Giving on the Go

Billhighway recently offered a webcast, in partnership with HandsOnTech Detroit covering the many mobile fundraising options for nonprofits.  In it, Tracy Ann-Palmer and myself outline some of the challenges facing nonprofits, specifically related to fundraising and donation processing and how to embrace this new era of mobile fundraising.

While mobile alone can’t remedy the decline in charitable gifting, there are techniques to leverage the areas that are working – notably online and special event fundraising, which grew more than 50% (Nonprofit Fundraising Study 4/12.)  Further, organizations that have embraced mobile technology have raised up to 180% more funds (Nonprofit Technology Network, NTEN.)

During the webcast we highlighted 5 [Mobile] Fundraising Flavors:

  • Text to Give
  • Scan to Give
  • Mobile Card Readers
  • Use of Native Apps
  • Use of HTML5

The above topics were chosen because they have the most potential for nonprofits to embrace quickly and cost-effectively.  The topics are also part of a larger mobile payments movement, which were outlined today by Business Insider as the only four to matter, which is consistent with our experience.  Again, they are:

  • Carrier billing: Where the consumer pays by text message and the charge is added to their phone bill. This is great for a variety of specific use cases (reaching the unbanked, especially teenagers; ecommerce and gaming), but is crimped by carrier fees and control.  
  • Near-Field Communications (NFC): Where the consumer can pay at the point of sale by waving his phone in front of a terminal. NFC has been overhyped: it’s not more convenient than cash or credit, and the many companies who want a piece of NFC are canceling each other’s efforts out.
  • Apps: Where the consumer uses an app on his smartphone to pay, typically by scanning a barcode at the register. This is especially useful for specific companies and retailers to offer, as it allows them to offer loyalty rewards and discounts on top of payments.
  • Card readers: Pioneered by startup Square, with recent entries from eBay (PayPal), Intuit, and Verifone, these solutions allow merchants to take payments by plugging a card reader into a smartphone or tablet. They’re very convenient (swiping a credit card is already ingrained consumer behavior) and piggyback on the existing credit card network.  However, only Billhighway’s Give App is catered to the needs of nonprofits.

You can read the full report from Business Insider here.

The slides from our presentation can be found here.

Remove Server from SSRS 2008 Scale Out Deployment

While migrating our SSRS environment to a new datacenter, we found this article helpful when needing to remove old instances from the scale-out-deployment, when original servers cannot be contacted (removed, inaccessible or re-purposed.)

2011 Apple Wish List

I’ve slowly accumulated a slew of Apple gear over the past couple years, not entirely intentional.  I use a 2008 MacBook Pro for work and a 2009 iMac at home, both of which have held up nicely.  However, times have changed, as have my needs.  Today I want (and to some degree) need MORE!

I expect to upgrade both my laptop and desktop in 2011, IF Apple can provide the gear to satisfy my discerning needs.  I’m what you call a power user.  In my day job, I run Windows 7 (via bootcamp) for Office, Visual Studio, SQL, etc. with most of my personal computing done via Mac OSX; Adobe Suite, Aperture & Final Cut Pro.  I also run VM Fusion with RedHat & Ubuntu and of course, expect everything to place nice together.  I’ll publish another post outlining my home-network (spoiler alert: I have a 42U rack, cisco/juniper equipment w/native 1GB connectivity & 10+TB of home storage!)

Today, I’d like to cast my 2011 Apple Wish List; and I promise if Apple upholds their end of the bargin, I’ll gladly acquire equipment upon pre-order.  I’m intimately aware there are many reasons why they have not shipped such amenities to date, but the ‘consumer’ in me doesn’t care about that – I just want the goods Apple, make it happen.

2011 MacBook Pro/iMac:

  • 3.4 Ghz 4+ Core, 2nd Generation i7 (aka Sandy Bridge) Processor (likely) or 6-core Gulftown i7 (unlikely)
  • USB 3.0 (unlikely, but possible)
  • 500GB SSD primary hard-drive (possible, 256gb likely)
  • 1TB SATA secondary hard-drive (likely)
  • eSata External Port (possible)
  • Blu-Ray BDR & BD-RE Drive (unlikely)
  • 8+ GB DDR3 RAM (likely)
  • 2560 by 1600 native resolution (unlikely) w/Open CL – 1920 by 1200 (likely)
  • Intel Light Peak
  • 10+ hr battery for MacBook Pro (likely)
  • And of course, all the standard stuff: 802.11n, bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, SD card slot, Firewire 800, Mini DisplayPort, audio in/out, etc.)

iPhone 5

  • Dual-Core ARM11 processor
  • 4X more memory
  • Accessories that work with the apple bumper
  • Drastically improved battery life with removable/replaceable battery
  • FM Radio
  • iOS 5 (unlikely, not yet seeded to developer community)
  • RFID-enabled

iPad 2

  • Of course, dual-camera’s (although, I only need 1 high-quality front-facing, won’t be taking pics with it, but some might?)
  • Dual-Core ARM11 Processor
  • 4X more memory
  • Price reduction (to justify my 3G/Wifi model upgrade)
  • Retina Display
  • Intel Light Peak
  • $99 iPad Mini offering to compete with Kindle
  • Multi-User support w/separate profiles!
  • More Storage – 256GB!?
  • Dare I say it?  Flash support!

Apple TV

  • Tivo-integration (or comparable recorder, hosted in the cloud?)
  • App-store capabilities (e.g. hulu plus, boxee & slingbox players)
  • Offer a hard-drive version (else, support usb-hacks for external USB hard-drives)
  • USB 3.0 external port!
  • AirPlay support for older AppleTV unit (w/Hard-Drive!)


Who’s ready for Web 3.0?

Just when people started to become comfortable with Web 2.0, Social Media and increasingly “Cloud” – those internet hipsters have to push the envelope further!  In true geek style, increasing a version # is the equivalent to retail’s “New & Improved” formula for laundry detergent.  For supporters it sticks immediately because it has to be better than 2.0 – right?  In IT we move fast, learn, fail and iterate – using a zero based integer reflects our progress. For others it’s just another opportunity to exploit a “buzz word” an over-used, misunderstood acronym that attempts to differentiate the cool-kids from the has-beens.

Well, the only constant in technology is change – right?  Half the battle is determining what concepts are worth your time and which are just noise.  A good CIO should be able to help decipher that for your organization.  I often say, my level of detail fluctuates between 2″ or 20,000 feet – and not much in between.  It takes a respectable amount of time to stay abreast of what seems to be a daily innovation – as somebody, somewhere has uncovered the latest must-have technology/process or technique that you simply can’t live without.  Everyone once in a while, they’re right, most often they’re not.

At Billhighway, R&D is a first class citizen.  It’s important we’re able to speak to all modern technologies, tools, resources or methodologies – we pride ourselves on continuous improvement.  Agile, Scrum & Lean are deeply embedded into our thought process and rarely is there only a single way for getting something done.  Often, the correct answer to an IT question is “it depends.”  There are simply too many variables that can impact your results, having diverse perspectives and a process that can remove emotional decision-making is often key.  And, in a way, that’s what Web 3.0 is all about – the Semantic Web.

Arguably, each of the previous web generations was transformative to business and 3.0 aims to build upon that evolution.  Web 3.0 is a smarter Web, giving users/computers/processes better ways to share information, helping to make faster, more accurate decisions (business intelligence the the 3rd power.)  This has enormous benefits for people who need to search for information, automate business processes and transactions.  Information in a Web 3.0 world will be much easier to access, because systems will do a lot of the time-consuming work that people still do today.

Ultimately, it’s about transparency – by providing incentives for reducing waste and improving accountability.  The orchestration of tools that cut years of research down to days – the holy grail of “do more with less.”  The promise of Web 3.0 suggests information will be much better linked and more efficiently utilized on an increasingly global scale.  Gone are the days of walled gardens.  Sure there will always be private and confidential data, but it will be increasingly abstracted and consumed in more meaningful ways without jeopardizing critical data – via personal data lockers where you control access to your identity, configuring who gets access to what and in what context depending upon role, intent and location.  Think of it as a deeper understanding of the relationships between people, services and objects – paving the way for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), Open Energy Information (OpenEI), advancements in biotech and even improvements in customer service.

It remains to be seen, if Web 3.0 will have the fan fair of say, Web 2.0 – which even casual observers could see or feel an impact.  3.0 is about transparency whereas 2.0 fundamentally changed the landscape and has touched nearly everyone in a meaningful way.  Think I’m wrong?  Have you managed to boycott Facebook or refuse to tweet?  How about read the news on an iPhone/iPad or eReader?  Still writing checks?  It’s hard to imagine any brand that isn’t somehow trying to incorporate a social strategy – even if done poorly or lacking initial value. The “conversation” has begun and the integration of one’s online and offline life is becoming co-mingled – with or without your participation.  The pace of change is increasing, knowledge has paved the way for tools and business processes to streamline, automate and exploit what we were taught in kindergarten – SHARING.

Hindsight is 20/20, but a rare few are able to decipher the climate of the internet economy and position themselves and/or their organizations to benefit from the next wave of innovation – bring on the “real-time-web.”

*If you find this an interesting subject, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of The ClueTrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual.

Favorite Business Authors

As an avid reader, I was recently inspired to share a few of my fav’s after reading an LA2M post by friend Charlie Wollborg of Curve Detroit.  While I share Charlie’s sentiment  of his favorite authors (below) I’ll tack on a few of my own..

Authors both Charlie & I would recommend without reservation:

In addition to those great authors, a few others I’ve found hugely influential and hope you might like as well:

That should keep you busy for a while.. Keep in mind, many of these books are available on the Kindle and increasingly on the iPad/iBooks.  If you struggle to find time to read, you might also want to check out

Lastly, while I’m not much of a sales guy, I have come across the work of Bob Burg (notably Go-Giver)  on more than a few occasions – so if sales is your thing, you’ll be happy to know he’ll be in Detroit on June 30th thanks to the guys at Motor City Connect & I’d highly encourage you to check him out:

Happy Reading!

The surprising truth about what motivates us

Money can be a powerful motivator, but as studies performed by universities around the country (and this video) explain, rewarding people financially only works to a point. Beyond that, you need autonomy and purpose.

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

LifeHacker Pack 2010  feature hundreds of different downloads every year at Lifehacker. If all you want is the best of the best, look no further than their annual Lifehacker Pack: One download that installs only their favorite, must-have Windows applications in a few clicks.

Download the Lifehacker Pack 2010

They divided up the Lifehacker Pack into two sections this year—the “Essentials” and the “Extended.” Each is just what they sound like—the Essentials is just what you need to make a modern Windows system usable, and “Extended” adds a lot of apps and functionality that not everybody needs, but some folks may find incredibly helpful.

Want to quickly and automatically install the apps they’re recommending? Head to Ninite bundle, then click the link at the top to “Select All Essential Apps.” Don’t need one or more of the apps included? Un-check the box next to each item you’d remove. You can then hit “Select All Extended Apps” in the second section, and do the same kind of cherry-picking of additions and removals.

You can read their full post with details about each included application here: