EverTrue’s product team pushed pause on its normal day-to-day product efforts to have a one-week hackathon! Engineers were challenged to improve any part of GivingTree or to create a new product entirely, as they saw fit. In just five days, what started as ideas became reality. And, as Director of Platform Engineering, I have to say it was amazing.
The very idea of stopping normal operations for an entire week to effectively experiment on random ideas is a hard pill to swallow for many organizations. At EverTrue, we see it as one of the vital elements to our success in innovating within the nonprofit space.
This type of innovation is rooted in our culture of fast yet focused iterations, experimentation, and result measurement. In highly innovative ecosystems like Google and Apple, failure and risk-taking in the quest for creative solutions is welcomed not shunned; EverTrue emulates this spirit and transforms it into revolutionary products that empower our customers to be more successful than previously imagined. We don’t just want to incrementally improve how fundraisers do their job—we want to change how the entire game is played.
Brain Power and Creativity
Great company cultures are supported by the brain power of the employees there. That goes without saying. During our hackathon, for example, former senior engineers Bob Breznak and Glenn Primmer (from PayPal and NASA, respectively) worked out machine learning algorithms (MLAs) to find deeper insights for the EverTrue platform. The outputs of their one-week experiments have swayed our perspective as a team on this new MLA approach to better compile donor intelligence.
While brain power is undoubtedly important, creativity and cleverness are also crucial. EverTrue’s first engineer, Andrew Hammond, used all three with his spin on Rapportive’s email integrations (Rapportive was ultimately acquired by LinkedIn). His project was a chrome browser plugin that added contextual slide-ins containing a mini donor profile whenever the user was on a webpage that included that donor’s email address.
Prospect Recommendations (Glenn Primmer) – Using machine learning to analyze what users do to identify top prospects in order to provide an informed list of recommended prospects
TrueNews (Anna Brown and Mark Greene—yours truly) – Automating the process of finding news articles about donors and prospects and attaching those articles to those donors’ profiles
Event Tracking (Eric Carlstrom, Hai Zhou, and Ayush Sangani—aka The Rising Sons) – Proving out that event attendance is a predictor of giving participation
Rapportive for GivingTree (Andrew Hammond) – A Chrome plugin that provides a quick profile view of a donor when an email address is detected on the page
TrueContact (Eric Herot and Jeff Byrnes) – A simple tool to better understand how your Facebook fans are participating in other social networks
GivingTree Lite (PJ Gray) – An easy-to-use version of GivingTree that doesn’t require customer onboarding but allows customers to get insights on donor activity on their organizations’ Facebook pages
Trip Planning (Mat Budelman) – An optimized set of workflows and tools to make a destination-focused agenda and lead pipeline
TrueBuzz (Bob Breznak and Max Kohl) – Applying machine learning to identify momentous events in your Facebook fans’ lives by analyzing the sentiment of comments on Facebook posts
Email and Voice Sync (Julie Reitter and Drew Burch) – Integrating all email and voice correspondence with a donor profile
EverTweet (Alex Tironati and Matt Sly) – Using Twitter @mentions to infer propensity and engagement between constituents and their organizations
The Winners Circle
1st Place – Event Tracking : Eric Carlstrom, Hai Zhou, Ayush Sangani ($500 Amazon Gift Card)
2nd Place – GivingTree Lite : PJ Gray ($250 Amazon Gift Card)
3rd Place – Email and Voice Sync : Julie Reitter, Drew Burch ($100 Amazon Gift Card)
People’s Choice Award
The project Anna and I worked on, TrueNews, was awarded a thumbs-up by our Board of Directors, and we jokingly assigned it a prestigious namesake. They liked this project mainly because it will be automating an existing process found in many nonprofit organizations, freeing up resources to focus on other tasks.