News from the NTEN Connect Blog

Can We Talk? New Report Shows Nonprofits How to Get Systems to Communicate in an Era of Data Portability

Submitted by Holly on Thu, 01/17/2008 - 10:49am

How much time do you spend juggling data from one application to another? If you're like most nonprofits, the answer is too much. That's why we're pleased to announce the official release of a new report from Idealware and NTEN, "Getting Your Systems Talking: A Framework to Evaluate APIs and Data Exchange Features".

> Download the report for free!

“Getting Your Systems Talking: A Framework to Evaluate APIs and Data Exchange Features” is a new guide to data portability. The guide is available at and includes a comprehensive report and evaluation worksheet. While the problem of data portability has been clear for some time, solutions were in short supply – until now.

Giving Challenges: Children's National Medical Center, Part 2

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 4:41pm

[Ed. Note: As you probably know, the Case Foundation, together with Facebook Causes and Parade magazine, is going to award $750,000 to charity. To help illuminate the process and generate discussion and ideas, the NTEN Connect Blog will be posting occasional updates from actual participants in the Challenges. You may want to read Mark's first post.]

Mark Miller, Children's National Medical Center

Watching the Facebook and Parade challenges unfold has been fascinating.  Because we are doing very well in the Parade challenge, winning that one has become our main focus.  In fact, we have had some success using Facebook to drive people to our charity badge for the Parade challenge.

Last I checked, our charity badge, featuring Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, was a donation or two out of the top 10 leaders.  Among nonprofits focused on children or children’s health, we are first. (I have a dog and generally like animals, but I have to wonder if the current trend will hold up -- three of the top four leaders are nonprofits looking out for our furry friends.)

We’re picking up steam, thanks in part to the Washington Capitals, who have really gotten behind this challenge. They created an ad for their homepage, featured the campaign in their online newsletter, and helped us reach out to bloggers – whose support I can’t say enough about. And owner Ted Leonsis promoted it in his blog.

A few lessons:

The Wonderful World of RSS

Submitted by Holly on Tue, 01/15/2008 - 12:08pm

Yesterday was our first 501TechClub brown bag lunch here in Portland. It was pretty wet outside, so we were pretty glad folks showed up to hear the fabulous MarshallK talk about the many fantabulous uses of RSS for nonprofits.

The notes don't do his talk justice, but here they are anyway:

2008 NTC VIdeo Contest: Get Your Video On!

Submitted by Holly on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 5:29pm

Video ContestNTEN and See3 are once again hosting a video contest as part of the NTC. The 2nd Annual DoGooderTV Nonprofit Video Awards is underway, and nonprofits can submit their videos now!

The theme of this year's contest is From the Ground Up: Using Technology to Engage Constituents and Make the World a Better Place. The goal of the contest is to highlight the work of nonprofit organizations and to spread the word about the creative ways they employ media to bring about social change.

Last year's winner, "Stop the Clash of Civilizations" from Avaaz,  received a standing ovation when played at the conference.

Entries will be accepted until February 15, 2008, at which time finalists will be determined. The finalists will be shown on beginning March 1, 2008; individuals will be able to vote on their favorite entry through March 20, 2008. For complete contest rules and to submit or view videos, see:

Of Mutiny and Direct Mail

Submitted by Holly on Mon, 01/14/2008 - 11:56am

Flickr Photo: mwboeckmannThe Chronicle of Philanthropy ran a provocatively titled piece last Friday: Is Direct Mail Dead? Kudos to them for two things:

1. They correctly identify that simply switching to email fundraising isn't much of a strategy shift. Email IS direct mail in all but name and processed trees.

2. They quote Seth Godin in the story.  Seth's one of my favorite daily reads. He hits it out of the park when he says that the times have changed and nonprofits need to rethink how they raise funds:

“It means opening yourself up to volunteers, encouraging them to network, to connect with each other, and yes, even to mutiny. It means giving every one of your professionals a blog and the freedom to use it. It means mixing it up with volunteers, so they have something truly at stake,” Mr. Godin writes. “This is understandably scary for many nonprofits, but I’m not so sure you have a choice.”

Nonprofit FutureTech

Submitted by Brett on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 5:19pm

John Kenyon, Nonprofit Technology Specialist

In her recent report for the Overbrook Foundation, Allison Fine quotes a grantee who expresses what many think about emerging Web 2.0 tools: "I think I'm missing something really big, but I don’t know what it is or how to find out what it is." If you or your colleagues feel the same way, take heart.

Every day, organizations find new ways to bring their stories to life through digital media and the internet. There is brave new world emerging where users generate content. New ways of engaging and interacting with information are being created, new communities are being formed based on personal interests and affiliations, and digital media is being used to tell stories.

The ROI of Social Media

Submitted by Brett on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 4:55pm

Beth Kanter, Social Media Guru

Over the past year, as more and more nonprofits have figured out how to integrate social networking and social media tools into their communications strategies, the question has remained: Do these tools and strategies really help nonprofits reach outcomes? While many of the tools are free, we still need to ask, "What's the value (ROI) of investing our time?"

Let me begin with some basic definitions from Social Media gurus:

NTEN Members Online Round-Up: It's About Getting Together!

Submitted by Annaliese on Sun, 01/13/2008 - 11:00am

In looking over the news and activity of NTEN members online this week, the theme seems to be: Let's get together to make more happen.

First up, we've got an update from long-time and very active NTEN member Norman Reiss about his participation at the Aspiration-Idealware -- both long-time NTEN supporting organizations -- Managing Nonprofit Technology Projects seminar in New York. From what I've heard online and in the Twitt-o-sphere, the first conference from these folks on this topic went well, with a nice turn out of nonprofit techies from all over, including from across the pond.

Speaking of friends from Europe, NTEN members LASA and the ICT Hub are getting ready for a gathering of their own, the 2008 National Circuit Riders Conference, in Birmingham, England next month.

There's news of another gathering in NYC coming soon: the "Software Smackdown", the first meetup of 2008 for New York's NTEN 501 Tech Club, organized by the club's new cruise director, Charles Lenchner.

Giving Challenges: Atlas Service Corps, Part 3

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 4:32pm

[Ed. Note: As you probably know, the Case Foundation, together with Facebook Causes and Parade magazine, is going to award $750,000 to charity. To help illuminate the process and generate discussion and ideas, the NTEN Connect Blog will be posting occasional updates from actual participants in the Challenges.]

Scott Beale, Atlas Service Corps (Atlas Corps)

With three weeks to go in America's Giving Challenge, the competition is heating up and we have a real race on our hands. We are in a tight race for first place with two other organizations. The prognosis: we are in a strong position to finish in the top four and win $50,000, but we have our work cut out for us to win the competition out-right. Nothing is certain in this kind of contest.