Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blogs and Wikis and Widgets, Oh My!


I'm pleased to announce that my organization (NPower Greater DC Region) is launching the 2008 Technology Innovation Award tomorrow - May 1!

If you work for a nonprofit that is using technology to fundraise, communicate, advocate, operate, in short – change the world - then we want to hear from you!

Four finalists will get to present their innovations to and hobnob with our judges. Two winners will each receive $1,000 in cash and a software and consulting package valued at $35,000!

Learn more here or sign up for a FREE webinar with yours truly.

Tell a friend!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kudos to Kiva

Kiva is a GREAT example of an organization that is capitalizing on the power of the Internet to connect people to people, do programming, and promote social justice.

How is your organization using the Net to:

- Reach donors;
- Connect members;
- Showcase corporate partners; and
- Do your programming?

Cheers! Jocelyn


Thursday, April 24, 2008

If Not Now, When?

I get calls EVERY day from community leaders who are looking for assistance in developing new websites, choosing a new database, upgrading hardware and software, finding new fundraising solutions, etc.

After some back and forth on requirements and issues, I often here this refrain...


"Well, here's the real problem. I'm just not very tech-savvy."


Since I am a marketer I usually say,


"That's ok or you've come to the right place or we're tech-savvy so that you don't have to be."
And this is partially true.

But it's also true that while no one is suggesting you go back to school to get a degree in IT, it's NOT OK to be tech-backward anymore! IT is just too central to the success of our organizations and our LIVES for any of us to be tech-challenged any longer.

Once a technophobe myself, (Believe me, I still have trouble using our fax machine at home!) I now feel strongly that every executive must develop a basic understanding of how technology works and how it should and can be used to improve business operations.

Deb Finn has written this excellent paper which provides a summary of the 10 things every Executive Director MUST know about technology. In addition to reading her paper, I suggest you just dive in!

Pick two new technologies to master this year. Take a course on database development from Idealware, learn what you can do with new media tools like blogs and social networks from NTEN. Read up on online marketing at Fundraising 123.

Do it now. Because, as the saying goes, if not you, then who? And, if not now, then when?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Speaking of cloud computing…Here comes Microsoft Live Mesh!

Microsoft is trying to move into the cloud as well, as evidenced by "Office Live", and this new offering, called "LiveMesh", confirms their strategy of "software+services." Essentially LiveMesh is a collection of feeds which are synced with other Mesh-enabled devies. What does this mean in real life? Syncing News, File Updates, Friend Status, and Tweets (for example) all through the "cloud".

This is interesting in a nonprofit context because as more and more applications move to the cloud, you no longer need to worry about maintaining email and file servers in-house. Now everyone is relying on the same infrastructure. This is the key - if Merrill Lynch is using the same service your 5 person NPO is using, there is much more motivation for the provider to have 100% uptime. Of course, the downside of this reliance on the web is that reliable broadband access becomes paramount to your day-to-day activities.

I'm excited to see Microsoft making a strong "cloud computing" play because it signals where the corporate technology market is headed, and as nonprofits, we should at least be keeping pace with that, if not staying ahead of the curve!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cloud Computing

What if you and your staff could access your data and documents anytime, from anywhere via any device?
What is you could run your nonprofit without software, in-house servers and hardware.

Google and Salesforce think you can and should. Here is what they have to say.

"Nonprofit organizations should not need to deal with the plumbing
of technology
. They should be able to move ALL of their resources
on to the Internet (into the cloud) and concentrate their technical and creative
talents on making the world a better place. To date, this has been nothing
more than a nice idea. However, that all changed yesterday (4/13/08)."
Learn more here.
J

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blogging and Marriage - I DO!


You've probably never spent one minute playing with this metaphor, but as a NEWlywed and a NEWish blogger I've been thinking a lot about the similarities between good blogging and good marriages.

First, there's the "for better or worse" part. In the case of blogging there are all those uninspired and uninspiring posts and "writer's block" to contend with. One puts up with these FRUSTRATIONS and DISAPPOINTMENTS for the sake of those nuggets of brilliance!

There's also the "for richer, for poorer part." (Mostly POORER in the case of blogging.)

But seriously - like anything done well - I think good blogging and good marriages are driven by five important attributes:

1) Both require a significant committment of time and energy. It takes a lifetime to become a good writer and editor and partner.

2) Both require passion. Passion is motivating. It inspires you to get up every day and do the work you want to do in this crazy world. Passion also helps carry you through the tough times.

3) Both require self knowledge. Your mother was right when she told you to WAIT to get involved in a significant romance until AFTER you spent more time getting to know yourself. I think it's a little like that too with blogging or any form of writing. You need to do some soul searching to figure out what you care about and what you're trying to say.

4) Both require good listening skills. (I'm still working on this one!)

5) Both require real courage. Like making oneself vulnerable to another person, making one's ideas, thoughts, and idiosyncracies public is no easy task. But like anything worth doing, sometimes you have to step off the cliff and "just do it!"
Here's to you and here's to saying, "I DO!"

Broadband for ALL

High-speed Internet access is no longer a luxury for nonprofits – it’s a necessity. As high-speed access (also known as ‘broadband’) has become common in homes, more and more businesses, governments, and agencies have shifted much of their information and business delivery online – and the bar for what constitutes an adequate connection gets higher every year.

When your organization is evaluating Internet access, it’s important to remember that there are two speed numbers to consider – not just one. Most ‘consumer’ grade products (such as DSL and cable) will hype the download speed – that’s how fast data from the Internet moves to your network. The upload speed – how fast you can transmit to the Internet – is usually far less than the download speed, and can be as slow as dial up with some offerings.

If you have a number of users on an ‘asymmetrical’ Internet connection, requests for data can quickly clog the small upstream ‘pipe’, bringing downloads and browsing to a screeching halt. Email and remote access will only make this worse. As you consider an Internet connection, pay attention to the upload speeds – and better yet, consider a ‘symmetric’ service if possible.

For the typical small office with 5-10 users, expect to spend at least $100/month for adequate bandwidth. If you have special needs like remote access, or host an email server in house, you may expect to double or triple that cost.

Need to research your options? Broadband Reports is a great place to read independent reviews of Internet service providers and search for offerings.

Written by Ben Hendricks

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Craigslist Boot Camp Online

One of the things that I LOVE about the age of the Internet is that there are SO MANY high-quality and FREE resources out here - if you know where to look.

Case in point - check out this collection of podcasts from Craigslist Bootcamp. Yes, it's the same Craigslist that you know from trying to (unsuccessfully) get rid of your old IKEA furniture. Craig Newmark co-founded this operating foundation (translation: they don't give away cash) to help "helpers" gain knowledge and facilitate connections online. Enough said. Go check it out for yourself!

Jocelyn

Salesforce for Good not Evil

Looking for a better way to manage your donors, volunteers, members, etc.? A Salesforce.com database may be the answer.

According to their website, Salesforce.com is the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services. What this means to you - Salesforce.com is an online database that you can use to host and manage and access all of your "customer" data. And the good news is that the Salesforce.com Foundation is giving away licenses for FREE to qualify nonprofits!

Check out this presentation by my esteemed colleague Marc Baizman at NPower NY to learn about what Saleforce is and see how other nonprofits are using it. You can also check out nonprofitcrm.org for more information.

Cheers!
Jocelyn