Using Dropbox to Share Nonprofit Documents

We’ve been writing about Nimble, a new social CRM that nonprofits can use to keep track of donors, grants, donations, and more. We love it, and have started using it ourselves and have been pleasantly surprised at its ease of use and feature set. We’ve written about it extensively, and included nearly 3 hours of tutorial videos showing you how you can make it work for your organization too. You can find those Nimble tutorials here.

As of this week, the team at Nimble has released a fantastic update to the software that links it with Dropbox, the cloud file sharing application that integrates with just about everything. It was one of the first cloud file sharing apps on the market, and it’s still around today because it is one of the best and most affordable.

contacts

We’ve been using Dropbox since the beginning, and we’re really excited to show you how we make it work with our nonprofit partners.

 

Sharing Files in Dropbox

Dropbox isn’t simply a place to put files. It’s also a great sharing and collaboration tool we use to get documents directly from our nonprofit partners into the applications we use often. This is quicker and more efficient for us than using email. Here’s why:

  1. File Size Limits: Email limits the file size you can send and receive. Have a file over 25 mb? No chance that will fly over email. Most servers reject files that big, other auto spam it. Also, it can take quite some time to download that kind of file when working on a mobile device.
  2. Ease of Use: Even if the file is small and can be emailed, it adds extra steps to your process. You need to check email for the attachment. Then you need to download the attachment, then file it in the right folder, then attach it to your CRM directly – which takes up valuable space in your docs folder, a thing some CRMs charge extra for. But with Dropbox, we create a folder for the client, share it with them, and they upload their file directly to our space. From there, it’s one click to add a link to that file to Nimble, our CRM. Since Nimble stores it as a direct link to your Dropbox file, there is no storage taken up. The file can be easily viewed on any tablet, mobile device, or desktop.
  3. Sharing: This is a big one for us. Our documents get changed often, especially when we’re working on web design. So rather than emailing 15 documents across and trying to keep track of them all, we drop updates into our drop box folder and the client gets a note as soon as its been updated. They login securely and download the most recent file or view it online. Again, they can do this anywhere they have internet access. It makes for a much more efficient, seamless development process, and the clients rest easy knowing their files are secure.

 

How to Share a Folder on Dropbox

Here’s how we create a shared folder on Dropbox that anyone can use to send secure files directly to us. You can use the same process to setup a secure share folder for your organization.

Obviously you’ll need a Dropbox account to start. Head over to Dropbox.com and sign up. They give 2gb for free.

 

Step 1: Create a Client Project Folder in Dropbox

Click the blue folder icon with the plus button and create your folder. Name it appropriately. We suggest using the name of your project, team, or client. In the case below, we’ve used a general folder that our clients can drop files in. Remember, whoever you give access to will be able to see the contents of the entire folder, so if you plan to use a folder that multiple clients can see, make sure each knows their information is not private.

If you want privacy in each folder, you’ll need to setup a separate folder for each client. That is a more secure method. To do that, just repeat these steps for each folder you create and want to share.

Client Dropbox folder

 Step 2: Select Share Settings

Click the little blue folder icon with the rainbow.You’ll be asked if you want to create a new folder for sharing or to share an existing folder.

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Make your selection and then click Next. That will open the sharing settings and ask you to select the folder you want to share. You can click the little plus mark to open your file tree and view sub folders.

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 Step 3: Select Who Can View and Edit the Folder

The final step in the process is to invite the people with whom you want to share  your folder. You simply add them by email address. They are sent an invite email with a code where they can see your folder. They’ll be asked to setup a free account with Dropbox if they’re not already using the system.

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Once you’ve added an email address invitee, you’ll see them in the status box in sharing options. Their name will show up as “invited” until they accept that invitation, after which time it will appear as “joined.” If a few days go by without any response, you can click the gear icon next to the invitee’s name and choose to re-invite that person.

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When the project is over, or if you need to remove a person from the shared folder, you can go into the same area and choose “Uninvite” and that person will no longer have access to your shared folder.

Here’s the email your invitee’s get from Dropbox. Simple, and effective.

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 Step 4: Start Sharing

Once the client logs in using that link from the email invite, she’ll be able to upload files directly to your folder. You’ll receive a note that a file has been shared and you can work with that file directly in your system.

 

 Step 4: Attach to Nimble

Once a file has been shared with us, we immediately attach that file to our contact in Nimble. Insisde the CRM, we navigate to the contact’s name and select the paperclip attachment tab. We click on ADD TO DROPBOX button and a Dropbox window is opened automatically since we’re already logged into Dropbox. (Click the thumbnails for larger pics).

The file is then logged on the contact page and attached as a link to that document directly in dropbox. That makes the file easily viewed on your desktop, and mobile devices. The beauty of this system is in Dropbox’s integration with so many proprietary platforms. You’ll see here, we’ve opened up and are viewing a word document directly in our browser. We don’t need to have the expensive software installed on our computer to see it. We can then save it to our local computers as is, convert to pdf using our print options, print the document directly, even share it with additional people. Dropbox handles it all for us. (Click thumbnails for larger images).

Dropbox integration for Nimble makes it easy to keep track of important files sent to you by your clients and nonprofit partners. If you haven’t checked out Nimble yet, we highly recommend it. Personal plans are free, and business plans are affordable. Find out more about Nimble here.

If you’re using Nimble and Dropbox, let us know what you think about the integration and how you’ve used it to help solve file and document sharing issues in your nonprofit!

 

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Craig Grella

Founder and Executive Director at OrgSpring
Craig is the founder and executive director or OrgSpring, a nonprofit dedicated to helping other nonprofits achieve their missions online. Through tips and tutorials, Craig's goal is show nonprofits how to use technology to become more efficient, grow their list of supporters, and increase online donations.