July 29, 2015

Got a minute to help? Respond to NTEN’s annual Community Survey and get $10 off your next webinar!

Survey icon We want to hear from you! Actually, we love hearing from our community all through the year, but this time of year, we like to ask for your specific feedback about our programs and resources, as well as your overall NTEN experience. This helps us better understand your nonprofit technology needs and preferences, and to learn more about how we can help you with your work.

Please take a few minutes and respond to the survey. As our way of saying thanks, each survey respondent will receive a coupon code for $10 off an NTEN webinar.

Feel free to share the survey with your nonprofit colleagues. The more feedback we get, the better we’re able to serve all of you. We’ll be sharing the survey results in our annual Community Report (here’s the 2014 report).

We’ll even say thank you in advance with a little something that made us smile.

Megan Keane
Megan is a long-time San Francisco bay area resident with an extensive nonprofit background in community management, social media, and volunteer management. She's a problem solver and network builder passionate about connecting with people both on and offline. As NTEN's Membership Director, Megan supports the NTEN community, helping others connect, learn, and make the most of technology, and has spoken internationally on nonprofit technology. While she's not online, Megan can be found teaching or practicing yoga, hiking, or curling up with a good book. She's also a self-professed penguin nutcase, er, enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter: @penguinasana
July 28, 2015

Building the Bedrock

Igniting passion and innovation at #15LCS

For this month’s Connect theme, we are highlighting some of the speakers, facilitators, keynotes, attendees, sponsors, and scholarship recipients of the 2015 Leading Change Summit in Washington, DC September 13-16.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, NTEN’s 2nd annual Leading Change Summit (LCS) promises to be one of the coolest and innovative gatherings emerging in the nonprofit community.

Our team at Forum One is proud to join the community’s effort to fuel the future of nonprofit innovation—and we’ll be helping kick things off the first day with a half-day training on Digital Strategy.

Building the Bedrock for Future Nonprofit Innovation

Nonprofits are full of great ideas and great work. And many are known for tackling (and solving) some of the world’s most pressing problems. To keep the trend line moving upward—and to keep creating impact on issues that matter—it’s a given fact that nonprofits have to keep innovating.

The trick? Creating a support structure and community to help spark ongoing innovation beyond their own four walls. This structure and community creates the bedrock both for good ideas now and for future innovation.

#15LCS Features That Excite Us

Our team participated in last year’s inaugural LCS event, which delivered on this bedrock of ideas and innovation. Here’s some of what we’re excited about for this year:

  • Unique and engaging format again, unlike your typical event. Different is good
  • Encouraging participants to connect with peers in thematic hubs
  • Core focus on developing a project or idea. Very action-oriented at its heart
  • Ideas Accelerator, which gives attendees direct feedback on their developing ideas, allowing them to directly pitch to others (Tuesday evening has pitches)
  • Providing a great opportunity this second year for attendees to help shape the direction, but no doubt offering a stronger formula with lessons learned from the first year
  • Hosted in D.C., which is convenient for a huge number of nonprofits (Hey west coasters, we love you too! Please come and we’ll buy you a drink and tell you about all our great monuments. For kicks, you can also visit a museum and learn how to spy)

What You’ll Find Us Talking About This Year

Forum One focuses on digital for the social good. We work with nonprofits, think tanks, foundations, and the government. Our half-day session on “Igniting Passion to Get Results: Building Your Digital Strategy for Impact,” digs into the heart of digital strategy with a heavy focus on content. Consider these facts, according to a 2014 study by the Content Marketing Institute:

  • 92% of nonprofit professionals use content marketing (for those unfamiliar with the term, simply think “frequent content production and dissemination”)…
  • Yet only 26% believe they are effective at content marketing
  • Roughly ⅓ to ⅔ of respondents said they were “challenged with producing engaging content”…
  • And 65% of nonprofit professionals say they’re producing more content than a year ago

Clearly, content production and dissemination is important among nonprofit professionals, and they’re doing more of it; yet most don’t rate themselves as effective—and many suggest challenges with engaging content. Given the fact that nonprofits handle some of the world’s most important issues (and their job is to create impact on those issues), this is a real dilemma.*

We’ll have a mix of activities that enable participants to leave the workshop and enter the full summit with rockstar content training—both applicable content skills and tactical perspective, fortified with improved attention to analytics (yes, you must measure results; yes, ROI is good). We’ll cover both the surface and mechanics, so we’re covering the full picture of what you (and we) are grappling with day to day in our quest for inspiring passion and engagement with audiences. This is the kind of holistic thinking useful for refining your project or idea from all angles both at the summit and back at the office.

In general, LCS training workshops provide an awesome opportunity for learning lessons big and small, while refining your own project or idea. During our session, we’ll be happy to take direct questions on your project or idea, or general Q&A that then informs your thinking during the rest of the summit. Our goal: create impact with you, so you and your organization are positioned to create your own impact on your cause.

Turning Ideas into Impact: Your own “do good” accelerator

LCS is an accelerator for those that “do good.” The more that organizations and nonprofits come together for innovative learning, the more positive change and impact that can happen. LCS understands this concept, which is one big reason why we’re excited. The trend of incubators and accelerators has been bending to include nonprofits in recent years.** Entities such as Taproot or Beespace, as well as NTEN’s other well-known annual learning event, the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), continue to offer an expanding network of resources to help nonprofits.

Creating an additional shared space for incubating projects and ideas from nonprofits is pure awesomeness. These are the kinds of learning opportunities that spark meaningful change and continue the rising tide of innovation for all nonprofits.

Needless to say we’re excited. Make sure to register for the Summit, and we’ll see you in September!
*If this isn’t an issue for you, consider yourself a rockstar already.
**In 2013, Y Combinator—a well-known accelerator responsible for Dropbox, Reddit, Airbnb, Weebly, and other ventures—started also funding nonprofits.

August Adams
August Adams is a digital strategist at Forum One (forumone.com), a digital agency committed for over 20 years to helping institutions that serve the social good. His experience spans communications, marketing, technology, and many related professional areas. He has directed the digital work for two national organizations, as well as led digital projects for some of the country’s top brands. You can find him on Twitter at @august_adams.
July 24, 2015

Campaign Learning from Miami to Chicago

We recently had the pleasure of hanging out with a rockin’ group of organizations and working with Rachael Ahrens, Senior Interactive Consultant with Blackbaud, in Miami for one of our Campaign Lab events. This being my first time visiting Miami, I learned more than a few things about the community.

Out of the gate, it was clear that people know how to make you feel welcome and are eager to share why they love it there (and you should, as well). It usually starts with talking about food, which is just fine with this Portlander; that very quickly transitions into stories about neighborhoods, culture, and all those key elements of place. When you ask about their organizations and the work they do in these communities, though, that is when their eyes really light up.

The nonprofit community in the Miami area has some pretty awesome organizations doing amazing work: Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Switchboard 211, and Harry Chapin Food Bank shared some of the impact they are creating in their communities with some wins and war stories alike.

 

It was also great to see other ways the nonprofit community in the area is growing. We held the event at the Center for Social Change, a relatively new co-working space specifically for nonprofits and social enterprises. A number of the participants at the lab were actually located in the Center and talked about how great it was to be able to directly collaborate and support other organizations on a daily basis. With everything from 25-year veterans in the sector to newly appointed board members and longtime NTEN Community champions in the room, it was a fantastic mix and a wonderful opportunity to learn as a community. All this left me super excited to see who we meet and get a chance to learn with as we head to Chicago on August 13. In the area? Be sure to join us and get ready to share your awesome! As always, a huge thank you to Blackbaud and for their support in making this series of campaign NTEN Lab events around the country possible.  

Ash Shepherd
Ash has been in love with the nonprofit sector for nearly two decades, where he has worked in the areas of conservation, environmental education, social work, youth program development, and technology consulting. He has been an active member of the NTEN Community, serving as a co-organizer of Portland’s 501 Tech Club, and completing a three-year term on the NTEN: Change Journal's Editorial Committee. Ash earned a B.S. from the University of Montana in Resource Management and a Masters in Environment and Development from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. He is a well respected public speaker and has developed numerous nonprofit resources including the Nonprofit Social Media Audit and co-authored the Social Media Road Map.
July 23, 2015

Things We Like (July 2015)

A monthly roundup of our favorite nonprofit tech resources and other goodies.

  1. Happy 30th birthday, .org. The first .org domain was registered on July 10, 1985.
  2. The OED birthday word generator shows which words originated in your birthyear. (.org’s birth word? “Gobsmacked.”)
  3. Edie the Spaniel’s friends tried out Tindog—Tinder for dogs—one day. A gobsmacking experience?
  4. Every day should be take your dog to work day.
  5. This “meow-nificent” (I did not make that up) cat library brings shelter kitties to your office and invites you to take them home. It’s like bingeing on cute.
  6. Here are the stages of binge watching videos on Netflix.
  7. Netflix schmetflix. These videos from Burma, shared via Engage Media, deserve your uninterrupted attention.
  8. This video explores the inner workings of an artificial brain.
  9. These pictures explore the inside and edifice of an abandoned church that is shaped like a chicken and surrounded by dense forest.
  10. Here’s how California farmers, who find themselves surrounded by drought not forest, are using data-informed tech to grow more with less.
  11. Ida B. Wells, surrounded by injustice, was a leader in using data-informed journalism to fight lynching. Her article, “Lynching and the Excuse For It,” was published in the Independent before she was 40 years old.
  12. These NGen Fellows convened by Independent Sector are leaders under 40 years old. Check out their work and life.
  13. Millennials want a work-life balance. Their bosses just don’t get why.
  14. Do you find yourself asking, “Why?” Werner Herzog motivational posters are here for you.
Steph Routh
Steph is Content Manager at NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. She has spent over a decade in the nonprofit sector, with a focus on organizational development, communications, fundraising, and program planning. Steph served as the first Executive Director of Oregon Walks for five years prior to joining NTEN. She is passionate about removing barriers to opportunities and finding equity at the many intersections of social justice work. And she feels lucky every day she is at NTEN, with a Community that does exactly that. Outside the NTEN office, Steph is the Mayor of Hopscotch Town, a consulting and small publishing firm that inspires and celebrates fun, lovable places for everyone. Steph is married to her bicycle and an aunt of two.
July 21, 2015

Start Your Summit Experience With a Half-Day Training (and Get CFRE Credits While You’re at It)!

Photo by Trav Williams, ww.BrokenBanjo.net
Photo by Trav Williams, www.BrokenBanjo.net

Have you signed up for the Leading Change Summit (15LCS) yet?

We now have even more ways to kick off your professional development at 15LCS. As a 15LCS attendee, you have the option of attending a pre-summit half-day training on Sept. 13. Choose from among the following four trainings:

Igniting Passion to Get Results: Building your Digital Strategy for Impact
How to get people to care about your organization as much as you care about your cause.
Presented by Betsy Cecil of ForumOne Communications

Designing Digital Literacy Programs for Parents and Adults
Learn how to create or expand your organization’s digital inclusion programs.
Presented by Deb Socia of Next Century Cities and former Executive Director of Tech Goes Home

Google for Nonprofits
Discover how to use free or deeply discounted Google tools to further your mission.
Presented by Tanuja Gupta of Google

Data & Evaluation
Amp up your evaluation efforts with effective data analysis.
Presented by Andrew Means of Center for Data Science & Public Policy at the University of Chicago

Plus, each half-day training qualifies for 4 CFRE continuing education credits.

Get prepared for your LCS experience with one of these hands-on learning workshops. Register now for your choice of workshop.

Want to attend but don’t know how to make the case to your boss? Here’s what to tell your boss.

July 21, 2015

Mapping Communities

Revealing Patterns, Boundaries, and Other Insights into Your Data

Why would mapping communities be important for communications efforts?

Mapping is important because it can help us see where we are (current boundaries), where we’ve been (past reach), and where we’re going to go (gaps and opportunities).

It can share insights that might be buried in a narrative write-up that’s too dense or a data set that’s complex and hard to decipher.

A B C D
A 1 1 0
B 1 1 1
C 1 1 0
D 0 1 0

Figure 1 Example of a relationship matrix.

Mapping can help us explore new ways of approaching our work by showing where boundaries lie or patterns exist.

Figure 2 Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Figure 2 Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

You can map anything that involves two or more actors—organizations, donors, employees, machines, etc.—that have (or lack) relationships.

It can be done by hand, using desktop software, or more robust tools.

At the Leading Change Summit (LCS) in September, we will be exploring several different tool options and frameworks. The connection among these different approaches is creating a visual representation to look at data in a new way.

One very powerful framework to do that is using a framework called Social Network Analysis, also called Network Analysis.

Math and Maps

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a methodological approach that measures and maps network relationships. It is a conceptual framework that applies graph theory to sociological studies.

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For organizations, individuals, groups, and so much more, SNA can be a powerful approach to understanding your various relationships. Possibilities of network analysis application are almost endless—network analysis can examine audience connections, innovation diffusion, disease outbreaks, sales—anything where there is an interaction between two or more network players.

You can create maps to see:

  • information flows (where does information get collected or pass through?)
  • learning or knowledge-sharing (who do people seek out to ask questions? where are cross-discipline connections sharing within an organization?)
  • attendees of events (who’s been to multiple events?)
  • donations to fundraising campaigns (which donor has contributed to several campaigns and by how much?)
  • key nodes within a network (what’s an actor’s Kevin Bacon number?)

There are many ways to you can get data to explore social networks. Digital channels like Facebook and Twitter can be especially reach sources of information.

Curious about which individuals and organizations are using your hashtag?

Map it!

Figure 3 Snapshot-in-time map of 100 tweets on July 17, 2015, of Twitter accounts using the hashtag #endpoverty. Nodes labeled by Twitter image and sized based on number of followers. Tweets limited to 100. Map created with NodeXL.
Figure 3 Snapshot-in-time map of 100 tweets on July 17, 2015, of Twitter accounts using the hashtag #endpoverty. Nodes labeled by Twitter image and sized based on number of followers. Tweets limited to 100. Map created with NodeXL.

Want to see who is connected to you on Twitter?

Map it!

Figure 4 Snapshot-in-time map of NTENorg Twitter account on July 17, 2015. Limited to follows, mentions, and replies on that date. Boundary of 200 recent tweets per user. Map created with NodeXL.
Figure 4 Snapshot-in-time map of NTENorg Twitter account on July 17, 2015. Limited to follows, mentions, and replies on that date. Boundary of 200 recent tweets per user. Map created with NodeXL.

Looking to see who donated to your various campaigns and the size of their donations?

Map it!

Figure 5 Map of donation network comprising four campaigns. Each node represents a donor and is scaled by aggregated size of donation. Red indicates donors donated to multiple campaigns; other colors indicate different campaigns. Map created with NodeXL.
Figure 5 Map of donation network comprising four campaigns. Each node represents a donor and is scaled by aggregated size of donation. Red indicates donors who donated to multiple campaigns; other colors indicate different campaigns. Map created with NodeXL.

Note: these visualizations build off of data sets built in NodeXL (a free, open-source tool) that contain even more robust information on these individual actors’ attributes and relationships. These images serve just as a “tip of the iceberg” to the relationship data.

Is Mapping Everything?

Maps are visualizations of data to help see patterns and explore new ways of understanding information.

Connections are key to communities for social capital, identity construction, and information flows. SNA visualizes these network flows through nodes (individuals, organizations, events, etc.) and links (connections/interactions). These links can vary depending on context, even with the same actors.

It is important to note that network actors are complex. For instance, people can have a multiplicity of expressions—dynamic, evolving roles that change overtime—within the same network.

Think of your family network. Sometimes you may be the “leader” of your family network, say, if you are organizing a family reunion; but other times, you may be the invitee when someone else takes on that organizer role for a birthday party or a hike.

Also, networks are not based on one actor of course; they may well have multiple leaders as other roles. People are complex. Organizations as well. Naturally, networks ought to reflect this complexity.

This network richness is an important element for organizations and individuals alike to grasp as they examine networks and relationship structures.

Limitations to Mapping

Just as mapping an unknown terrain, maps are only as good as the data that are imputed into them. Limitations of mapping can include a small sample size, respondents may not be representative of entire audience, questionnaires may have been confusing yielding inaccurate results, and so on.

Also, mapping is not a strategy unto itself—it is a tool to better see patterns, boundaries, and gaps in relationships. It allows us to help inform our strategies, not create them.

Mapping allows us to see the landscape of relationships over time. As an NGO’s online community grows, it reaches new audiences by tapping into its members’ networks and leveraging them to in turn tap into further new networks.

Relationships, of course, are dynamic and can be actively shaped. This gives us much power and also necessitates us to repeat the mapping cycle by issuing a new survey, collecting new data, and analyzing the findings.

What have you mapped? What would you like to map? What tools and techniques have you found useful? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Erin Gamble
Erin Gamble is Online Communications Officer at the World Bank Group. She is passionate about social network analysis, social good, and digital strategy. Views expressed here are hers. You can find her on Twitter @eringam.
July 20, 2015

Looking Beyond for Inspiration

For this month’s Connect theme, we are highlighting some of the speakers, facilitators, keynotes, attendees, sponsors, and scholarship recipients of the 2015 Leading Change Summit in Washington, DC September 13-16.

I love working in public media. With a network of hundreds of public radio and television stations and online media groups throughout the country, I feel blessed to have a large number of colleagues and mentors ready to hear, share, and build ideas in the name of public service media.

This year, though, I set a goal to look outside public media for inspiration, feedback, and collaboration. On that journey, I found NTEN and can’t wait to attend the Leading Change Summit in September!

Why the LCS?

It didn’t take a full cost/benefit analysis to put the LCS on my “Conferences To Attend” list (#nerdalert).

The summit checks all my boxes: a place to network with nonprofit experts, a chance to learn from folks outside my niche industry, an opportunity to gather feedback on my projects and challenges, and an avenue to hear (and eventually adapt) new ideas for my community.

With “uninterrupted time to focus on strategies and new ideas” and “collaboration with practitioners on your real-world solutions,” the LCS will bring fresh perspectives to the projects I’d like to develop in a dynamic, energetic environment.

What I’m excited about?

I plan to participate in the Program Design & Effectiveness hub, but I’d definitely like to meet folks from the Developing Technical Solutions groups, too. Those two hubs represent the intersection of my work at WSKG—digital engagement and content, and strategic planning.

As far as speakers go, I really look forward to hearing from Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. The importance of an accessible, community-wide Internet goes hand-in-hand with what I consider the largest challenge facing my industry: public media was founded during a time of technological change (way back when “TV” was the disruptive technology); today, public media must adapt to internet-connected technologies in order to continue its mission of quality media for any audience and for free.

As for half-day trainings, I’m totally torn between the two halves of my job! On one hand, Building Your Digital Strategy for Impact gets to the meat and potatoes of some specific challenges my organization faces. On the other, Data & Evaluation could provide much-needed personal growth that would allow me to lead and make impact beyond our station. I think I’ll just have to wing it!

Last, but not least, when it’s time for the Idea Accelerator, you’ll most likely see me running up to the stage! I love a little competition and public speaking. I’ve been considering possible ideas to pitch.

  1. I would like to build a regional YouTube network to empower and extend the reach of independent filmmakers in our region. I have a base understanding of the formal and informal rules of business and content partnerships, but I would like to hear more about others’ collaborations, contracts, and success metrics.
  2. We face a challenge in archiving and cataloging a vast reservoir of archival content. I would love to develop a crowd-sourced tool to upload, manage, organize, and present this content on the back end, and in a user-facing interactive tool. I’d also like to combine this idea with Melody Kramer’s recent report on the definition of “membership” in public media—how can we make those who donate time to this project a “member” of WSKG?
  3. Our industry struggles with online revenue generation. I’d like to formulate a way to scale a local or regional (or even national) fundraising “bootcamp” that takes a group from point A to point “whatever you can dream, do it!” when it comes to cultivating audiences and donors through online tools and new digital fundraising strategies.

Right now, I lean towards developing and problem-solving the second concept, but who knows?

I hope you’ll share your feedback and brainpower during the summit (or before – tweet to me!), and I look forward to hearing all of your ideas. See you in a few months!

Teresa Peltier
Teresa Peltier is the Director of Digital Strategy and Organizational Planning at WSKG Public Media in Binghamton, NY. She enjoys kickstarting change online, in the community, and in the office. Teresa is a mentee in the Public Media Women in Leadership program and a former member of the PBS Digital Advisory Council.
July 20, 2015

Professional Development that Is Different by Design

I have always found conferences to be both the most exciting and a somewhat puzzling part of my professional development throughout the years. The chance to get out of “the norm” of my day-to-day work at my organization is always refreshing, as a chance to gain renewed perspective. For many years, I also found that I often had a few spark or “aha” moments at each conference. Sadly, they didn’t always have the staying power to significantly impact my work.

Over time, I came to realize that to truly get the most value out of a conference experience, I needed to put more intention into what I did leading up to, at, and following a conference event. I know it sounds obvious now, but these are not things people tell you. Usually, a supervisor would simply say, “Yah, that looks good. Go, absorb, get smarter, and come back better at your job,” and that is exactly what I would attempt to do.

As I progressed in my career, and the nonprofit technology field in general, I found that my role was more and more consistently as a presenter at conferences and less on the participant aspect. If I wasn’t running a session, I was trying to network or volunteer. While I greatly enjoy this side of things and find good value in this, I have increasingly missed a chance to grow myself and find those “aha” moments like little treasures in unexpected sessions. Professional development now usually happens by myself reading blogs, books, and participating in online learning communities. I really miss the in-person aspect of learning from and with other people.

It turns out there are other folks who have been having a similar experience at conferences—lots of other people.

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Being part of the team evolving the 2015 Leading Change Summit (LCS) has been a fantastic way to create a learning experience that gets at some of these challenges. There are three things in particular that I really like.

Come With Context

The whole premise of the LCS is to come with a challenge and leave with a solution. While I usually come to a conference knowing a few of the sessions I want to attend, they can often still be scattered across topics. Knowing that my entire multi-day experience is centered around solving one particular challenge really does help set the context in my own personal reality.

I start every one of my trainings asking people to find their working example for the day so as to help keep them focused as we move through content. This allows them to ask their most important questions and have a better chance of leaving with really actionable next steps.

Imagine the value of doing that for an entire conference and not just a one hour training. That’s the LCS.

Facilitated Flow

During a multi-day conference, it can be fun to hop around between topic areas—from mobile applications to email metrics to organizational culture. The challenge comes in successfully connecting the dots between sessions that were created in isolation of each other. Certainly connections can be found, but it often feels impossible to do so, because the time and space needed to properly digest it all simply doesn’t exist after you leave the conference and get back to your daily responsibilities. This is all the more amplified as you come back to a backlog of tasks because you know…you were gone at a conference.

That is precisely why we built that process directly into the program flow of the LCS. Having multiple touchpoints throughout each day with your hub—a time with peers and a dedicated facilitator—helps connect those dots while you are in the process. Imagine dedicated time to think. This allows you to step away from the conference with more of a finished product rather than the making of a major “homework” assignment to get to that point.

A Hint of “Choose Your Own Adventure”

Frameworks are things I talk about all the time. We want to make sure a structure is in place to set you up for strategic success, but the structure should have enough flexibility that each organization can apply their own style to meet their unique needs. By adding workshop opportunities that allow folks to step outside their facilitated hubs, attendees can do just that. Attendees can choose from select workshops on topics that fit their particular needs and help them build their ideal solution.

Taking Ownership For the Outcomes

Overall, the idea is to create a conference experience that moves those unspoken “secrets of success” out of the implied discussion and puts them front and center. Sure, the idea of “your own private strategic planning retreat” sounds great, but it also accurately describes the advantage of making the experience your own from the start.

Interested in learning more about the Leading Change Summit and how all these pieces are going to come together? Be sure to check out the summit website, ask questions in the comments, or shoot us an email (events@nten.org).

Ash Shepherd
Ash has been in love with the nonprofit sector for nearly two decades, where he has worked in the areas of conservation, environmental education, social work, youth program development, and technology consulting. He has been an active member of the NTEN Community, serving as a co-organizer of Portland’s 501 Tech Club, and completing a three-year term on the NTEN: Change Journal's Editorial Committee. Ash earned a B.S. from the University of Montana in Resource Management and a Masters in Environment and Development from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa. He is a well respected public speaker and has developed numerous nonprofit resources including the Nonprofit Social Media Audit and co-authored the Social Media Road Map.
July 16, 2015

The Quest for a Nimble Data System

For this month’s Connect theme, we are highlighting some of the speakers, facilitators, keynotes, attendees, sponsors, and scholarship recipients of the 2015 Leading Change Summit in Washington, DC September 13-16.

Data: the answer to my prayers and the bane of my existence. Data can guide strategy and overwhelm you to the point of inaction. If you don’t have the systems in place to mine and analyze it, all that wonderful, insightful information becomes as useful as pretty much everything Amazon had on sale for Prime Day.

Every minute, there is a ridiculous amount of new data being created—from social media posts to emails to videos and photos. I can see the breadth of the data I have access to for my organization. I know there are answers in there that will establish efficiencies and reduce expenses—in the end, making us better at what we do and allowing us to solve big problems.

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If you’re new to data, I would recommend the Getting Started With Data-Driven Decision Making: A Workbook that NTEN and Idealware created. This tool helps you cut through all of the information coming at you and helps focus your priorities into four main areas:

  • Collecting and understanding outcomes data
  • Strategies for collecting high-quality data
  • Combining metrics to tell the story of your organization’s programs
  • How to make that story relevant to different stakeholders.

In case you need a little inspiration to keep moving forward in solving your data management challenges, here’s a great recent Connect post by Oz du Soleil.

Maybe you’re organization is in the same place I am on the data management journey. We are great at collecting data. We know our click-through rates, open rates, and bounce rates. Our surveys are complete and identify impact and areas for expansion. We’re tracking our time on different initiatives and programs. We can show how we are helping our constituency and our greater community. We can tell a story.

However, for better or for worse, we don’t have a cohesive place, system, or process to house all of this information so it is easily accessible and nimble. That, to me, is the next mountain to climb, and I believe we can improve what we do and how we do it without it obliterating a budget.

That is why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend the Leading Change Summit. This conference is about me—and you—and even what we could do together. I have a good feeling that my fellow attendees will understand this data dilemma. Hopefully, if you are trying to solve these same global data problems or you have ideas, you’ll join me to brainstorm the possibilities.

It’s this idea of collaboration in strategic planning that has me most excited. When nonprofit leaders and changemakers get together in one room, big things can happen: Ideas, shared learning, partnerships – the opportunities are endless. LCS facilitates attendees towards solutions, before, during, and after the Summit.

Marisa Taylor
July 15, 2015

Announcing the 2015 Digital Adoption Report!

2015 Digital Adoption ReportDid you know that more than 60 million Americans do not have Internet access in their homes?

That statistic is alarming, and is precisely what drove NTEN and Mobile Citizen to launch the first Digital Adoption Report, which provides benchmarks and qualitative data about online technology and digital inclusion efforts among nonprofits and the communities that they serve.

What we learned: Nearly 60% of respondents indicate that constituents need Internet access to participate in their services. Not surprisingly, all respondents identify the Internet as a critical business tool to get the work done!

> Download the 2015 Digital Adoption Report!

Digital adoption, whether for organization or individuals, includes three requirements:

  1. Access to the Internet where and when we want or need to go online;
  2. Affordable equipment to use; and,
  3. Training, or digital literacy skills enabling us and our constituents to use the Internet to support our work and lives.

In this report, respondents note obstacles around access, training, and devices used by their staff and community members. Recognizing where barriers exist is critical for creating the most successful solutions.

We hope that after reading this report, you are ready to learn more about the impact of digital adoption decisions and strategies for your organization and for your community. This research will help provide an initial benchmark that we can all learn from and build on together.

If you’re interested in learning more, register for our free webinar on October 8. Join Mobile Citizen and NTEN to review the Digital Adoption Report findings, discuss case studies from organizations at varying levels of adoption and digital inclusion efforts, and learn what steps you can take to better connect your constituents with your services.