How Lotus Outreach uses Basecamp to change lives Jason 06 Sep 2006

13 comments Latest by Jeff Lennan

We wanted to share a wonderful email we received from one of our Basecamp customers a few days ago. They kindly granted permission so here it is:

I’m writing to thank 37signals for creating such a fantastic product in Basecamp. It’s radically improved the way we’re able to manage a cooperative of nonprofit organizations known collectively as Lotus Outreach.

Lotus Outreach is a group of independent nonprofits that employ educational and healthcare programs to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in Asia. We work to give safe and healthy options to child sex workers and at-risk girls in Cambodia, as well as child laborers in India.

Aside from one paid consultant—a Program Director who resides in Asia, Lotus Outreach is run completely by volunteers. We’re spread over many time zones—California, New York, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Canada, India, Germany, France and Taiwan, but with only 2-5 individuals in each country.

Before finding Basecamp, managing our limited human resources was quite onerous and nearly impossible to do efficiently with email alone. Basecamp has allowed us to create a culture of collaboration, accountability and efficiency.

Over the past year, the number of children our projects reach has increased dramatically: from simple scholarship programs reaching a few hundred children we’ve moved to a development model that is making education possible for thousands of children from the slums of Delhi and impoverished villages of Cambodia. These are children who would otherwise be working in factories, scavenging garbage dumps for salable items, or selling their bodies.

In the past months, 1 million children received report cards for the first time due to Lotus Outreach efforts in India. We wouldn’t be able to do this much with so few hands without products like Basecamp.


That really made our day. We’re glad Basecamp is helping you help others.

If you have any interesting and unique uses for Basecamp, Backpack, Campfire, Ta-da List, or Writeboard we’d love to hear them too.

13 comments so far (Jump to latest)

AndrewH 06 Sep 06

So do you donate Basecamp to this or any other non-profit organizations?

Matt Carey 06 Sep 06

I would hope they get a free plan for such a worthy cause

NP 06 Sep 06

I imagine they can and they will if they haven’t yet done so but if you don’t look at you clients private data, you can’t guess these kind of things. The real thing is that Basecamp isn’t a 3000$ bad app that no non-profit organisation can afford.

Asking for your beloved company this is like asking if you can still give them love and trust (or more if they love you…) Comon guys course you can, of course they have great hearts.

You might wanna not ask these kind of questions, not loosing your time trying to find a way of being offended by people you love and finding out how you may help people suffering on the other side of the planet :) Let’s get back to work/fun !

Jon 06 Sep 06

Some friends and I who are scattered throughout the country have a baseball simulation league. We used Writeboard to conduct our most recent player draft. It was a pleasant change from the 200+ e-mails that typifies our draft.

Fredd 06 Sep 06

Yeah, but wouldn’t Campfire have been easier?? lol

Rahsun McAfee 06 Sep 06

I think that’s freaking awesome!

I guess it just goes to show that the power of basecamp isn’t just about what it is. It’s about what you can make it become for yourself and other people.

Mark 06 Sep 06

LOTUS?! Ah… here I was, thinking Basecamp had a way to connect to some kind of Lotus Notes-based abomination.


karl 07 Sep 06

“In the past months, 1 million children received report cards for the first time due to Lotus Outreach efforts in India.”

Yes, but what were their grades?

Sergio B 07 Sep 06

AndrewH and Matt what have you done recently that really makes a difference in other peoples lives? it’s fair to ask that question first, isn’t it?

EquiDave 07 Sep 06

Great to hear that other nonprofits are having as positive an experience with 37 Signals solutions as we are.

We’re a young and spirited humanitarian and ecological aid start-up still in the early stages of organizational (web, admin, program) development. After loosing weeks of critical development time to wrangling with collaboration applications that were clearly not about ‘getting real’, we discovered this organizational oasis.

Sure we inquired about the possibility of being considered for a free account and still maintain that 37 Signals would do well to consider some % of practical philanthropy (ie featuring a few select nonprofits per year who’s work and mission really shine with 37 Signals kind of smarts) as part of a total market strategy. However, we understood when Jason explained that 37 signals had no policy of donating free accounts to registered charities as the standard pricing is set to be affordable enough for all. ‘Why not try it for free and see’ his personable emails reminded. We did and were happily hooked.

I would also like to point out just how valuable to a development undertaking such as ours (12 volunteer developers spread out over 5 continents, 6 languages, 9 timezones collaborating on over 25 sub-projects with over 150 tasks with 8 different development app’s….) Jason’s book “Get Real” has been/is for us. Sure our team is not fueled by for-profit dreams but almost all the no-nonsense project/team management gems packed intp that powerful little .pdf of his spoke directly to the challenges and tasks nonprofits start-ups like ours must face and tackle.

Thanks again 37 Signals team and to the community here that keeps all these valuable solutions as cool to use as they are effective where it counts.

-David M.
Equilife International, ngo

PS: Sure, we did enter our story in the “win a free account” contest…at last query Jason said they were still collecting testimonials. Fingers are still crossed here, so we’ll see.


Bernd 07 Sep 06

I’m involved in a social organisation too and we stopped using basecamp.
Main reason: We work in Germany and Romania, and a lot of the people we work with don’t know englisch very well, sometimes not at all. So we’re stuck. We love the style and ease of use of basecamp, but a posibility to localize ist (we would even do it ourselves would be brilliant. Maybe we’ll create a scaled-down interface to it’s amin features using the api one day.

Jeff Lennan 07 Sep 06

Totally agree with this:

Would we want a free account. Actually, no, we would rather pay and let Jason and his team keep the product up and running and continue developing it. In terms of value to us, the $12 a month can be multiplied by many hundreds.

Basecamp is an integral part of our operations and we need it to stay around and continue to improve. This takes a viable business model that generates revenue, and we are happy to pay for this valuable service.