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How Nonprofits Can Use Claris FileMaker to Build Custom Apps

Susana Garcia is a program director and member of the executive team of On The Move — a community-based disaster relief organization in Napa County, California. Susana and her team of both staff and volunteers are experts at managing disaster response. They unfortunately have had far too much practice in California wine country over the past few years due to climate change, wildfires, and other devastating natural disasters.

In view of the increasingly frequent nature of disasters, On The Move created the Napa County Recovery Center to coordinate disaster response and management under a single entity. It administers this new initiative using the Claris FileMaker software platform.

drawing of a woman using a laptop and sitting on a laptop whose screen shows symbols of nonprofit activities

Read on to learn more about how Claris FileMaker helped On the Move, how the platform itself works, and how volunteer app developers from join::table can help you build a custom Claris FileMaker app for your nonprofit.

The Right Tool for the Job

Susana and On The Move have been able to rapidly adapt a custom, cloud-based Claris FileMaker application called ResourceAce to address a variety of disaster response needs. "We would not have been nearly as effective in our disaster response without using the Claris FileMaker platform," Susana said. "Like all nonprofits, we use a lot of off-the-shelf products including Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office, but none of these allowed us to rapidly spin up a distributed, always-on app that was easy to build and customize to meet the precise needs of the Napa County Recovery Center and On The Move's mission."

The core of ResourceAce's original functionality is to help family-based social service agencies manage the families who depend on them and the services they provide in an easy-to-use and comprehensive way. ResourceAce manages programs, program participants, activities, surveys, agency staff, and more. The software includes comprehensive reporting and charting tools as well as many other features.

"We were able to customize ResourceAce for On the Move to capture who has received aid and what type of aid was received throughout the county in response to both the recent devastating fires and the COVID pandemic," said Mark Lemm, ResourceAce's lead developer. "What may have taken months using other software tools took us only a few weeks or even days using FileMaker."

A Closer Look at Claris FileMaker

Anyone (even nonprogrammers) can make their own app unique to their business with Claris FileMaker — a "low-code" platform that runs on Macs, Windows computers, and iOS devices and in web browsers. The platform is designed to build custom apps that streamline manual processes, reduce costs, and create new efficiencies for your team. Claris FileMaker is a true "rapid development tool" that you can use to easily whip up sophisticated (though easy to learn and use) apps for your organization in a matter of days and weeks — rather than months and years. And you can host your app in the cloud and access it from whichever device you have with you using FileMaker Pro 19, the free FileMaker Go iOS app, or WebDirect in any modern browser.


Claris FileMaker apps can be used to manage everything you do in your organization, including but not limited to volunteers, budgets, projects, tasks, documents and contracts, customers, members, invoices, and purchase orders.

The platform comes with many built-in templates to get you started, and there is a vibrant Claris FileMaker community and Claris Marketplace where you can find even more templates and prebuilt solutions.

Claris Connect is another product you can use to link and sync your custom FileMaker app to all the other products you use every day, like Dropbox, QuickBooks, Google Maps, UPS, FedEx, Mailchimp, Trello, Slack, Shopify, and more. See a list of only a few of the apps that Claris Connect can link your FileMaker app to.

Claris International (an Apple Company) offers significant discounts for its products to nonprofit organizations and public schools. FileMaker is available to TechSoup members in its product catalog. You can read more about the Claris FileMaker discount program on the TechSoup Claris FileMaker page.

Build Your Own Custom Claris FileMaker App with Help from Pro Bono Developers

If you think that Claris FileMaker can benefit your organization but you don't have the time, experience, interest, or expertise to design, test, build, and deploy your own custom app yourself, TechSoup can help. TechSoup has partnered with join::table, a nonprofit organization that connects nonprofits and public schools with Claris FileMaker developers all over the world. For those in need of their services, join::table volunteers will donate some of their expertise and consulting time to help nonprofits of all shapes and sizes flourish.

join::table volunteers — who live and work on almost every continent on Earth — have donated thousands of cumulative hours of pro bono development time to build disaster response apps just like On the Move's. join::table volunteers have built apps to help rebuild communities faced with wildfires, hurricanes, and other disasters as well as apps that manage pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in church parking lots.

Find Out More

If you'd like to find out more about Claris FileMaker products or the Claris discount program at TechSoup, follow the links included in this post.

If you'd like to apply to receive a free custom Claris FileMaker app built by a join::table volunteer developer, fill out this nonprofit application.

Additional Resources

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