UAB Spotlight: Committed to Change

This post is part of our Spotlight series, where we spotlight our incredible partners. We are so thrilled that GivePulse has been able to work with these nonprofits, institutions, and corporations!

Bringing community to the university

UAB volunteers teach elementary school students about physiology 

The vision statement of the University of Alabama at Birmingham affirms the university’s dedication to “inspiring and empowering the creation of knowledge that changes the world.” This is perhaps natural given UAB’s location in a city historically invested in community change. Emily Wykle, project director in the Office of the President at UAB, emphasizes the importance of Birmingham’s “really deep commitment” to community engagement. The city itself offers “very fertile ground” for civic work, she says, adding, “You don’t have to be browbeating people to get involved. You have the appetite.” 

This community-wide energy for change is evident in UAB’s broadly reaching implementation of GivePulse. UAB established their GivePulse domain (dubbed “BlazerPulse”) in the fall of 2018. According to Wykle, GivePulse has been “kind of the overlay” for the city’s work. “There’s already exciting things happening,” she notes. With GivePulse, the university can “give others a way in.” 

“There’s already exciting things happening,” Wykle says. GivePulse can “give others a way in.”

Before using GivePulse, connections between the university and the work happening in the community were sometimes, in Wykle’s words, “kind of random.” Faculty members looking for organizations with which to engage often experienced difficulty in locating the greatest community need, while community partners did not always know how to access the university’s resources. In addition, to track data, UAB used “a kind of homegrown survey that I don’t think I would be speaking out of turn to say was a big disaster. There was no way to analyze it, not a great response rate.” 

The “cluster” view of various UAB activities happening in Birmingham

GivePulse provides resources that analyze both qualitative and quantitative information. One example that Wykle sees as particularly beneficial is the engagement heat map, which she says “gets people so excited, and I think that’s really driven a lot of exciting partnerships.” She recalls working with Hands on Birmingham, a United Way sponsored organization, for their Back to School Beautification Day. The UAB community was invited alongside the broader Birmingham community to work with people in the neighborhoods where each of the city’s schools were housed. Wykle considers this a key facet of being part of the various communities in Birmingham: “This has been a way for us to work alongside them. A more opportune way.” 

“[GivePulse] gets people so excited, and I think that’s really driven a lot of exciting partnerships.”

Mutually Beneficial Partnerships

Through GivePulse, the question of how to create a mutually beneficial partnership is answered by design. Community partners can see the forms of engagement supported by UAB and can open aligned opportunities; in turn, students, faculty, and staff at UAB are able to find and engage with the opportunities that most need their help. 

UAB students gain hands-on knowledge of farming in Birmingham 

In this way, UAB has found in GivePulse “essentially a civic giving form” through which community partners and nonprofits can consider how to connect their needs to the strategic goals of the university. UAB, meanwhile, can see both “the strategic connection” and “whether that organization is invested in what [UAB is] doing.” This helps UAB “to make better decisions around who [they] support, and also democratizes the process.” Any nonprofits can sign up on GivePulse; no longer reliant on hearing about engagement opportunities through connections and networking, nonprofits now have a “front door” to the resources of the university. 

A bubble chart showing UAB engagement by specific causes

GivePulse helps UAB “to make better decisions around who [they] support, and also democratizes the process.”

In addition to accessing information about the possibilities available, UAB can now also see the work with which staff and students have already been engaging. Wykle recalls using the system to determine who had logged the most hours on BlazerPulse and finding a woman who, unbeknownst to Wykle, had been working night shifts at a crisis center. This user logged more than 700 hours with the center. Through GivePulse, this record was suddenly easily accessible, allowing UAB to “highlight her and recognize her for her work.” Furthermore, this knowledge allowed UAB to strengthen connections with the crisis center, helping more volunteers to engage in this work. 

Community Energy

UAB brought community partners onto GivePulse “really early, like before we really knew what we were doing,” recalls Wykle, adding, “I can’t believe we did that!” UAB organized a meeting with about fifty nonprofits in Birmingham that they had “deep relationships with, deep history” — nonprofits that the university knew “would go out on a limb” for them. Community partners soon began to expand their presence on GivePulse. Now, they are not just “using it for UAB,” Wykle says. “They’re really using it to get volunteers to sign up from other parts of Birmingham.” 

Nonprofits are really using GivePulse “to get volunteers to sign up from other parts of Birmingham.”

UAB maintains the community energy that first brought the partners to GivePulse by meeting with them twice a year, which, particularly in the early days of using GivePulse, offered an opportunity to hear what was — and was not — working. Wykle recalls learning that the Office of Conduct, when assigning students community service, did not count GivePulse as a valid way to track service hours, something that she would not have known had community partners not brought this to her attention. This opened an opportunity to have a conversation with the Office of Conduct, resulting in the confirmation of GivePulse as the primary method of tracking service hours across the campus.

Campus-Wide Implementation

Since implementing GivePulse in fall of 2018, UAB has created over 200 subgroups and recorded over 30,000 hours of community activity. While these numbers might seem overwhelming to build into any platform, UAB maintains an organizational system that calls upon feedback from across the institution. Wykle emphasizes the importance of building a system of liaisons across departments, colleges, and organizations on campus, all of whom can offer feedback throughout the implementation process. At the start, “there were some hiccups,” but with the help of a diverse group of faculty members, UAB was “able to say, ‘Here’s where faculty are getting stuck, here’s what’s sticky.’” 

Wykle also emphasizes the importance of support at the top tier of the institution; because she works in the president’s office, the engagement “has really has come from the top down.” This is critical: “Having it come from the top down gives it a sense of [being] something we are really committed to and interested in.” Perhaps more importantly, every department and college at the school is focused on community engagement. “Each of the schools has a community engagement part of their strategic plan,” she says, and adds, “We can meet them where they’re at… [it’s] not just a central helping us kind of thing, but can help at a school and department level.” While each department and college may have had different practices of engagement prior to the implementation of GivePulse, centralizing the data and the tracking system allows for these different colleges to share knowledge, opening the university to stronger community engagement in every field. 

It helped that faculty members immediately recognized the need for this platform from their own experiences with community engagement. As Wykle notes, “They were going to be with us from the outset. This was something that was important to them.” This was true both of faculty members whose time was spent primarily in the classroom and of faculty whose focus was primarily on research. The latter group is important to UAB: “We are a research university,” Wykle says, adding that it is important to the university to figure out how GivePulse can “help you leverage the research and work you’re already doing and use it to translate… [to] actual value in people’s lives.” The main question UAB still hopes to answer, she adds, is, “How are we taking the teaching, research, all of the knowledge being generated here, and [translating] it to making people’s lives better in Birmingham?” Accentuating this focus for the research side of the university supports UAB’s vision of changing the world through acquisition and creation of knowledge. 

It is important to the university to figure out how GivePulse can “help you leverage the research and work you’re already doing and use it to translate… [to] actual value in people’s lives.”

While faculty interest and recognition of the valuable ways GivePulse could be used were critical when establishing the platform, Wykle feels that equally crucial to successful implementation was positive student response. Students quickly adopted GivePulse, providing feedback and recording hours at a rate that surprised even the most enthusiastic faculty members. Because of their consistent use of GivePulse, students create data containing detailed information that UAB can use to understand how and why they are interacting with the Birmingham community. 

When asked if she had any advice for other universities implementing GivePulse, Wykle says, “If we had waited until everything was flawless and then invited community partners in, that would have been a major misstep.” Instead of waiting until their implementation seemed perfect, UAB was “really honest about building the plan,” asking for feedback and input from community partners, students, faculty, and staff throughout the process. Ultimately, it comes down to seeking feedback from a variety of sources to ensure that everyone — community partners, students, faculty, staff — can engage in a way that changes the community for the better. As Wykle advises, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” 

Guest Writer: Transition to GivePulse – Tips for Success

JCU student at a service-learning placement

John Carroll University (JCU), a Catholic liberal arts institution outside of Cleveland,Ohio with some 3,500 students signed-on with GivePulse in the spring of 2017 with an anticipated launch in fall 2017. They were moving from a custom-coded database that was difficult to navigate, hard to work with, and was quickly becoming obsolete for their expanding needs and level of student engagement. In planning for a successful migration to the GivePulse platform, they developed an integrated implementation plan and worked closely with a variety of key stakeholders at the University to make sure they would be ready to go live for fall 2017. Now after a successful launch and a full academic year of use by students, faculty, and staff, the director of the Center for Service and Social Action at JCU, Katherine Feely, SND, shares her five tips for success and other helpful hints when thinking about your own transition to GivePulse.

  1. Work closely with your IT department – Review the technical dimensions of the product, including data security, firewalls, scripts needed to run, and the data interface with your student information system. Involve your IT team every step of the way. Enlist their support to migrate the data from your previous platform.
  2. Test the Data – Before doing anything test the integrity of your existing data to make sure you have everything you need.  Identify the essential fields that will be migrated over and match them to the appropriate fields in GivePulse. JCU migrated test data first, comparing that data to their “reliable and verified” data and checked for errors. JCU found key data elements that needed to be re-uploaded, fields that didn’t match up, and scripts that had to be adjusted. Once satisfied, we proceeded full-force with the data migration.
  3. Training, Training, Training! Train every staff member. JCU trained all summer before going live (even those who didn’t necessarily need to know the new platform). Work together as a team so everyone understands the platform. Create a training plan with step-by-step instructions to make sure key stakeholders understand the new platform before going live. Create “test” events, registrations, activities, partners, courses, etc. so you can understand how to navigate each one. Staff members should navigate the site as a student user in order to understand navigation from their perspective.
  4. Utilize the GivePulse Team – Periodic Zoom calls to GivePulse are a great way to go over various features if you can’t understand a feature on our own. JCU staff would explore different features, gather questions in summarized format, and email them in advance to the GivePulse team, then we would work through the questions during our calls.  By working together in the actual platform and gaining a greater understanding of the architecture and capabilities of GivePulse, we could gain the confidence we needed to launch and avoid the pitfalls of ignorance.
  5. Monitor the Roll Out – Have all eyes on roll-out when going live and catch things early!  At JCU we had 600 to 700 students registering for academic service-learning placements during the course of four days. We knew that if we were going to fail, we were going to fail big. We had a few early registration roll outs with targeted courses to make sure all would work as hoped. During these first few days, we were in close touch with GivePulse to troubleshoot and their team was amazing! Their responsiveness and assistance made a huge difference – that was part of the success.
Our Challenges
  • Moving away from a complicated custom-coded database, we had to figure out what we really needed to keep, and what we didn’t.
  • We really had to learn a whole different language and a way of engaging with the registration process. It could be challenging at times, but it was totally worth it.
  • Personnel changes! We lost our database staff member just before the migration started, making it a huge challenge, but it forced me as director to really get in the weeds and learn about GivePulse from the inside out.
Getting Buy-In from Stakeholders
  • Schedule meetings with your various stakeholders to showcase what GivePulse can do. We provided presentations to various departments and decision-makers, showing them how they would benefit from using the platform, and how it could ease their workload.
  • Meet with your director of IT and some team members.  We conferenced with the GivePulse team so we could clear up as many technical questions about data integration, security, etc.  With their support, everything went very smoothly.
  • After completing the first full academic year with GivePulse, we met with our IT director and the team to thank them for their support, and to show them what a difference GivePulse made in our work, data analytics, and in providing an excellent student experience. They appreciated seeing how their hard work and input mattered in advancing the mission of the University.
What Would I Do Differently
  • Not very much. We had a full year of lead time, and we needed it.  Migrate early over the summer – not in August.

GivePulse is a great platform.  It was an excellent choice and has such robust capacity that we are so glad we made the switch. We would never think about going back to the risk and headache of a custom-coded database when we have such a great platform and a team of technical and higher education civic engagement experts partnering with us at GivePulse.

Katherine Feely, SND
Center for Service & Social Action
John Carroll University

iPhone & Android: GivePulse Mobile App 2.0!

We are excited to introduce you all to our new mobile downloadable iOS and Android app. The GivePulse Mobile App 2.0 comes packed with additional capabilities to allow a seamless search and discovery process for events and groups, an easier tracking experience for community engagement, and a consolidated inboxing system to organize all communication on the go!

Screens: These are some screenshots of the mobile app.

These screenshots of our mobile app include: the list/map view, details view, and dashboard view.

We designed and developed this GivePulse iOS/Android app for Volunteers, Members and Administrators (who can use its inboxing feature to communicate with their volunteers).  The mobile app is supported to work on iOS and Android devices (phones and tablets). On this post, we will focus our energy sharing key areas we think is important for all users!

Fun Fact: We currently have 2 downloadable apps in both the iTunes and Google Play store. One is for individuals (volunteers or members of organizations to browse and track their engagement, and we recommend admins to use it for communication). This is the focus of the blog post. The other one, called GivePulse Sign-In (is meant specifically for admins, checkin attendants, or site leads to sign-in individuals on the go or in kiosk-mode so volunteers can walk up to sign-in or even clock in/out).


When using the new GivePulse Mobile App 2.0, users will have a few options to login or authenticate as shown below:

Login: We have multiple types of authentication methods to streamline login

Register if you don’t have an account or use existing authentication methods.

Over the course of the past year, this is by-far the biggest improvement to our mobile downloadable app. As shown on the left, we now include multiple authentication options (namely Single Sign On) to support the diverse set of users GivePulse supports. With these abilities, we are able to ensure our enterprise clients can encourage their communities to log in with existing credentials. This will protect them from duplication of data, accounts and a number of different security factors. We believe having these options will provide a single access point for all users to login seamlessly.

Fun Fact: You can login to any of the options available (Email, Facebook, Google and SSO). If there are multiple accounts created, these accounts can be merged together so all authentication methods end up on the same account/profile. In the case you want to register without using the existing authentication methods, you can press the “Register” option at the top. This workflow will drop you into a few steps to complete.


When logged in successfully, you will be able to see the following at the bottom navigation (these options appear at the top for android):

Navigation: Shows the primary options for mobile navigation

As shown above, these are what we believe are the most important menu options to help navigate in the app. You can tap on any of the following –

  1. Search: Allows the end user to browse and search for regional events and groups to register or become a member of
  2. Dashboard: Pulls together a list of groups you are a member of, upcoming events registered to, previously attended events, etc., This can be used as a quick way to track and confirm your engagement
  3. Add Impact: Allows individuals to track their engagement. If their administrator decides to ask additional questions or specific details of the activity, these will be populated too
  4. Inbox: Allows individuals to communicate back and forth within the app. People who receive messages will get push notifications every single time there is a new message
  5. Profile: Pulls together a list of details to summarize the individual’s engagement in the community

Search & Browse

On the “search” experience, you will immediately access a map/list view of local events and groups in your region.

Fun Fact: If you decide you want to search a larger radius, you can “pinch” the screen so that it will zoom in or out. Pinching will also increase the search radius too! Note, we haven’t launched in all the cities yet, but we do anticipate to do so with your help!

View: Displays map pin that you can select to see more details.

You can zoom in and out on the map and click on the pins to see more details of the events or groups.

List/Map View: Shows items you can interact with and see more details.

You can drag and drop the list view which is overlaid on the map and interact with both views together.

The map and list views are interactive, meaning users can drag up and down the list view and see a whole map view in the background. Users can also choose to browse through the normal list view without the map. Whenever there is a specific event or group of interest, the user can tap more to see the details. A modal will be displayed to show some details of the event.


Dashboard: View Groups you are member of

Screenshot of how it looks viewing groups from the dasbboard.

In the case, the user has existing memberships or groups they are a interested in, they can navigate to the “dashboard” shown on the right.

The dashboard helps aggregate together the groups and events the individual is associated with. This will  make it easier for the user to quickly access these on the go.

In many instances, an individual primarily will use the app to register to an event, join a group or discover new experiences. Beyond this, the secondary actions include tracking one’s engagement and interacting with those on the platform to organize the logistics of the events.

Add Impact

As shown below, you are able to search and select organizations to track your engagement (be it service hours or other outputs):

Add Impact: Track your engagement

Shows a list of potentially required areas sections, like Group, Event, Date and the outputs that help tell the story.

This workflow will continue to evolve as we learn more about its usage. With this in mind, we anticipate adding new enhancements in upcoming versions to streamline the tracking process.

Now moving forward, individuals can leverage the mobile app to track their engagement on the go. Since we encourage accurate data tracking, there is a workflow established which requires users to fill in the basic information: e.g., the group has to exist, an event is optionally associated (and dependent on the group admin’s setting), and the date and outputs must be inputted to go to the next screen.

Fun Fact: There are potentially additional questions the admin can add into the workflow, like adding qualitative custom fields. For example, when administrators want to add reflection questions or a scale to determine user feelings or sentiment, custom fields  can be applied to the workflow too.


Inbox: Shows a list of conversations you might have

Inbox: Pulls all the communication you are having within the app so simplify messaging on the go.

We conclude this post by introducing you to the Inbox! The mobile downloadable app now has an inbox that can organize all your conversations on the go.

For example, if you were a volunteer who reached out to the organizer and wanted more details on the event, you can now do this within the app. Or, if you were an admin, responding back to volunteer questions, or doing message blasts with all your constituents, you can now do so again on the mobile app!

The inbox benefits individual volunteers and the administrators. With this in mind, we recommend all GivePulse users to download the app to manage conversations to improve response rates.

Fun Fact: If you receive a message, you will be notified by a Push Notification…way better than an email and it is free from SMS charges!

We believe the inbox will be a great foundation to let all users respond back in a efficient manner.

Splash screen for the mobile app

Generic splash screen which we will change from time to time

And there you go, that’s a skinny! From the search experience to the inbox experience, we have rewritten our existing app with a 2.0 release. There is still waaaaayyy more to come and we are excited to give you a glimpse of version 2.0. Hopefully we have also given you a few hints towards what may be coming soon on our roadmap! For those who want to be a part of the roadmap, please contact our product team at 

Remember, there are 2 apps we support: 1) predominantly for volunteers, which this blog describes, and 2) another focused on allowing admins and event managers to track who signed in or as a way to expose a kiosk mode to allow people to “clock in and out”.

We continue our goals to innovate in this space. We believe with these new additions, we are one step closer to help our partners understand their impact in the community!

And… if the above was too long to read…


Below are a few of the benefits to using the iOS or Android downloadable app.
Volunteer, Member, Participant, Registrant
  • Login (Gmail, Facebook, email or even Single Sign On – your institution or business’s internal authentication/sign in method)
  • Discover, browser and search events and groups to join
  • Register or cancel registration of events
  • Answer custom fields or questions requested by admins
  • Review profile and manage your Dashboard of events and memberships
  • Manage events you are registered to (Dashboard)
  • Oversee your memberships (Dashboard)
  • Communicate and message people (Inbox)
  • Contact the organizer, planner or admin
  • Add impact (service hours & reflection) to any group or event

To download the iOS app for volunteers:

To download the Android app for volunteers:

Note (we now advise admins to download the primary app which includes both admin and end user capabilities).

Admin & Event Manager
  • Sign in folks on the go
  • Put the app into Kiosk Mode and Clockin/out folks
  • Verify one’s hours/activity

Tips for Preparing your Carnegie Application

GivePulse is excited to provide the platform for institutions of higher ed to apply or renew their Elective Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. The application cycle for the 2020 classification opened early this month. 

GivePulse is partnering with the College and University Engagement Initiative of the Swearer Center at Brown University to support campuses across the United States and beyond in preparing their applications.

Brian Halderman, our Director for Community Engagement and Success, has assisted campuses in previous application cycles. Below, he shares a few pointers for preparing your application, including collecting data and creating the narrative elements for your application. In the near future, he and the GivePulse team will share stories, updates, and important information about the Carnegie application and similar frameworks to help you assess and scale the work you do within your community.

Tips for Preparing your Carnegie Application

Build Community

Gather a committee of representatives from across campus that can help you pull together the required elements for the application. Think broadly about representation and the possibility of including individuals beyond the centers and departments doing community engagement work. For example, consider your institution’s communications, provost and president’s offices, among others, that may be able to provide strategic insights, examples, and support to the process. Identify a subgroup as a writing team and use the broader committee to review and revise your materials throughout the year.

Collect Evidence and Artifacts

In addition to qualitative examples of your institution’s collective impact, the application requires a number of quantitative data points. This is where a database like GivePulse can come in handy for institutions looking to track longitudinal impact and sustainable partnerships with the community.

If no such database exists, develop a plan with your committee to gather all of the necessary data and artifacts. This information should demonstrate reciprocity with your partnerships. They might include media coverage, reports, presentations, videos, etc.

Use Compelling Examples

You will likely collect many data and narratives from across campus. Use your committee to select the strongest and most compelling examples that demonstrate your institutional commitment to advancing the public good. Make sure you have the evidence (artifacts and data) to backup your case. A new element of this year’s application process is the opportunity for community partners to weigh in about their working relationship with the institution. In light of this addition, you will want to select your strongest and most sustainable partnerships so that you receive favorable and honest feedback.

Be Honest

The best part of the application process is that it provides the institution an opportunity to take a good, hard look in the mirror. It provides you with a tool to self-evaluate how well you are doing your work. Such reflection is always beneficial as it exposes challenges encountered and gives you a roadmap for improvement. Be honest in the application regarding your points of growth. No institution is doing their work perfectly and the review committee recognizes this reality. In fact, they will appreciate campuses being candid about their needs and their plan for improvement.

Take Action

Your committee will likely spend the better part of a year working on gathering information and writing the application. It is an investment of time and effort, so make sure to take action with what you have learned. With the information you have gained, develop a strategic plan for community engagement initiatives on your campus. The application process is an opportunity to highlight areas for improvement, such as data collection and assessment or advocacy for a change in the tenure and review process.

During the last application cycle, the institution where I was working had no repository for community engagement data. This meant contacting numerous departments, offices, and centers to gather information.  We quickly realized that no one center or person was focused on gathering, assessing, and digesting community engagement data at the institution. We learned that this would be important as we moved forward, as would having a database to assist us in this effort. These realizations led the institution to acquire GivePulse, and designate a center for tracking the data and reporting its findings annually.

We hope you have found these preliminary tips useful as you begin to think about your 2020 application. We at GivePulse are here to help you think about data gathering and assessing community engagement in new and innovative ways. Since our founding, we have been innovating alongside our campus partners and their communities to ensure institutions have quality data to tell their community engagement stories. From the Carnegie framework, to your local communities, to beyond, we are here to support your wonderful work.  

Check back in soon – more to come!

Best of luck to all campuses applying for the 2020 classification.

Community Partnerships with Center for Community Engagement of the University of Arkansas

300+ community partners, over 200 student programs and clubs, 17,000 engaged students, faculty and staff, 100,000 impact stories, and 300,000 service hours with an estimated impact of over $8 Million. (Dec 2018)

This is a brief story of University of Arkansas’s (UArk) community engagement impact.  

A few years ago the Center for Community Engagement of the University of Arkansas embarked on a journey to enhance volunteer and community engagement initiatives.

Embedded into the University’s culture is the  institution’s interest and goal to scale their community partnerships.

For a large anchor institution, the university has deep rooted partnerships with public and private organizations . With that, brings complexities that make managing community engagement for the diverse set of partnerships difficult, for instance:

  1. An inflexible legacy database
  2. Multiple liabilities and existing partnership agreements
  3. An archaic matching and management portal

To address the above complexities, the institution debated whether to develop something internally would be better than using multiple tools… or is there even one tool out there that would encompass most if not all the University’s requirements.  After due diligence and analyzing all the technology options available in the market, they chose one platform to address all their complex concerns and additional features that would improve processes and help expand all community engagement programs. Specifically, the system they chose enabled the following:

  1. Flexible Database: A multi-tenant relational database that can integrate with other systems and customized to  capture all types of data for reporting outputs, relationships, activities and impact.
  2. Workflow & Form Management: A workflow to accept and approve customized liabilities and agreements between its volunteers and community partnerships annually, semesterly or a unique defined duration.
  3. Modern, Mobile-Friendly Portal: A responsive website that is accessible for all devices (and downloadable in the app stores) allowing students, faculty and staff to  be matched with community partner profiles and opportunities as well as having a way to update and track their engagement.
  4. Free capabilities for nonprofit agencies: A version for community partners to leverage for their own volunteer management, reporting and tracking purposes.
  5. Partnership Management: One place for different departments, clubs, programs and initiatives to track their own separate relationships with their unique partners.

The above abilities has enabled the institution and its broader community to come together using technology to scale their operations collectively. To view the Center for Community Engagement of the University of Arkansas’s portal, and how it’s implemented, you can visit

To learn more, please let us know, we would be happy to introduce you to the UArk team and will be sharing more about collective impact and networks. 

In case you missed the recording or link at the top, here is a recent recording (Dec 2018) of UArk’s work:

GivePulse Collaborates with Campus Labs to provide Community Engagement Capabilities for Member Campuses

Austin, TX, March 4, 2018 – We are excited to announce a new collaboration with Campus Labs®, a leader in helping students connect with and manage co-curricular engagement opportunities, through an enriching integration with the community engagement functionality in GivePulse®.

Established in 2001, Campus Labs delivers an integrated platform that provides an end-to-end solution for setting strategic goals, collecting evidence, and reporting actionable insights. Today, 17 years after its founding, over 1,300 higher education institutions utilize the Campus Labs platform to manage their mission-critical information. Their Campus Labs Engage solution allows campus administrators to connect students to meaningful and guided opportunities, manage and track their involvement, and showcase the institution’s impact on the student experience.

Ryan O’Connell, Campus Labs Senior Product Manager for Student Engagement, stated  “the team at GivePulse is very talented” and that “our Engage Member Campuses are going to love their expertise in service-learning and their fresh take on community service management.”

This new GivePulse integration will enable Campus Labs Engage Member Campuses to take advantage of the thoughtful and vast community service promotion, management, and tracking tools within the GivePulse technology; while serving as a valuable resource for student engagement exploration and documentation in Engage. The amazing Campus Labs team will collaborate with GivePulse to bridge together and strengthen a more connected student engagement experience.

“GivePulse is excited to collaborate with Campus Labs to streamline community engagement for students,” said George Luc, GivePulse’s Chief Civic Evangelist and Cofounder. “Together we will enable community organizations to partner with higher-ed institutions on curricular and co-curricular service activities, research, and projects advancing social good!”

To learn more or attend the April 17th webinar, you can go here:

Making the Announcement of Campus Labs Collaboration

“If enough people stepped up, we could put a dent in food insecurity.”

Think about all the meals you’ve eaten this week. Now think about how much you threw away because you were way too full, you cooked too much, or maybe it wasn’t worth saving. This is food waste and it’s a huge problem. Sadly it’s also staggeringly common, so much so that 40% of food in the US is thrown away. This waste goes straight to landfills, which are responsible for 1/6 of our methane gas emissions.

What is also common is food insecurity, a problem wherein people don’t know where their next meal will come from. We are all too familiar with this as a society; we know that hunger is an issue. Donating to food drives and volunteering at soup kitchens are normal for us because we know there are so many families in need. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and they’re right: 18.4% of Texas households experience food insecurity, placing us third in the nation.

JenniferJames_blog_pictureI got a chance to sit down with Jennifer James, Logistics Director for Keep Austin Fed, to talk about her experiences with the food rescue organization and how she got her start there. For her, these problems were a “no-brainer”. We have all this perfectly edible food, and we have so many hungry families –  let’s feed them! Jennifer’s journey with KAF began about three years ago in a community college philosophy class. While dedicating her time to homeschooling her three children, Jennifer became involved with various volunteer opportunities. At the same time, Jennifer decided to go back to school and finish her bachelor’s degree in accounting, a choice she described as both setting an example for her children, as well as doing something for herself.

Jennifer’s professor gave the class two options for a project: write a research paper OR do a community service project with a final reflection essay on the experience. With her history of getting involved in the community, Jennifer opted for the service project and volunteered six hours that semester with Keep Austin Fed. On her first food run with the organization to a local grocery store, she recalls her “mouth dropping because of all the food [the store] would’ve thrown away had [they] not been there to pick it up.” Jennifer then came to the big conclusion: we don’t have a food production problem, we have a food distribution problem.

After writing the reflection paper and finishing up her class, Jennifer continued to work with KAF in big part because of the two-fold pay off, helping people with food insecurity and helping the environment. She is persevering toward completing her degree at Texas State University while also continuing to homeschool her youngest. Jennifer describes herself as always getting involved with whatever she’s interested in, and working with KAF was no exception as “opportunities kept opening up” to support their mission further.

Her passion for this cause was obvious throughout our conversation, and she believes it can be obvious to others as well, since it’s really difficult to believe  “anyone who would be okay with children going hungry.” According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, humans have to fulfill their physiological needs, like hunger, in order to be able to fulfill higher needs like education, social stability, and self-confidence. It makes complete sense, and that is what  Keep Austin Fed is trying to do by reaching out to schools so they can identify families who might be suffering from food insecurity. She is also a firm believer in the power of the next generation to help solve these pervasive problems: “the more our kids know about this, the more they can carry it forward.”

Sitting down with our community partners to find out why they do what they do is important to all of us here at GivePulse. We want to help them do more for their community as much as we can. Jennifer let us know how KAF could save more food in two ways: more volunteers and a large  facility.

Keep Austin Fed “can always find donors and recipients…but the limitation on saving more food is volunteers.”  Using GivePulse as their platform for volunteer management, Jennifer is able to easily view on her calendar which food runs are filled and which still need volunteers. The biggest part of her job is making sure there is a volunteer for each run and she is constantly reaching out to current volunteers to insure each recipient receives their share. When things get a bit overwhelming, Jennifer understands “you can’t save all the food”, but doing what you can is so important. Food waste and insecurity is a collective problem requiring a collective impact, but Jennifer believes “if enough people stepped up, we could put a dent in food insecurity.” Click here for more information on how to do what you can to help KAF move the needle on these issues.

With all the time and resources in the world, Jennifer’s dream for KAF would be “one big building with lots of freezers, a conference room for bigger orientations, and a party room for volunteers to get together every few months.” Increasing the longevity of the end-of-life food they pick up, holding larger orientations to accommodate more potential volunteers, and hosting get-togethers for current volunteers to inform them how they can be more involved could all greatly increase the amount of food KAF is able to save and the number of families they can feed. Click here to donate and help support these dreams.


Keep Austin Fed is a kind neighbor and client of GivePulse. We highlight our community partners in this “Why I Give” blog series to showcase why they are passionate about their work and ultimately inspire others to be passionate as well. For more information on how your organization can utilize our platform or to be featured in this series, reach out to us at

Make Your Donation Platform Work For You

With private charitable contributions reaching an estimated $358.38 billion in 2014, it’s no secret that donation collection and management is a vital facet of how your nonprofit operates. There is no one-size-fits-all system for charitable organizations (or even one-size-fits-most). Picking the right system for your organization will help you make the most out of your supporters generous contributions, as well as make your life a whole lot easier. Below is a comparison of five different platforms, DonorBox, Razoo, GivePulse, NetworkForGood, and Facebook based on priorities, pricing, features, and scalability. Consider the goals of your organization and choose the platform that has the right functionality and price to match your needs.

If you are completely uninterested in the networking and P2P opportunities of the four platforms below, you can utilize Stripe or PayPal directly by either 1) integrating it into your current system or 2) as a “donate” button on your website.

Option 1: If you want to automate the data transfer about your donation history and donor information or keep the workflow of donating seamless for your potential donors, integrating Stripe or PayPal into your webpage and backoffice procedures will some take time and money. Depending on integration costs, in our experience, hiring a consulting firm to do it for you would take around a month and cost anywhere from $2K to $10K.

Option 2: You’ve probably seen “donate” buttons on many websites, and if you have no need for any integration whatsoever this is a good option for you. It is relatively painless and should only take 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on your familiarity with the technology, but there are numerous tutorials and how-tos to walk you through it. This option will allow you to export your donation data as a CSV, but it will be up to you to integrate that data into whatever CRM or other systems you use.

More information on using Stripe or PayPal for donations.


For small organizations that need a low cost system and don’t care for any more additional functionality, DonorBox is the way to go. For medium to larger organizations and anyone focused on growing their donor base, DonorBox will likely leave something to be desired.

They are the price leader in the industry: 0.89% platform fee and 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee, with no monthly fees or annual contract. The platform fee is only charged if your organization reaches $1000 in donations for that month.

Although they do lead in price, their features are fairly minimal by having no management system and few integration options. Below are functionalities and limitations to consider:

  • Offers options to integrate with the SalesForce Nonprofit Sales Pack and Mailchimp but those will cost you extra ($25/month for SalesForce and $8/month for Mailchimp)
  • Form is optimized for user-friendly recurring donations setup
  • No personal fundraising page is supplied, rather you are given an embeddable form
  • No internal donor management system that they provide, but you can export your data as a CSV

Low. With no donor management system and limited integration options, DonorBox is not the most scalable system to stick with as your organization grows.


If your organization is most interested in a crowdfunding platform to collect donations and not interested in a donor management system or CRM integration, Razoo is the way to go for small to medium nonprofits that may not need multiple admins or have a strong brand yet.

Crowdfunding for charity at its best. Razoo provides you with their donation platform for a 4.9% platform fee and 2% + $0.30 transaction fee, with no monthly fees or annual contract.

While the features offered by Razoo are more extensive than those offered by DonorBox when it comes to your fundraising page, they also provide no management system or integration options. Below are functionalities and limitations to consider:

  • Personal  fundraising page, as well as options for embeddable widgets for your website, Facebook, etc
  • Export all of your data as a CSV
  • 10 admin limit for your page
  • Branding options are limited (uploaded pictures/videos and custom URL), meaning it will look and feel more like Razoo rather than your organization
  • No internal donor management system or ways to integrate with your CRM

Medium. Razoo offers some specific functionalities to allow you to expand your donations collection, like customizable widgets and the option to set up matching grants once you have found a willing grantor. They can grow better with you than simpler platforms.


For organizations of any size looking to grow, GivePulse is the go-to. They are the price leader when it comes to systems offering donation collection and donor management. For organizations utilizing both donations and volunteers, it will streamline those processes on the same platform. If you are not interested in donor and/or volunteer management or integrating with your existing CRM,  they’re not your best bet.

As a donor and volunteer management system, GivePulse offers a variety of services through their platform on both free and paid versions. Organizations can make an account to access their donations collection system for free (no monthly fee or annual contract), and they charge a 1% platform fee and 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee.

GivePulse can offer a variety of features based on pricing tier so we’ll look at the most cost-effective and least expensive of the five available packages for nonprofits. Below are functionalities and limitations to consider for each:

  • Free
    • Donations and ticketed events can be processed through the platform
    • Offers an internal CRM for donor and volunteer management
    • Embeddable widget for your website, Facebook, etc
    • Export all of your data as a csv
    • 1 admin limit to manage your page
  • Platinum ($138/month, discounted if paid annually)
    • All core features are available
    • Extensive branding options with white-labeling and subdomains (
    • Open communication so that login is not necessary to message and reply to members of your group (donors and volunteers)
    • Unlimited account admins

Additionally, integration with almost any other CRM is available as an add-on to any pricing tier for $50/month and complete domain masking (no mention of the GivePulse name in your page’s URL) is an available add-on to any tier for $80/month.

High. GivePulse offers five pricing tiers for nonprofits ranging from $138/month to completely free with additional add-ons to fit your needs. If your organization wants to start off using the free version offering donations collection and management, but also wants the option of scaling up, it is simple to do. The same is true if you start on a higher tier and would like to scale down.


For larger organizations that care more for the advanced functionality of a robust internal management system over cost, NetworkForGood is a solid option. If you don’t want the commitment of a long-term annual contract or the price is out of your range, consider any of the options above.

For $79/month, an annual contract, and 3% per transaction, you have access to the NetworkForGood donation page platform. With the three product package for $179/month, you also have access to their peer-to-peer fundraising platform and their donor management system.

Although the prices are on the high end, you definitely get what you pay for with NetworkForGood, like extensive branding options and a strong management system. Below are functionalities and limitations to consider:

  • Customizable donation page specific to your organization’s branding and feel
  • Open fundraising and ticketed events
  • Strong technical support and advice throughout the page creation process
  • Bulk data export and import (with donor management system purchase)
  • Unlimited personal fundraising pages to empower your donors to fundraise for you (with peer-to-peer fundraising system purchase)

Medium. NetworkForGood has decent scalability with three different products you can purchase separately or in combination, but adjusting functionality within each product to meet your needs is not quite possible.


Rather than functioning as your primary donation platform, Facebook’s “donate” function can augment your existing fundraising efforts. This will make the donation process quick and simple for the over 1 billion Facebook users your nonprofit has access to. Any registered 501(c)3 can apply to accept donations via Facebook, but if you want to stick with one single platform, opt for the “donate now” call-to-action that sends users to your third-party donation platform.


There is no contract involved, monthly or annual, and the fees are pretty standard: 2% platform fee to cover operational costs + 3% credit card processing fee.

The Facebook donation function has it’s benefits, like exposure, but restricts integration and data collection. Below are functionalities and limitations to consider:

  • “Donate” button front and center on organization’s page, your posts, and supporters’ posts
  • Simple donation workflow that keeps the donor on one website throughout
  • No integration with third-party platforms whatsoever
  • Data collection limited to name, amount, and email (only if donor opts in)
  • Thank you email and receipt cannot be customized

Low to medium. The donation functionality could very well become more easily customized and integrated into your current workflow as it becomes more widely used and Facebook adjusts the program accordingly, but how it looks presently is limited by the facts that 1) there is no option to integrate with your current platform and 2) collection of donor info is severely limited.

Whichever platform you decide is best for your organization, it should make your work easier, not harder. Decide on what your most important priorities are and choose the system(s) catered to those needs. Fundraising is the hard work, collecting donations shouldn’t be. For more information on using GivePulse as a donation platform, reach out to us at

“I care about the place that I live.”

The community partners we work with each have unique missions, but we believe the reason they do this work is just as important as the work itself. The people who dedicate their time and knowledge to make positive impacts in their community all have strong motivating factors for being in the nonprofit sector because let’s be honest, the draw isn’t exactly in the earning potential. Passion for a cause is what drives these individuals to do what they do and each one of them has a story.

Allison.siteFor Allison Watkins, Chief Strategy Officer for the Austin Parks Foundation, her “why” begins not in the nonprofit sector, but rather in the glittery world of advertising. While completing her Masters degree in Advertising at the University of Texas at Austin, Allison realized that copywriting and the corporate world didn’t provide the fulfillment of doing work she was truly passionate about. Working with the LIVESTRONG Foundation (formerly the Lance Armstrong Foundation), however, did just that. She was interested in creating awareness for cancer support services as her father is a survivor,  and she “could see everyday that they were doing good work and impacting people’s lives.” After dedicating nearly 12 years to LIVESTRONG, she dabbled in for-profit consulting before joining the team at Austin Parks Foundation.

APF started off nearly 25 years ago as a group of passionate conservationists, environmentalists, and volunteers; people who Allison describes as “folks that wanted to get their hands dirty.” They wanted to relieve some of the burden of maintaining Austin’s expansive park system from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, and with this goal the Foundation was born.

As a third generation Austinite, now with a family of her own, Allison feels a unique draw to its outdoor spaces and enjoys working to preserve these areas that the city is so well-known for. Transitioning from the global impact of cancer survivorship  to the local impact of APF was an important step for her in order to see a tangible, quantifiable effect on her own community. There is definitely something to be said for walking through any green space and knowing you had a hand in preserving it for everyone to enjoy, as an administrator or a volunteer. APF utilizes thousands of volunteers every year to beautify and maintain the spaces under their care, and one of their biggest volunteer engagement events is their annual It’s My Park Day. This was Allison’s first event with APF, as well as the foundation’s first event utilizing the GivePulse platform.

The record-setting 14th Annual It’s My Park Day was a huge success, and for Allison it “was overwhelming to see Austinites’ involvement in [APF’s] mission and their desire to take time to invest in their local parks, trails, and green spaces.” APF was able to coordinate over 3,500 volunteers, 115 projects, and 14,000 hours of work for their most impactful It’s My Park Day yet. The time and work that was donated by community members equated a financial investment of $215,240 in park labor, which goes to show just how strong of an effect volunteer work can have in improving the green spaces in your own backyard. By utilizing GivePulse for the first time, APF was able to delegate leadership to those volunteers that want to be as involved as possible in supporting their mission by empowering their “super volunteers” to submit project proposals online and have those proposals reviewed by both APF and Austin Parks and Recreation Department. This enabled APF administrators to have more time to do outreach and promotion, and culminated in a successful and impactful event for everyone involved. For more information on APF’s It’s My Park Day 2016 and how to get involved for next year, click here.

Overall, Allison’s “why” is simple and something I think we can all relate to: “I care about the place that I live.” We all enjoy the green spaces we have around us, whether it’s your favorite hiking trail or metropolitan park, or even the playground in your neighborhood. It’s essential to acknowledge the resources and commitment it takes to preserve these outdoor areas, as well dedicate what time and funds we can to make a difference in our own backyard. In Allison’s words, “the world works when people get involved.”

The Austin Parks Foundation is a kind neighbor and client of GivePulse. To learn more about how they utilize our platform, enjoy our video. For more information on volunteering, click here.