VOL. 127 | NO. 74 | Monday, April 16, 2012
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Cloud for Good Connects Nonprofits With Technology
By Aisling Maki
From an office on the second floor of the EmergeMemphis building at 516 Tennessee St., a small company called Cloud for Good is harnessing the power of cloud technology to help nonprofits develop customized, cost-effective solutions, advance their missions and raise the social return on their investments.
Tal Frankfurt, left, founder and CEO, started Cloud for Good in Israel in 2009. Center is consultant Kalman Sweetwine, and right is consultant Olivia Wilmot.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
Tal Frankfurt founded Cloud for Good in his native Israel in 2009. Frankfurt comes from a nonprofit background, having worked in development for an Israeli-based organization dedicated to helping at-risk immigrant youth become successful, contributing adults.
“We were looking for better tools to manage our donors and volunteers, and that’s how I became interested in technology,” said Frankfurt, 28. “I got really excited about it and I opened a user group in Israel – a place for other nonprofits to meet with each other and talk about technology. Everybody kept asking me questions, so eventually I started charging for it and that’s how I started the company.”
In 2010, Frankfurt relocated with his wife to her native Memphis, where she’s working toward a doctoral degree. He set up Cloud for Good here, at first working from home, until he met LaunchYourCity Inc. CEO and president Eric Mathews – also co-founder of LaunchMemphis – who invited Frankfurt to use office space inside the EmergeMemphis incubator.
“Being in Emerge played a major role in my growth,” Frankfurt said. “The access to people here is huge. People keep telling me that I might be better off if I reopened the business in San Francisco or New York, but I have access here to people who I don’t think I’d have access to in other places. They have a great mentoring program here.”
Cloud for Good’s nonprofit clients, most of whom find him by word of mouth, include Youth Villages, The Leadership Academy and The Soulsville Foundation. But the majority of the firm’s clients, which include Cornell Law School and Yale University, are outside Memphis.
“We’re not just a business that provides services; we’re helping other organizations to help their constituents,” Frankfurt said. “So there’s more than just a financial reward. There’s an added value there, helping them bring positive change to their community, wherever they are. We’re helping them to become more effective and efficient in their mission.”
Frankfurt said cloud technology doesn’t have an exact definition.
“Everyone defines the cloud however it best suits them,” he said. ”But the cloud is basically a metaphor for the Internet. You access something that’s hosted remotely. People have been using the cloud for years, they’re just not aware of that.”
Frankfurt says the advantage of cloud technology – not being server-based – is that it enables small nonprofits to use the same platform as a large, global company with greater resources.
Cloud for Good focuses on Salesforce and Google applications.
Nonprofits are transitioning from donor management software to Salesforce because it’s a free, open, feature-rich cloud platform with easy integration, far-reaching applications and performance features that allow every member of an organization to work from the same database.
“We take Salesforce and customize it to meet nonprofit needs like managing donors, volunteers, workshops, events – any type of relationship,” Frankfurt said, adding that Cloud for Good is one of the top five nationwide Salesforce consulting firms for nonprofits.
Frankfurt’s team also helps nonprofits replace their servers with Google for email, calendars, documents and other needs.
“It takes time to get used to new technology, but our clients report that they’re saving money and are able to serve more people,” Frankfurt said.
He said a nonprofit focused on mentoring children recently told him that they’re now able to recruit three times more mentors since transitioning to cloud platforms.
“They didn’t increase their staff, they didn’t reduce their staff either, but their effect on the community is that much more,” Frankfurt said.
Cloud for Good currently has 10 employees, including three in Memphis. The company has moved four times – each time to a larger space – inside the Emerge building.
Frankfurt currently has three open Memphis-based positions: senior customer relationship management (CRM) implementation consultant, an entry-level CRM implementation consultant and a programmer.
And he plans in the next few years to move beyond consulting to developing products for the nonprofit technology marketplace.
“Our pipeline is full and we’re actually not accepting new projects for the next few months,” he said. “It’s a great situation to be in.”