Case Study: Engaging veterans with IAVA's cutting-edge "The Rucksack" site (VIDEO)

Sam Dorman, a Web of Change anchor, is one of the social change sector's go-to leaders helping organizations skillfully navigate the waters of technology and engagement.  Sam provides technology leadership to increase an organization's capacity and expertise, helping organizations develop innovative strategies and the cutting-edge implementations to implement them.

"I never guessed that setting foot in Dodger Stadium last July would have such an impact on my life."

-- Sherman Watson, Jr., IAVA Member Veteran who attended an event via The Rucksack website


One of the biggest goals that we in the Web of Change community pursue is harnessing technology to create meaningful engagement experiences for our members in the service of our larger missions.

I recently led a project for IAVA that rises to that challenge, and I’ve created a video tour to help share the story. It's IAVA’s "The Rucksack" website, an innovative site that connects IAVA's veteran members with fun rewards like tickets and concerts as an entry way into deeper engagement. The project also features beautiful web and UX design by the talented folks at WOC's own Biro Creative.

WOCers especially might be interested in this email that IAVA sent out after the launch of the project. It's a moving letter from a member who was impacted by the experience of attending a baseball game with his fellow vets via The Rucksack, and getting more deeply involved with IAVA's programs:

[click on image to enlarge]

Below is the writeup and video from the NTEN site. Also check out the NTEN webinars about the project in April:

  • May 4: The first webinar features me, IAVA leadership, and WOCer Steve Andersen of the Salesforce Foundation, discussing how high-functioning organizations leverage technology like Salesforce CRM in pursuit of their mission. [Register here]
  • May 11: The second webinar includes IAVA, Biro and salesforce developer Etherios, as we break down how this project came together strategically and programmatically, even in 6 short weeks. [Register here]

You can also check out WOCer Gideon Rosenblatt’s writeup about the project as well.

Ok, read on and check out the video below. Looking forward to WOC 2011!


Behind the Scenes of IAVA’s Cutting-edge “The Rucksack”

Cross-posted from NTEN


I've had the good fortune to be involved in some great technology projects over the years, for some great causes.

"The Rucksack" -- a cutting-edge project that I led recently for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) – is an especially powerful example of an organization using technology in a strategic and transformative way.

The Rucksack website enables IAVA to efficiently run a massive member rewards program that benefits members and drives new membership. It's a site, meaning it's built right on top of IAVA's database, so it can leverage all of the power of the Salesforce platform.

Amazingly, we pulled off the project in 6 weeks from conception to launch.

To help share the story, I've put together a behind-the-scenes video tour of the Rucksack. It describes the project from more of a strategic perspective than a technical one. My hope is to help organizational leaders understand how -- when planned and executed right -- technology can help extend an organization's reach, support its staff, and further its mission.



In addition to the success stories mentioned in the tour, the statistics tell an equally impressive story. Those stats include:

  • Membership growth rate increase post-launch: 5X
  • New veteran members since launch: 38,413
  • New requests for corporate and organizational partnerships through Rucksack site: 73

 Confirmed Member chart

Of course, this project was only possible because of IAVA's dedication to continuously improving their systems and technology, a project we began more than a year earlier. That takes an ongoing commitment of time, energy, and resources in order to be successful.

Yet the payoffs can be immense. That fact is evident when IAVA's Daniel Atwood, their Director of Digital Engagement, describes the transformation they've experienced compared to when we began working together:

"Big picture, this has opened up a whole bunch of opportunities that we hadn't been able to imagine in the past, and now are quite literally driving the organization. It let us work more effectively and communicate with our members. It let us formalize business practices and processes that in the past were all over the place. It is taking us away from being reactive and using available tools, to proactively building the infrastructure we need to interact effectively with our members over the long term."

That pretty much says it all.



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