Thursday, October 12, 2006

A sprinkling of history

Let’s get it on the table right now: I’m new to American Rivers (as with my position), in fact, only 4 months old and I've seemed to have jumped on a moving ship. Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing and it’s sort of nice to be the one added to momentum.

Late 2004, American Rivers began their search for a company that would basically run the online operation. All the big guys were thrown out on the table—Kintera, Get Active, Convio—for the job: provide a $6+ million organization with the technical capabilities to effectively manage a website, engage activists, and recruit donors.

Convio won the contract and the partnership began early 2005, not long after Convio and the Dean Campaign made national news with their online success. Convio has provided American Rivers (and many others: 100%+ growth since 2004) the technical tools to update pages, send action alerts, organize volunteers, and much more.

Convio is a one stop-shop type of thing, and for many years, just add water and instant campaign. Prior to Convio, American Rivers partnered with Bank First who, at the time, was dabbling with open source software and agreed to provide much needed pro bono services. When Bank First decided to dissolve, and pages needed to be migrated, American Rivers chose to saddle up with the proven propriety software giant, Convio.

For the last 18 months, we’ve updated pages, sent thousands of emails to Congress, recruited new supporters (and activists), and reached new audiences. However, with 2.0 taking shape, and peer2peer networks creating a buzz, times seem to be changing.

These next few months will be interesting as we have 21 months left on our contract, Convio launching 2.0 tools (know more on October 23rd & 24th at the Convio Customer Summit), and overseeing the build out of not one, two, or three websites, but potentially FOUR. Who do we work with? How do we plan beyond these 21 months? Do we manage all of our sites under one roof? How do we incorporate new and exciting tools (free ones at that!) in a closed box? There are a lot of questions.

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