NTEN

Recap: Community Organizing Tools from the Experts

As we all know, the nonprofit tech community is loaded with smart and thoughtful organizers who give their time and efforts to help the rest of us do the good work we do. We recognize NTEN’s 501 Tech Clubs (local in-person groups) and Communities of Practice (CoPs) (online affinity groups) organizers are one clever and innovative bunch! We learn new community organizing tips and tools from them all the time.

In honor of our August theme of "Tools," we invited several of our beloved Tech Club and CoP organizers to give short presentations about their favorite community organizing tools during the Community Organizing Tools from the Experts webinar on August 21.

CoP organizers Praan Misir (CommBuild) and Brett Ashley Crawford (Arts Nonprofits) and Tech Club organizers Regina Walton (SFTech4Good), Paula Jones (NCTech4Good), and Chad Leaman and Elijah van der Giessen (both from NetSquared Vancouver) took time out to deliver the presentation. The presentation slides have been uploaded to Slideshare.

This was one of our most interactive webinars - it was filled with community organizers, after all - the Twitter stream and chat channel were delightfully out of control! Check out the event Storify Praan put together.

Tools and processes covered included:

  • Build community and extend discussions beyond your online or in-person convening
    • Recap: Storify tweet chats and turn discussions into blog posts
    • Timing: Post recaps to your group as well as personal and organizational networks within a week to keep up the energy from the discussion

  • Workflow for sending personalized mass emails that will not be filtered into promotions tabs or deleted as junk, but rather drive event sign-ups
  • Text expansion utilities: We spend much of our days typing the same thing over and over, but a text expander app can remove the drudgery from your life and make you appear to be the fastest typist ever
  • Text Expansion Utility Tips
    • Start URL abbreviations with a comma: ,a = <a href="http://www.nten.org/"></a>
    • Prevent conflict with regular words by staring most abbreviations with a duplicate letter: Bbio = biography expansion snippet
    • Start with frequently used pieces of text like your email, address, phone number, etc.

  • Screencasting with Jing: Learn how to record presentations using the free tool Jing to share images and short videos of your computer screen
    • Capture an image
    • Record on-screen video (5 min max)
    • Various uses:
      • Screen shots for whitepapers, tutorials, and documentation
      • Staff/Volunteer on-boarding, training videos
      • Tip of the week
      • Embed video or images to your website, blog, social networks

  • Engagement with Twitter and Storify: Twitter chats present a great way to engage your supporters and volunteers in an accessible, consistent, and fun format. Storify lets you represent those conversations in a visual and dynamic format
    • When planning a Twitter chat
      • Scope out the landscape to see what’s already how there
      • Participate in other Twitter chats to see how it works
      • Use a management tool such as Tweetdeck
    • Storify
      • Sort posts chronologically
      • Highlight specific posts/comments
      • Establish miniature narratives within the overall structure
      • Provide commentary on specific posts and trends within the larger conversation
  • Collaborate from afar with Google Docs: Use Google Docs to create, share, and collaborate on event planning documents and more

Do you have any other tools to recommend? Leave a comment below! For more information, view the entire presentation on Slideshare, and event Storify

NTEN's Website Redesign: Survey results from the community

With NTEN's website re-design project underway, we took a step back and asked, "How do we know how our users use our site and what they want if we don't ask? So we turned to the NTEN community, as we will continue to do at various stages of the re-design process, for your candid feedback about the NTEN website. We conducted a website survey with about 80 respondents, and conducted some one-on-one interviews with eleven members of the NTEN community. Here's what you had to say.

First the good: While there’s definite improvements to be made, NTEN’s existing site does have clean appearance that is fairly simple to use.  As several users pointed out, keeping a clean, simple design should be key consideration in redesign so as not to detract from NTEN’s offerings. In general, people were able to conduct transactions (i.e. register for an event, renew their membership, etc.) with no problems, but it is a confusing, non-seamless transaction experience, both in terms of design interface and glitches in data sync between different systems. 

Lots of users find NTEN content to be of high-quality, but it needs to be presented in a design that’s easier to digest and more attractive as a place to return to more often. Many people shared that the community groups provide a lot of value for them, so we would do well to put more community-generated content throughout the main site and highlight community-contributed articles more prominently. Membership information is easy to find, but the benefits can be highlighted more, and this is another opportunity to bring in visual content and feature more Member Stories.

The not-so good: 

There's too much text. The biggest pet peeve users cited was that NTEN is very-text heavy and not very engaging. More visual content would make the site much more useable, appealing, and easy-to-read. As one respondent wrote, [the site] "does not reflect the fun, caring, social personality of NTEN and the NTEN community. It should be much more "human," much more "cool," and should point much more quickly and easily to the resources people need (research, tools, community for questions, etc)." 

The site is really hard to navigate. There's a lot of resources, but it's hard to find them, as the navigation drop-down menus aren't very intuitive, and the search function doesn't work well. Navigating across the different NTEN sites (myNTEN, myNTC, etc.) gets confusing and time-intensive.

NTEN.org is not very mobile-friendly. Responsive design needs to be a key piece of the re-design so the site renders clearly on any device.

One user summed it up well, "NTEN tries to be everything to everybody. As a result, the site is overwhelming with a lengthy homepage, text-heavy content, and long drop-down menus that aren’t particularly intuitive result. Consider nailing it down to 3-5 key highlights of NTEN’s offerings or calls to action that switch on a daily basis to show the diversity of content and be responsive to different audiences by giving users a more personalized experience."

Good Website Examples Suggested by Respondents:

  • New York Public Library uses an appealing block layout
  • Tu.org's personalized user experience on their homepage. Like NTEN, they serve multiple audiences (e.g. beginning, intermediate, advanced users).
  • Emilyslist.org and Care.org both have an attractive, clear presentation of information

Key feedback from our users we're prioritizing in our re-design:

  • Responsive design that is mobile friendly
  • Intutitive navigation and taxonomy
  • Robust search function
  • Clean, clear, and visually compelling layout
  • Community-centered design
  • Seamless user experience across all of NTEN's sites

Thanks to everyone who gave us their feedback. Read more about our progress and stay tuned for the next web re-design update!

Things We Like (August 2014)

A monthly roundup of our favorite nonprofit tech resources and other goodies. Read more posts on our blog.

  1. Three teens have created a police accountability app with tons of features as their awesome contribution to bringing We the People and government together.
  2. The White House’s Github — where, for example, code for the “We the People” petition site is housed — hit the 10,000 user mark earlier this month. The Administration apparently got so excited that they officially launched the US Digital Service.
  3. Now it’s your turn to get excited! May we suggest the Techsoup Storymakers 2014 as the object of your eager anticipation?
  4. We're pretty darned excited ourselves to be featured in @ModMarkGroup’s eBook, Get Social: The Ultimate Online Marketing Guide for Social Good.
  5. From “!” to “exclamation point,” you can use Text Expansion to save yourself hours of typing every week. It’s a truncatable way of having your cake and eating it, too.
  6. Apparently, you can also have your Legos and eat them, too.
  7. Ever have trouble meeting people at parties? Here’s an idea: bring your chocolate Lego collection to the Idealist Engagement Party as an icebreaker to go with the delicious cocktails!
  8. Because good web design should ensure a good user experience for everyone, including those on the other side of a few tasty drinks, some bright minds have created Drunk User Testing.
  9. Fashion hangover: Apple’s 1986 clothing line was a glorious trainwreck.
  10. If anyone tries to critique the way you look, you can always say something like, “The pixel-calculating machinations of facial recognition algorithms transformed my face into a mess of unremarkable pixels.”
  11. If Tolkien had drawn Yoda, here’s what he might have looked like. A slightly different universe than the one we know of as Star Wars.
  12. The digital world is changing our known universe, and Genevieve Bell can describe this in a way that only an anthropologist who works at Intel Labs can.
  13. Your cat pictures can describe a great deal about you, as evidenced by the creepily- and aptly named website iknowwhereyourcatlives.com.

How to Choose an Email Service Provider: Key Findings

Kirsten Kippen Marketing Manager Idealist Consulting "How is an organization to go about evaluating email service providers?" and other questions answered with key findings from a new report.

Although email is one of the oldest forms of digital communication, even highly technical users (looking at you, NTEN community!) continue to discuss the best tools for mass distribution and database integration. Marketing automation, CRM integration, and social listening are all common features of email service providers now, and it can be challenging to weigh the benefits of different solutions.

Crowdfunding: From Threat to Friend

Andy Hamflett Co-Founder and Director AAM Associates Crowdfunding, how much do we love thee? Let us count the ways (that nonprofits are using and leveraging crowdfunding as a fundraising tool)

There are a growing number of ways for nonprofits to take advantage of crowdfunding, to add an extra layer of resilience alongside more traditional fundraising. From starting basic crowdfunding campaigns to using existing donations as leverage, nonprofits are experimenting successfully. Funders, too, are beginning to investigate how they can nudge their grantees to make the most of the phenomenon. And rather than just using existing platforms, some nonprofit networks are even setting up their own crowdfunding sites.   

14LCS: Idea Accelerator Coaches & Judges Announced

The Leading Change Summit is just 12 days away. We're packing, preparing, designing, and more just to make sure this first Summit lives up to the NTEN community standards. This required us to start playing with some of the 14LCS thinking toys – we couldn't resist!  

Unlike the NTC, there's no live stream for this event. It's really important to have our attendees there in person – ideally from start to finish. Limited space remains; you can join either for the full Summit or snag an Idea Accelerator-only package for $40 that includes access to the Microsoft evening reception on Friday, September 5 and the full Idea Accelerator on Saturday, Sept. 6.

We've already introduced you to the Idea Accelerator designers, Emily Lonigro Boylan and Demetrio Cardona-Maguigad of LimeRed Studio. Now we're thrilled to share the names of our three judges and our first nine confirmed coaches for the Idea Accelerator:

Judges:

  • Deena Pierott, Founder and Chief Innovator, iUrban Teen    
  • James Rooney, Senior Manager, Microsoft's Technology for Good Program 
  • Sonya Watson, Advisor, Tides Foundation        

Coaches:

  • Britt Bravo, Big Vision Consultant, Big Vision Consulting; Senior Communications Manager, Rockwood Leadership Institute 
    Coaching topics: Social media, PR strategy, translating big visions into action steps
  • Katie Fritz, Principal, Katie M. Fritz, LLC
    Coaching topics: IT, technology and business systems, everyday operations, streamlining processes
  • Dahna Goldstein, Founder, PhilanTech 
    Coaching topics: Business models, product development, marketing strategy
  • Janet Liao Kornas, Account Director, Dawn Design Studios
    Coaching topics: Content strategy, digital marketing, nonprofit communications, project management
  • Emily Lonigro Boylan, Owner and Creative Director, LimeRed Studio
  • Coaching topics: Facilitation, design management, project management, content strategy, business development
  • Demetrio Cardona-Maguigad, Strategic Design Director, LimeRed Studio
    Coaching topics: User Experience design, communication design & strategy, social media & PR strategy, user research
  • Nam-ho Park, Managing Director, West Coast / Director of Mobile Services, Forum One
    Coaching topics: UX, information architecture, strategy, mobile
  • Erin Polgreen, Program Associate, The Media Consortium
    Coaching topics: Digital media, technology and innovation, trends, foundations
  • Dorothee Royal-Hedinger, Marketing Coordinator, Bioneers
    Coaching topics: Social media strategy, marketing, video

We'll announce more coaches and the prizes for the Idea Accelerator next week. Stay tuned! 

To learn more about the Idea Accelerator and how you can participate or attend, visit: http://mylcs.nten.org/eventdetails/accelerator

Note: If you are already registered for the full 14LCS, you do not need to register for the Idea Accelerator; access is included. We're excited to see you there!

The Six Simple Stages to Successful Campaign Planning

Michael Khoo SVP and Director of Digital Strategies Your concise guide to building a winnable campaign.

Are you looking to win support for an issue, impact policy, or get a corporation or government body to change its policies? Follow this roadmap to put successful campaign strategies in place.

Stay (Mission) Focused: A Simple Tool to Help You Save Time and Speed Up Your Organization

Jesse Flores Founder Startup Lansing Here's a simple and elegant way to cut out the cut-and-paste parts of your work life.

Most of us are both time- and budget-strapped. We want to stay focused on our mission, but, try as we may, it seems there is always more to do than there is time to do it. Yet, the people we serve and the funders who underwrite our efforts expect us to produce results. So, what's a time- and cash-strapped nonprofit to do? Here’s an answer: Automate time-consuming, but necessary processes using modern technology.

Raiders of the Lost Archives, or How I Made Volunteer Data Entry Fun

Lillian Karabaic Zine Librarian Independent Publishing Resource Center Is it possible to create an app that gets volunteers traveling across the country to enter data for a nonprofit?

The Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) supports Portland’s arts and writing community and curates North America’s largest zine library, a circulating archive of self-published and otherwise underground and rare publications. Our collection is well-known, diverse, and spans seven decades and over 60 languages.

As glorious as the zine library is, we have developed an enviable problem of scale.

Helping Cancer Research with "Play to Cure: Genes in Space"

Jennifer Ann Beswick Become a galactic legend and help further cancer research. Not a bad way to spend part of an evening, no?

Data analysis poses a tremendous challenge for scientists today. While technology has vastly expanded our capacity for collecting massive amounts of information, our ability to translate those mountains of data into practical knowledge has remained quite limited. Scientists at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) recently pioneered some innovative methods for expediting the quest for a cure. In fact, the results of CRUK’s 2013 GameJam were so impressive that the event may very well establish a radically new model for disease research — one in which the public plays a crucial role in the scientific process. Gamification has certainly reached new levels. At first glance, Play to Cure: Genes in Space might not appear to be a game designed to aid advances in cancer research. However, it is hoped that gamers will help scientists find vital new clues in the fight against cancer.

Four Things to Consider When Choosing a Learning Management System

Aaron Winters Director of Technology and Operations Peer Health Exchange If your mission includes an educational aspect, a learning management system could be your cup of tea, but which flavor is right for you?

With the rise in popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online learning technologies and practices have moved into the mainstream; nonprofits are building e-learning sites to expand service reach, improve service quality, and reduce training costs. Building an e-learning site entails pulling several systems and tools together to deliver a smooth online experience for learners. At the heart of an e-learning site is a learning management system, or LMS.

How to Pick the Best Tools for Your Organization: A case study

Grace Andrews Co-Founder, Director of Business Development GraphAlchemist With so many shiny tools to choose from, how can your organization choose which is/are best for you? Here are some questions to get you started.

When it comes to a term as broad as “tools,” understanding what an organization or individual’s goals are vital to identifying what to use. As a member of the tech community, I find that there are a tremendous amount of resources that people are not using in their toolkit. There is an array of affordable — and sometimes free — technical tools that can be leveraged for success. 

Case study update: NTEN's site re-launch

It’s summer here in the States, but we aren’t taking any vacations from our website relaunch project! We’ve been working away at this for a few months now and figured it was about time to send you a postcard.

Here’s a quick status update from our content team—inspired by the three daily scrum standup questions used in Agile development—about how things have been going and what’s next.

Progress made over the past six weeks:

  • Card sorting exercise at staff retreat. It was good for everyone to do this exercise in order to see and analyze the results, but also to refine the list of cards and approach when opening the exercise to the general community.
  • Community card sorting exercise. We are wrapping up the community card sorting exercise in August and will use the results to refine and inform the new information architecture of the site.
  • Content audit: We have started a content audit and have begun to feel overwhelmed by the amount of content currently available on the site. Not coincidentally, we have discovered a need for a content expiration strategy.
  • Dreamt: It’s not all a tired slog – we’ve been dreaming up some great features! Our IT Director Karl says he's most excited about "a streamlined profile creation and management process, clear engagement paths for site visitors, and a consistent and mobile friendly feel across our entire web presence."
  • Built our team: We hired a content strategist, Gwydion Suilebhan, to help us work through our many, many issues. And Philip Krayna, our long-time partner in design, will be aided in the graphic redesign by the brilliant design minds at Cornershop Creative. We're very excited to have their help!

What we plan to do by mid-September:

  • Finish content audit and have our plan for archiving/migrating
  • Send our proposed site architecture to designers for use in wireframing/usability validation

Possible roadblocks:

  • With over 8,000 pieces of content, the biggest challenge we're staring down right now is how to manage that content audit.

While this has been happening, our community feedback team has invested lots of time in surveys and interviews. We'll have an update from them soon. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who responded to our RFP and participated in the card sorting exercise and survey. We can’t wait to launch this and appreciate your interest in this process. Happy August!

Multiple Platform Social Media Strategies: Recap from #StateandMain14

Last week I got to attend the National Alliance for Media and Culture (NAMAC) and Alliance for Community Media (ACM)'s first-ever joint National Conference: State and Main 2014 (#StateMain14) in Philadelphia, PA. The beautiful murals you'll find throughout the streets of Philadelphia provided a perfect backdrop for this gathering of nonprofit arts professionals.

I took part in the panel: Multiple Platform Social Media Strategies, which explored ways nonprofits can use social media more effectively, and sought to answer the proverbial question: "If a tree falls in the social media forest, how can you make sure anyone hears it?"

NTEN Member and Social Media Strategist, Lyndal Cairns, moderated the panel, and helped put together this blog post. In addition, we were joined by fellow panelists, Felicia Pride, Pride Collaborative, and Nickey Robare, St. Paul Neighborhood Network.

Each panelist explained how they used social media to further their mission and then shared their experience with finding and telling their organizations' stories, goal-setting, and developing strategies for engagement. We explained the differences between networks and the communities that reside there, how to develop your organizations' "voice," and how to turn social media interest into ticket sales and donations.

The best part was the input we received from attendees about tools to help social media managers get organized and develop content without straying from their mission. Some of the tools highlighted include:

Content curation

  • Feedly: a news aggregation app that pulls feeds from news sites and social media.
  • Evernote: a note-taking app and program that helps you "remember" and categorize links and notes.
  • FlipBoard: a content curator that brings you content based on your interests with a newspaper look and feel.
  • Storify: a content curation tool that allows you to create a timeline of social media posts, video, slide decks, and other online media.
  • NTEN Member, Beth Kanter, has a primer on content curation that's a useful guide for getting started.

Community engagement

  • Attentive.ly: a social relationship manager, which links with a constituent relationship manager (CRM) to track and target messages to social media "champions" and prospective donors.
  • Sprout Social: a social media management software that gives high-end monitoring and reporting services, as well as incorporating some CRM features so managers can identify and write notes on social media engagers and assign project management tasks.
  • Mobile Commons: a platform that helps nonprofits reach their communities through text message.
  • If This, Then That: a task management tool to automate program processes like sending social media posts, creating lists, and staying on top of tasks.

Policies

And it wouldn't be a social media panel without social media from the social media panel (how very meta)! Check out the Storify from Lyndal highlighting the social posts from our session.

Do you have tools to recommend? Add them to this list by posting in the comments!

Also, if you're a NAMAC or AMC member, don't forget to take advantage of your NTEN benefits! Learn more on the NAMAC or ACM partner page. 

How to Avoid Choosing the Wrong Board Portal

Adam Roth CEO StreamLink Software Find your portal to better Board engagement.

Inefficient nonprofit boards lead to disengaged board members. Combine that with the weighty responsibilities of board members—which include rallying community support, spearheading fundraising efforts, and bringing invaluable strategic consult to the table—and low board engagement can put your organization’s future in jeopardy. Many nonprofits are turning to board portals to remedy low board engagement. 

10 Extra Scholarships Available for 14LCS in San Francisco

Just when you thought you missed the boat, here's your second chance!

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Event360, we now have 10 extra scholarships available for individuals interested in attending the 2014 Leading Change Summit this September 3-6.

The deadline to apply is next Friday, August 22, but scholarship applications will be reviewed and awarded on a rolling basis, so apply as soon as possible. Note: These scholarships cover the the cost of LCS registration, but excludes travel and lodging.

 

Eligibility Requirements
The eligibility requirements are a bit different from the 10 scholarships provided by TechSoup Global, so please review before applying. 

  1. Applicants must be an employee of a 501(c)(3) organization in North America.
  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.

To apply, visit the LCS Scholarships page on the 14LCS website. 

And while you're at it, Tweet your thanks to Event360 and TechSoup Global on Twitter: @Event360 & @TechSoup.

Mobile Fundraising: Why aren’t we there yet?

Richard McPherson Fundraising Consultant McPherson Advisor If mobile devices are becoming consumers’ Swiss Army Knife, why aren’t we raising more money with them?

Your mobile phone is probably within arm’s reach right now. And it’s probably on. Like everyone else on the planet, you probably use your phone to go online, make reservations, listen to music, take pictures, refer to maps, access social networks, text, and occasionally even make a phone call. Mobile devices are fast becoming our all-purpose, constant companions. So why isn’t money pouring into nonprofits through mobile phones?

Work-Life Balance Tool: Intentional Airplane Mode

Sharon Price Senior Fellowship Manager Rockwood Leadership Institute The joys of "airplane mode," or how to begin reducing distractions and instead allow focus to thrive.

I love being on planes because my beloved cell phone gets turned completely off, or put into “airplane mode.” I am rarely more than a foot away from my phone, so there’s something about airplane mode that I find liberating—not “having” to respond to anyone or anything. With my phone off, I can’t obsessively hit the sync button to check for new emails or texts. I feel free. I feel less anxiety. I feel less stress. I feel happier. As I turned my phone back on after a recent trip, I asked myself, what would life be like with my phone in airplane mode? 

Le Web, C’Est Moi

Alan Rosenblatt Director of Digital Strategy turner4d What do words and phrases like Webmaker, Maker Parties, and Thimble have in common? They are keys to web literacy and innovation.

The Web is fundamentally the creation of the people that use it. Almost everyone contributes to it in some manner. Certainly, people coding applications and websites are creating the web, but that is merely the tip of the iceberg. What makes even the most elaborate coding effort worthwhile is the content people share on the web and the communities people build around it. There are many organizations fueling the maker movement and teaching web literacy. The Mozilla Foundation’s Webmaker project is doing both.

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