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What donors want to hear from your NGO

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Nobody likes being asked for more money all the time, not even donors. Every NGO is different, but all NGOs have a similar job to always make sure their donors know they are appreciated.

 

1. They want to be thanked.

This one is the most basic. We say ‘thank you’ when a person picks up that pen you dropped, or when your friend did you a favor, or when we receive a gift for our birthday… Otherwise we’d be rude, and who likes rude people, let alone a rude nonprofit?

Some NGOs send personalized emails to their donors; others prefer to mail a handwritten card or even a small gift. Either way, a little note of gratitude goes a long way! (And don’t wait months before you give it!)

Continue reading “What donors want to hear from your NGO”

Akubo Tip: Creating an email subscription form

One way to gain recipients for your newsletters is to have an email subscription form on your website. With Akubo, you can create a subscription form, and the sign-ups will be automatically saved to your Akubo database.

Here is the code that you can put in a text widget on your website (this code will also work for websites that don’t use WordPress).

<form action=”http://www.akubocrm.com/auto_form.php?action=2″ method=”POST” onsubmit=”if (email.value == ”) return false; alert(‘Thank you for signing-up for our email newsletters.‘)”>

<input type=”text” name=”first” placeholder=”Enter First Name”>

<input type=”text” name=”last” placeholder=”Enter Last Name”>

<input type=”email” name=”email” placeholder=” Enter Email Address” style=”font-size: 11px; background-color: #E6DFD5; width: 120px” />

<input style=”background-color: #ECCC67; color: #FFFFFF” type=”submit” value=”Sign Up“/>

<input name=”oid” type=”hidden” value=”enter your OID here” />

<input name=”url_success” type=”hidden” value=”website address to go for success sign-up” />

<input name=”group” type=”hidden” value=”Website Email Sign-up” />

</form>

It checks if there is a value on the email field, and after subscribing, a confirmation window will pop up. You can customize the style and text on the confirmation window.

For the above sample, the confirmation text is Thank you for signing-up for our email newsletters, while the text for the submit buttons is simply Sign-up.

It is also necessary to include the OID in the code. An OID identifies your Akubo account and is displayed in the Auto-Forms section in the Settings page.

First, you have to enable Auto-Forms.

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Copy your OID value, then find the OID line in the previous code and place it.

<input name=”oid” type=”hidden” value=”enter your OID here” />

The url_success tag will have the URL of the page that will appear if the submission is successful.

<input name=”url_success” type=”hidden” value=”website address to go for success sign-up” />

The data gathered by this form will be stored in your Akubo database.

Best of luck!

Last week we bid farewell to two long-time employees. We’re very happy to have worked with Myla, our operations manager, and Patrick, one of our software engineers, over the past 3 years!

One of Akubo’s first employees, Myla has always been full of energy and makes everyone, including our student interns and remote co-workers, feel welcome to the team. Patrick is less sentimental, yet he leaves his mark with his tongue-in-cheek humor. We wish both of them the best of luck as they move on to their next chapters in their careers.

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Bug Tracking

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by Carlos Resurreccion, System Administrator

The only thing that is constant is change they say. So software systems likewise will require change over time due to changes in user needs, change in technology, or just because it’s not working right (i.e. buggy), among other things.

The changes to the software need to be recorded or tracked in order to know who did what on which part of the system and how it was done. These recorded information can then be used to coordinate work among developers to avoid overlapping of work assignments, identification of finished and unfinished tasks, and provide a ready-reference for future tasks of similar nature, etc. But even a one-man team can benefit from recording such information to better organize the development effort, especially when the system being developed has a level of complexity.

Continue reading “Bug Tracking”

Akubo at Campus Devcon: Five lessons about UI Design

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Recently we attended the Campus Code DevCon, held at the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos last February 28.

Partly sponsored by Akubo, the forum aimed to boost students’ academic learning with trends in the IT industry and discussions on bug tracking, version control, and design. Among the guest speakers were two members of our team. I was one of them.

When I was first told to talk about UI design, I was not sure if I was the right person. I started to create user interface mockups for Akubo projects two years ago. I learned on my own, and I still have a lot to learn. So I reminded myself: every UI designer starts as a beginner.

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What is UI?

Decades ago, if you wanted a computer to do something, you had to use a programming language and type a command. It was just a screen and lines of code.

Eventually we were introduced to computers with an interface, and a mouse cursor. Most of us know the old (Windows) design: the gray pop-up windows, chunky buttons, checkboxes, desktop icons.

The design may already look “ancient” next to the ones we now see today, especially on smartphones. But still, old or new, they’re both examples of UI design.

UI stands for user interface, and it’s more than just the colors or graphics. UI design is the look or layout of the product, and everything that the user sees or clicks (or presses, on a touchscreen device). A Sign Up button, the menu, the links on the sidebar, the familiar What’s on your mind? field in Facebook, the Photo Stories of Instagram — these are all parts of a user interface.

Five Lessons

You’d think that after two years I’d find it easy to create designs for our projects at Akubo. That’s not always the case. But I did learn a few things, and so every time I begin to work on a mockup, I remind myself of five things:

1. Who will use it?

Is your software/app for kids or adults? Millennials, teachers, or parents, who may not be very tech-savvy? Once you understand who you’re designing for, it’s easier to plan out everything else: what information you need to show, how to organize the pages, the style of the graphics or illustrators, the colors, even the font families and the writing style.

2. Work with shades of gray

A tip I learned only recently — build your mockup with monochrome colors first. Worry about the colors, gradients, and fonts later. This way, you can focus more on the layout and the technical aspects of the design. It’s also an exercise to test your skill and your creativity, and you’ll learn to make your product look great and usable, even in black and white.

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3. Be consistent

The red traffic light always means Stop, whether you’re here or in another country. It’s the same idea in UI design. The buttons, links, and text headers are there to guide your user around your product, so they need to be easily recognized. If your Cancel buttons only have red borders, then all Cancel buttons in all pages need red borders. If you use an X icon to Close a page, use a different icon for Remove or Delete options.

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4. Use simple language

Most bad examples are error messages. “404 Not Found?” or “Syntax Error?” might mean something to programmers, but it’s a foreign language to ordinary users. The user doesn’t know what it means. Or what went wrong, how to fix it, or when it will be fixed. When that happens, you’re basically leaving your user in the dark, and the experience doesn’t give your product a good impression.

5. Copy and deconstruct

If you’re new to UI design, it’s hard to create something from scratch, or something original. That’s why we learn and practice by copying.

The idea is not to plagiarize — it’s to sketch out the skeleton of a design. When you copy a design, you break down every element of the product. The tabs, headers, sidebars, positions of the sections and even sizes of the buttons.

Slowly you’ll understand why the design worked for that product, and why it might or might not work for a product like yours.

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This article was written by Joy Martir, a Design & Communications Specialist at Akubo.

Akubo V2: New Settings Page

With the release of Akubo V2, we introduced a new layout. Now, there is a new look for the Settings page. The features are still the same, but with enhancements. This is what’s new with the Settings page:

Tabs

The tabs are now on the left side of the page, and the different sections under each tab are on the right side.

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Opt-out Survey

When you send out emails, there is an option for your recipient to opt-out/unsubscribe from your future emails. You can create a survey to see why your recipient opted out or unsubscribed.

In Settings, go to the General Configuration tab.

Click Update, across the Opt-out Survey section.

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On the Email Opt-out Survey popup, you can enable Opt-out Survey and define possible reasons.

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Opt-out Survey Report

If you enabled Opt-out Survey, you can get a report that shows which contacts opted out and their reasons why.

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Groups/Subgroups

In the new Settings, you don’t have to drag a Group to turn it into a Subgroup or to delete it.

Under the Groups tab, there are 4 buttons on each group on the list, one each to:

1. Move a Group to a Subgroup

2. View the contacts in a Group

3. Rename a Group

4. and to Delete a Group

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To move a Group, click the Move icon and select the parent group on the popup.

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To unlink a subgroup from its parent group, click on the Unlink icon.

Note: Only 10 smart groups are allowed per account. Smart Group is a dynamic group and it automatically group contacts that fit its query. Smart Groups created using the old Advanced Query won’t work in Akubo V2. It will still shows in the contact’s record but it won’t group new contacts. To make it work, you have to create a new smart group.

 


Transaction Fields

You can hide/unhide transaction fields such as categories/sub-categories, accounts, and payment methods instead of deleting them.

 


Manage Fundraising Campaigns

There is now a way to manage your fundraising campaigns. You can now enter data like the campaign’s amount goal, the start date, and the end date.

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Goodbye 2016, Welcome 2017

A few weeks ago, our team member (Joy) who manages our blog asked me to do a year-end review.  I don’t think we’ve done this before, but all of us go through some kind of year end reflection as we head into the new year and I thought why not share my thoughts with everyone especially our team, customers and friends.

In the beginning of 2016, our small Akubo team did a planning session.  This was the first time that we did a session just with the smaller Akubo team.  Not sure if many of you know that Akubo has grown over the years to have multiple product teams within the company.  The core product is our web CRM product (Akubo), but we also have other project teams in house that work on our other projects (Twerkle — our upcoming HR software, Clearbugs — our bug tracking software, and our consulting group which does special projects for clients).

The planning session was meant to review the previous year and to set goals for the coming year.  As typical with most planning sessions, we talked about goals like customer acquisition, customer growth, customer retention, partners, office space planning, etc., and we also talked about internal issues such as employee morale, employee purpose and other things that matter to our well-being as a group, as a company moving forward.  We held our planning session in a condo we rented from one of my friends over at Rockwell (Makati).  Ideally going out of town would have been great, some of the team members suggested Tagaytay, but we had a client training scheduled the next day so the travel time would not have been in our favor.

Did we achieve everything we had planned to do?  No.  Did we achieve anything we had planned to do?  I’m not sure we had kept track of what we had planned and what we accomplished, so I’ll just say that in our next planning session, we will try to be more diligent in writing down our goals and checking in during the year to see how far we’re moving along.  So for our reflection, let me just recall the various highs and lows we had during the year and what we learned along the way.

For our highs, we released Akubo V2, which had been a work in progress for almost a year.  The original UI (user interface) had been around for over 5 years and had started to look dated, and some of the UI technologies and user preferences have also evolved, so we needed the makeover.  But it’s a challenge to switch to a new UI when the changes we were introducing were drastic.  This was not a simple color change, or an additional menu or button here, we completely changed the entire look and feel.   If this was a house remodeling, we essentially built a new house to replace the old house (instead of just repainting the walls and changing some of the cabinets and fixtures).

The challenge was 2-fold.  First was the technical challenge of building a new UI and finding and fixing all the bugs that would come along with any major software project.  And we’re not yet done finding those bugs.  We released the beta in March and in November we switched it on for all our users, and the bug reports have been steady.  There are bugs that only surface upon general release and on Christmas day one of our partners sent me an urgent email informing me of a critical bug … so I quickly went in and isolated the bug and informed our devs that we had something waiting for us to fix after the holidays.

The second challenge was to convince our current customers that the switch would be to their benefit.  Many of our customers had been with us for more than 5 years and were very familiar and happy with the old UI.  We had released the beta in March but many of them didn’t even try it out until we did the full switch over in November.  Some customers asked us to retain the old UI but we decided not to because it would require us to maintain old code indefinitely, and it would also give some of our customers an excuse not to switch over to V2.  We totally understand — change is hard especially when you’re already comfortable and happy with the status quo — but on this last day of 2016, I am happy to say that our transition to V2 has been very successful and I couldn’t be more pleased with how our team managed this transition.

Our other highs for the year were our customer trainings which is as much of a learning experience for us as it is for our customers.  In the later part of 2016, we decided to start doing smaller trainings (less than 10 attendees) and so far we really liked the experience of being able to have more closer interactions with our customers and having more targeted topics for our smaller group of attendees.  We expect to continue doing this in 2017.

I earlier said our highs and lows for the year because more often than not, the lows provide the most valuable experiences for learning and growing.  Our lows for the year were many and I will just highlight the ones that really taught us valuable lessons.  We lost one of our major customers — we had worked with this customer for more than 2 years and they decided not to renew their subscription because of various reasons, one of which we know was our inability to keep up with their needs.  Did we over-promise?  Maybe.  Did we not communicate with them regularly?  Most likely.  What could we have done better?

In various conversations with other customers, especially the ones who are still with us, they have always said that communication and support is key to them.  When we launched Akubo almost 7 years ago, our selling point was good software at a very good price.  But over the years we’ve seen that many of our customers didn’t really care much about the price … some of them even said we’d like to pay more for Akubo if you can give us more technical support, or give us an option to pay more for priority (and personalized) support.  So we’re listening and we are in the midst of discussions internally about introducing an option for a Premium level of Akubo that will provide a dedicated account rep (advocate) for a customer, and a full suite of support and training options that will be included in the Premium levels of Akubo.  This is a new opportunity for us and we are excited about it, but we want to take a judicious approach because we also want to assure many of our clients who will not be able to afford Akubo Premium that we will always take care of you and value serving the many small non-profits and businesses who are out there providing valuable services to their clients and constituents … and we’re happy to help them do that through their Akubo Basic subscriptions.

What about our other products groups (Twerkle, Clearbugs, Consulting), were there lessons learned?  Yes, and it’s been many highs and lows as well.  The highs were product releases, getting new clients, learning new technologies, coming up with new ideas, and welcoming new team members and partners.  But again, the lows have also given us valuable lessons and have helped us grow.  We missed deadlines, we lost some staff, we lost one project from a partner, failed launch of new products, etc..  The challenge is to keep our teams motivated when product launches fail especially if they’ve been working on a project for many months only to see it limping along and not getting the traction we hoped it would.

This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak and we make decisions on whether to forge ahead or quit and move on.  One such example is our political database product Kampanya.  This was something we had envisioned 4 years ago, and late last year we decided to launch it during the campaign season in the Philippines. We had one candidate who was using it, and much of the product had been built for his team … and he did win his election, but we had wanted to also sell this product to other political candidates.  We had a good catchy name (so I thought) and we had a captured audience (again, so I thought).  Although we got a few interested parties, no one signed up and we now have to decide whether we should pursue this again in 2 years (when the campaign season starts up again).  Part of me still wants to because I know there is a need for this, so we’ll revisit Kampanya in 2018 and hopefully have a better response.

I think the most valuable lesson from all of our highs and lows for 2016 is resiliency.  Taking the lows with resilience, learning from them, and bouncing back with a good attitude.  To end my reflections, let me share some points from a list I had prepared for an offsite we did back in 2015.  I didn’t directly share this list to my team as these were more like talking points for me, but here they are and many points will always be true in 2017 and beyond … for leaders, take special note of the last point.

– Accept Risk
– Pursue something that makes us uncomfortable
– Make room for what we don’t know — this opens us up to innovation
– When faced with a challenge, get smarter
– Hire people who are smarter than you — find the risk takers?  those who make you uncomfortable?

Happy New Year!

Robin

We’re looking for a: System & Network Admin Assistant

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Join our team based in Bacolod City as a System and Network Admin Assistant!

We need someone who:

  • Knows computer networking basics like TCP/IP Addressing, Routing and Subnetting.
  • Has at least 1 year experience in Windows Server and Network Management (install, configure, maintain).
  • Is a quick-learner, has strong analytical and problem-solving skills, dedicated to accomplish goals, self-driven, and can work with minimal supervision.
  • Has good verbal and written communication skills in English.

You will be:

  • working remotely from an office in Bacolod City to servers abroad from 7 AM to 3 PM, Tuesdays to Saturdays
  • performing remote installation, troubleshooting, backups, configuration and updates on network hardware and servers

If you’re the one we’re looking for, send your resume (with photo) to Myla Mestiola, our Operations Manager, at myla@akubo.com. Any supporting documents like diploma, transcript of school records, professional certifications, etc can be scanned and included in the email application.

Job Perks: Work from home

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We at Akubo enjoy a handful of job perks. Newbies get their first big one on their third month at work: once a week, they get to work from home! And it’s easily one of the best perks — here’s why:

We don’t need to look presentable

So we’re free to send emails, write code, or fix software bugs while in our pajamas! It’s an advantage particularly for our co-workers with young children, because working from home means more bonding time.

It also means less travel expenses

We get to save gas or jeep/taxi fare, as well as time in traffic, which can be long and tedious especially for our Manila-based team.

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We can work from anywhere, not just our home

It is widely known that J.K. Rowling herself wrote the first Harry Potter manuscript in coffee shops. Many of us would agree that it’s energizing to work in caffeine-filled places and get that much-needed inspiration, so this once-a-week job perk lets us do just that.

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I have worked at Akubo long enough to be among the first to enjoy this job perk, and even plan how the schedule works. Every member of our team works at home on a different day every month — any day except Wednesdays, that is. We have to complete as a team at least once a week for staff meetings or company lunches.

Not every organization can afford to let employees work from home. Ours allows it, partly because our tasks, like email support or programming, are often doable wherever there is wi-fi. Working from home is a nice break for us. It’s a day that we look forward to and keeps our daily routine from feeling too mundane, even if it’s just once a week.

Version 2 is here to stay

Last March, we introduced Akubo Version 2 to our users. We had decided it was time we gave Akubo a makeover — both visually and in efficiency.

Now, the beta testing period is almost over. Come Monday, November 14, we will make the final switch to Akubo V2 for all users. This means a few things:

1. Starting next week, the Akubo V2 design will be the default look. As you already know by now, we made the biggest change to the Dashboard. It’s the first page you see after you login, and it’s important to keep it organized and easier to navigate around.

2. Welcome faster load time. In Version 1, Akubo brings up a big amount of data right after login, and this affected users with very large data sets. You can expect better loading performance in V2.

3. Akubo V2 is more touch-friendly this time, especially with the new tile design, so you can work with ease on your iPad or tablet.



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FAQ: Where is the submenu?

Some users have asked if we removed the submenus from the Dashboard, like Helpful Lists or Contact Groups. Don’t worry! They’re still available: you’ll find a submenu when you click on the tile icon on the lower-right corners.

FAQ: How do I use Akubo V2?

It’s simple: click the Switch to V2 link on your Dashboard. You can still choose to use both the old and new versions, until November 14.


Akubo is always meant to be a house for your organization’s data. So think of Akubo V2 as the same house, just renovated and repainted!

We hope the new version can help you do your work better. If it doesn’t, tell us about it. Send us an email at support@akubo.com — we’d love to hear every feedback we can get.

Happy November!

– Robin