GoodSpark Impact

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Organization's Mission Statement

GoodSpark will enrich the lives of many through the relentless pursuit of information, unmatched ease of use, and tangible evidence of impact.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

INTRODUCTIONGoodSpark is a national nonprofit designed to engage young professionals and inspire them to support quality charities that make a difference. We are driven by the belief that by creating and engaging more philanthropists the world will be a better place. By providing an effective, efficient, and engaging way to give, we’re helping to create the next generation of donors. TECHNOLOGYOur website,, was built using cutting edge Microsoft technologies provided by Microsoft and TechSoup. Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2005, and Windows Server 2003 are all used in the development or operation of the site. Our web application is built on the recently released Microsoft ASP.Net MVC Framework and the operational data for the site is stored in SQL Server 2005. The data is accessed through a custom data abstraction library using LINQ to SQL as the ORM tool and a slightly modified version of the IQueryable Repository pattern developed by Rob Conery in his MVC storefront series. We are also using Encore Systems’ PayPal class library for .Net to interface with PayPal as our payment processing system.IMPACTHere is how the generous donations from Microsoft are helping us to maximize impact and empowering us to be:Effective – GoodSpark keeps 0% of the donations it processes and does not take commissions, kickbacks, finder’s fees, or anything else from the charities it supports. That means that donations through GoodSpark are not subjected to the typical charges associated with online giving that range between 6%-22%, and more money is gets to the causes our users care about. It also means that keeping our operating costs low is critical. MS Server 2003 and MS SQL 2005 provides us a stable platform that reduces the time and cost associated with maintaining systems. The .NET MVC Framework and data driven structure allow us to make changes, adaptations, and evolve the site with ease. ASP.Net interfaces exceptionally well with other technologies, like our processing provider PayPal. This has made Goodspark more effective on the development side as well as helping us reduce ongoing costs. Goodspark is also aided by the Microsoft Charting engine in its MVC web application that provides us with a high level view of how donations are currently being allocated to the charities with whom Goodspark has partnered.Efficient - Finding a good charity is difficult and time consuming. Too often well-intentioned donors give to organizations that don’t measure their outcomes and don’t spend their funds efficiently. We do the research so our users do not have to; while our extensive research and an exhaustive selection process ensure that their contributions go to organizations that make a tangible, positive impact.Microsoft products play a large role in keeping Goodspark efficient and are leveraged in almost every step of our evaluation and charity management process. Our evaluation form feeds the database directly and provides us with an easy way to compare and contrast various organizations. Microsoft's Reporting Services engine is used to track metrics and deliver reports that are vital to our ongoing charity management process. Engaging - We give donors unprecedented access to information and provide tangible evidence of their impact. We are not just trying to get our audience to think, we are trying to get them to act and remain engaged in the world of philanthropy. In order to accomplish that, we are employing a number of different strategies.This is the area where Microsoft software is making the most significant difference for us. To engage our audience, needs to be dynamic, and the MVC framework is highly extensible and pluggable. It also enables rich AJAX integration that keeps our look fresh and engaging. The framework is designed so that elements can be easily replaced or customized. We take full advantage of this extensibility via our “impact engine” (our primary tool for serving up news and multimedia content).Evolving – Evolution and growth are critical to Goodspark’s ongoing success. Our use of Microsoft’s architectural pattern gives us the ability to enable new services, campaigns, and programs effectively. The clean separation of concern between models, views, and controllers makes the testing of new changes and applications we develop much easier.As Goodspark expands, the need for trending and historical analysis becomes more important. SQL Server Analysis Services will serve as a vital tool to review the lifetime of Goodspark donations to analyze trends.Conclusion – Microsoft Technologies have fundamentally transformed the way we do business and continue to help us maximize our impact. Microsoft’s software and its integrated tools enable us to provide an engaging and impactful experience for our users. We hope to lead by example by ‘closing the loop’ in the charitable sector, showing donors that their dollars, when given to well-researched, vetted charities, can have a lasting, sustainable impact.

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
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