Look out! These instructions are out of date.

The database service we recommend below has announced they are closing shop in 2025. Don't set up a new account using these instructions! New instructions will be forthcoming.

PFS Setup Guide.

So you'd like to use the new online Protective Factors Survey tool! That's exciting; it's a great way to give out the PFS and get reports on results.

Own your data

A special feature of the PFS for you - an group that administers the tool - is that YOU can host your own data. As a part of the signup process, you can create a new group and configure a database that you own and control. If you're part of a larger group that already has a database set up with the PFS, then you can sign up with no hassle. If you're setting up a group for the first time, then you need to get that database configured.

You've got two options:

1. BNB White Glove Service

If you don't want to deal with setting up your database account, Brand New Box can manage this for you. If you're interested in this 'white-glove' option, just email Brand New Box and we'll get you sorted out.

Just Do It For Me

2. Self-Service

If you're not afraid of following instructions, you can configure your database account yourself. Step-by-step instructions are below.

I'll Do It Myself

Self-Service Instructions

OK! You can follow the instructions below, create your PFS account, set up your own hosted database, and configure your Group and Agencies to use your database that YOU control. Ready? Let's go.

  • A web browser connected to the internet
  • Access to your email account
  • and that's about it.

We'll start your account on the free plan, so you won't even need your organization's credit card, until your use of the PFS grows.

Let's get started.

  1. Sign up! Go to https://pfsonline.friendsnrc.org/users/sign_up and fill out the first options. This part's easy. Click Next.
  2. Signup form
  3. At the 'Create a New Agency' screen, we want to look at the bottom of the page and click 'Create a New Group'
  4. Agency
  5. This page asks you for your Group Name and ElephantSQL key. What's that you say? Let's get into it.
  6. NewGroup
  7. OK! To own your own data in the PFS, you need to have an account with a database provider. For the PFS, you'll be using ElephantSQL, a super-easy tool that's easy to sign up for. SO, before we can go any further, we'll need to STOP what we're doing here and sign up for an account at ElephantSQL.

    In a new tab, click this link to go to the ElephantSQL signup page.

    Here's what that signup page looks like. Enter your own email here.
  8. Elephant Signup
  9. ElephantSQL will send you a confirmation email. Go to your email, find that email, and click the link they provide.
  10. Elephant Email
  11. That link will take you to a 'Create Your Account' page. Fill in your info there. Be sure to make a note of the email and password you use.
  12. Elephant Account
  13. Tada! Now you're looking at an empty dashboard. Look in the top right dropdown for an option called 'API Access'.
  14. Elephant Dashboard
  15. We're going to generate a new API key. In the comment field, you can enter something like 'This is for the PFS', and then click '+ Add Key'.
  16. Elephant API
  17. Voila: that generated a new API key for you. That's the long string of random characters that in this example below starts with 'cb5aa5etcetc'.
    Copy that API key to your clipboard.
  18. Elephant key
  19. Now, let's jump back to our other tab where we were setting up our group. Add the Name of your Group, and paste in your API key. Then click 'Save.'
  20. Elephant API
  21. Great! You'll see a message that tells you to wait while we auto-magically create your database for you. You'll get an email when it's ready; it normally only takes a few minutes.
  22. Wait
  23. You've Got Mail! When your database is ready, you'll get an email letting you know. Click the link in that email and you'll be directed back to the setup.
  24. Email
  25. NOW you can give your new Agency a name; the Agency is the organization that actually administers the survey. Maybe it's the same name you're using for your group! Fill out a name, choose your state, and then make sure that your new GROUP is selected in the Group field below. Click SAVE.
  26. New Agency
  27. 🎉 Tada! 🎉 You're in! You're now looking at the PFS Dashboard, using your new Group and using your new, personally owned database.
  28. Dashboard


You might have questions! You can email the PFS team at hello@brandnewbox.com

This gives me a great idea...

Does your organization need a sharp software tool to gather data from different people and put it all in one place where it's actually useful? That's what we do at Brand New Box. You can drop us a line here to get started.