
ZenFunder - Civic causes

For more information about SmartSimple, visit our main website or contact us at info@smartsimple.com.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The 5 Biggest Perks of SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service (SaaS) is often cited as the most exciting development in organizational software. In contrast to licensed software, SaaS offers numerous advantages to organizations of all types and sizes. 

We’ve compiled five of the biggest perks gained from using this unique model:

1. Accessibility 

SaaS requires no install discs, dongles, or extraneous accessories in order for you to access it. The SmartSimple platform is available on all major browsers from any Internet-enabled computer or device. All that is required from the user is a username, password, and Internet connection.  

2. Quick, Easy Updates

Automatic upgrades and patches occur without any additional expense to the client. SmartSimple opts to give users small monthly upgrades to facilitate a smoother patch process – as opposed to larger, more time-consuming upgrades over a longer period of time.

3.  Low Costs

Compared to owning a software license, the subscription-based fees of SaaS models are cheaper, more flexible and cost-effective. Clients are not charged for the modules they won’t be using.

SaaS uses what you already have, meaning you do not have to buy specially made technology or additional disc space. There’s no need to hire additional IT personnel or strain your current IT department, as infrastructure and server maintenance are handled by the provider.

4. Security

SmartSimple utilizes role-based security, meaning sensitive information and documents are only accessible to those with the correct permissions and login credentials. The creation of user roles that define levels of access is central to the SmartSimple platform.

5. Higher Productivity 

There are numerous ways in which working with a SaaS solution increases productivity. Business processes are right at a user’s fingertips, and other users – depending upon permissions – are able to access that same information with no lengthy wait. 

Telecommuting or working while traveling, meanwhile, is much easier thanks to the Internet browser-based nature of the solution.

Clients enjoy quicker resolutions through integrated support – SmartSimple’s Community Portal is built specifically for providing users with an interface to submit tickets.


Want to learn more about SmartSimple and our software? Please contact us at info@smartsimple.com or visit our main website for more information.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

VASCO Data Security Named Leader in User Authentication

SmartSimple is proud to announce that, VASCO Data Security, has been recognized as a leader in User Authentication by the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Customer satisfaction, a wide range of authentication methods, and strong footing in the enterprise user authentication market were factors that cemented VASCO's placement in the Gartner's Leaders quadrant:

Source: Gartner (March 2013)

SmartSimple utilizes VASCO’s two-factor authentication service to enable high-level security for clients using our platform.

VASCO Data Security is a world leader in strong authentication and e-signature solutions. They specialize in providing Internet Security applications and transactions to web-based companies. Learn more about VASCO and the Gartner announcement here.

Gartner is an international information and technology research advisory company. Click here to learn more about Gartner and their Magic Quadrant analysis reports.

Visit our website, email, or call us at 1-866-239-0991 for more information about SmartSimple. Read our online Security brochure to learn more about our security and data migration policies. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

SmartSimple's July 2013 Upgrade

Our July 2013 system upgrade is going live tonight! Check out the latest enhancements and features that have been added to your SmartSimple system this month.

 

Quick Edit 

This feature enables users to edit fields on a record directly from the list view. System administrators determine which fields display in the Quick Edit popup. You can also restrict the availability of Quick Edit to certain roles. To learn more about Quick Edit, visit our Wiki.

Associating Contacts & Organizations with UTA Records 

Using the Lookup button now enables users to search and select contacts to associate them with any Universal Tracking Application™ record.

Lists of UTA Objects on Contact/Organization Profiles 

The UTA™ record tab on contact or organization profiles can now be made to appear only to users in a given role.

Manager Permissions Page Redesign 

The Manager Permissions page has been redesigned for more efficient system administration. Separate, easy-access tabs have been created for System-Wide, On-Demand Application, UTA™, and Arcadia permissions. To learn more about the redesign, please visit our Wiki.

Upgrade to Data Exchange 

The Data Exchange feature for our claims management systems has been enhanced to include an exchange history for tracking activities. Exchange history pages now exist on each individual Tracking Activity. These pages display the entire history of a specific Activity exchange and the user that sent or received it.

Word Count on Rich Text Fields 

Word count has now been added to Rich Text fields. This feature can be enabled under the Edit Custom Field menu, where the maximum word count can be set.

Read the Upgrades article on our Wiki for even more information about the current upgrade or previous enhancements.

Have any questions about the July upgrade and how it can benefit your system? Don't hesitate to contact us at support@smartsimple.com or 1-866-239-0991.