As many of you were likely also doing, my partner and co-founder Tom Williamson and I were up til midnight on New Year’s Eve, as we’ve been every year for the last 10 years, refreshing our dashboards, watching donations roll in and feeling thrilled for our amazing clients’ successes. One of these years I’ll try to make it until midnight Pacific Time (hi, Ayumi Stubbs!) before falling asleep with my laptop open.
Since our first client (the International Rescue Committee, still a client today) launched way back in the old days on the very first version of what is now called Springboard, Tom and I have aligned our business, and our lives’ purpose, to supporting the work of organizations whose missions we adore. In my annual letter, which I always write in a sappy, sentimental, sleep-deprived New Year’s mood, I often reflect on our client’s successes as the year wraps up. Indeed, our clients continue to grow year over year, remarkably ahead of the curve of the social sector at large. They inspire all of us here at Jackson River to give everything we’ve got in order to make sure their cause has the impact it deserves.
And as ever, we are so grateful and humbled to be along for the ride.
As 2019 begins, I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with a potential new hire (we’re usually hiring, by the way) who asked me, “What are you most proud of in founding and running Jackson River?” The answer is, always, my team and our culture. Tom and I have been fortunate to have 30 geographically-distributed staff who both believe in our vision and tolerate our craziness. Our ranks include a handful of staff who work somewhat altered schedules (¾ time, 4 days a week, etc.), which allows them to raise their families and pursue outside passions without compromising their career paths. To be able to provide a workplace offering our strong, kind, whole-person-friendly culture to these talented people has been my greatest joy.
My colleagues are simply fun, inspiring, and the #1 reason I love coming to work every day. Let me tell you a little something about them.
On December 31st, we processed more donation transactions than any day in our history (including the incredible 2017 outpouring of gifts on the weekend after the first Muslim Ban). 2018 overall was a banner year, with more donations, actions, petitions and event registrations processed than ever before. In addition to our clients’ fundraising, advocacy, and event prowess, this was also thanks to our brand-new, high-performing, super-secure infrastructure, managed by our kick-ass team of “server guys”: Nick Carroll, Tom Bowyer and Ben Clark. I’m so grateful for their hard work, late nights, and good humor. To be honest, although I’m on their Slack channel, I mostly have zero idea what they’re talking about (since every sentence involves roughly 50% acronyms). But their integrity and dedication is incredible. They are the backbone of this company, and we couldn’t do it without them.
Also in 2018, we released 27 new features to the Springboard product, now in version 4.29, including a beautiful new Springboard Admin interface and even deeper integration with Salesforce, including single sign-on. The Springboard Platform team, managed by Kara Cruoglio, Megan Farrington and Phillip Cave, has seamlessly designed, built, tested and released all these features. And Esther Wangeci QAs the product with some kind of magical penchant for perfection, giving our clients our very best with every single release.
Our developer team is similarly tireless. Meli Trumbo, Laura Zimmerman, Kevin LaPalme, Scott Phillips, Joel Rothschild, Matt Thomas, Jess Walls, and Cameron Kingzett write all the code and implement Springboard with tremendous, careful and caring precision. We recently had a third-party independent audit that reviewed 130 components and 500,000+ lines of code and came back with only three minor suggestions for improvement. The auditor told me, to our delight, “This thing is so damn clean!”
Jenn Olivia and Jennie Corman lead our client services and professional services departments, launching and supporting dozens of Springboards. Our project management team - Niki Hammond, Shannon Scanlan, Alan Van Vlack, and Chris von Spiegelfeld, brewed up their special brand of hand-holding support that is what we’re known for best: caring so much, and offering tremendous patience, to even our most demanding causes. As a client recently told me,
“Our project manager is totally part of our team. She laughs and cries along with us. She brings both a deep knowledge of our organization and our needs, but also has a valuable outside perspective that helps us keep abreast of what's working and what's not with her other clients. Her knowledge of the tools is outstanding, but her commitment to being in the trenches with us is the most valuable part of our relationship.”
On the consulting side, Misty McLaughlin continues to midwife clients through complex special projects, plus leading our marketing efforts and business development, and putting up with me, which is a job unto itself. Jackson River shines brighter in her presence, and her positive energy holds us up every day.
2018 brought hundreds (I am not exaggerating this number) of new and strengthened relationships with our partners, thanks to VP of Alliances Watt Hamlett. We’ve made so many close friends at Salesforce.org, Microsoft, IBM, and Vantiv - to name a few - and we’ve worked on numerous client projects with partners like Traction on Demand, Kell Partners, North Peak Solutions, Acumen, Appirio, Exponent Partners, Heller, roundCorner, Fresh Eyes Digital, Sanky, Big Duck, M+R, KnowWho, and more. Our product is designed to be completely flexible and easy to integrate, so collaborative implementation projects are our thing. We’ve been proud to work in lock-step with these great partners, and we look forward to so much more in 2019. These companies are our strongest supporters, and I can’t thank them enough for being in our corner -- and allowing us into theirs.
Our renowned annual birthday party was our biggest ever! This year was our 10th Birthday Vampire Bash at NTC in New Orleans. It was so crowded, and the line for tarot readings so long, that I didn’t get to spend much time with about 400 of you. I still owe so many Friends of Jackson River a hug, and Tom is still annoyed with me about the staggering bar bill from that event. But it was fun, wasn’t it?! (PS: See you in Portland for our 11th annual birthday party? Send us a note to get added to the list!)
ALSO: We’ve got some super exciting news coming in 2019, a sparkling new product I’ve been eagerly anticipating (you’ll be hearing from me personally about it in the upcoming months); continued smart, steady growth with some awesome new clients; even more CRMs and third-party systems that Springboard integrates with; and product expansion and thought leadership in sectors we have special expertise in - like Public Media (tv and radio) - from our partnerships with NPR, PBS, and American Public Media group.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook or drop us a line if you want to learn more. You can also, of course, sign up for a Springboard demo, find us at conferences like the Nonprofit Tech Conference, Public Media Development and Marketing Conference, the Bridge Conference, Fundraising Day New York, NetHope, Dreamforce, or just shoot me a note so we can chat.
And if you made it this far: Thank you for being part of our bright little company. Your support means everything to me.