Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SmartSimple's 4th Annual Community Conference - How to Get There, Where to Stay

April 15th is just a little over two weeks away! We're looking forward to seeing you at our Annual SmartSimple Community Conference. This year, the conference will take place at the Cathedral Centre, located at Church Street and Adelaide Street East, Toronto. The Cathedral Centre is located behind St. James Cathedral:

Taking the Subway:
The closest TTC station to Cathedral Centre is the King Street station on Line 1 (the Yonge-University Line), which is about a 5 minute walk to the centre. Take the exit and head east on King Street to Church Street. Again, please note the Cathedral Centre is located behind St. James Cathedral. Check out the TTC website for full information about Toronto's transit system.

Parking is available at several locations near the event centre:
  • Metered parking can be found along Church Street and Adelaide Street
  • Target Park at 12 Widmer Street
  • King George Square Parking on George Street
  • Impark at 30 Adelaide Street East

Nearby Accommodations:
We've included a map of the venue and nearby hotels. Below is a selection of hotels within walking distance of the venue.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Discover the Power of Collaboration – SmartSimple’s Community Conference

Mark your calendars! The 4th Annual SmartSimple Community Conference is taking place on April 15th, from 9am to 5pm. We’re really excited about this year’s event.

The Format
We’ve planned an action-packed day of networking and learning, focusing on open discussion between our SmartSimple experts and you, our community experts. Not only will you have the opportunity to meet and chat with our senior managers, but you’ll have the chance to get to know the rest of the team – the movers and shakers who work hard every day to ensure you have best grants, research and claims management systems available.
COO Mike Reid at the Chicago Community Conference in 2014.

“We’ve changed the format of the conference in Toronto this year,” says Sarah Harris, Director of Client Support and Operations. “Based on the fantastic experience with our first Chicago Community Conference in 2014 and the success of our recent Dublin, Ireland conference, we’ve decided to alter the structure to make it more open and inclusive.”

“This year’s conference will be focused on round table discussions instead of classroom style sessions,” adds Paul Dimerin, Marketing Coordinator and organizer of the Conference. “We’ve found that this format allows participants to see everyone in the room, and encourages more open dialogue between our guests and our team.”

The Sessions
The day will be divided into a series of 50 minute sessions with a total of eight different topics being covered. We’ll begin with a SmartSimple State of the Nation, move into targeted sessions on topics such as an overview of our Arcadia interface, exciting new features such as Versioning and our Product Roadmap, where you can find out what else is coming for 2015 and beyond.
Attendees at the 2014 Toronto Community Conference.

Once again we’ll have our very popular Town Hall, where we open up the floor to our clients. Share your thoughts, feedback and ideas for future enhancements.

Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be served over the course of the day.

The Venue
The 2015 Community Conference is being held at the beautiful Cathedral Centre. The venue is situated right in Toronto’s downtown core, where you can find great shops, restaurants and theatres. If you’re coming from out of town, there are plenty of hotels within walking distance. If you’re going to be in Toronto for a couple of days, there’s lots to see, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ripley’s Aquarium, the Art Gallery of Ontario and, of course, our world-famous CN Tower.
The Cathedral Centre in downtown Toronto.

Be sure to complete our online registration form to let us know what sessions you’ll be attending. Space is limited so sign up early to guarantee your place.

We look forward to seeing you all on April 15th!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

SmartSimple at the Grants Managers Network (GMN) 10th Annual Conference

March is a busy month for conferences, and while our team is currently in New York attending the 2015 Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship, hosted by Charities @ Work, we wanted to share our experiences from last week’s GMN Annual Conference.

“I thought it was a great experience,” says Eric Lauer, Director, Client Care and Marketing, “There was a major focus this year on measurement, and how to achieve valuable, actionable feedback that can be used to encourage more donations.”
Eric Lauer and Gary Modlin at the SmartSimple booth.

As a first time attendee of the GMN, Eric was excited to share his experiences. “Attending this event gave me an opportunity to get feedback from both current and prospective clients,” he says. “I brought home new ideas and insights for improving our system and for future upgrade features. Face to face meetings at conferences are extremely valuable for interacting with clients who may not think to email or call us.”

“Our team is very open to discuss issues and concerns with the community. We are receptive to questions because we care and want to know where we need to grow and develop to accommodate the unique requirements of the philanthropic community,” continues Eric.

Kelly Jackson presenting at our vendor-sponsored session.
As well as having a presence as a vendor, SmartSimple also hosted a learning session. Entitled Lessons Learned – The Vendor, The Client and The Grants Management System, this was an opportunity to walk people through key steps used to streamline the change management process. Eric, Gary Modlin, Director, Business Development, and Todd Lapin, Director of Strategic Accounts, were joined by two SmartSimple clients. Shavon Doyle-Holton from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Kelly Jackson from Feeding America, presented their own personal insight into working through a grants management system implementation, sharing their experiences and tips with others looking to introduce a software system into their process.

“Having our clients host the session with us was a real bonus. I think being able to hear about the ins and outs of bringing software into an organization from the client’s side is much more valuable in a setting like GMN. Grants managers want to hear from other grants managers on a topic like this rather than just from the vendor’s perspective.”
Shavon Doyle-Holton speaks to attendees at our session.

In addition to the session, SmartSimple hosted an evening event. “This was just an opportunity for us to spend some relaxed social time with the community and just enjoy everyone’s company.”

Coming up is our own SmartSimple 4th Annual Community Conference on Wednesday, April 15th here in Toronto, Canada, and we’d love to have you attend! Space is limited, so be sure to sign-up on our conference registration page.

Check out our website for upcoming webinars, to sign up for our monthly newsletter, or request a demo of our system.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 2015 Upgrade Features

Happy (almost!) spring everyone, and welcome to our upgrades for March, 2015. We have some great new functionality this round, so let’s get right to it!

New List View for Invoices
We’ve extended the modern list view function, and it’s now available for invoices. This will be of particular interest to IMEs, as this enhancement to the invoicing area of the system now provides greater control options over their list views. Invoices can now be viewed in greater detail, offers improved tracking, and the ability to see what you want, when you want.

Personal Filters on Personal List Views
Now you have the ability to add your own personal filters to personal list views. This option provides greater flexibility and additional control over how you view your information. Simply go to System Views and click into the Personal Views option to set up your information how you’d prefer to see it displayed. You can also tie your personal list view to the search option for even greater personalization.
View List Button means easier navigation.

Arcadia Navigation for Home List View
A new View List button has been created within object views in Arcadia. This means it’s now faster and easier to navigate between list views in your system.

Configured Upgrade Options
The next three enhancements are available in your SmartSimple system, but you’ll need the help of your System Administrator to make them live. You can also contact SmartSimple’s Support Team if you require assistance.

Multiple Column View
In addition to the ability to personalize your SmartSimple screen view in Arcadia X, we’ve added the option for you to decide how many columns you want, what information should be displayed and how large or small you want them to be. This is available in any portal for any user, so your entire community benefits from this enhancement.
Organize your columns your way.

Everyone can organize their view of SmartSimple in the way that’s most intuitive to them, showing the data they use most often in the format they choose. Even if a user has multiple portals, each portal can have its columns arranged uniquely and independently. So, for example, if you’re a reviewer and a board member for an organization, your two portals can look completely different based on how you want to view the information for each role.

Combined Portal View
Speaking of users with multiple roles, our new Combined Portal View offers those with multiple portal accesses the option to see all their portals on one screen. Rather than needing to toggle between screens, your users can configure their view of SmartSimple to incorporate as few or as many fields from each portal on one page.
View multiple portals on one screen.

Sign-up Page Email Confirmation Option

Our final upgrade feature for March is our enhanced Sign-up Page. Now, when someone new registers with your organization, they can be asked to enter their email a second time to confirm the information is accurate. This is an industry best practice that helps ensure accuracy, so no communications are lost due to an incorrect email address.

We’ll be hosting webinars to give you the opportunity to see these enhancements in action and ask questions of our SmartSimple experts. Visit our events page to register. More information can also be found on our Wiki, and stay tuned for our March upgrade video to be posted to our YouTube channel early next week.

Friday, March 13, 2015

SmartSimple at the ACCP Conference

The SmartSimple team had a great time at this year’s Association of Corporate Contribution Professionals (ACCP) Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Our Director of Strategic Accounts, Todd Lapin, and our Director of Customer Experience, Eric Lauer, represented us at this year’s event.
The lobby of the Hilton Nashville Downtown

“We both really enjoyed the entire experience,” says Todd, “The venue was spectacular and our booth was in the perfect spot to meet and greet attendees. Not only did we enjoy visiting with current clients, but we had some wonderful conversations with prospective clients as well.”

Eric Lauer at the SmartSimple booth
“This was my first time attending the ACCP and I have to say I’m glad I was there,” adds Eric. “In my new role as Director of Customer Experience, I appreciated the opportunity to speak with some of our clients live and in person. I also had the chance to really talk with members of the CSR community and gain a better understanding of their needs from a technology stand point. Events like this definitely help me to provide even better customer support in the future.”

As well as a series of informative and educational sessions, everyone had a great time at the Monday evening networking event. Guests of the conference were invited to the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and the heart and soul of the country and bluegrass music scene. Attendees were welcome to tour the theatre (originally a tabernacle built in the 1880s) and “tread the boards” where legends of all musical genres have performed for decades.
The Ryman Auditorium
Everyone was then invited to take a seat and enjoy an evening of live entertainment, hosted by three local, professional musicians who write and compose music for the likes of Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and Billy Ray Cyrus. They shared their songs, stories and talent. “Not only was this a great additional opportunity to get to know industry professionals,” continues Eric, “it was an experience unique to the Nashville scene and a wonderful memory of the conference.”

During the performance

Preparations are already underway for the 2016 ACCP conference, taking place in San Diego from March 20 – 23. We look forward to seeing you there next year!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lessons Learned – The Vendor, The Client and The Grants Management System

The SmartSimple team is getting geared up for the Grants Managers Network (GMN) 10th Annual Conference. This year’s event will run from March 16th-18th in National Harbor (just outside Washington, D.C.), and promises to be an exciting event.

“This is one of the most important conferences of the year for the not-for-profit sector,” says Gary Modlin, Director of Business Development at SmartSimple. “Grants managers and vendors from across North America come together to dig deep into the issues, trends and concerns impacting philanthropy today.”

More than 60 sessions are available for grants managers to take advantage of, ranging over topics in nine different learning tracks. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned professional, there are sessions geared specifically to your needs and interests. Topics include Compliance, Skill Building and Technology.

Also included are sessions sponsored by vendors attending the conference this year.

SmartSimple, along with two of our clients, is hosting a session on Tuesday, March 17th at 2:30pm, entitled Lessons Learned – The Vendor, The Client and The Grants Management System. This session will walk you through the key steps that successful clients have used to maximize effectiveness during the change management process.

SmartSimple’s Director of Strategic Accounts, Todd Lapin, Director of Business Development, Gary Modlin, and Director of Customer Experience, Eric Lauer, as well as our clients Shavon Doyle-Holton from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and Kelly Jackson from Feeding America will be hosting this informative and interactive session.

“We felt having some of our clients join us to share their own personal experiences would add a great deal of value to the session,” says Todd Lapin. “It’s one thing for us to talk about how to manage a successful implementation, but so much more meaningful for an audience of grants managers to hear directly from those who are in their industry and share common goals. This offers an excellent opportunity for clients to talk about ways to make the process a success.”

Shavon will be sharing her thoughts on issues to consider before selecting a system, managing expectations, change management and promoting a culture of positive change within your organization. Kelly will add her thoughts on best practices, where to start with data migration and integration, tools and resources.

There’s still time to sign up for our session! Check out the GMN 2015 Conference schedule for information on how to register. Also, be sure to drop by and say hello to the SmartSimple team at Booth #4.

As always, you can check out our website for upcoming SmartSimple hosted webinars or request a demo of our system.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Taking Corporate Philanthropy Beyond the Boardroom

Corporate giving has evolved. The combination of financial and in-kind donations help create a solid base for a successful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, but it’s the support of your community that is key for a successful, truly holistic giving initiative.

Why CSR?
Giving back to the community is a corner stone of the modern corporation, and corporate philanthropy is one way to say thank you. Even if your customers don’t live in your backyard, giving your neighbors a helping hand is always well regarded.

Of course, there are economic and reputational benefits that amplify the impact of your efforts. Strategically and financially, your CSR program creates goodwill for your brand, increases loyalty and enhances recognition. Being known as a company that does “good work” makes clients feel they too are contributing to a valuable cause. But the days of simply picking a charity and writing a check are long gone.

Today, the best CSR programs are innovative, impactful and, most important, genuine. So how can you ensure your program stands out in a crowded philanthropic landscape?
The SmartSimple team doing their part for the WWF!

It takes a village…
The successful alignment of your stakeholders is vital. Their support gives your CSR program legs. Customers making donations at the check-out, and the recognition of your employees’ volunteer activities is relatively common, but taking the extra step to engage your corporate community – vendors, contractors and other suppliers – expresses a true commitment to philanthropy, allowing you to unleash the power to do good across your entire network.

SmartSimple has the privilege of working with several Fortune 500 corporate foundations, and one in particular stands out as a prime example.

Strength in Employee Numbers
Employees are your strongest ally in your success. Offering a variety of opportunities for participation is vital, encouraging the participation of friends and family. Options to not only donate money, but get actively involved, can bolster your success.

For example, the aforementioned foundation boasted 55,000 hours of employee volunteer time in their 2013 Annual Report. Employees managed events, worked with vendors and planned activities. The company clearly acknowledges their employees are the driving force behind the success of their program. Additionally, some companies acknowledge the involvement of their employees with various incentive programs, recognizing and rewarding exceptional efforts.

The strongest CSR programs go beyond this, and look to employees for guidance.

Tapping into your Professional Network
Beyond employees, your company’s professional network of suppliers, vendors and contractors can add value to your CSR program on several levels. Active engagement brings not only financial rewards, but a sense of pride in their participation in your program.

Almost 10% of our example’s fundraising comes from vendor support. Whether it’s monetary, gifts for a fundraising auction, taking part in events or putting this CSR program’s logo on their products, their contribution makes them invaluable members of your team.

Engaging Those You Support
Getting direction from those that benefit from your initiative will encourage them to engage their own network, and all but guarantee impact where it’s needed most. In the case of our example, the 3,100 community partners, including all levels of government and local non-profits like YMCA/YWCA and Boys and Girls Clubs, provide support. They help identify and evaluate applicants and applications, and create activities that align with the program’s mission.

Community engagement is a two way street, and non-profits gain not just the added benefit of knowing they can recruit your employees as volunteers, they are provided with valuable insight into other areas of need.

Bringing it all Together
Engagement is one thing, but keeping everyone – and everything – organized and working together is vital to ensure success. Bringing your CSR program online is a logical step, and implementing the right solution can simplify and streamline your activities.

No matter how elaborate your initiatives are, SmartSimple’s eCSR360o system is personalized to meet your needs. SmartSimple’s eCSR360O is the platform many foundations use to manage their programs both internally and externally.

With the ability to maintain and monitor employee volunteering programs, track giving campaigns, gather fundraising data and manage grants, you can easily communicate with you entire community of stores, plants, warehouses, corporate offices, funding partners, donors, boards and not-for-profits. Each member of your community has their own portal, personalized to their role, enabling them to interact with you and your program’s administrative team.

Learn more about how SmartSimple’s eCSR360o can benefit your foundation and take your CSR program to the next level. Visit our website to learn more, check out our YouTube channel, or contact us directly to request a demo of our system.