News from the NTEN Connect Blog

How To: Put Technology to Use: March 2008

Submitted by Brett on Mon, 03/31/2008 - 12:00pm
Your guide to resources that will help you put technology to work for your cause.

Contribute to the Rebuilding Effort

> Probably the biggest mental barrier to donating online is wondering whether or not your money will be put to good use. During the NTC, we worked with people from both the Community Center of St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association (NENA). Both groups are doing good work at ground level.

> Since it just wouldn't be right for us not to mention a social networking site at least once, check out the Facebook Cause set up for the Community Center.

> You can learn about more Louisiana nonprofits at LouisianaRebuilds.info, an aggregator of local resources and stories, and the Lousiana Association of Nonprofits (LANO), whose name pretty much speaks for itself.

Volunteer in New Orleans

> Patricia Jones, Executive Director of NENA, told NTC attendees, "We are grateful for infusions of volunteers and support to help us catch our next wind... If you people know how to help us, bring it on." Dozens of NPTechies donated their time before the NTC at the Day of Service, and we thank them all for their commitment and passion.

> If you'd like to volunteer your time, you might want to take a look at Volunteer New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Volunteer Connection, or, for a more specific project, the St. Bernard Project. You can find more resources on LouisianaRebuilds.info.

Connect with New Orleanians

> We're pretty convinced that you can't fake being from New Orleans -- where the four seasons "are crawfish, shrimp, crab and erster" -- but it can't hurt to pick up a little of the local dialect. There's even a documentary film about it!

> While we like to think of social networks in terms of Facebook and Twitter these days, it's helpful to remember the term's origins: NPR reports on social clubs in New Orleans. In fact, you might want to explore the entire "Katrina & Recovery" section of NPR.org.

> And, while it might be a little low-tech for some, you should consider -- or encourage your children to consider -- becoming a pen pal.

The Day of Service: NPTechies Give a Little Back

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 3:00pm

The Day of Service, a long-time NTC tradition, gave NPTechies the chance to give something back to the New Orleans community. In spite of some weather related travel delays -- apparently, some pilots didn't want to play hide-and-go-seek with tornadoes -- 2008 saw record volunteer turnout for the DOS.

Volunteers traveled to the Community Center of St. Bernard to install a wireless network, others conducted strategy consults with local nonprofits; later in the day, there was also a video blogging work shop. Additionally, a second team of volunteers, led by some great people from Cisco -- who also donated the hardware for the wireless installation -- went back to St. Bernard to train local residents one-on-one.

Technology's Role in Rebuilding New Orleans

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 2:00pm
Lisa Stansky, New Orleans Legal Assistance

When it comes to using technology to rebuild New Orleans, sometimes less is more. That certainly seemed true immediately after the storm, when there was no power, few or no land lines, and little or no cellular phone service across a swath of the gulf region. Basic communication tools, when they worked, became lifelines, sometimes literally.

What happened? People took baby steps. But the truly remarkable thing, observers note, is that those who were low-tech or no-tech quickly got with the program. Average cell phone users learned how to text. People who never touched a computer keyboard quickly picked up the basics of e-mail communication and online research.

How a Website Can Affect Real Change

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 1:36pm

Deborah Cotton, LouisianaRebuilds.info

There are some words we are so beleaguered by, we don't use them anymore. We don't say Katrina, we just say "the storm" -- or "the Thing".

This is really like living in a civilization that has been shattered and blasted throughout the universe. From the outside looking in, it's hard to imagine the many details that come together to making your life work. Sometimes the basic pieces of information take half a day, even days to track down -- how to get utilities restored, where and when you can find food or gas in your area, how to find your doctor or old medical records.

LouisianaRebuilds.info is dedicated to pulling all the information together that can help people reconstruct their lives.

NTEN Member Online Round-Up: Post-NTC Style

Submitted by Annaliese on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 1:21pm

AdamNicholson's NTENny DisplayI'm composing this weekly round-up differently this week, for two reasons: 1) there's a LOT of buzz in the blog- and twitter-spheres from and about NTEN members because of last week's conference, so I'll be truncating the summaries; and 2) I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts about the conference and the NTEN community -- and thank everyone for the great experience.

First up, here's an abbreviated round-up of the 08NTC-related posts from members:

The New Orleans Renaissance

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 1:02pm

Laura B. Crochet, LANO New Orleans

On August 28th, 2005, we had a cool city, an alive, vibrant city. Then the lights went out, and it was the Dark Ages here.

In St. Bernard Parish, 25 feet of water in rose in 23 minutes -- not even the length of a sitcom. Slab houses bobbed like ice cubes along the street and floated down 3 blocks. Months later, the house's curtains are still in the windows, dancing; kids’ papers are still on the refrigerator. Like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, I had to touch those houses, because I had a hard time believing that a house had been picked up and sat down like that.

The only reason the community is going to come back is that nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, colleges, people like you, have come in.

2008 Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (MATC Awards)

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 3:42pm

And still more awards! From the press release:

The deadline for nominations for the 2008 Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (MATC Awards) is April 14, 2008. The MATC Awards consist of up to ten $50,000 or $100,000 prizes, which a receiving institution can use in a variety of ways to continue its technology leadership. The awards honor not-for-profit institutions that have demonstrated exemplary leadership in the development of open source software for one or more of the constituencies served by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: the arts and humanities in higher education; research libraries, museums; performing arts organizations; and conservation biology.

You can find more information at http://matc.mellon.org.

Vote in the "Make It Your Own" Awards

Submitted by Brett on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 12:01pm

The Case Foundation-sponsored "Make It Your Own Awards" just announced the 20 finalists.  In a sign that I'm not the only NPTechie who likes watching basketball, they even have a "Final Four" theme.

> Vote for your favorites

According to Rich D'Amato of the Case Foundation, "Make It Your Own is another of the Case Foundation's efforts to introduce the use of new technologies to NPOs, to do so by incentivizing the use of the technologies with grants, and to make the participation easy for them and for their supporters."

The 20 finalists have already won $10,000; the 4 finalists will receive additional funding.  And, in a cool, NCAA-pool-style twist, the first 10 voters who correctly identify the Final Four will receive $2,500 for their favorite charity.  They've even incentivized the vote!

The Flash-based site running the vote is pretty cool in itself, so go check it out and vote for your favorites today.  Voting will be open until April 22nd, 2008.

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 03/27/2008 - 7:50am

Flickr Photo: booskittyFlickr Photo: booskittyThe late, great Mr. Rogers has been asking us this question for decades now: "Who is in your neighborhood?" Though we have learned a great many lessons from our avuncular, becardiganed friend, the nonprofit sector is still struggling to master this one.

I think we all know, intuitively, that all donors are not the same. They engage with us for extremely personal reasons, and are inspired to continue their engagement for equally personal and diverse reasons.

Technology has come a long way in letting us customize our relationships with donors. Our donors can tell us what issues they care about, and how often they want to be contacted. With social media, we can let super-engaged donors participate in a variety of ways. We can provide financial and other administrative information easily to donors who value transparency and accountability.

But doing all of this, in any way, has always felt like finding that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. If every single donor has unique needs and expectations, how can we possibly keep up?

This week, Convio released a new white paper with Sea Change Strategies and Edge Research that provides a nice tidy framework for thinking about personalizing donor experiences.In " The Wired Wealthy: Using the Internet to Connect with Your Middle and Major Donors," the authors surveyed more than 3,000 donors who gave $1,000 or more in an 18th month period and had valid email addresses.

There are lots of really useful tidbits in the report, but I thought the most interesting piece was the result of the cluster analysis.

2008 NTC Session Materials

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 03/25/2008 - 3:58pm

Google Analytics tells us a lot of you are looking around for the session materials from the 2008 NTC -- and finding only 2007.  How dated!

So, where can you look? 

Not all of the session designers have turned in their final drafts yet, and even when they do, it's going to take us some time to get them all organized, uploaded, and linked up. The short answer, then, is come back soon.  We expect we'll be able to make the bulk of the materials available by the second week in April. We'll get the word out when everything's good to go.

In the meantime, we have uploaded the contents of the conference thumb drive to our web site, giving you access to most of what we've received so far. 

> View 2008 NTC Session Materials 

The final versions will be much more cleanly organized, we promise.