Mobile 101: How your nonprofit can harness the power of mobile

Darian Rodriguez Heyman Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer BetterWorld Wireless Mobile is a critical tool for social change: How can nonprofits harness its potential to meet their mission?

According to statistics, there are 3.5 billion toothbrushes on the planet, but 4 billion cell phones.  And we’re addicted to these devices: 58% of smartphone users can’t go an hour without checking their phone, and 91% have it within arms reach 24/7. How can nonprofits harness the potential of the most popular tool in history for social change?

#14NTC Round-Up: Your Takeaways

The Power of Tech in Advocacy & Organizing14NTC: We came, we tweeted, we played with Legos. And then we took a long nap!

NTEN staff has finally recovered and we are positively overwhelmed with all the blog posts, videos, pictures, and other instances of the 14NTC celebration from the nonprofit technology community. Relive the conference experience and learn from many of the 2,120 attendees through this content round-up!

Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments. Also, check out the #14NTC Twitter hashtag and #14NTC community discussion forum.

Session Materials

Blog Posts

Media Articles



11 Nonprofit Professionals Share Social Media and Technology Advice for Nonprofits via Instagram Video, Nonprofit Tech for Good


14NTC Photos, Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography


Applications for the Nonprofit Tech Academy are due April 8

We still have a few slots available in our Nonprofit Tech Academy for spring 2014, but the application deadline is fast approaching.

Does the following sound good to you?

  • The chance to learn from and interact with dynamic and engaging faculty members, including Steve Heye of The Cara Program, Cheryl Contee of Fission Strategy, and Amy Sample Ward of NTEN
  • Weekly classes and a private online group where you can build your community of fellow nonprofiteers leveraging technology to create positive change
  • An intensive eight-week program that carves out space for you to dedicate brain power and time to a project or plan to ensure your organization is effectively using tech to meet your mission

If so, learn more and apply by April 8!

Thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we're able to offer the Nonprofit Tech Academy at no charge to qualifying organizations.

Here are the themes for the eight-weeks of the course: 

  • Week 1: IT Planning, Budgeting, & Implementation
  • Week 2: Managing Technology Change
  • Week 3: Information Management Systems
  • Week 4: Tech Project Planning and Technology Staffing
  • Week 5: Effective Internet Presence: Creating Your Online Strategy
  • Week 6: Social Media Strategy
  • Week 7: Tech ROI and the Future of Technology in Your Organization 
  • Week 8: Presentations of Final Projects

A participant in an earlier Academy said:

I thoroughly enjoyed the Academy and learned more than I imagined. I was very impressed with the caliber of experts and the diversity of presenters. I was initially very timid, because my knowledge base was low, but feel much more adept as a result of the Academy. Many, many thanks! I would highly recommend it to others!

We have limited space available in the upcoming class. Participants will be selected based on the guidelines and their commitment to full participation. To be considered, apply by Tuesday, April 8. If you have any question, send me an email!

Register for the 2014 Independent Sector Conference in Seattle, November 16-18

NTEN is proud to partner with  Independent Sector (IS) to bring its 2014 National Conference to Seattle this November 16-18. Last year’s conference in New York gathered more than 1,200 nonprofit professionals, including more than 400 nonprofit chief executives.

At the 2014 National Conference in Seattle, you’ll find plenary programs featuring thought leaders from the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, alongside breakout sessions that will zero in on the most complex questions of our day. With pre-conference sessions targeted to emerging leaders and policy pros, and a full conference roster of content for professionals and executives across the nonprofit and philanthropic community, the IS Conference will arm nonprofit leaders with the knowledge and connections they need to work toward the greater good in the Pacific Northwest, across the country, and around the world.

Online registration for the conference launched today, and as part of the NTEN Community, you are entitled to receive discounted registration rates. When registering, please use the following code to receive your member partner discount:

  • Independent Sector Conference 2014: November 16-18
    Discount code (save $350): NPartnerNTEN    
  • Public Policy Action Institute Pre-Conference: November 15-16
    Discount code (save $150): NPPAINTEN
  • NGEN Pre-conference: November 15-16 
    Discount code (save $100): NNGENNTEN    

To learn more, visit the conference website or contact Liz Culkin at Lizc@independentsector.org.  You can view registration rates, a tentative schedule, and see more about this year’s and past conferences.

#SXSWGood: Articles from NTEN on SXSW Social Good Sessions

NTEN Marketing & Publications Director, Joleen Ong (@joleendearest) and I (@penguinasana) attended SXSW on March 7-11 and reported for the Nonprofit Times. Not only did we get to take part in a number of social good sessions, we also got to hang out in the Beacon Lounge, a social space for conversations and connections with other folks interested in social change work. At the Lounge, we got to hear from an inspiring line-up of speakers that were part of the Do Good Dialogues, and chat with many folks from the nonprofit sector, including several NTEN Members!

You can find out more about the social good action at SXSW by checking out our articles in the Nonprofit Times:

Were you at SXSW this year? We’d love to hear about your experience. Tweet us and let us know! 

Free Wireless Internet for a Year: Take Part in Mobile Citizen’s “Enabling Programs and Results” Campaign

Interested in free wireless Internet for a year for your nonprofit? Mobile Citizen is looking for a few NTEN Members to participate in their Enabling Programs & Results case study campaign!

Nonprofits selected to participate in the campaign will receive one free wireless Internet account and modem for one year.  Over the course of the year, Mobile Citizen will work with the nonprofit to document experiences and results, seeing how wireless Internet helped the organization improve efficiency, productivity, communications, or their ability to provide community outreach. Case studies will be promoted on Mobile Citizen and NTEN’s website as well as included in a webinar later in the year. 

To nominate your organization for the campaign, and to learn more about how nonprofits across the country are already leveraging wireless Internet, go to: mobilecitizen.org/ntenfriends. Deadline for nominations is April 30. 

Also, don’t miss our upcoming webinar on April 22: Leaders Leveraging Wireless: 10 Ways to Lead by Leaving Your Desk. Michelle Warner, Director of Mobile Citizen, will challenge your thinking on ways to leverage wireless technology in each area. Attendees will learn 10 concrete examples, and specific best practices and success stories from nonprofits around the country.  

The 13th Issue of NTEN: Change is Out - "Competitive & Innovative Nonprofits"

When the words of our quarterly theme, “innovative and competitive” come to mind, I think about what we can learn from farmers.

To enjoy the fruits of our labor, we need to be flexible and responsive to external conditions, and have the patience to see it through to harvest. You can’t rush nature, but you can set yourself up for success.

The articles in the March issue of the NTEN: Change journal capture stories of nonprofits in transition; they’re transforming from one stage to another, using technology to fuel their campaigns, initiatives, and to optimize their day-to-day work.

>>Read the March 2014 issue! (online or mobile device)
>>Download the PDF version (12.6 MB)

Here's a quick snapshot of what's in this issue:

We also go behind the scenes with Ask Big Questions and Text, Talk, and Act, and Bonnie McEwan explores the campaign tactics behind PETA’s campaign against SeaWorld.  We converse with the team from the Ashoka Empathy Intiative and DataKind demonstrates how data can, in fact, save lives.

Plus, check out 15 Minutes to Better Website SEO, and the NTEN Voices section: community tweets, our transition to become a community-driven organization, sustainability, and more!

>>Enjoy, and subscribe! The NTEN: Change publication, designed especially for busy nonprofit executive directors, departmental directors, boards, and other leadership staff, is free and ready to download!

True to its name, the Change journal is changing. We’re proud to welcome new Editorial Committee members, and introduce Ashley Paulisick, the artist behind the cover painting. Look inside to learn the story behind the cover portrait, a tribute to Juanita Baltodano, President of the APPTA Fair Trade cacao and banana cooperative in Costa Rica. She is the real farmer that brought inspiration to this issue – even age-old farming practices can be revitalized for broader community impact.

Interview with NTEN's Community Program Coordinator

NTEN's newest team member, Bethany, is focused on our community programs, including the Communities of Practice and Tech Clubs. This month's theme is building community, on and offline - a perfect time to interview Bethany about her inspiration for working in nonprofit technology and more!

1. How did you first become involved with the NTEN community?

I don’t love the term “accidental techie” but I certainly didn’t start my career with the notion that technology would end up playing such a large part in my work. Like a lot of us, I got labeled the go-to geek simply because I was good at formatting in Word and laughed at the “It’s a UNIX system…” line in Jurassic Park. Being good at Excel formulas led to being good at SQL. Being able to clean up HTML led to successful fiddlings with CMSs and CRMs.

I started down this road out of necessity, out of “not it!” I continued because I appreciated the efficiency and effectiveness tech could bring my organizations. I keep at it because there are so many ridiculously interesting things to learn and problems to solve. Recent tech adventures include things like soldering and learning how to code with mentorship groups like the PyLadies. Tech lets me be creative.

I discovered NTEN and the nptech community about four years ago. It was like looking around and realizing, not only is there an entire buzzing ecosystem right under my nose, but it has been there the whole time!

I got involved with Oregon’s 501 Tech Club/Net2 Local Group PDXTech4Good shortly after I moved to Portland. Of course I cared about nptech, but I was new to town and wanted a way to find my place in the local community. Let me tell you: nothing brings an excited-but-shy person out of their shell quicker than having a role to play! This has been my favorite volunteer commitment by far. There are always new things to learn, people to chat with, and snacks to eat! And, co-organizer Ivan Boothe is an excellent role model and all-around Awesome Dude.

2. What are some of the lessons you've learned as a 501 Tech Club organizer?

Be gracious and have fun! As all-volunteer groups we have to take extra care to remember to appreciate and steward each other.

Don’t forget to build community within the organizing group. Don’t focus on tools! We know this. We teach this. But PDXTech4Good totally forgot this while planning last year’s November Thanks4Good community celebration. This was a neat event where we attempted to raise money for local organizers which use tech in neat ways. We accidentally got so caught up in how we’d collect money, for example, that we neglected to think about the strategy for getting donations in the first place. It wasn’t a total failure--we did raise some funds for our community--but we didn’t make it easy. Never forget to practice what we preach.

3. If you had to name one piece of advice for nonprofits about managing their online communities, what would you suggest?

Be real. Always go for the personal touch.

I used to help teach social media classes at Portland’s tech reuse and education nonprofit, Free Geek. In my curriculum I often used a screenshot of NTEN’s Twitter bio which notes the staff behind the account as a great example of showing the humans behind the brand. I tend to be pretty personal and casual in my outreach and communications and appreciate these qualities from others. I’m human and occasionally fall down the stairs and make typoes [sic]. I like cats AND I like nptech. I know being so open doesn’t work for everyone and all communities but, from my experience, I’ve been able to connect more easily by showing I am multi-faceted. Personal, direct emails and comments from personal accounts go a long way. Hand-written cards = golden.

4. What are you most excited about as you transition into your new role on staff?

I deeply value the support NTEN and TechSoup staff have given me as a Tech Club leader and am particularly excited for the opportunity to support other Tech Clubs, Communities of Practice, and other nonprofit nerds like me.

It’s particularly awesome that our community doesn’t just get excited--we take action. There are so many new groups developing in the post-NTC excitement! I’m particularly excited about the soon to be launched Women in Nonprofit Tech group. There also have been rumblings about community members potentially starting a Diversity and Inclusion-related group. These topics are near and dear to my heart and I am stoked to help our community do the good work we do.

I am so fortunate that as an NTEN staff member, I get to work with the community rather than simply work for the community. I’m really happy to be here! Let’s chat: bethany@nten.org.

Reflections on 14NTC: Technology Experimentation and the Ad Hoc Open Source Society

Craig Sinclair Digital Media Manager Manhattan Neighborhood Network In the true spirit of collaboration, NTC attendees collectively stewarded an ad hoc open source society. Craig Sinclair reflects on his experience, why he supports the open source movement, and shares examples of open venues for experimentation.

Technological experimentation is often costly, and most nonprofits simply don’t have the budget for it. Following his Ignite presentation at the 14NTC, Craig Sinclair reflects on the ad hoc open source society that formed, and open venues start experimenting. 

SXSW: Do Good Dialogues on Social Change

This blog post originally appeared as an article on the Nonprofit Times’ website. Read the full article here

With more than 35,000 attendees at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas from March 7-11, attendees from the nonprofit sector are just one segment of the highly diverse SXSW attendees, which ranges from technologists, web developers, tech startup founders, and more.

Beyond the planned breakout sessions, plenaries, and events, attendee lounges such as the Beacon Lounge offer a space for attendees to connect and build synergies. Now in its 6th year, the Lounge has become a hub for discussion and offers insight into core themes for nonprofits at SXSW, and the intersection of social good and technology.

“In 2014, we have 58 more sessions under Global Impact and Policy than we had in 2013 under the three categories we used that year as themes for this type of content (Community and Activism, Diversity and Emerging Markets and Government and Civic Engagement),” said Tammy Lynn Gilmore, nonprofit evangelist at SXSW. Gilmore added that she did not know the badge sales this year, but indicated they would have an idea until later this month.

“You either know about it or stumble upon it. This is a place to collaborate, connect and relax,” said Eve Simon, creative director at Beaconfire and the driving force behind the Lounge. “For example, last year the mobile app startup Crowdshout sat next to a representative from Change.org, and got early access to its API [application programming interface], and they were able to launch six months later because they made this connection.”

“I definitely see more nonprofits here than in previous years,” said Brian Robick, director of IT and online communications, senior policy strategist at the ACLU of Washington, who is attending SXSW for the sixth time. “I found out new ways to apply things to meet our mission that might have seemed like they didn’t apply before [in the breakout session], but I got to bounce ideas off of others in the lounge.”

This year, the Beacon Lounge added some formalized programming, the Do Good Dialogues, consisting of 15 minutes of ignite-style discussions from people who are working in the nonprofit and social good sector. “Whether you are building a tech tool, or you’re a nonprofit, or designer, or media — most of what people focus on is building awareness and maybe engagement,” said Brian Reich, managing director at Little M Media, based in New York, who led the dialogues with invited attendees.

Do Good Dialogue speakers included: Lawrence Grodeska and Amanda Kloer, Change.org; Tammy Gordon, AARP; Brad Smith, WebVisions; Michael Slaby, nonprofit advisor; Eilene Zimmerman, New York Times; and Jason Ulaszek, UX for Good.

Three themes came out of the Do Good Dialogues, as explained by Reich:

  1. Technology for Social Good: “There are all kinds of uses for the technology that are being developed, particularly in the category of social good – from health to Millenials – that are not coming through because the people creating new technology are so narrowly focused on the task at hand,” said Reich.
  2. The User Experience: “There were a number of people who were talking about the human experience, or user experience,” said Reich. “People were curious about how to add value or realize value in real people’s lives.” Brad Smith, Executive Director of WebVisions, explains this as the “future of interaction.”
  3. The Future of Social Good: Integration of “social good efforts” was a big topic of discussion. “What will it take to get there, and why can’t we get the social good conversation integrated into everything else?” asked Reich.

“There’s always an opportunity for purpose,” said Michael Slaby, nonprofit advisor and former chief integration and innovation office at the Obama for America Campaign. “Everyone at SXSW has a role in solving complex humanitarian problems, and we are not likely to figure it out in a vacuum. The humility of “we are in process” is something that we need to embrace right now.”

Reflections on Drupal Day: Creating a One-Size-Fits-All Day for Nonprofit Professionals and Technologists

Stephanie Gutowski Special Projects Coordinator ThinkShout After an action-packed Drupal Day event at the 14NTC, Stephanie Gutowski shares her key takeaways for those looking to dive into Drupal.

How do you create a one-size-fits-all day for a large group of people, both nonprofit professionals and technologists, with a wide range of technical competency levels? I spent the last four months preparing for Drupal Day, a Drupal-centric, day-long workshop that ThinkShout coordinates as part of NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Here are my key takeaways for those looking to dive into Drupal.  

Open Source Feminism: An Intervention with Wikipedia

Sarah Mirk Online Editor Bitch Magazine The internet is powered by open source technology—exciting software that's built collaboratively from the bottom-up. Open source is meant to be free and equal, but then why do men continue to dominate open source sites like Wikipedia?

In February 2014, groups of artists and tech-savvy folks staged what called they called a “feminist intervention” to Wikipedia. The idea that technology is not neutral is a heavy one. Though the whole point of open source technology is that it’s made stronger and better through collaboration, actually figuring out how to use the technology is not an equal playing field.

Building a Supportive Environment for Your Online Community

Darby Burn Strong Flight Coordinator Little Bird To build a supportive environment for your online community, we should incorporate what we've learned from history, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy.

Building community is a sentiment that is bandied about a lot these days. Whether it is meant as an attempt to create a supportive environment where you live or mimic the same type of vision in an online setting, the motivation seems to be the same: to gather with other folks in order to achieve a set of goals that would be impossible to do alone. So, how might we create and nurture our digital communities by incorporating the lessons we’ve learned from history, anthropology, sociology, and philosophy?

Five Nonprofit Online Communities that Inspire Action & Generate Results

Michael Wilson CEO & Founder Small World Labs These five examples of nonprofit communities show the diversity of options and ideas for engaging people around a mission.

Creating an online community to mobilize your supporters and further your nonprofit's mission might seem like a big task.  What to do?  Where to start?  A simple way is to look at what your peers are doing.  This article looks at five examples of what some innovative nonprofits are doing with their online communities. 

You CAN Capture Lightning in a Bottle: Meaningful Strategic Impact Measurement

Laura Girardin Marketing and Communications Strategist Lauren Girardin Consulting The metrics that matter most are those that tell you if your strategy is helping you meet your organization’s overall goals. Yet, measuring that impact is complex and complicated with lots of tools, numbers, and moving targets to wrangle. I want organizations to get control of the powerful lightning that is strategic measurement.

What Madison Avenue Ad Agencies Know about Facebook that You Don’t

Ben Martin Chief Engagement Officer Online Community Results Creating an online community for your own organization is a way that you can take control of your social presence, and not be at the whim of Facebook.

The very agencies that — by purchasing Likes and plastering its logo all over their traditional advertising buys — helped build Facebook into a multi-billion dollar corporation have grown exhausted of the bait and switch. They’ve invested time and money to build up an ocean of Likes only to be told by Facebook that they need to invest again just to get messages out to the audience they’ve grown. Fortunately, you can learn from their costly lesson.

CiviCRM: Software Built and Sustained by Community

Dave Greenberg Co-founder and Project Manager CiviCRM Founded nearly a decade ago, CiviCRM is now being used by more than 10,000 nonprofits worldwide, with over 15,000 members that help to generate the software’s development, and has been translated into over 20 languages. With a modest core team of six, and its founder just winning the 2014 Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest at the 14NTC, learn how CiviCRM is helping nonprofit communities worldwide build relationships with their constituents.

Founded nearly over a decade ago, nonprofits today use CiviCRM for everything from fundraising and coordination of volunteers, to e-communications, event management, membership programs, and advocacy campaigns. CiviCRM has been translated by a globally distributed group of volunteers into over 20 languages, and the huge and growing CiviCRM community — now over 15,000 members strong — helps generate the software's development roadmap from the ground up. Despite having no marketing department, and a full-time “core team” of only six, CiviCRM is now used by more than 10,000 organizations around the world. 

5 Things Your Online Community Should be Doing

Demetrio P. Cardona-Maguigad Director of Strategic Design LimeRed Studio Building a community online isn’t just about you and your organization, it’s about embracing the people who share your vision, purpose, and cause outside of your immediate organization. It should establish commonality, shared identity, and culture that seeks to address and solve problems together.

3 Ways to Make Your Website the Center of Your Online Community

Laura Iancu PR Specialist 123ContactForm The truth is that no matter how hard we try, we cannot survive without the aid of the community that surrounds us. Donations, volunteers, and message lift are all achievable through your community of stakeholders – the people who have an interest for your nonprofit or cause. Here are three ways that you can help ensure that your website is the centerpiece of your online community.