Back in 2009 I saw a tweet go out from Kimberley MacKenzie about SOFII.

I, like many others knew about SOFII. I was a registered user and once in a while would check it out if I had some time to kill. I LOVED the idea behind SOFII. To have an online, living and breathing museum of fundraising that I could access anytime – FOR FREE! – was almost too good to be true. And in a way it was.

Kimberley described SOFII to me as “a fundraising conference every day“.

SOFII founder Ken Burnett describes it as: “…an archive, a historical record, a repository of wisdom, tips and insights and also hopefully a stimulus to new innovation too. It’s much more than just a stimulus to new ideas though, important though that function is.”

A redesign and overhaul was on the table for 2009 and I knew I wanted to be a part of that.

I offered up my skills and experiences, along with those of our partner Mark Haak, to Ken and hoped he would let us help.

I knew that the most important thing, the make it or break it moment of the new SOFII, would have little to do with design and more to do with its functionality.

We knew from the “get go” we had to make the site functional, clean up the navigation and design, and build in stronger search functionality.

The other thing I wanted to do is give SOFII a new logo that hopefully better represented the spirit behind the site.

I remember an early conversation with Ken. It was important that he knew we were both on the same page about what we wanted from the site, and to make sure he fully understood how we were approaching this redesign.

A philosophy, that obviously wasn’t first conceived by us, but that we have adopted as our own and that we preach to our clients all the time is: we put the donors at the center of everything we do – which means we make sure whatever we are designing or writing or asking for is appropriate to that audience, will make sense to them, and puts their needs ahead of everyone else’s.

As I explained to Ken, we were approaching this rebuild in a VERY user-centered way. It needed to work for the user.

We knew that most people were coming to the site to look at the exhibits and maybe catch up on the latest news. The search functionality was front and centre – it had to be. We wanted people to find the things they might be looking for from anywhere they were on the site.

A site like SOFII has a lot of potential for growth, and we have some ideas already for version 3.0 which will continue to make it a one of a kind and massively important resource for any fundraiser in the world.

Obviously, if you haven’t already, go to sofii.org and register as a user. Then send it to 10 people you know in our sector and ask them to join. The success of this site will always require the support of its users. Users like you.

After the relaunch of sofii.org I was honored to be selected by the SOFII team to be the first ever “SOFII Star of the month”:

Our first SOFII Star of the month is… John Lepp, Agents of Good

The SOFII team were unanimous – the first SOFII star of the month had to be awarded to John Lepp. Over the past year, John has shown such dedication, patience and expertise in building the new SOFII site. All of us from SOFII are very grateful to all of his hard work and we are really pleased with our new website!

John has long been an admirer of SOFII. He loved the idea that there was an online, ever-evolving museum of fundraising which he could access, at anytime. However, John freely admits that he found SOFII difficult to use because of the overload of links and images. Instead of merely complaining about the problem, John decided to do something about it. Realising he and his business partner Mark Haak had the skills to completely redesign SOFII and improve its functionality; he got in touch with SOFII’s founder Ken Burnett and offered his services.

Ever since, John and the team at Agents of Good have undertaken a massive project (bigger than any of us realised) involving sweat, blood and tears and undoubtedly a good few curses along the way. Despite this, John has approached the project with superhero-like patience, commitment and determination. His light hearted approach and acceptance of our technical limitations made him a joy to work with.

So, thank you John for believing in SOFII and for playing such an important role in shaping the future of fundraising. We really needed your talents and are very lucky that you decided to share them with us.
– See more at: http://agentsofgood.org/portfolio-items/sofii-org/#sthash.Y8eIcdeY.dpuf