News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Introducing the Missoula 501 Tech Club

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 08/25/2008 - 8:58am

You may be familiar with the local groups in the Nonprofit Technology Network, called NTEN 501 Tech Clubs (as in, 501c3). These are informal groups for nonprofit technology professionals who want to share information and resources and connect at the local level.

Our newest 501 Tech Club, organized by Jeanette Russell, is in Missoula, Montana. Jeanette is successfully bringing together nonprofit staff and other cause-minded techies to learn about each other's activities and share tips and best practices for incorporating technology into their work. Nice job, Jeanette!

Do You Like Giving Advice? Volunteer for Office Hours

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 12:56pm

NTEN Office Hours is gearing up for Fall! We're looking forward to connecting more of you to the experts who can answer your nonprofit technology questions.

We had a great set of NTEN member volunteers hosting Office Hours this summer, and now we need you!

Though many of our summer hosts are returning, we're looking to expand the program this fall. So, we want you to share your expertise with the NTEN community. Learn more and sign up for Office Hours.

We can't guarantee you'll be able to answer every question that comes your way, but we can guarantee that you'll have some fun and meet some great people. Plus, you'll be making a great contribution to the NTEN community.

Unrelated Items From a Hectic Week

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 08/22/2008 - 9:45am

I started this week by chauffeuring my mom and her dog to and from various medical appointments for the both of them -- in the 110 degree heat of Phoenix. Just getting from the car to the front door of any building made me feel like something was sucking out my brains. I'm still recovering, so I haven't had the time to read and think as much as I might like to, and that makes blogging hard!

Several interesting things did show up in my inbox/reader this week, though, and I want to share them with you:

The ART of Technology

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 08/21/2008 - 8:48am

John Merritt, YMCA of San Diego County

In every successful recipe there are key ingredients. Too much of one ingredient or too little of another can have very interesting effects on the outcome of the dish. It's no different when it comes to technology.

Business is driven by technology; the days of seeing technology merely as a necessary evil have long passed. Networking technologies allow us to move and access information quickly, we analyze our stored data to make sound decisions, websites & eCommerce focus on bringing convenience to our customers, email systems allow us to communicate around the world in the blink of an eye, we track vehicles via satellite, cell phones keep us in touch -- the list goes on and on.

The recipe for technology contains 3 key ingredients: Alignment, Relationship, and Transparency. Each of these, in balance, can assist in making technology a useful, functional, and invisible tool within our organizations. The ART of technology is not about the PC on your desk or the server in the backroom. The ART of technology is about our interaction with systems, processes and one another as we work toward efficient business operations and fully meeting the mission.

Ten Common Objections to Social Media Adoption and How You Can Respond

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 12:24pm
Marshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb

It can be hard to convince leadership that working with social media doesn't mean they've been paying you to catch up with friends on Facebook. You've probably heard some of the objections:

  • I suffer from information overload already.
  • So much of what's discussed online is meaningless. These forms of communication are shallow and make us dumber. We have real work to do!
  • I don't have the time to contribute and moderate. It looks like it takes a lot of time and energy.
  • Our customers don't use this stuff. The learning curve limits its usefulness to geeks.
  • Communicators [bloggers, tweeters] are so fickle, it's better to stay unengaged than risk random brand damage. We don't want hostile comments left about us on any forum we've legitimized.

And there are more. But there are ways you can respond. Here's a list of suggestions:

Scaling Web 2.0 Momentum: Preparing to Sell Your Case to Organizational Stakeholders

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 12:11pm
Michaela Hackner, World Learning

So, you think you've figured out the best way to use new media in your organization -- that blog you've always daydreamed about, or that Facebook fan page that's just got to be made. You're ready to take this new media blitz public and make your website the one that everyone on Progressive Exchange and Twitter is talking about.

You think you've got the perfect proposal... but you know the reality of the nonprofit technology world, and all those grubby little externalities that periodically throw a wrench in your idealism. To help ensure your new media ideas succeed, you might consider the following before committing to a technology strategy (and Tweeting the idea to your boss).

Leading for Innovation: Creating a Culture of Learning in Your Organization

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 11:33am

Elissa Perry, Leadership Learning Community

"When knowledge gained somewhere doesn't move elsewhere, that's not a learning organization; that's just a bunch of projects." - The Saratoga Institute

It can be difficult to encourage new ideas and innovation from people who aren't in positions with leadership titles or much technical authority. People fear speaking up for reasons tied not just to personal style, but also -- and perhaps more commonly -- to organizational culture. There are a number of challenges as well as supports that can limit or open the space for learning and exchange in an organization.

You should start by fostering and supporting a culture of learning and innovation.

Preparing Your Staff Members for a Technology Change

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 11:25am

Dahna Goldstein, PhilanTech

You're a leader of an organization, about to begin a new technology project. Getting buy-in for a technology change can be essential to the success of the initiative. Before you begin, you should think about a few things that can help you maximize success:

  • Set a clear direction from the top.
  • Tie tech changes to mission.
  • Communicate early and often.
  • Involve and empower staff.
  • Tech changes need champions and influencers.
  • Recognize that change causes anxiety, and work to mitigate it.

How Fast is Your Internet Connection?

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 08/20/2008 - 8:48am

Access to the Internet is one of the issues we care about most here at NTEN. The United States is a lowly 15th in the world when it comes to broadband access, and that's almost certainly having an adverse effect on how thousands of nonprofits are able to serve their clients and stakeholders.

It's so bad, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps has admitted, "America's record in expanding broadband communication is so poor that it should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in the country."

What are we going to do about it?

As a pretty competitive person, I was motivated by the Communication Worker's of America's newest campaign, Speed Matters. The campaign tests your Internet connection and compares it to the communities around you, as well as the rest of the world.

Vote, Vote, Vote

Submitted by Anna on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 10:43am
nonprofit voterWe don't have to tell you how important it is to vote this Fall, but we keep hearing about great resources for nonprofits working to get out the vote in their communities. We want to make sure you have them at your fingertips.