As a low-budget nonprofit, we’re always on the look-out for good deals or better yet, free stuff! After speaking with a very amiable woman from Blackbaud, I was explaining my need for tracking our membership, donors, fundraising efforts, etc. All that boring data management to substantiate we’re doing our job and doing it well. The catch, as usual, I needed it fast and cheap. She suggested eTapestry, a Blackbaud product that is practically free. I say practically because it appears to have some costs for consulting and perhaps a few other fees I might discover along the way. Their customer service seems very responsive so this is a presumptive endorsement. I’ll post a full review of their services after a few months of use.
Other tips for running a low-cost, high-tech organization:
1) Skype: we think it’s great for conferencing not to mention having a regular phone number and voicemail. Downside is that it’s a foreign based operation so paying for service is sometimes a hassle, and I haven’t found a phone number to contact the phone service so if you know it, please send it our way!
2) Web hosting: with so many websites available, it’s easy to pick one and purchase for a relatively low price (around $10/year). Hosting is a bit more expensive but the basic version comes with email and averages around $5 per month. As I mentioned before, the name of your organization does matter not only for searchability but also the all important website selection.
Our only regular “overhead” costs consist just of phone and webhosting. We’re about as streamlined as it gets, and this has its advantages. A larger percent of donations go directly to getting info and support to trauma survivors. The main drawback is that banks and the IRS require a physical location and haven’t quite caught up with the virtual wave yet though I’m sure they will in time. Other costs have included web design, which took a chunk at the beginning, and advertising is another intermittent biggie for us, but facebook and google make this relatively inexpensive yet effective with colorful charts (that make the data more fun). Blogs and twitter have been another effective ad-type platform and free! The biggest cost then is simply time. So the more you know about programming or programs to use, the better off you are since the web can be a great (practically) free tool when used properly.
As for accepting donations-the other side of nonprofit service life-we’ve tried paypal which is free to use but takes a percent off the top of each donation. I’ve seen alternatives listed on other nonprofit sites and will be checking into those this fall. If you have any recommendations, do tell. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shortly after the idea for our group, a name was of the utmost importance and then creating the logo to perfectly represent the efforts of our group. I went through several names and finally landed on DartHeart primarily because when I typed the name into the wonderful logarithm of Google it did not return high numbers. Searchability was not the only reason the name stuck, but it was very high on my list.
DartHeart congures up the images of a dart and a heart. Carrying the association a bit further, a dart piercing a heart like an arrow, the eternal symbol of love, containing both positive and negative messages. But for obvious reasons, we could not have Cupid’s little arrow or a bright red heart as symbols. The process of trauma recovery isn't exactly like eating a box of chocolates from that special someone. Most of the time, especially at first, it’s more like sitting alone on Valentine’s day in a romantic restaurant while lovestruck couples canoodle and remind you of how miserable you really are.
After trauma, you’ve certainly been struck in the heart and you feel sick except that rather than the love sickness of a budding romance, you feel like your heart has been ripped open and the middle torn out. Something is missing and it hurts.
So a dart through your heart leaving a hole after trauma made sense symbolically. But more than this, I wanted to represent the idea of a hole in your heart that could be filled through recovery. The shape of the logo was decided, a heart with a hole, simple or so I thought.
What do you fill your heart with? Love, joy, a small sliver of hope? Those emotions don’t correlate with design in the easiest way. And then the ultimate question, what color adds that je ne sais quoi? Certainly, red was out as were actual darts that might look like arrows. Since Dartmouth is the Big Green, and I read somewhere that green is soothing to the eyes…green was in. I wanted another color that would make us stand out from our school. It couldn’t be orange, that would look horrible as would pink or purple or anything that was too lovey-dovey or gender specific. Yellow was debatable while blue seemed the perfect complement. After running things by our website developers, yellow was added as our accent color and tied everything together in the brightest best representation of positive recovery.
I then took my initial concept of a simple heart with a blue and green center to a team member so she could fiddle around with design. She stretched the heart, tried jagged edges, swoops, you name it. I preferred a sleek look-something modern and memorable that would work well for branding. Being a fan of research, I also checked out a couple of logos that are popular symbols of everyday life yet have amazing branding. What does a mouse or apple make you think of? For most of us, Mickey Mouse and Macs are top of mind. Both use basic shapes, three circles for the mouse face and ears, an apple with a semicircle removed to represent a bite out of it, and voila, iconic. So we stuck to a basic heart, a basic circle in the middle and then the magic happened. She tipped the heart on its side and linked the D from DartHeart through the hole. Perfect. A symbol of DartHeart linking us together, partly filling your heart through our network of support.
Was the logo a success? Did survivors and eveyone else figure it out? Did it represent our name and the work we do helping people with trauma recovery? On campus, since the name DartHeart was chosen in part as a play on the name of our alma mater, Dartmouth, this was the most frequent association that popped up when we started spreading the word. Outside of the New England area, nobody has commented much on the logo and without a survey I’m not sure we’ll get much direct feedback.
Though we’ve been satisfied with the name and logo, I’ve been toying with the idea of sending out a survey to evaluate them. On the list of priorities, this isn’t too high, but as we gain traction with a larger number of clinics and providers and increase membership, the opportunity will likely come in a year or so to send out a quick survey and get the direct branding feedback we’ll need to make a better informed decision about sticking with what we’ve got or changing. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts on the name or logo now, feel free to send them our way. Email us at email@example.com.