NTEN

Modernizing Nonprofits with Cloud Technology for Good

Karen Appleton Founder Box.org The pursuit of social change globally requires visionary thinking regarding a nonprofit's IT strategy. Now is the time to think about why and how.

Nonprofits and charitable organizations are solving some of the world’s most complex problems, including extreme poverty, humanitarian crises and environmental degradation. For nonprofits, charities, and global development organizations dedicated to helping others, access to technology should never be a hurdle or a limitation. The question these groups must ask themselves is: why is now the time to modernize (and, in some cases, develop) an IT strategy to help achieve both the long and short-term goals of the organization? 

NTEN Case Study: From Drupal to WordPress

After thinking and talking about it for a long time, this year we at NTEN are finally beginning a website overhaul and re-launch in earnest. After all, the nonprofit association for people working at the intersections of tech and social change should have a website to match that mission and vision. Follow along as we chronicle the joys and occasional headaches.

NTEN is excited to announce we will be working with Pongos Interactive to implement our new site. Pongos is a Wordpress development firm located in Maryland.

The decision to move from Drupal to WordPress was not taken lightly. NTEN has deep ties with the Drupal community and has been on the Drupal platform for years. However, while we plan to continue our support of the Drupal community as much as ever, we decided for our own website redesign that WordPress was the better option.

One of the primary factors behind this decision was our need to create a strong integration between our CRM (Abila's netFORUM) and our content management system. With WordPress, we were able to find an existing and fully tested integration that we could build on top of. With Drupal on the other hand, while building an integration was possible, it would have needed to be developed mostly from scratch, which would have been much more difficult and expensive.

Another factor that weighed heavily in this decision came up once we started analyzing our actual website needs. While Drupal still seems to have the edge in overall functionality, it turns out we don't really need any of those additional features, and in the end found that WordPress was more than capable of meeting our needs while at the same time being more accessible to our end users.

We are now in the planning stages of this rebuild and are looking for help from our community.

  • Website survey – we have a survey live on the site now. Please – we need to hear from you to be sure we are building the right thing!
  • Usability testing – we will be doing a lot of usability testing over the summer and early fall. Please contact Jessica (Jessica@nten.org) if you would be willing to participate.
  • Content Strategist – we are looking for a consultant to advise on content strategy and information architecture. More information is available here
  • Graphic Designer  - we are looking for a graphic designer for the website. More information is available here 

Read our previous blog post here.

Vote for your favorite 15NTC session ideas!

Planning to attend the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Austin, TX? We hope so—and we hope you’ll take a moment to vote for your favorite session proposals. The NTC agenda is created by the community, so your votes are critical for helping shape the program.  

Head to the voting page right now!

We create the NTC breakout session lineup by taking (at least) three factors into account:

  • the results of this public vote

  • the wisdom and guidance of our steering committee about critical topics, important issues, and sector-wide themes

  • staff perspective informed by session and overall conference evaluations from previous years

We received nearly 600 proposals this year (!) and can only accommodate a fraction of them, so please help us understand which ideas would be most valuable to you.

Here’s how to vote:

  1. Visit http://www.nten.org/ntc-session-list

  2. Browse sessions (they appear in a randomized order for each visitor)

  3. Click the vote icon on the righthand side of the page for the sessions you are most interested in seeing on the 15NTC agenda

  4. Voting ends on July 18, so please cast your votes now!

We want you to go back to work Monday morning after the conference equipped with new contacts, new ideas, and new energy to put technology to work for your organization and your mission. Help us understand which sessions are most valuable and interesting to you by voting today.

NTEN Visits Free Geek

Last week, during the quarterly staff retreat, NTEN staff toured Free Geek. Free Geek is a technology reuse, recycle, and education nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon. Several NTEN staff have been long-time supporters, and NTEN has always donated its old electronics to Free Geek. It was great to get out of the office together and see the good work being done with technology and nonprofits right here in Portland.

Free Geek accepts electronic waste of all kinds, refurbishes items that can be reused, and ethically and responsibly recycles items that have reached their end of life. Electronics that live to see another day are given back to the community or sold in Free Geek’s thrift store. Since 2000, Free Geek has given away over 16,000 computers to community members, nonprofits, social good groups, and schools. Free Geek keeps costs low and in line with its values by sending computers out with the free and open source Ubuntu operating system (rather than purchasing Windows licenses, for example).

With 500-600 active volunteers at any given time, it’s easy to understand that, not only does the community love this organization, but volunteers are key to the success of the mission. Volunteers help staff triage and test incoming electronics donations, then help tear down or rebuild components. There is no skill requirement for getting involved. Anyone can volunteer and learn how to build computers at Free Geek—and it shows in the diversity of their volunteer base. It’s not uncommon to see retirees working next to kids picking up new skills during school breaks or people in transition hoping to gain professional development. Free Geek also has a strong program for Spanish-speaking volunteers.

In addition to recycling and refurbishing technology, Free Geek provides a wealth of classes that are free and open to the public. Classes are developed and led by volunteers and range from basic computer literacy, social media 101, intro to programming concepts to sessions on HTML, CSS, WordPress, and Lego Robotics. (Lego Robotics!)

We enjoyed our visit to Free Geek and are excited to share it with the community!

#14LCS Facilitator Series: Meet Londell Jackson

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: Londell Jackson, a Facilitator for the Impact Leadership track.

As Director of Education and Programs with the Colorado Nonprofit Association, Londell Jackson serves as an adult educator and nonprofit administrator. As a professional of the Third Sector, he is active in this community through his work locally, statewide, and nationally. Londell has helped to further the work of Denver's workforce development professionals, Colorado's statewide nonprofit sector, the national LGBT movement, and the field of financial education. Currently, he is focusing his talents on the education of adult students both in study and practice.

If you register for #14LCS and opt for this track, you’ll join Londell, Elissa Perry, Beth Kanter, and John Kenyon 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 Londell on Twitter at @LondellJackson.

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

#14LCS Facilitator Series: Meet Elissa Perry

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: Elissa Perry, a Facilitator for the Impact Leadership track.

Elissa Perry is Program Catalyst for the Network Leadership Innovation Lab, a project os Management Assistance Group. She helps people and groups of people with a social justice mission get better at what they do. For over 20 years, she has worked as a staff member, board member, consultant, and coach with several individuals, organizations, and initiatives in the areas of leadership, youth development, and the arts.

Elissa also teaches in the Masters in Leadership Programs at Saint Mary’s College where she facilitates diverse, cross-sector, and multi-issue learning communities in developing and implementing leadership plans and practices and recently helped establish a Social Justice Concentration.

If you register for #14LCS and opt for this track, you’ll join Elissa, Londell Jackson, Beth Kanter, and John Kenyon 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 Management Assistance Group on Twitter at @mgmtassistance.

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

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