The New Classy API Opens Doors for Social Enterprises
If you’ve ever seen a leaderboard of top fundraisers, it was probably powered by an API. Classy has offered an API (application programming interface, or fancy way of saying a data highway between applications) for years, but until now you could only take specific data from Classy and, with the help of a developer, display that information on your website.
Now, a new version of the Classy API opens an ever-expanding universe of personalization and self-service customization for your organization.
Version 2 of the Classy API
The first version provided a way to add flare to your site, but it wasn’t a tool that empowered you to create custom donor experiences, build a mobile app for your next 5K, or visualize data insights. Chris Beck, lead developer of the Classy API, says “The first version solved a specific problem, but the new API is wide open.”
“The Organization’s Brand Before Ours”
The Classy product has always aimed to keep your brand front and center. Until now, we’ve achieved that through white-labeling and custom page elements that keep our brand hidden to your supporters. At some point, however, supporters are forced to participate in Classy’s rendition of the donor experience. The fundraiser sign up form and donation page may have your logo or brand colors, but the layout and feel isn’t fully under your control.
This restriction is unfortunate because the Internet is a place inherently full of opportunity and possibility. Web developers have been able to execute nearly anything they’ve dreamt up. We believe organizations shouldn’t be restricted by the technology they use, they should be empowered by it.
“With the new API, you can create entirely encapsulated experiences within your brand and environment. Supporters will never know it’s Classy powering it all behind the scenes,” says Chris. That means organizations have as much control over their donor experience and messaging as they need or want. Chris adds, “Staying on message is so critically important to organizations. We don’t need to get in the middle of that. We just want to give your team the tools and services that help you do it.”
And that’s what the new API really is. It’s a toolset that gives your organization full agency online.
An Enabler of Progress
Access to an API is powerful because it allows you to own more of your data, manipulate it in ways that are most useful to you, and push information from Classy to other services or products you love.
“Our engineers looked at the data and its relationships, and needed to present it in a simple, concise form to users because we can’t assume how it will be used,” says Chris of designing the API.
The API is built according to the latest standards, so developers who dive into its documentation will be able to immediately recognize where to begin. If a developer has an idea of what they want to build, they can get to work quickly.
Chris gets giddy talking about how the API empowers organizations to access the right information, at the right time, in the environment that best fits them. “It’s really getting away from providing a website for people. It’s giving people tools. They’re not restricted to doing things the way we have it set up on Classy. This is very flexible, very powerful. Let organizations control their own flows and experiences, but be able to still get up-and-running fast, be dynamic, and not have to build everything from scratch.”
Oh, the Places You’ll Go
The API isn’t just a powerful tool for organizations, it’s improving Classy too. Our engineering team has been using the new Classy API as a foundation for our newest features and products. From an architectural standpoint, it’s more sound and allows the engineering team to build features in parallel. Teams can work independently using different technologies and skills, but all follow the same rules. This increases our agility and potential from a development standpoint. Moving forward, that means your organization gets more out of Classy.
Just to demonstrate the technology’s potential, the engineering team held a hackathon (another way of saying a day-long coding challenge) in November, when the project was still in its infancy. In less than a workday, the team came away with several prototypes, ranging from practical to goofy (that’s the fun part of hackathons).
One group created a fun, real-time stats alert to motivate staff and participants during a fundraising event. When a new donation came in, the API triggered a notification on the organization’s Classy dashboard and made an old-time cash register sound.
In another take, a group built a Slack integration that sent a message to the team when a new donation came in. This just shows the API can connect the Classy platform with any number of other applications in very creative ways. “That’s one of the most exciting opportunities,” says Chris, “You can combine what you love about the Classy platform with other services and platforms you use and love.”
“That’s why I like building tools more than products, because it harnesses other people’s creativity. That’s at the core of building a tool set like an API. You really don’t know what’s going to come out of it. We can build features that we like but seeing what other people do with it is the really exciting part.”