Wrestling our way to data exploration greatness

Last week I met some rock stars of the data visualization world (yes, it’s true, there is such a world) at the Data Visualization Knowledge Summit hosted by Periscopic in Portland. The Summit featured a panel discussion with guest speakers: Alberto Cairo, Professor/Author; Kennedy Elliott, Web Developer, Washington Post; Scott Murray, Author/Coder; and Sarah Slobin, Visual Journalist, Wall Street Journal. Although this was a pretty wide-ranging discussion, they all had in common one thing: a high comfort level with uncertainty (not in the strictly statistical sense, however). That was the most inspiring and comforting thing of all.

Here at NTEN, I often get incredibly frustrated with getting a data set and spending what seems to be eons trying to figure out how to wrestle it into charts and graphs that make sense. But it seems that the ‘wrestling’ is actually a critical step in the process. These folks call it “data exploration.”  And no matter how much experience you have, the data will almost always yield something you didn’t expect.

Of course a good tool for exploration also makes life easier. And because my data exploration has heretofore involved a lot of four letter words, the bleeding ears of my office mates will welcome the entry of Tableau 8.2 into my world. I have yet to see a nicer tool for dragging and dropping my way to data insight. Hooks directly to Google Analytics! No programming needed! Results are pretty! And, for the growing league of data storytellers out there, it actually has ‘Story’ as one of the top menu options. Last, but not least, the Tableau Public version is free.  

The key takeaway from the Summit: Don’t zip through the data exploration step, and make sure to build time into the project plan to explore – this is precisely the part of the process that truly yields insight.

Our Website as Our Home Base

Amy Sample Ward CEO NTEN The internet might be everywhere, but where are you? Amy makes the case for making your website your digital home.

At NTEN, we're all over the Internet: we've got a community platform supporting online discussions and local events; microsites for both the Nonprofit Technology Conference and the Leading Change Summit; monthly email newsletters highlighting guest articles and new research on the blog; and social media profiles where we engage with the community regularly, including on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. For all this effort to create content and spark conversations, we won't be successful if our online presence didn't have a home. Our website is that home, and being a home is a difficult but important role.

8th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing and Investments Report

We are excited to release the 8th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing and Investments Report! This research provides valuable benchmarks to help you assess and plan your technology budgets and strategies, and considers the nonprofit sector as a whole to gauge the maturity and effectiveness of technology strategies and use.

With NTEN's theory of change in mind, this report examines technology staffing levels, technology budgets, and overall organizational approaches to technology decisions, as well as technology oversight and management practices. We have a number of key findings this year, including:

  • On average, our respondents have 4.4 technology-responsible staff
  • When looking at Per-Staff budgets, we see that Very Large organizations may be spending the same — or even less — than small organizations on technology
  • The median technology budget as a percentage of the organization's total operating budget, across all organization sizes in our survey, ranges from 1.4% to 2.0%
  • We continue to see a positive trend in terms of formally including technology in strategic plans, with 64% of all respondents indicating this practice

>> Download the full report!

To gather the data for this report, we rely on the generosity and participation of respondents who completed the survey, as well as the collaboration of sector partners who helped distribute the survey. Thank you to The NonProfit Times, Network for Good, TechSoup Global, Idealware, and NPower. We also offered survey respondents the chance to enter a drawing for an Amazon gift card. The winner, selected at random, is Gwen Campbell from People Serving People — ongrats, Gwen!

Five Things to Do Now to Enhance Your Nonprofit’s Website

Adam Hostetter Web Design & Development Lead American Technology Services Here's a listicle that breaks down some trends and can help you help your website produce greater impacts.

Website design and development is a moving target where little changes can make a huge difference to your nonprofit’s website performance over time. In the past few years, you’ve heard a lot about responsive/mobile websites and the use of videos/ graphics to make the content more user-friendly. A lot of that still holds true. Here are some additional trends for making your website produce greater impacts in the coming year.

Connecting Resources and People: a Journey from Website to Digital Strategy

Reggie Henry Chief Information Officer ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership From website to interactive content space and digital strategy hub: Reggie Henry from ASAE tells all.

Content-rich websites are resplendent with both opportunities and challenges. NTEN staff met up with Reggie Henry, CIO of ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership, to understand how their membership organization went about meeting the challenge of better connecting ASAE's online resources and information to the members who need and want specific content.

How to Have a Killer Online Donation Page

Leah Merrill Software Analyst Capterra A silky smooth donation page can make the difference between a gift from a new supporter and a missed opportunity.

For many organizations, their primary means of receiving donations is through their donation page.  For this reason, it is really important that you make sure that your page works well and is straightforward for your donors to navigate.  Here are a few tips on how to make your online donation page the best that it can be.

Our Website as Our Home Base

At NTEN, we're all over the Internet: we've got a community platform supporting online discussions and local events; microsites for both the Nonprofit Technology Conference and the Leading Change Summit; monthly email newsletters highlighting guest articles and new research on the blog; and social media profiles where we engage with the community regularly, including on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. For all this effort to create content and spark conversations, we won't be successful if our online presence didn't have a home. Our website is that home, and being a home is a difficult but important role.

It's not an easy job being the home for everything you do online. Here's what it means for NTEN.org:

Create the content we want.

When you treat your website as the starting place and the central aggregator of all that you do online, you have a go-to publishing platform. Length, style, graphics—you don't have any limitations on your website. You can create the content you want and then share or repurpose on other channels when it makes sense. While it's true that you'll only be able to share a single sentence on Twitter, you can always link to the full story on your site. You may push compelling pictures or infographics to Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, or Tumblr, but you can still link to the story behind those images on your website. 

Connect content and community.

Think about how you use the Web each day. In one moment, you may have a number of windows or tabs going at once, clicking on a link in a news story and then sharing it on a social network. You might then visit a friend's blog where she shares a list of articles she's come across lately. A moment later, you could be checking your email where you're pointed to various websites and social platforms. It can feel scattered. So don't think that your supporters know all the best places to find you and your content. NTEN's website helps us connect content with community so that wherever you found us, you can easily link back to the website and then click back out to the channel of your preference. 

Support diversity and longevity.

You've probably seen many different blog posts, infographics, and reports that show the various demographic make-ups of specific communities within the vast expanse of the internet. At NTEN, our online content is primarily created by and for our community: guest articles each month, features and case studies in the quarterly journal, and webinars and conference sessions designed and led by members. It doesn't make sense to think we'd be reaching the entire community if we only shared content or engaged with people on Twitter. Or LinkedIn. Or only on our blog. By using the website as the home base for all content—publishing in full there first—we are able to support and highlight the most diverse voices and ensure their content is searchable and findable much longer than a tweet.  

Content overdose.

Of course, there's always going to be thorns with the roses. In this case, creating and posting so much content means your home can get a bit messy. Or, hoarder-like, actually. You may have seen some of our recent posts talking about our website redesign and overhaul. A huge contributing factor and influence to our process is our website's role as our home base. We know we are a content-heavy organization, and the website has suffered because of our lack of features to ensure we are updating the content that should be updated while getting rid of or archiving content so it stops confusing visitors looking for the best resources they can find. We need to ensure that, while the website is the home base, we enforce some rules to keep it clean and welcoming for friends and new visitors. 

What role does your website serve for your organization? What other tips would you add to the list?

Apply for a Scholarship to the 2014 Leading Change Summit

NTEN is pleased to offer 12 scholarships to attend LCS with thanks to the support of TechSoup Global, who is generously providing 10 of these scholarships!

Scholarship covers the the cost of LCS registration (excluding travel and lodging) and they are available to nonprofit staff working in specific areas of the nonprofit sector. NTEN is happy to announce two scholarships for organizations in the following categories:

  • Arts
  • Digital Inclusion 
  • Domestic Violence 
  • Faith-Based 
  • Human Services 
  • Youth Development 

Eligibility requirements:

  1. Applicants must be an employee of a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission that includes programs in one of the above six categories. 
  2. Applicants must be able to describe a technology project or strategic goal related to technology that they plan to design and develop further at LCS and implement in their organization. 
  3. Following the LCS, applicants must be willing to be featured in an NTEN case study on how organizations are using technology to improve their work. 

>> Fill out the short online application for LCS scholarships today!

Applications must be received no later than Friday, August 1, 2014. Scholarship applications will be reviewed and scholarship recipients will be notified of acceptance no later than Friday, August 8, 2014.

Know someone who wants to participate in the new Leading Change Summit but doesn't have the budget? Please share this scholarship opportunity with them today!

So Fast Google Can’t Ignore You: Donations Optimized For SEO

Daniel Loftus Director of Integrated Marketing SOS Children’s Villages Canada Daniel Loftus shares how SOS Children’s Villages Canada put its website back on the SEO map, without adding any new content.

SOS Children’s Villages is a large international children’s charity helping orphaned and abandoned children in 133 countries around the world. SOS Children’s Villages Canada’s role is to raise funds in Canada to fund programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Dan Loftus shares how SOS Children’s Villages Canada put its website back on the SEO map, without adding any new content.

For a Successful Website Redesign Project, Focus on Outcomes First

Mark Reeves Founder Clearbold Here's a website design process guide for those weary of the by-the-seat-of-your-pants planning approach.

Every successful project starts with a solid plan. In my experience, solid planning can be attributed to two factors: Educating decision-makers and accurately setting expectations. 

The PB&J Principle: Managing expectations of data and how it flows to make an appetizing website

Chad Cappellman Digital Strategist Taoti Creative Whether it's making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or designing the architecture of a new website, attention to detail is critical, and clarity is king.

As it turns out, there's a whole lot of detail you need to include in preparing something as simple as PB&J. And all of my years of experience as a consumer of the product did little to prepare me for how to instruct others in how to best create it. I remembered this experience the other day when I sat down with one of our senior developers, Tim. We talked about the fundamental elements of a Drupal site, how they relate, and—most importantly—the order in which elements need to be determined.

Best Practices for a Crowded Online Donation Space

Kristen Gramigna Chief Marketing Officer BluePay A soup-to-nuts look at what nonprofits can do to feng shui their online donor experience.

Though seeking online donations can be an inefficient means to spread the word of your cause, it’s becoming increasingly crowded, making it difficult to capture the attention of those most likely to care about your message. Here are some best practices to implement into your fundraising efforts to cut through the clutter of a crowded online donation space.

The American Heart Association Harnesses the Power of Social Media Through Innovative Display

Tim Sae Koo CEO Tint No one puts The American Heart Association's website in a corner. Learn how a chapter of AHA took their online content on the road and to fundraising success.

This is a story of how the little ol’ Kansas City AHA branch thought out of the box to create an impactful social media display hub to complement their website that led to not only reaching their fundraising goal but caused their Heart & Stroke Walk to trend on Twitter for hours during an event. They harnessed the power of social media to reach their goals and surpass their expectations of how fruitful the digital world could be when brought to life. 

Top 5 reasons why you should attend the Leading Change Summit in San Francisco!

The Early Bird registration deadline for the 2014 Leading Change Summit has been extended to July 31st! Between now and July 31st, we're offering the lowest rates to you, our amazing community members!  Join NTEN as we launch this Summit on September 3-6 in San Francisco.

If you haven't registered yet, don't miss out. And if you needed more convincing, here are the top 5 reasons why you should attend the Leading Change Summit this September! 

  1. The magic factor. When nonprofit leaders and changemakers get together in one room, big things can happen: Ideas, shared learning, partnerships – the opportunities are endless. But how can you tap the potential and move your ideas forward when it’s over? The LCS experience is all about the movement from start to finish, from the opening plenary until the Idea Accelerator. Learn more about the LCS experience. 
  2. Because it gets lonely at the top. You give 100% every day at work, but sometimes you just have to step back from the day-to-day tasks and think big. LCS offers an imaginative space for you to work with like-minded professionals to explore ideas, concepts, and projects to take forward once you leave. Check out the three educational tracks we have to offer: Impact LeadershipDigital Strategy, and Future of Technology.
  3. We've got your back. The discussions are defined by the people in the room, but you don't have to wait until September 3rd to get started. Once you register and select a track, you can start networking with your track team through facilitated discussions online. We want you to maximize your time at LCS, so that's why we're hosting this free upcoming webinar on August 6th: How to Make the Most of the Leading Change Summit
  4. Our track facilitators & keynote speakers are truly remarkable. We're fortunate to have some of the brightest professionals in the room that will be there to support and inspire you. Check out the full lineup of track facilitators and keynote speakers
  5. It ends with a bang. The Idea Accelerator (IA) is our super-charged finale to help you get a jump-start on putting your ideas into action. Led by facilitators from LimeRed Studio, Emily Lonigro Boylan and Demetrio Cardona-Maguigad, the IA will be looking for new ideas for programs, products, apps, websites, online community platforms, or hybrid organizations - with prizes in store for the winner! As an LCS attendee, you are encouraged to bring your idea to the forefront. Learn more about the Idea Accelerator and criteria to submit an idea. 

Who should attend? 

After years of convening our Nonprofit Technology Conference for a wide nonprofit audience, we created the Leading Change Summit to offer an exclusive opportunity for nonprofit changemakers to access advanced level learning amongst peers in the nonprofit industry. We're looking for nonprofit changemakers that hold positions in (but not limited to): Executive Leadership, and Directors/Managers of Marketing & Communications, Fundraising, and IT. 

Register today! Visit the LCS website to register and view the agenda at-a-glance

Build your best website: a guide for non-profits

Laura Packard Partner PowerThru Consulting "Don’t let your site become a camel" and other tips for website redesign processes.

Time for a new website? Read this first if you plan to work with an outside web developer for a smooth and successful process and outcome.

The Maker Party is on! Join the global campaign to teach the web.

Maker PartyThe Maker Party starts today - and you’re invited to attend, no matter where you are in the world!

We’re excited to help spread the word about Mozilla’s Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, the Maker Party unites educators, organizations, and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

Similar to Mozilla, we share the belief that the web is a global public resource that’s an essential part of our modern life. Technology shapes how we learn, how we connect, and how we communicate, but not everyone has the basic skills and information they need to harness the power of the web. We want to give everyone the tools and resources they need to understand and effectively use web technologies. That’s why we’re supporting this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with the Maker Party.

Join the celebration by attending a Maker Party event in your local area. It's a great chance to improve your web know-how, participate in hands-on making experiences, and get together with others in your community. Or consider throwing a small Maker Party of your own - these resources provide everything you need to plan and promote your party.

The party is on and continues through September 15th. Take part in the global effort to learn and move beyond simply consuming the web to understanding and creating it, so it remains open and accessible to all.

Taking part in a Maker Party? Tell us about your experience and we may feature your story in NTEN's blog!

What Nonprofits Can Learn About Content Structure… from Pearl Jam

Brett Meyer Content Strategist ThinkShout You probably know at least some of their lyrics, but are you familiar with Pearl Jam's content structure? Go on a guided tour through the iconic band's websites for tips.

Pearl Jam have been posterboys for a lot of things, but probably not structured web content. Content strategists like to point to NPR’s Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) framework, to large media outlets, sometimes to the U.S. government – but given the breadth of coverage (and budgets) available to those entities, making the move to fully structured content may seem daunting in the nonprofit context. If Pearl Jam can do it, so can you.

#14LCS Facilitator Series: Meet Peter Campbell

If you register for NTEN’s first-ever Leading Change Summit this September (#14LCS), you’ll be asked to choose one of three tracks—Digital Strategy, The Future of Technology, or Impact Leadership—and you’ll spend quite a bit of time with your track-mates at the Summit.

That's why we're doing our best to recruit a remarkable group of facilitators to help shape your experience. Each track will have two Lead Facilitators and several additional Facilitators who will design spaces and lead small group conversations to make sure that every participant has the chance to both learn and share.

Today we want to introduce you to one of them: Peter Campbell, a Facilitator for the Future of Technology track.

Peter Campbell is currently the Chief Information Officer at Legal Services Corporation, America's partner for equal justice. Prior to serving at LSC, Peter spent five years as IT Director at Earthjustice, a non-profit law firm dedicated to defending the earth, and seven years serving as IT Director at Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo & Marin Counties, Inc. Peter has been managing technology for non-profits and law firms for over 20 years and has a broad knowledge of systems, email, and the web. In 2003, he won a "Top Technology Innovator" award from InfoWorld for developing a retail reporting system for Goodwill thrift. Peter's focus is on advancing communication, collaboration, and efficiency through creative use of the web and other technology platforms. 

Learn about Peter's thoughts about and excitement for the Future of Leadership track on his blog, Tech Cafeteria

If you register for #14LCS and opt for this track, you’ll join Peter, Tracy Kronzak, and Tanya Tarr to share your ideas, receive direct feedback, and reflect deeply about your current work or the plans you and your team hope to tackle.

You can follow Peter on Twitter at @peterscampbell.

And check out the full lineup of #14LCS speakers and facilitators!

Deena Pierott to Offer Keynote on Inclusive Technology at #14LCS

This September 3-6, NTEN will debut the Leading Change Summit. In addition to the conversations with participants in three separate tracks, #14LCS includes a stellar lineup of keynote speakers who will spark new conversations and nudge existing conversations to introduce new questions.

Today we’re excited to share that Deena Pierott, founder of the White House honored youth program called iUrban Teen Tech, will offer a keynote called Moving from Diversity to Inclusion: Changing landscapes of nonprofit technology.

iUrban Teen Tech has an intentional outreach to male youth of color and exposes them to STEM+Arts career opportunities. Deena believes in digital equity and inclusion and ways tech can drive economic development in more marginalized communities. She is also the founder of Mosaic Blueprint, a Pacific NW firm specializing in diversity consulting, nonprofit diversity recruiting, and multicultural branding. She recently created the Portland Metro Diversity Employment Network, which consists of Portland Metro Human Resource Managers and Corporate Recruiters who are creating a whole new model for diversity recruiting and on-boarding.

She has been featured in the following publications: Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise, Ebony Magazine, Deliver magazine, Neurology Now, the Chicago Tribune, NPR, and Working Mother Magazine.


You can follow Deena Pierott at @deenapierott.

And check out the full lineup of #14LCS speakers and facilitators!

Member Round Up: Game of Thrones and emergency response, diversity data, and an app to help connect youth with summer meals!

Here's what your fellow NTEN Members have been up to this summer! If you've got some happenings and news of your own to share, let us know and we'll feature it in an upcoming Member News Round Up!

  1. Trying to decide on an email service? Idealist Consulting has a new, free Email Service Providers Comparison Report, an in-depth comparison of 13 of the most common platforms.
  2. Congratulations to Community Technology Network (CTN), who won the Volunteer Center’s Excellence in Nonprofit Volunteer Management Award.
  3. What does "online engagement" really mean? Well, ModLab, in collaboration with Farra Trompeter of Big Duck, have a cool Online Engagement Spectrum visual resource to help you in your engagement efforts.
  4. Time to do some myth-busting on website performance! Join in Promet's upcoming webinar: Myth Busting Website Performance Truisms - Investigating Actual Performance Improvements of Popular ‘Fixes’, and learn more about how to properly & accurately load test, the fundamentals of capacity planning & performance tuning, and more.
  5. Wondering what goes through a Red Crosser's mind while watching "Game of Thrones"? Turns out, there's parallels in the fictional series to real-life emergency response.
  6. Open diversity data is an effort to make the diversity data collected by companies publicly available. Check out the companies who've made their diversity data transparent and open - and give a nudge to those who haven't done so yet.
  7. VolunteerMatch unveiled a new partnership with LinkedIn. Now every skilled volunteer opportunity posted on VolunteerMatch.org gets automatically posted to LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace, making it easier for nonprofits to recruit skilled volunteers and board members.
  8. Fundraising, social media, and mobile tech are all connected, and TechImpact has 14 stats showing why these three components are a fundamental part of nonprofit marketing.
  9. Registration is open for the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management Center's TechNow 2014 conference. This day-long conference is devoted to the latest technology trends and resources for nonprofits, and features NTEN Member, Beth Kanter, as the keynote speaker.
  10. Want to combat childhood hunger? There's an app for that! Caravan Studios, a project of TechSoup Global, created the Range app to help users find locations that serve summer meals to school aged youth.