Building Capacity and Delivering Results

The mission of Eaton Nonprofit Solutions is to help nonprofits become more successful by improving their fundraising and operational processes. Nonprofit organizations are vital to the well-being of our communities, our nation, and the world. Whether the mission is to relieve suffering, cure disease, rescue pets, promote the arts, preserve open space, advocate for humane laws, or a myriad of other causes, without the dedication and passion of those who staff and support nonprofits we would all be much worse off.

My goal is to help your organization improve its internal processes by deploying state-of-the-art tools and practices so you can more efficiently and effectively focus on your all-important mission.

The Challenges

Nonprofits face a number of common challenges as they balance delivering on their mission with limited financial resources while making important investments in their capacity. These common challenges include:

Managing data. Information on donors, volunteers, supporters, clients, and other constituents is vital to all organizations. When information is scattered across multiple spreadsheets, hard to access, inconsistent, and fragmented, staff cannot quickly get answers to important questions, donors are not stewarded properly, and simple tasks become frustratingly difficult. Imagine how much better life would be if all of your constituent data was available, consistent, complete, and at your fingertips?

Managing operational processes. Most nonprofits have operational processes that need to be managed: meals need to be delivered, volunteers need to be scheduled (and confirmed and thanked), workshops need to be scheduled, in-kind donations need to be received and processed. By integrating email and calendaring with software to manage its transactional activities, organizations become much more efficient and are able to achieve greater results without adding to their operational costs.

Getting funding for hardware and software. Many nonprofits are saddled with ancient computers and obsolete software which slows their work, hurts staff morale, and makes it hard to attract the best talent to their organizations. Planning for technology needs, creating a budget, and making the case to your board and funders can be a difficult and time-consuming task.

Finding the right tools. There is a bewildering array of software tools on the market for scheduling, project management, fundraising, donor management, team collaboration, contact management, and more. Which ones are best for your organization? How do you find the ones that will truly stick and add value?

My Services

Donor Information Management

One of my areas of expertise is data management and fundraising software. For most small to midsize organizations, I recommend Little Green Light (LGL), an intuitive, lightweight, and very affordable solution that gets all of your constituent data in one place, tracks donor communication, manages campaigns, processes online donations, and simplifies thanking your donors. LGL is a fully web-based, subscription product. The monthly cost depends upon how many constituent records you have and starting at $39 per month for up to 2,500 constituents.

Getting up and running on Little Green Light (or any CRM system) is not particularly difficult, but getting help from someone who has gone through the process many times will save time and help you avoid mistakes. To discuss your group's challenges with constituent information management and to see if I can help you, please schedule a free phone consultation.

Software Evaluation

Finding the right software tools for your organization takes time and knowledge of the marketplace. I help organizations define their problem and desired outcomes, understand what solutions are available, include you and your staff in a process of evaluating promising solutions, and select the solution that best fits your needs and budget.

Software Development

There are situations where custom software development is called for. This may be the case when your process requirements are unique and the efficiencies to be gained through customized software are significant. With the new generation of very powerful open-source software frameworks, developing and supporting custom applications is an increasingly viable option for many organizations.

When a custom solution is called for, I build object-oriented administrative software using Ruby on Rails, a modern, open-source development technology embraced by many major organizations.

Technology Planning

Every organization should have a multi-year technology roadmap that lays out hardware replacement schedules and software upgrades. This is a very useful tool to get funder and board support for spending the necessary money to provide your team with the tools they need.

About Rick Eaton

Thank you for taking a look at my website and learning about my services. The purpose of my work is to help nonprofits achieve their unique, important missions. I work at the intersection of appropriate technology and community service, and I'm troubled by the number of nonprofits who continue to operate with inefficient processes, outdated equipment, and poor tools. I want to help you make your internal processes smooth and efficient. Frustrating work processes lead to staff stress, burnout, and turnover.

I live in Sacramento, California, where I'm active in a number of community activities, including efforts to end homelessness and improve the quality of life in our underserved neighborhoods. I am a founder of the North Sacramento Community Development Corporation, and a volunteer-leader with Sacramento Area Congregations Together.

After studying at an embarrassingly-large number of institutions of higher education during my 20's, I graduated from Chico State University with a degree in Computer Science when I was 30. I went to work as a business software developer for Hewlett-Packard and continued at Chico State, where I earned a Masters Degree (also in Computer Science). I spent nearly 20 years at HP doing software development, leading projects, and managing procurement and marketing groups.

I left HP to become the successful ED of a mid-size West Coast nonprofit that serves youth and neglected communities. During my 17 years there, we created a sustainable organization, grew our budget by a factor of three, and developed a very strong fundraising program.

My Clients

Over the past year, I have had the good fortune to work with an exciting variety of nonprofits, who serve their different communities in dynamic and creative ways. Here are a few.

Sierra Service Project
Project Type:
Custom Ruby on Rails Application

Eaton Nonprofit Solutions built and maintains a sophisticated web-based system that manages all of Sierra Service Project's operational activities, including registration and scheduling of volunteer groups, collection of payments, communication with groups, tracking of expenses, collection of digitally-signed forms, and more.

Built using Ruby on Rails and deployed on Heroku, the system enables Sierra Service Project to track and manage the annual activities of two thousand volunteers and 40 staff members spread across four states. Volunteer group leaders have secure system access that enables them to administer details of their own groups, including making payments, which is convenient for them and saves Sierra Service Project administrative time.

The system includes integrations with google drive, HelloSign, and Little Green Light. This system is an example of how efficient development frameworks like Ruby on Rails and open-source software can be used within the nonprofit sectors to create very robust and affordable solutions for unique business requirements.

St. Louis Artworks
Project Type:
Little Green Light Implementation

St. Louis Artworks is an incredible organization that broadens the educational and career opportunities for youth in inner-city St. Louis through apprenticeship programs in the arts and other community collaborations. Like many small nonprofits, they were managing all of their donor information and donation activity for close to 1,000 donors using a set of spreadsheets. This information was fragmented, not easily accessible, not shareable across the organization, and riddled with errors and inconsistencies.

Eaton Nonprofit Solutions delivered a fully-populated and configured Little Green Light system for St. Louis Artworks, along with a detailed user's manual and training (via video) for staff. This project took about one month to complete and included assembling, cleaning-up, reformatting, and loading donor and donation information, creating acknowledgment templates, creating a user's manual, and training the staff.

"Rick was very knowledgeable and helpful when it came to inputting our data and getting us started and I appreciate his willingness to be available to us if we need him in the future.” - Sabrina Silvers, Office Manager

Contact Me

If you have some challenges you think I can help with and would like to explore those with me, please call, email, or schedule yourself for a free 60-minute consultation.