While running strategic alliances at Lawson Software back in 2005, I met Catherine Settanni, who was actively involved in digital literacy and a true advocate for ensuring that as many people as possible had access to the Internet.
Her leadership in the AmeriCorps Community Techology Empowerment Project (C-CAN) and its focused community outreach effort (the Digital Access Project) led her to a deep involvement in the Wireless Minneapolis effort to saturate the city with Wi-Fi, bringing about one aspect to the Internet access the other programs were intent on delivering.
But Catherine was frustrated. She saw that the required AmeriCorps reporting was excruciatingly difficult for a program director to create and deliver, so like any good entrepreneur, she set about leveraging her background and abilities as a filmmaker, database design, technologist and advocate to pull together a team, obtain funding and set about writing her own software as a service (SaaS).
Other state programs caught wind of what she was up to and climbed on board as initial customer/funders. The result of her efforts has evolved in to OnCorps Reports, which provides web-based reporting and communication tools for national and community service programs, including AmeriCorps, VISTA, Senior Corps and Learn & Serve programs. Designed specifically to support service programs, the application framework is easily modified for use by any nonprofit organizations to manage volunteers or staff, monitor program progress and use financial reporting tools.
When we had coffee, I was at first delightfully surprised at how powerful and robust OnCorps Reports was and how it had a very well-executed user interface, but at the same time I thought, “What the hell!?! Why isn’t Catherine involved with the minne* crowd, showing at Minnedemo or leading sessions at Minnebar? Connected to the startup community here in Minnesota?“
So we spent some time having her walk me through the software and me thinking out loud about how to connect her immediately within our tech community and get her more attention from those of us keenly interested in discovering Minnesota startup success stories.
OnCorps Reports’ mission is to provide state-of-the-art technology tools to help nonprofit organizations and community service programs successfully collect, aggregate and analyze program data. OnCorps Reports strives to make it as easy as possible for program staff, participants and beneficiaries to share their success stories with funders, volunteers and the communities they serve, and greatly simplifies state and federal grant reporting.
The key to the demand for software of this type is the old adage “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and it certainly allows program directors and state program management to do exactly that, but the mission-critical piece is ensuring that the lifeblood of AmeriCorps, its volunteers, can enter their served hours in an AmeriCorps program (if they’re even one hour shy of their service requirement, it doesn’t count as volunteer service!) as well as recruit their replacement for the next year’s program (a commitment volunteers make when participating in AmeriCorps). The last critical one is mitigating the risk that an AmeriCorps program won’t fall short of its requirements and measured objectives and be in danger of losing its funding.
From what I saw in our brief time together and a casual demo, the hosted software certainly performed as a mature SaaS application. Designed in association with AmeriCorps State Commissions and program directors, the product suite Catherine and team have delivered is currently the market leader in AmeriCorps reporting systems, serving 20,000 users in 16 states.
A high level view of the OnCorps Reports software
“One example of how a program director (or in this case a State Commission staffer) can easily get a scorecard-like view of each AmeriCorps program in their State, and quantify key aspects needed to be measured.
So where is OnCorps Reports at today on its path to wildly successful and complete reporting dominance? Since their sales today are pretty much driven by unsolicited client referrals (they simply don’t have enough staff to sell and market to all 50 states and the hundreds of AmeriCorps program directors) they’re clearly trying to determine next steps and find ways to get the word out. That’s why I asked Catherine to immediately send me information on OnCorps Reports, so I could do this post and help her get more attention for this very worthy and important endeavor.
If you have ideas or have people whom you’d like to connect with Catherine, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know your thoughts or, obviously, leave a comment below.