News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Philadelphia Wireless Initiative: New Hurdles, New Opportunities

Submitted by Holly on Wed, 01/30/2008 - 9:06am

Flickr Photo: hykuFlickr Photo: hykuPhiladelphia has been at the fore of communities offering wireless internet access to their citizens. With 70% of the city now covered, it's arguably the showcase effort among major cities in the country.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia's CIO, Terry Phillis, announced yesterday that he expects Earthlink will pull out of Philadelphia by the end of the year, leaving the city to prepare for an uncertain future. Phillis told ComputerWorld:

"We consider [the Wi-Fi network] an asset for the city. Our priority is to get it completed, to service the digital divide, to enhance tourism and to serve mobile city workers. But I can't talk a lot about our plans" [if Earthlink leaves].

45 Minutes to PayPal Donations

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 01/29/2008 - 3:22pm

PayPal has released the PayPal Kit for Non-Profits, with the claim that qualified organizations -- essentially, you have to have 501(C)(3) status -- can set themselves up to accept donations through a PayPal Donate button in just 45 minutes.

They're also offering $50 to the first 1,000 eligible nonprofits that use the kit to generate $500 in donations by March 31st.

The "kit" isn't so much a kit as a page with links to:

  1. Set up your PayPal account
  2. Download the instructions for adding the donate button to your site
  3. Sign up for the $50 challenge

Their aim seems to be to get smaller organizations and individuals who are starting out with online fundraising campaigns started in a fast and simple way.

So, are their claims true? Can someone with just basic computer knowledge set up the donation widget in less than 45 minutes? If you've had the experience, tell us in comments, below.

Nonprofit IT Staffing: Where Does Your Org Stand?

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 01/29/2008 - 12:59pm

Staffing Information Technology is frequently a challenge for nonprofit organizations. Financial resources are typically limited, and hiring managers often feel overwhelmed and under-educated when it comes to IT. Determining where IT should fit into the organization, how many IT staff people are needed, and what those people should be spending their time doing can be difficult decisions.

In order to shed some light on these questions, NTEN and the Nonprofit Times teamed up to create the Nonprofit IT Staffing Survey. The results of this survey will be presented in three parts. The first report, "Nonprofit IT Staffing: Staffing Levels, Recruiting, Retention, and Outsourcing" focuses on the nature of IT staff and departments in nonprofits.

> Download the report for free!

NTEN Members Online Round-UP: NTC Buzz, Awards, Announcements, and Advice

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 10:54am

NTEN members are buzzing about the upcoming Nonprofit Technology Conference, and my favorite contributions include Deborah Finn's NTC wish list. Another list about the NTC comes from an unidentified NTEN member -- a list of favorite things about the NTC plus questions and reservations about the conference. I also have to give a shout-out to the LOLnptech blog for its comedic relief.

Everyone is invited to share their wish lists, reservations, and other conference buzz in the NTC08 Affinity Group.

In non-NTC news, NTEN member Social Solutions has been given a Future 50 award by Baltimore SmartCEO magazine. Social Solutions provides data tracking and reporting software and services to human services organizations (and provides a discount to NTEN members).

A couple of NTEN members were featured as important social media resources in an article from Global Voices. Beth Kanter and her contribution to Read Write Web, along with her own blog, are highlighted, along with TechSoup's definition of web 2.0 in the nonprofit context.

Social Signal, another organizational member of NTEN, is tackling the question of the ROI of social networking by kicking off a series of posts about how organizations can actually earn revenue with Web 2.0. I'm sure many organizations will be tuning in to this series. Be sure to note Alexandra Samuel's points for consideration, including public perception and tax regulations for nonprofits that generate revenue in this manner.

Finally, continuing her series of posts about open source tools for nonprofits, long-time NTEN member and new Board member Michelle Murrain discusses WordPress as an open source blogging tool: how it can be used and optimized for an organization's needs, and how its applications go beyond just blogging.

Applying Open Source and Web 2.0 Technology and Concepts to Physical World

Submitted by Annaliese on Mon, 01/28/2008 - 9:35am

Flikr photo by david_wilmotI just read this awesome article on CNET about Cameron Sinclair, winner of the 2006 TED Prize and founder of the Open Architecture Network. In their own words, OAN is " online, open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design."

By open source, they mean they compile, share, and then implement the ideas and resources of, well, everyone and anyone who contributes via their online network. What's amazing about this is that Sinclair and his organization have not only embraced the tools of Web 2.0 and open source development, but the concept, as well. And they've found a real-world application of it.

In a way, the physical blueprints of, say, an innovative design that can help save a village in Ecuador, have been open sourced.

Most of us in this community have talked about and implemented social networking tools to raise funds or build engagement for a campaign. We've created social change, but it's been somewhat abstract change. The OAN actually applies the tools and concept to change the planet's landscape physically.

From CNET's interview with Sinclair:

Things We Like

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 4:46pm
A monthly roundup of our favorite nonprofit tech resources. Read more posts on our blog.
  1. The CTC Vista Program, now matching volunteers with nonprofits. We liked Karl so much, we kept him!
  2. Qiq. Stream live video from your cell phone to your friends on Twitter or Facebook. But shouldn't it be pronounced "kick"?
  3. You can also personalize your cell with free endangered species ringtones from RareEarthTones. The Mexican gray wolf on my wife's phone never fails to freak out our cat.
  4. <horntoot>The free API Framework Report from Idealware and NTEN.</horntoot>
  5. Household Hacker. Turn your old PC into a space heater or charge your iPod with an onion and some sports drink. You know, for when you're lost in the desert with nothing but your iPod, Gatorade, and, um, an onion.
  6. Scrabulous. And not just because Hasbro's trying to shut them down.
  7. Sling Media. Rumor has it they're about to release an application to connect your home TV with your iPhone/iPod touch.
  8. Planet Hazard. Well done, but scary. Very scary.

How To: Put Technology to Use

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 01/25/2008 - 4:41pm
Your guide to resources that will help you put technology to work for your cause.

Prepare for the NTC

> First, register before January 15th to get the best price. Then you may want to book a room at the Sheraton New Orleans at our special rate.

> Now that we've gotten that out of the way, you should start thinking about what you're going to do at the NTC. Start with the agenda to figure out which sessions you can't miss. Learn about the Day of Service. Submit something to our video contest. Finally, brush up on your dance moves so you can impress on the floor during our After Party at New Orleans' legendary Tipatina's.

> And, of course, we will be in New Orleans. The NOMTC has a pretty nice web site, packed with tourist information, as does the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

> Some suggestions: Check out the Ellis Marsalis Quartet. Attend a basketball game (so the team doesn't have to move). Find culinary bliss at John Besh's August.

Map Your Data

> Google moves one step closer to making desktop applications obsolete with the release of the Google Chart API. The Wild Apricot blog offers a tutorial and a list of sites currently using the API.

> Last month, we mentioned that Many Eyes offered a visualization of the Mitchell report on steroid use in MLB. This month's cool mappings include "Average Time Spent Commuting by State" and "The 2007 International Privacy Ranking". Learn how to use Many Eyes yourself.

Use Twitter

> Nate Ritter recently blogged about "Using Twitter to Help Communities". More advice is sure to come from NTEN Member Britt Bravo's recent Net2ThinkTank query, "How Can Nonprofits Use Twitter? Should They Even Bother?"

> offers "5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good". You may also be curious how reporters use Twitter. More practially, you should visit VideoJug for advice on the actual basics of using Twitter.

Open Source Software: A Webinar Series from NTEN and NOSI

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 01/23/2008 - 4:40pm

NTEN and NOSI are collaborating on a webinar series on free and open source software. Have questions about implementing open source software? Wonder about how Joomla or CiviCRM worked? Want to hear about people who've implemented open source applications? Learn about these things and more from FOSS expert Michelle Murrain!

> Learn more and register today!

You can register for the entire series or for individual webinars. The first webinar, "The Key is the Community: How to Get Support for Open Source Software", will be held Tuesday, January 29th, at 11 am Pacific, 2 pm Eastern. One of the richest sources of support for any open source application, whether it be Firefox or Drupal, Linux or CiviCRM, is the community of users and developers that are involved. Learn about how to look at those communities when evaluating software to use, and get support from those communities when you need it.

Other series sessions include:

The series was designed and will be facilitated by Michelle Murrain, Coordinator of NOSI. There will be many guest presenters, all experts in their specific areas.

> Learn more and register today!

Getting Work Done: Free, Effective Online Tools for Volunteers, Boards, and Staff

Submitted by Brett on Tue, 01/22/2008 - 4:56pm

More and more people are online, yet few are taking advantage of free, effective tools to work together. These tools go beyond the entertainment value of social networks and allow your teams to be connected and productive, wherever they are. You can learn about some of these tools for free at the NTEN Product Spotlight Webinar, "Getting Work Done: Free, Effective Online Tools for Volunteers, Boards, and Staff".

> Learn more and register today!

In this session, we will show how these tools are easy for any online team member to use to:

  • Manage projects and get work done with boards, staff, and/or volunteers
  • Keep team members up-to-date about the status of work
  • Conduct virtual meetings

You will leave understanding how these tools can save your organization time and money while making it easier to get more people involved.

When: Wednesday, January 23rd, 11 am PT / 2 PM ET

Cost: Free!

Presented By: MyQuire

> Learn more and register today!

It's Just Too Big: Why Mobile Matters Now

Submitted by Holly on Fri, 01/18/2008 - 1:17pm

Repeat after me: "It's not a mobile phone, it's a mobile device."

It's not just the iPhone fanatics who are using their phones for much more than phone calls -- every day citizens are using their phones for email, music, texting, video, photos, and more. When is a phone more than a phone? When you can watch Jon Stewart on your lunch break.

The Detroit Free Press profiles some locals who are in love with their phones... I mean, devices. The stories are great, but what's impressive are some statistics from Verizon. From the article:

...the number of downloads of all kinds of new media - movie and TV clips, music, games, software and so on - jumped from 6 million in 2003 to 106 million recently.The company offers more than 300 games alone (up from 10 in 2002). And the other carriers show the same trends. People are starting to think of their phones as tiny entertainment devices, not just as a way to reach out and touch someone.

Do you have a mobile plan for your organization? You may want to start thinking about it. Check out MobileActive for some great resources.