DONATION Online Version

We have been doing some research on options for a no-install, sort-of online version of DONATION, which will allow one or more users to use it (one at a time) from any Windows computer with a high-speed Internet connection, accessing the same database.

What we’re looking at is not a traditional web-based application. Rather, the way it works is that you access the program from a web page, and the first time you do so from any given computer, it actually transparently downloads it to a protected area (called a sandbox) on that local PC, including the database. When you exit the program, the database and any other changed files are copied back up to the server, to be available to be copied down the next time you (or another user) access the program in your account, from the same or a different computer.

Because all of the files are on your local computer when the program is running, it will run just as fast as the current installed versions, with the exception of the initial download time the first time, and download times for your database etc. on each program start-up, and upload times to save it back to the server when you exit. This is unlike any web-based solution, because in those solutions, all data you are accessing has to go back and forth over the Internet – much slower!

This online solution we are considering would be a very good alternative to the sort of setup that many users have, where they use the program both at home and in the organization or church’s office, transferring the database back and forth as required. It would also be an alternative, for some users, to the network version, because it would allow multiple users to access the same database, though it would be restricted to one user at a time.

The advantages of this solution over the current installed version, or true web-based versions, include:

  • not having to ever install the program
  • no complex network setup for users of the network version, if they are content with using it one user at a time
  • being able to use it from anywhere with a fast Internet connection (as with a web-based version)
  • fast data access while running the program (not sending data up and down the Internet on every action, as a web-based version would)
  • not having to transfer databases between computers, and
  • having it run (once it is downloaded) just as fast as the regular installed program.

You would be able to switch from your current installed Windows version of DONATION to the online version by purchasing the online version, then restoring a database backup from your current version to the online version. (Actually, you would follow most of the steps in the Help topic “Move the Program from One Computer to Another”, which would also move any mail-merge letters or receipts, and any memorized reports, if you have them.)

This solution we are exploring is actually run by a 3rd party company, who we obviously have to pay for this service. The way it works is you buy the program/service from them, and they keep 30% of the price, and we get 70%. Because of that, the software used in this way would have to be somewhat more expensive than the current Standalone version, for us not to be giving up significant income. We’re thinking this version would cost perhaps $70/year, and renewals would not be optional, because you have to keep paying them for the service. Support would of course still be done by us here at Software4Nonprofits, except for any support directly related to issues with their online serving of the program.

For those existing users choosing to change over to the online service, we would offer to refund a pro-rated amount of their last payment, based on the part of the year since that last payment.

So, what comments or thoughts do any of you have about this? Is this something you might be interested in switching to, at that price ($70/year)? Or do you see it as more interesting to new users?

Thank you. As always, you can email us your comments, or post them for all of this blog’s users to read as a comment to this post.

13 thoughts on “DONATION Online Version

  1. P.S. I hope everyone understands that this would not replace the current Standalone and Network versions – they would both still be available. This would just be an option, for those who wanted it.

  2. We pay the annual license and love how the program works. My group will pay $70. Please discuss the backup systems you have in place and security.

    • Grace, honestly I am at an early point in investigating this and I don’t know what the service will be doing about backups. But my intention is that the program will prompt you to do backups as it always has, and you will be expected to make them, e.g. to a USB memory key or the other options. Security is another thing that I will have to investigate further. I’m pretty sure you will have a logon and password required to get into the service, and then whatever password you put on the database.

      • If you are really operating from a local version (in a sand box), then wouldn’t backup options remain unchanged from current local version?

      • To David: Yes, it would still have the same backup options, but it’s also possible that the service would be doing some sort of backups that the user could know about. I have to find that out.

  3. Dan,

    I am REALLY HAPPY to see this line of development (that comes as no surprise to you based on our conversations over the years). I think the mechanism (local version in a sand box) sounds very workable and the price sounds reasonable. I’m ready to help you test if that would be of any use.

    Mostly.. I just want to say that I appreciate you listening to your users and trying to accommodate their wants/needs. This level of service is what makes DONATION such a great product. Thanks!!

  4. My initial reaction is that I prefer the way it is now. Not everybody has high speed Internet. We are in the country with not really high speed. Ali it has been know to be down or ver slow. And that happens everywhere. Plus with ever decreasing funds coming in an increase is not very favourable. So my vote is to stay with the software. There is a danger in becoming so reliant in Internet. That s my opinion.


    Sent from my iPad

    • Diane, as I added in a comment (and should have said in the original post) this idea will not replace the current versions of DONATION. They will still be available. This would just be another option, for those who wanted it, and felt it was worth the increased ongoing cost.

  5. That would be a great additional option and we would certainly use it. We currently have to manually keep in sync two computers and this would be a great help. The backups we can still manage in our usual way (I would still keep our own secure backups taken each time updates are made as per our current practice) – the main benefit would be for us that the primary database could be used for data input from two computers without the need to manually merge/update as we do at present. That said, I’d say $70 seems expensive. Thanks for all your hard work:

    From Gordon Brown, Northern Ireland

    • Thanks, Gordon. Yes, $70 per year is more expensive than the current $80 first year, and optional $40 renewal subsequent years for the Standalone version. But you get to forget about installs and updates, and copying backups back and forth. Plus, we only get 70% of that, or $49, so until you have been using it at that price for 4 years, we will not have made as much money as if you were buying the normal version and consistently renewing it. And after that we only make $9/year more than before, for something that saves you effort. So I don’t see that it would be reasonable for us to lower it below that price, unfortunately.

      • Thanks Dan – I think I misunderstood but your clarification helps. I thought you were talking about an additional $70 per year on top of any existing payment/fees due – it wasn’t crystal clear to me in the original post.

        “Because of that, the software used in this way would have to be somewhat more expensive than the current Standalone version, for us not to be giving up significant income. We’re thinking perhaps $70/year, and renewals would not be optional, because you have to keep paying them for the service. “

  6. This looks great, once the security measures are addressed and bugs worked out, it would be a definite advantage to use and I am always concerned about losing information if server backups do not work. Dan, you are doing an amazing job of keeping your users informed and ensuring that
    problems are addressed. Thanks so much.

  7. Sounds like a great option! Won’t be necessary for us, though – at this point, anyway. It is only me doing the books, and I use the program on my laptop. I am also in the country, and our high-speed is not really high-speed!
    Thanks for the updates!

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