Change the World with Your Data

ROI Solutions
Greg Herr, Membership Services, The Public Interest Network

Greg Herr, Membership Services, The Public Interest Network

Enjoy this conversation between ROI Solutions and Gregg Herr from The Public Interest Network.

ROI:  For those in our user community who don’t know, what is Public Interest Network?

GREG:  The Public Interest Network is a group of people and organizations working to address questions that our society can’t afford to ignore.  Our network includes organizations such as US PIRG, Environment America, and Green Corps.

We work to help answer questions like:  How do we preserve irreplaceable resources like air, water and a livable climate for our grandchildren? How do we transform vast systems of transportation and energy that were designed to meet the needs of a different century? How do we produce food for a growing world in ways that won’t threaten human health and destroy the environment? How do we sustain the democratic ideal of the United States, as civic participation is diminished by consumerism and the rise of corporate personhood?

Our outreach arm, The Fund for the Public Interest, works on behalf of those organizations (and others including Human Rights Campaign), to effectively communicate their messaging through direct marketing and canvass operations.

ROI:  Since The Public Interest Network works with a number of different organizations, how does that work from a data management perspective?

GREG:    That is definitely a logistical challenge.  We work with almost 100 organizations at the Public Interest Network.  At the same time, we want to take advantage of shared resources to provide economies of scale under a single unified database, while still being very conscious about data privacy rules and donors’ rights.    I’ll give you a quick example:  while we master a record at the constituent level, and some constituents give to multiple organizations, some pieces of data can only be available to the organization that received that data from the constituent.  Email addresses and cellphone numbers are good examples.  Email addresses can only be maintained by the organization that the constituent gave that piece of information to.  It’s a challenge, but that’s one of the reasons we chose to work with ROI as we can customize the security and have privacy controls per organization while having the ability to roll-up data for reporting, segmentation, file selection, and analysis.

ROI:  When did you start working with ROI Solutions?

GREG:  Well, we converted to ROI in 2010, but we had early conversations with Gina (VanderLoop) and one of the co-founders of ROI Solutions, Kate Berseth way back in the early days in 1998.   We had been on a system called FundRaiser and it hadn’t been supported for about 15 years prior to moving over to ROI, so it was quite a change for us.

ROI:  What changes to Revolution Online are notable to you over that time?

GREG:  In terms of the overall application, and it seems like a while ago now, but the move from a server based to a web based application certainly stands out.  That was right around the time of our conversion to ROI.  More recently the change to the User Interface last year to a cleaner version was certainly well received at our organization.  We are also really looking forward to the new High Touch redesign.

For our own instance of Revolution Online, I think it has to be a lot of the custom work that we’ve collaborated with ROI to develop.  Since we rely on canvass so much, we worked with ROI and Grassroots Unwired to allow canvassers to enter results online through their tablets.  That is so much more efficient than our old paper-based canvass efforts.

ROI:  You manage all your file pulls and segmentation internally at The Fund for Public Interest, can you tell us a little more about that?

GREG:    That’s something we are really proud of.  The Fund for Public Interest in many ways was founded to be a technical resource for the organizations in the Public Interest Network.  We support about 100 organizations’ specific data needs which all have constantly evolving business requirements.  One of the reasons we chose to work with ROI is that Revolution Online is open enough to allow us to program to accommodate those changing needs for the organizations we work with.

  What do you like best about working with ROI Solutions?

GREG:  It’s not really just the product, it’s the team. I like the fact that the ROI Solutions’ team is willing to dive into, think through, and help solve a problem.  Most importantly it is the long history and relationship we have together.  We have a lot of long tenured staff, and so does ROI.  We have a lot of good history together.  People like Matt (Rosen), Gina (VanderLoop), and Lucas (Cunningham) understand our business and what we are trying to do and and they bring a lot of experience to the table.

ROI:  As this is our summer fun issue, do you have any vacation plans this summer?

GREG:   Well, we just moved from Topsfield, MA to Byfield, MA, so I think that unpacking and doing stuff around the new house is going to take up much of my summer fun.  I did just get some time to take my 85 year old father on a great trip that we had been planning for a while.  He served as a city planner and has an architecture background, so we went on a road trip to Bear Run, PA to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.  Structurally it is pretty amazing, as the house is cantilevered over a big waterfall right in a beautiful, natural setting.  It was quite an experience and I’m so glad I could do it with my dad.

ROI:  Greg, thanks for sharing your story!  We hope the new move goes well and that you have some time to enjoy the rest of the summer!