The Impact of the Oregon Nonprofit Technology Readiness Program: Taylor Smith

Last year, NTEN launched the first cohort for the new Oregon Nonprofit Tech Readiness (ONTR) program. This six-month program builds on the eight weeks of curriculum for the Nonprofit Technology Academy and extends with an additional four months of support for each organization’s chosen technology project.

You may find yourself asking questions like, “Who participates in this program with a mix of online and offline learning, and what did it mean for them?” We want to introduce you to Taylor Smith, Technical Services Manager for the Oregon Food Bank, to share his answers to these questions and a few more.

What was your biggest tech pet peeve going into the ONTR?

I always thought it was a lack of strategy surrounding technology projects, but I’ve since been able to clarify that it is actually the lack of objectives that cause me to pull my hair out. The strategy becomes much more tangible once everyone has agreed upon a clear set of objectives.

How is participating in the ONTR valuable to you?

Connecting outside of my workplace with peers who are facing similar challenges and engaging with thought leaders in the industry are most valuable to me. It goes way beyond reading an article or participating as an anonymous viewer of a webinar.

Tell us about your project.

My project is supporting the implementation of a new volunteer database (CiviCore), to be used by thousands of volunteers monthly, in addition to establishing an integration plan for “connecting” that new system with our existing fundraising database (The Raiser’s Edge).

What cool stuff are you up to that you’re excited about?

Besides the integration project mentioned above, we are also re-shaping the philosophy behind how our fundraising database is used by Oregon Food Bank. Rather than seeing it as a donation/transactional database which ultimately only supports the gift processing team, we are transforming it into a true fundraising database built around relationships. This means changes to how and where we enter gifts, redefining the acknowledgment and recognition process, as well as developing a complex, but not complicated, process for relationship management.

Have you had any “a-ha” moments with your project?

When developing a system for integrating or connecting two separate database systems, I’ve keyed into the concept that we will focus on fewer points of data that have to travel between systems and ensure we handle them very well (i.e., accurately, efficiently, timely, etc.) rather than being ambitious with the amount of data and only doing it poorly.

New Year’s tech resolutions for 2015?

Use the knowledge I’ve gained from the ONTR program and NTC to support our Marketing and Communication team with improved online engagement strategies. Specifically, I hope to go from a passive participant in these conversations to an active leader in relation to nonprofit technological tools.

Taylor Smith