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.

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.

Techie Tips: How to free up space on an iPhone or iPad

With the plethora of business applications available for mobile devices, iPhones and iPads have become indispensable tools for busy professionals. A problem we all seem to run into is that these applications, along with the eBooks, music files, and photos take up a huge amount of space on the devices.

iPads and iPhones don’t have file systems you can see, but there are still apps and files eating up space. You are able to see what’s consuming that limited space and free it up.
Each bit of data on your device is associated with an app. For example, downloaded Kindle eBooks are tied to the Kindle app. Music files are part of the Music app, videos are part of the Videos app, and photos are part of the Photos app.

 

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Here are 5 ways to free up your data:

1. View Per-App storage usage
2. Delete Apps
3. Clear an Apps Documents
and Data
4. Delete Music, Videos, Photos
and Other Media Files
5. Erase browsing data

Use these tips to free up space and allow full functionality of your device!

Windows support for XP and Office 2003 ends today….What you need to know!

The day has finally come…support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will end today, April 8, 2014. We recommend you replace your old machines to benefit from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice for a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and a lower total cost of ownership through improved management capabilities.

What this means for you: You will no longer receive security updates or program updates for Windows XP. You will still be able to use the operating system, but you will no longer be able to update your machines or get technical support.

Common Concerns: If you continue to use the older machines your computers could be subject to malicious attacks and reduced data security.

What you can do: Contact TNB for quotes for some newer machines and to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, and take advantage of the trade in offer!

Trade-In Offer: If you would like to earn some money back from your old operating system you can follow a few easy steps:
1. Buy a new Windows 8 tablet, phone or PC
2. Get a quote for your old device
3. Mail your old device to Clover Wireless
4. Receive cash back in the form of a Visa prepaid card or check.
If you are interested in this buyback program you can get started here.

Tech Networks of Boston recommends you upgrade your old machines at your earliest convenience. We want to ensure your operating systems are up-to-date and remain secure to enable your organization to operate at the most proficient level.

Focus on Cloud Computing: Keep Your Own Copy

Cloud computing, the current stage in the Internet’s evolution, makes it possible to deliver everything from computing power and infrastructure to applications, business processes and collaboration as a service wherever and whenever you need it. Flexibility and efficiency make the cloud attractive.

Pros: Each of the essential characteristics is available to users on demand:

  • elasticity and scalability that allows users to adjust usage;
  • self-service provisioning;
  • billing and usage measurement enable a pay-as-you-go model.

Cons: Downsides of cloud computing can include issues of speed, data access and vendor dependence. Internet applications, and access to information can be slowed by your Internet connection which, of course, also can be interrupted. Many small organizations are   concerned about putting data—their second most valuable asset after people—in the hands of a subscription service.

Solutions: Often, the best solution incorporates a hybrid of cloud and local computing that balances the efficiency of cloud computing with the speed, reliability, and comfort of local computing.

NextTech is TNB’s service offering that integrates the two so you can keep your own copy of the cloud.

NextTech Combines Cloud and Local Computing

NextTech gives you the freedom of cloud-based services integrated with the comfort and safeguards of an office server network. This approach allows Tech Networks to manage the combined offering as a single service. The combination results in lower costs while increasing data security and greater flexibility to access data conveniently from anywhere, anytime.

NextTech most efficiently serves organizations with up to 30 users. It allows small organizations to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing without leaving behind the convenience and speed of local software and access to your information.

Tech Networks takes it one step further, giving you a backup server in your office for your non-cloud applications or those you do not wish to upgrade, and for redundancy so you can work without your Internet connection if necessary.  Meanwhile, NextTech enables secure access to your documents from any Internet connection, along with powerful collaboration capabilities.

NextTech lets you upgrade your core Microsoft Office suite, store files in the cloud for easy access and collaboration, and save money by retaining your desktop applications that may not be cost-effective to upgrade.  It’s a hybrid cloud and premises-based solution we have designed  specifically for our clients to enable them to take the next step into the cloud.

Beyond convenience and collaboration, cloud hosting offers the security of a highly robust system with redundancy built in—which small organizations could not otherwise afford.  With its safety, convenience and collaboration features, NextTech may be your next step.

To find out more about NextTech, contact us at 617.269.0299 today.

Link to Co-Workers with Microsoft Lync

Get the benefits of instant messaging, fully integrated with Microsoft Office.  Microsoft Lync is an easy, fast way for co-workers to connect, whether they’re in the same building or in different cities.  A Lync contact list contains only co-workers who are part of your Microsoft user list.  It makes business conversations easy without encouraging personal ones.

TNB client Supporting Strategies uses Lync to tie its workforce together.  Steve Schultz, COO, praises its ease of use and integration with Microsoft Office.  He also likes Lync’s simple “presence” feature.  Presence means “when clients call, I can take a quick look and see who’s working,” Schultz explains, “rather than sending a caller into voicemail.”  Presence is especially useful for employees working from outside the office.

The core of Lync is instant messaging (IM), in which on-screen messages offer more immediacy than e-mail, without the interruption of a phone call.  But Lync offers significant value added beyond its IM core, such as the powerful screen sharing feature.  “I can share my screen in Lync,” Schultz says, “so I don’t need GoToMeeting.  That saves me money.  It’s also very simple: I hit a button and I’m sharing my screen, not necessarily just one-on-one but with a group.”

Lync also makes it easy to create online meetings, whether they be group IM sessions, audio calls or videoconferences.  Lync users can set up meeting times via Microsoft Outlook as they would with any other meeting.  Participants can join the online meeting by clicking a simple link in Outlook.

Lync works with all major mobile devices for seamless business connectivity.  Microsoft offers mobile apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, iPad and more.  Move from your mobile device to your office workstation, and keep your conversation going without interruption.

At your desktop or on the road, Microsoft Lync’s powerful collaboration features have yet to be discovered for many organizations.  To learn more about Lync or about Office 365, call Tech Networks at 617.269.0299 today.

Click here to read the full June newsletter.

How Do You Use Your Mobile Device?

The advent of mobile devices is changing the way we do business.  Here at Tech Networks, more and more of our clients and staff do important business on their mobile phones, grabbing time on the go.

“I couldn’t live without my smartphone,” says Nancy Watterson-Diorio, Executive Director of Boston VA Research Institute (BVARI).  Watterson-Diorio chooses not to check her work e-mail on her smartphone, but has established a Google Mail account just for the phone.  She uses her phone for text messaging, e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, maps, Google search, and the list goes on.  “I once went to a meeting in Las Vegas and they gave me an app for the meeting,” Watterson-Diorio says, in what has become a conference planning trend.

One only has to think of the many e-mail messages we all receive that end with a “please excuse my brevity” to appreciate how ubiquitous mobile device e-mail has become.  At TNB, we have a mobile workforce of IT consultants, many of whom stay connected using their phones while on the road.

Text messaging, too, has changed the face and pace of business.  Watterson-Diorio explains that her organization now routinely collects a number for text messaging along with other contact information.  “The number of phone calls has plummeted,” she says. “You know you’re not bothering someone” with text messaging because the person does not need to interrupt what they’re doing to have a phone conversation.  Watterson-Diorio finds that texting gets people’s attention faster than e-mail, but is less of an interruption than the phone.

Increasingly, employees are using their personal cell phones for work, in highly productive but unexpected ways.  As technology improves, we expect this trend to accelerate.  That’s why TNB offers Mobile Device Management to help our clients integrate employee’s personal phones into their IT systems.  Contact us today to find out more!

Click here to view the full May 2012 Boston Techie newsletter.

A Handy Glossary on Office 365 and the Cloud

Now you can run an office without having to run a server.  Microsoft’s securely hosted Office 365 applications give you the full power of Office Professional without any of the server maintenance worries.  Microsoft runs the servers for you, in the cloud.  With some versions of Office 365, you can even use your familiar desktop Office applications through a Web browser or on your desktop as usual, depending on where you are.

Here is a glossary of terms you will hear in discussing Office 365 and the cloud.

  • In the cloud: Stored on the Internet rather than in your office.  Frees you from worrying about server maintenance.
  • Hosted: A hosted file or program is accessed through a server in the cloud.  This “host server” is provided as part of your cloud service.
  • Hosted Exchange: The backbone of Office 365, giving you all the benefits of Microsoft Exchange with Outlook e-mail and collaboration, without having to run your own Exchange server.  Hosted Exchange  makes sense for organizations of all sizes, opening the doors to advanced collaboration for organizations that can’t run their own Exchange server.
  • Hosted SharePoint: Like hosted Exchange, gives you the benefits of SharePoint without having to run your own server.
  • Office Web Applications: The full Microsoft Office Professional suite, accessible through Internet Explorer in addition to your desktop.  Office Web Apps give you access to your files anytime, anywhere, while also giving you current versions of Office desktop software.

Tech Networks of Boston is proud to be a Microsoft Partner providing support and implementation for Office 365.  Call us at (617) 269-0299 for information!

Click here to read this month’s full Boston Techie.

Collaborate Online with Microsoft Office 365

Tech Networks of Boston is partnering with Microsoft to offer Office 365, the new cloud-hosted Office application suite. In Office 365, you can edit your Word, Excel, or other Office documents through your web browser, using the familiar Microsoft Office interface. The files are fully compatible with desktop and server installations of Microsoft Office, and can be uploaded and downloaded at any time.

An important new capability of Office 365 is online collaboration, where two or more users edit the same document at the same time. If two users edit the same document, you will see your co-worker’s cursor as well as your own, and be able to edit together in a meeting or over the Internet.

Tech Networks of Boston recently hosted a webinar on Office 365. Click here to view the recorded webinar — just enter your name and click View Recording.  Ask us questions right here on the Boston Techie by posting a comment below, or call us anytime at (617) 269-0299.

Click here to read the full March 2012 Boston Techie newsletter.