With our current state of affairs in the U.S., it is easy to wake up each day dejected and pessimistic about the future.
But for 3 days last week, I woke up knowing I would be heading to the annual Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) conference. Detractors may say we were in a bubble, surrounding ourselves with idealism run amok, but for 3 days I saw everything that is great, compassionate and hopeful about our country. I met hundreds of people who choose to devote their work life to putting the needs of others before themselves – they deserve far more recognition then they get.
While the NTEN attendees are on the front lines fighting their battles, we at Grassroots Unwired strive to be the support behind the scenes they can use to make their efforts more efficient and effective. Technology can be a great equalizer across society and our goal is to make sure it supports those who fighting the good fight so admirably and selflessly. It is humbling to have even a small opportunity to be a part of this.
If you were there and we didn’t have a chance to speak:
It was a pleasure to be a part of the NTEN conference and we not only look forward to being their next year but participating in their events all year long.
Nonprofit door-to-door organizers know just how time-consuming data entry can be out in the field. Ringing doorbell after doorbell, hoping someone answers. Once someone does, you spend most of the time explaining who you’re representing and what your mission is. Then you maybe hand out some literature that gives more detail. After all that, you have to make time to ask for donations or a signature.
If you’re lucky, the person on the other side of that screen door will shell out some cash or a check, while you bring out your handy clipboard and jot down the essentials — name, home address and email of the donor, including the donation amount.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. You only have so many hours of sunlight until it’s time to pack up and start again in the morning.
This might leave you saying, “There’s got to be an app for that.”
It’s called Grassroots Unwired. The startup, founded by self-described ex-political campaign warrior Russ Oster, was part of the 2011 DreamIt Ventures class. The app helps canvassers expedite and better organize their efforts through mobile technology.
When the app was first created, the startup was strictly geared towards working with political campaigns across the country.
“That was mostly our focus initially, giving political campaigns the tools they needed to get off of clipboards while going door to door,” Oster said.
But after the 2012 election season, the app started to get some inbound interest from groups doing organizing work. Oster said that his platform wasn’t quite ready to take on nonprofits at the time, but the startup saw the potential and had always intended on expanding to that market.
Grassroots Unwired began building and implementing better and more efficient features, such as uniquely developed credit card processing, signature gathering and email generation.
After receiving $100,000 in seed money from Ben Franklin Technology Partners last June, the now Bristol-based company began piloting potential clients. While they’re still refining the product and making sure it has all the bells and whistles canvassers and organizers need, they’re just about ready to make their official foray into the nonprofit world.
Here’s what the app will have for nonprofits:
“It’s great to get a $10 donation on one day, but if you can convince that person to do that monthly or quarterly or annually, you’re way ahead of the game,” Oster said. The credit card data is encrypted and is not accessible until the agreed donation date is set.
Beginning this May, the services will be piloted nationally with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. According to Oster, that includes over 45 offices across the country with over 1000 people out in the field per day.
“Then we had this idea,” said Oster. “We’re based in Philly, we love that we started the company in Philly and think the city’s got so much going for it — let’s try to build a critical mass around here by giving folks an opportunity [to try out our services].”
Starting this month, Grassroots Unwired is offering a one-month free trial of their services to local Philadelphia nonprofits. After the trial, nonprofits will need to pay $80 per head out in the field.
Oster said the responses so far have been positive.
“[Nonprofits’] average dollar contributions are dramatically higher because they’re now able to accept credit cards in a safe and PCI-compliant way,” he said. It has also eliminated office work, which Oster said has provided an opportunity for nonprofits to be out in the field rather than doing data entry in the office.
“One client last summer completely eliminated overtime for their office staff,” Oster said.
Image via Grassroots Unwired
Posted by Tony Abraham on April 16, 2015
For Immediate Release Contact: Russ Oster
March 30, 2015 609-439-1463
GRASSROOTS UNWIRED OFFERING PHILLY TECH TO PHILLY NON-PROFITS
Just Released from Beta, Start-Up Giving Free One-Month Access
BRISTOL, PA – Grassroots Unwired, a Philadelphia area start-up providing mobile technology for grassroots organizing, is announcing the public launch of its software aimed at supporting the activities of non-profits, by offering a free, one-month trial of their organizing and fundraising platform to Philadelphia area non-profits.
“We’re proud to have started our company in Philadelphia and proud of the work we have done to get our platform to the point it is today,” said Grassroots Unwired CEO Russ Oster. “It’s been put through its paces by some of the largest non-profits in the country and now that it is ready for broad use, we couldn’t think of a better way to launch then by helping local non-profits take their organizing efforts to the next level.”
While the Grassroots Unwired platform has been supporting political campaigns since 2012, the non-profit tools that are now being offered did not come into focus until May 2014, when The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG – http://www.fundforthepublicinterest.org), one of the largest non-profit fundraising organizations in the country, started a pilot aimed at getting their fundraisers off of clipboards and onto the Grassroots Unwired platform. From there came several other pilots with national organizations and their affiliates, such as Clean Water Action, the Wilderness Alliance, and Planned Parenthood.
Said Oster, ”It was immediately obvious that the transition to our platform was making a huge difference for our pilot clients. Overall the results have been striking – leading to more donors with higher average dollar contributions and more new members taking more action on behalf of the cause – not to mention the increased efficiencies in the management of these efforts.”
The one month free trial is available to nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia region, including South Jersey and Delaware.
Article from Philly Daily News:
Startup helps nonprofits become efficient in a 21st-century world:
Now you can turn your EDay office into a real time War Room with Grassroots Unwired
Real Time Voter Check-Off
Use our IPhone/Android mobile app to track raw turnout numbers or the names of those who have voted – either way, you’ll have the data as soon as it’s entered into a phone. And if you do place ‘checkers’ inside the polls then the voters marked as voted will be sent to your phone banks and your canvassers in real time so that they don’t waste time and you don’t waste money contacting people who have already voted.
Heat maps will show trends in real time.
If precincts are trending red, you’ll know to focus your GOTV resources there. Then watch them turn blue as the real time data you are collecting allows you to command your War Room like the General that you are!
Design charts and graphs to show aggregate turnout numbers against the campaign’s expected turnout.
Drill down further to see raw data coming in from individual counties and individual precincts within those counties.
Former Congressman Looks Forward to Helping Campaigns Leverage Technology in Their Canvassing Efforts
Grassroots Unwired, the only provider of real-time, GPS-enabled mobile canvassing solutions, is proud to announce that former Congressman Patrick Murphy has agreed to play a key advisory role to the Grassroots Unwired board and staff.
“I’m excited to bring my experiences to this talented team of professionals,” said Congressman Murphy. “I know that while the conversations among pundits will center around undecided or persuadable voters, elections are decided based on turnout – who identifies their supporters and turns them out. The Grassroots Unwired technology is a force multiplier that brings efficiency and accountability to the canvassing process.
“My elections were close enough that having the Grassroots Unwired tool could have certainly made the difference for me. And I’m going to spend the next two months encouraging campaigns to take advantage of this cutting edge technology.”
“Our entire team is honored to have Congressman Murphy on board,” said Grassroots Unwired CEO Russ Oster. “He is a tireless grassroots campaigner who has always been interested in incorporating technology into his campaigns so I can’t think of a better advocate for Grassroots Unwired.
“We know that from now until Election Day, airwaves will be flooded with election ads. But for a variety of reasons, TV is just not moving the needle like it has. Campaigns looking to cut through the clutter know that talking face to face with voters is the surest way to energize your base and persuade the undecided.”
Campaigns are investing a bigger and bigger share of the campaign dollar in canvassing, and with that added spending comes a need to operate more efficiently and with greater accountability.
“Canvassing, while extremely effective, can also be extremely time consuming,” added Murphy. “The Grassroots Unwired platform saves a campaign time from start to finish, and as a candidate, it would give me great comfort to know that my campaigns time is being spent at the doors and not on things like mapping and data entry.”
To learn more about Congressman Murphy, follow him on Twitter and Facebook: