How going low-code made all the difference for non-profit MAD’s fundraising system

|November 28, 2017 0

Soma Tah

Businesses often need a faster way to create and deliver applications. And if you are a small business, it is not always feasible for  you to hire developers to design applications that meet your requirements. Low-code development processes can be a great help in such instances.

The biggest advantage of the low-code tools and platforms is that they enable even non-programmers to build intuitive apps. Most low-code tools speak the human language, and are designed for determined individuals, or ‘Citizen Developers’ -to help them create custom apps with drag-and-drop visual interfaces. That’s why low-code appeals to the ever-ready modern generation—it’s smart work with less work.

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How going ‘Low Code’ made a difference for a non-profit?

Make a Difference (MAD) is an Indian non-profit which is working to improve the livelihood of children in orphanages and street shelters. MAD reaches out to over 3,460 children in 67 shelters across 23 cities in India, and they do it through a over 4,250 strong volunteer network.

Needless to say that managing this network was not an easy task initially. In the past year, MAD’s social initiatives garnered over 200 mentions in online and print publications nationwide and soon volunteers were signing up from all over—from college corridors, while chatting with friends at the chai shop, even while riding the bus to PVR Cinemas. Pledges and approvals started coming through email, SMS, and even online chat messages.

Like any organization driven by the need to get started and get going, MAD collected donor information on spreadsheets and juggled it through scattered documents. Everyone had a favourite tool, but none of the tools came together at the same place or at the same time. As a result, many valuable ideas and potentially meaningful conversations were dispersed across geographies, devices, and software.

As their vision and their motivation grew, the MAD team realized they needed a more stable solution for their fundraising processes. They wanted to move to a more complete, custom app-based volunteer and donor management system. That’s when FRaise was born-  In French, the name translates as “strawberry,” but for MAD, it stands for “Fund Raise.”

MAD has scores of specific requirements that no packaged software can accommodate. They tried different solutions, and all seemed fine at first, but in the long term, it made no sense to employ a developer for each tiny update.

The success came from a low-code platform of Zoho, on which they relied to build a cloud-based app that tracks the process of a volunteer calling up possible donors. With drag-and-drop interfaces and cloud-based deployment, low-code platform enable even non-programmers to build intuitive apps.

Before finding Zoho Creator, MAD relied on full stack development. They initially evaluated the traditional approach—hiring developers to build an app for them, but soon realized that the process would consume too much of their time and resources. Not only the task of building an app required specialised skill sets, the costs of acquiring these skill sets was also high.

MAD then decided to purchase Salesforce licenses and hire a developer to customize it. But customization proved challenging, the effort resulted in a solution MAD was frustrated with. At that point, they chose Zoho Creator.

Zoho Creator provides businesses a faster route to create database-oriented apps. Users can create business apps on the web which are automatically available on the mobile apps for iOS and Android. While the  drag-and-drop interface speeds up app development and time to deliver, Zoho’s proprietary programming language, Deluge translates business logic into automated workflows.

Narmadhaa Sivaraja, Marketing Analyst, Zoho Creator said, “With the dynamics of a serve-the-world initiative, it makes sense for non-profits to embrace modern tools. Not only does low-code technology save time, it also saves effort and energy that’s better spent elsewhere.”

MAD had two major concerns to address. First, it operates in multiple cities and they have volunteers cross collaborating throughout the day. Second, the team operates in short deadlines. MAD catered to these needs with both the mobile and the web versions of their FRaise app.

MAD’s volunteers and callers used the mobile app to update day-to-day status and activities. MAD could easily allocate other requirements like approvals, volunteers and donors registrations in their fundraising app. Information about pledges, pick up schedules, donations received, and even referrals expected from donors were all gathered in one place. The central team at the headquarters used the web app for reporting and fund raising analysis.

From the people pledged to contribute to those who didn’t answer their phones, the app records all potential donor information. The team also uses the app to arrange donation pickups. Volunteers get mobile notifications about pickup locations, and the management team instantly learns the status of each donation.

Sanjay Thomas, Director of Technology, MAD said, “We had six cities conducting day long fundraising war rooms where they actively used FRaise, the fundraising app. So far we have had more than 300 volunteers actively using it, adding more than 1,400 donors and pledging more than Rs 17 lakhs using the app,” said Sanjay Thomas, Director of Technology, MAD.

“For me personally building FRaise on Zoho Creator has been an absolute pleasure. Zoho Creator has drastically reduced the time for development and testing, allowing me to focus a lot more on user experience and process optimization. I think the platform is going to be a game changer in the industry,” he added.

When you introduce a high-productivity tool into a business process, the outcome is magnified in team efficiency and profits. That’s how MAD’s growth catapulted in such short time and the best thing is that no one had to be tied to a desk to serve a good cause.

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