Finding Funding for Technology Projects, an “Ask the Expert” Phone Call

The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) is organizing a discussion on this topic which will explore funding sources, how to estimate technology costs, and what kind of staffing, training, and resources are needed to successfully invest in a new technology initiative. The call is free for NTEN members and will take place on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 11:00am PT/2:00pm  ET.

The presenters include:

Cynthia Adams is the President/CEO of GrantStation. Cynthia founded GrantStation because she believes that grantseeking requires a thorough understanding of the variety and scope of grantmakers and sound knowledge of the philanthropic playing field. Her life’s work has been to level that playing field, creating an opportunity for all nonprofit organizations to access the wealth of grant opportunities across the U.S. and throughout the world.

David Krumlauf works as the Chief Technologist for the Pierce Family Charitable Foundation, a private family foundation based in Chicago, IL, where he helps grantees with all their technology needs. He’s a former biology teacher, ISP owner, and now lives in a green-built home in NW lower Michigan. You can find David on Twitter @dkrumlauf.

For any nonprofit looking to find funding for technology projects, seeking key metrics for ROI on technology investment or looking to increase buy-in from stakeholders, we encourage you to register for the event.

A great opportunity for nonprofits

Does your nonprofit have a great board? Tech Networks of Boston would like to draw your attention to an exciting opportunity! BoardSource and Prudential are awarding Leadership Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards in addition to scholarships for emerging nonprofit leaders. The awards will recognize nonprofit boards and leaders that exemplify exceptional governance. Applications are due by June 25th. The awards include one $15,000 Grand Prize and two $3,000 Honorable Mentions!

Details for the applications can be viewed here:

Exceptional Nonprofit Boards

Judith O’Connor Memorial Fund Scholarships

If you are a Tech Networks’ client, we would be honored to be listed as a contact for recommendations. Please let us know which TNB employee you would like to use when you complete the application.

Good luck to all!

Joint Meeting: TNB Roundtable and CWU Outcomes Workgroup

Please join us for a special joint gathering of the Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU) Outcomes Workgroup and the Tech Networks of Boston (TNB)Roundtable Series on Friday, June 5th at CWU.  Ellen Bass, director of the Capacity Institute at the Black Ministerial Alliance, will be our featured guest. The topic under discussion will be “Are you ready to build your performance management system?”

Here’s what Ellen says about the session:

Does your agency have the right data to determine if you are meeting your mission?  Come to this session to determine exactly what you need to do to build a comprehensive performance management system for your agency.  Participants will complete a performance management agency self-assessment, then consider their agency’s readiness and next steps to advocate to build their system.  

Here’s a bit about Ellen:

Ellen G. Bass is director of the Capacity Institute, which helps nonprofits build performance management systems, leading to improved measurable participant outcomes. Since 2002, she helped the BMA raise and redistribute more than $10 million in grants and capacity-building services to youth agencies in Boston. With an MBA in public and nonprofit management, Ellen has served in resource development for 15 years and in program development for 30 years, focusing on logic models and outcome measurement plans, in both secular and faith-based organizations.

Please note that this will be a sales-pitch-free event.

We look forward to seeing you on June 5th!

Register for this event here.

TNB Roundtable: What nonprofits need to know about S.T.E.A.M.

Tech Networks of Boston (also known as TNB) is pleased to invite local employees of nonprofit organizations to a Roundtable session with Nettrice GaskinsSTEAM Lab director at the Boston Arts Academy.

The focus of this session will be on STEAM, which stands for “Science Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.” The benefits of learning about this innovative, inter-disciplinary educational movement will seem most apparent to those work in schools, after school programs, and arts programs – however, we believe that a wide range of professionals from mission-based organizations will be inspired and informed by this Roundtable session.

To help you start thinking about how STEAM can be incorporated into your operations and programs, Nettrice has provided these links to information about nonprofit organizations that have moved forward with it:

 

Here’s a little more about Nettrice:

Nettrice Gaskins, Ph.D. was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She majored in Visual Art at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, KY. She earned a BFA in Computer Graphics with Honors from Pratt Institute in 1992 and a MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994. She worked for several years in K-12 and post-secondary education, community media and technology before enrolling at Georgia Tech where she received a doctorate in Digital Media in 2014. Her model for ‘techno-vernacular creativity’ is an area of practice that investigates the characteristics of this production and its application in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). Currently, Nettrice is director of the STEAM Lab at Boston Arts Academy, the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts serving over 440 students that reflect the diversity of Boston’s neighborhoods.

When she is not advancing interdisciplinary education, Nettrice blogs for Art21, the producer of the Peabody award-winning PBS series, Art in the Twenty-First Century and publishes articles about topics such as Afrofuturism. Her essay was included in “Meet Me at the Fair: A World’s Fair Reader” published by ETC Press. Nettrice “Afro-Futurism: Countering Mass Culture’s Reductional Breakdown Through Creative Forms of Representation” for Nictoglobe Magazine, and “Urban Metaphysics: Creating Game Layers on Top of the World” for UCLA’s Mediascape.

In the past Nettrice has supported the use of digital technologies by students and faculty in all art/media disciplines; worked as a teaching artist for the Boston 100K Artscience Innovation Prize; and was a youth media/technology trainer for Adobe Youth Voices. She was board president of the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture and on the board of the Community Technology Centers Network (CTCNet).

Nettrice presented Black Futurism at We Are City 2014 in Indianapolis, Cybism and Decoding the Letter at ISEA2011 in Istanbul and co-facilitated Augmented Reality in Open Spaces (AROS) at ISEA2012 in Albuquerque, NM. She moderated Enlightenment, Strange Mathematics & Rhythmic Equations at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2014). She was a Digital STEAM research intern at the Smithsonian Institution (2013) and received funding from the National Science Foundation for Advancing STEM Through Culturally Situated Arts-Based Learning (2014).

In keeping with the spirit of the TNB Roundtable series, this session will NOT be a sales pitch for any product or service. The Roundtable is an educational opportunity for nonprofit professionals to learn along with their peers from other organizations.

Register for this event here.

TNB Roundtable: Best practices for nonprofits to slay zombie data projects

Tech Networks of Boston (also known as TNB) is pleased to invite local employees of nonprofit organizations to a Roundtable session with Holly St. Clair, the director of data services at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

The focus of this session will be on creating systems and tools to manage data in a changing, mission-driven, budget-constrained environment.

Here’s what Holly says about the session:

“Does your organization want to use more data in their mission-driven work, but are overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of data?

“Zombie data projects are never finished: they’re not quite dead but not alive, either. Zombie projects arise when staff members leave mid-project, when data is changed or updated, or when your approach to the analysis hits a wall. Some zombie data projects return on a regular basis, including indicator reports, benchmarking, grant applications, and annual member surveys.”

Holly will share the systems, tools, and methods she uses with her team to ensure quality data and analysis outputs, facilitate continuity despite staff turnover, and keep staff up-to-date on the newest data resources and techniques.

Register for this event here.

Photo recap: A hands-on introduction to programmatic outcomes management for nonprofit professionals

We really enjoyed our first-ever TNB training event last Wednesday, thanks to co-hosts: the College of Public and Community Service at Umass-Boston, and the Mel King Institute at the Mass Association of Community Development Corporations. Our team of trainers from Community TechKnowledge, Kathryn Engelhardt-Cronk, Derek Hansen, and Jessi Engelke did a wonderful job and we enjoyed having them in the office last week. It was interesting to learn a new software platform and to see how it can help nonprofits achieve “more mission”.

The goal of this hands-on training was to enable nonprofit professionals to be leaders in outcomes management initiatives within their own organizations. Participants learned about the tactics and strategy required for managing outcomes.We hope they were able to return to their work places the next day with a plan for building organizational capacity in order to phase in an outcomes management initiative!

Check out the photos from the event, as well as our upcoming events at TNB.IMG_2156 IMG_2141 IMG_2138 IMG_2131

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“Don’t Tell Anyone What We’re Doing”

Back in the 20th century, when I first started working in Massachusetts in the field ofnonprofit technology, it seemed to me that the unofficial motto of every nonprofit was “Don’t tell anyone what we’re doing, because if you do, they’ll know what we’re doing.”

I wish I could tell you the story of my first experience with this tacit rule, but the people involved are still living, and they would never want me to mention their names or give anyone any information about the programs that they ran.  So please use your imagination.  All I can say is that all of the relevant facts about this organization’s programs are freely available to today on this organization’s web site, for anyone who cares to look it up. As far as I know, providing the names and phone numbers of the people directing the sites at which the programs are offered has not led to any catastrophes.

We’ve come a long way in the Massachusetts nonprofit sector, thanks to leadership from folks at organizations such as the Boston Foundationthe Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, and the Caring Force at the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers.  They have done some hard work in fostering collaboration, and with collaboration comes more freely shared information about what each nonprofit is doing.  (In my opinion, sometimes information sharing is the cause, and sometimes it’s the effect.)

I’m much obliged to people who have taught me a lot about the importance of nonprofit collaboration, such as Tom McLaughlin (who does a great deal of hands-on work to make it happen), Heather MacIndoe (who is doing academic research on the interplay of nonprofit collaboration and competition in the Boston area), and Susan Labandibar (who is pioneering some important new ideas about how nonprofit technology assistance providerscan support organizations in collaborating for greater mission success.)

However, the new spirit of openness is much more than a regional phenomenon; it is aninformation age phenomenon.  As Beth Kanter and Allison Fine have explained in their groundbreaking book, The Networked Nonprofit, we are living an age where everystakeholder is a free agent online.  People who have strong ties or no ties at all to a nonprofit can use any number of social media channels to make facts and opinions about the organization available to everyone. While the privacy and security of client data is still an extremely high priority, nonprofits have already lost most of the battles in the war against transparency.  So they might as well embrace the practice of sharing information with other organizations and start looking for ways to make their programs, operations, and missions complementary.

Transparency, accountability, and collaboration in the nonprofit sector are mostly positive developments – especially when compared to obsession with control, covering up wrongdoings, and stonewalling. As Louis Brandeis said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Even if it were not, it’s clear that greater openness is now a fact of life in our culture.  Our focus should not be on fighting the information age, but in balancing between its imperatives and the need to respect the privacy of the innocent and vulnerable.

 

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Tech Networks to offer early-bird Roundtable registration for MNN members

Tech Networks of Boston runs roundtable sessions approximately twice a month, on various topics of interest to our staff, our nonprofit clients, and our friends. These sessions tend to book to capacity very quickly, sometimes within 48 hours of when registration opens.

Tech Networks of Boston is now offering access to advance registration to employees of organizations that are nonprofit members of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

To find out whether the organization that employs you qualifies as a nonprofit member, take a look at the directory at http://www.massnonprofitnet.org/mnn-members/ . If your nonprofit organization is listed, then you are good to go.)

Employees of qualified nonprofits who sign up for special advance privileges will receive email invitations to TNB Roundtable sessions at least 24 hours before we open registration to the public.

To find out how to sign up, please follow this link:

http://www.massnonprofitnet.org/professional-directory/listing/tech-networks-of-boston-1

When you get to that web page, you’ll find another membership bonus: an offer of pro bono strategic technology assistance to nonprofit organizations that are members of MNN.

Enjoy!

5 Technology Solutions for Health and Human Service Providers

Most nonprofits, especially human service providers, are under pressure to reconsider how they do business in the face of decreased resources, increased accountability measures, new funding structures, and increased expectations to produce evidence of effectiveness. Technology offers tools that can help human services organizations provide effective, efficient and low-cost services in an individualized manner, and meet the complex reporting requirements of regulators and funders. These tools can also assist organizations in finding innovative ways to provide services to their communities and expand the reach and the impact of those services.

Traditionally, most human services nonprofits spend most of their budgets on resources for direct services, with little left over for planning or implementing technology to support their work. Organizations that have been able to combine their dedication to mission with resources to build both their business and technological capacity are best positioned to meet current challenges. Moving into the future, organizations are likely to adopt new technologies to sustain, manage, and improve their businesses. Preserving what is important and valuable about human services while taking advantage of what technology has to offer is a possibility with promise.

Here are 5 common problems and solutions which use technology as a service tool to help you innovate:

1. Problem: You continually collect the same data over and over because it is not easily accessible or is not stored each time a client visits.

Solution: Track all data so staff can spend more time working with customers and clients. Create a custom-built database for mission-critical data.

2. Problem: Your nonprofit has the tools to provide great service, but people aren’t sure of what you do.

Solution: Create a website, create a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Visit techsoup.org for articles on getting your website noticed. WordPress has free templates. Squarespace and Wix are also low-cost solutions for the novice.

3. Problem: Your agency collects mission-critical data, but your organization can’t access it remotely.

Solution: Move your files to the cloud (perhaps using Microsoft Office 365), so all users are able to access and add to your database at any given time.

4. Problem: You need to report financial information to donors and funders in many different ways and you are doing repetitive equations to get the reports you need.

Solution: Track your finances using nonprofit fund accounting software that generates the reports you need. QuickBooks, NonProfitBooks, or Raiser’s Edge are some common programs.

5. Problem: You want to talk about your accomplishments, but aren’t sure how to capture what customer or clients think.

Solution: Conduct a survey using tools such as surveymonkey.com that ask clients the services received from your agency. Use this information to show stakeholders how you are making a difference in the community.

Find out how other nonprofits are using information technology by attending one of our Roundtable discussions.

Tech Networks to co-host pro-bono tech consulting event March 31

AnnkissamTech Networks of Boston, and 501Partners are hosting an evening of pro bono technology consultations in a sales-pitch-free setting at the Cambridge Innovation Center, and would like to invite employees of local nonprofit organizations to take advantage of this opportunity to obtain assistance that is free of charge and has no strings attached.

A team of nonprofit technology mavens have volunteered their services for the evening; nonprofit professionals will be able to receive brief one-to-one consultations on a variety of topics.  We strongly encourage you to solicit second, third, and even fourth opinions at this event!

Here’s a sample of the topics on which consultations will be available:

  • Assessing custom software services
  • Assessing software products
  • Cloud-based solutions
  • Constituent relationship management (CRM)
  • Data analytics
  • Data and organizational culture
  • Data-driven web applications
  • Database design
  • Database implementation
  • Database development
  • Decision support
  • Donor management solutions
  • Ethical issues for information and communication technologies
  • Evaluation/performance management software
  • Geographic information systems
  • Hands on tech support
  • Identifying free and low cost technology resources
  • Network administration / network engineering
  • Operational IT planning
  • Project management / project implementation
  • Salesforce for nonprofits
  • Secure remote access
  • Solutions for collaboration among nonprofit organizations
  • Strategic database planning
  • Strategic technology planning
  • Usability / user experience

Participation in this event is free of charge for employees of nonprofit organizations. Food and drink will be provided for all.

Please note that this event is by invitation only, and that you must have a confirmed registration in order to participate.  We hope that you will register and join us!

P.S. In order to prevent slack time for our mavens and overcrowding, we are asking you to sign up to arrive at either 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm, but not to sign up for both.

You can register for the event here.