Donating to the NTC Scholarship Fund Helps the Sharing Continue: A Past Scholarship Recipient Reports
NTC Scholarships don't just help first-time conference attendees. And that helps goes beyond just the scholarship recipient. TEXT "NTEN" to 25383 to donate $10 and nominate your scholarship attendee now!
NTC Scholarships don't just help first-time conference attendees. This year's conference wasn't going to be a possibility for Amy Quinn, Content Curator & Speaker, Fundraising Innovators, LLC. However, through the community contributions to the NTC Scholarship Fund, Amy was able to attend this year and came back bursting with information to share:
Congratulations on an amazing conference! I'm finishing my "follow-up": reaching out to the many interesting and friendly people I met, reviewing my workshop notes, completing a survey for every session attended, downloading some presentations and exploring the video workshops still available to watch!
Wow! So much is experienced in such a short amount of time. As compared to last year, my first time attending with a large agenda in hand (since my book was about to be published), this year I focused on enjoying the many people and being very deliberate about what breakouts would improve my skills and knowledge as well as help me cater to my clients' needs. It was such a pleasure and upbeat experience!
Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend NTC 2013!
Let's all help the sharing continue: TEXT "NTEN" to 25383 to donate $10 and nominate your scholarship attendee now!
Or donate online and share the NTC experience with even more people by donating today!
Donate to the NTC 2014 Scholarship Fund! (A Past Recipient Shares Her Story of Change)
If you've been to NTC, you know that it can be an incredible event full of knowledgeable nonprofit techies.
As Lyndal Cairns, a 2012 NTC Scholarship recipient, shares:
Before I went to NTC, I was the only social media manager working in the HIV sector in Australia. In fact, I was the only nonprofit social media manager I knew; so I felt alone and rather adrift. I had reams of research and ideas aplenty, but I didn't know how to put it all together into a cohesive set of strategies. NTC taught me how to focus and evaluate our social media work, how to develop that into a set of actions, and how best to carry them out.
Thanks to skills I picked up at NTC, I was able to better survey our community to find service gaps and develop social interventions to improve their health; redevelop our website with the latest usability research in mind, turn our drab social media policy into a "living document", and train staff in best practices. The tips I picked up from experienced social media doyens were invaluable and saved me countless hours of frustration and trial-and-error. Personally, I also picked up some nerdcore Google Analytics skills which have been very useful in my other work, great public speaking engagement tips, a bunch of great contacts and friends, and the love of my life.
Now take that impact and multiply it by 50. That's how many people you can help have an amazing NTC experience who couldn't have it without your support.
>Bring the NTC experience to more people by donating today!
Donate online or TEXT "NTEN" to 25383 to donate $10 and nominate your scholarship attendee now!
Watch to find out more about Lyndal's NTC experience!
7th Annual Nonprofit Technology Staffing & Investments Report: A Closer Look (Staffing Levels)
Last month we released our seventh annual report on nonprofit investment and practices regarding technology. You can download the complete report here, and don't forget the companion online benchmarking tool, where you can compare some of your organization's data against your peers in our research.
I'd like to take a closer look at one aspect of our research and organizational practice: technology staffing levels.
In our latest survey, we decided to ask about technology staffing levels differently. Why? Because we know that the term "IT Staff" means something very specific to people, and the concept of who is "IT Staff" has not changed as rapidly over the last few years as the role of technology in an organization has. In the NTEN community, the concept of "IT Staff" has been more fluid and inclusive, but we also know that many nonprofit professionals who have information technology responsibilities are either not given formal "information technology" titles, or don't self-identify as "IT Staff" -- and often both cases are true for an individual.
As the membership organization for nonprofit technology professionals, it's an important, and often sticky, issue to understand, communicate, and especially measure.
In our previous survey, we moved from "information technology staff" to "Technology-responsible staff" in the question, hoping that this more-inclusive terminology would help us understand better the FTE staffing levles related to technology. And in this last survey we took a step even futher and broke out our staffing question to ask respondents about different technology roles (we asked folks to tell us how many staff they had with "Data" in their title or formal job role, for example, and had separate questions for "Web," "Online/Digital," "IT," and "Other Tech."
So, how did these various question formats impact responses/results? Well, it's hard to tell to what extent our question format impacted results, compared to variances in our survey audience from year to year, or compared to changes in organizational practices over the years.
Here is a Year-Over-Year comparison of our survey responses to technology staffing questions for the last three years:
The key things we notice here are:
- The significant diffence between tech staffing levels reported in 2010 as compared to 2011 and 2012. The 2011 and 2012 average staffing levels by organization size are very similar across all organization sizes, while the staffing levels in 2010 seem significantly lower. Is the clear jump after 2010 due to the more inclusive language in the survey question, or to increased staffing levels at organizations?
- Another way we measure technology staffing levels is determing the Tech Staff - to - Organizational Staff Ratio. This gives us (and you) a more comparable metric. If you have 12 total staff members, and you know that the average ratio of tech-to-org staff for your budget size is 1:24, then you know that having at least 0.5 FTE tech staff for your team is keeping up. When we look at the YOY data above, we see quite a bit of variance in this ratio over the three years, and no distinguishible pattern (trend). The ratio seemed to go up in general in the 2011 survey, meaning that respondents reported having fewer technology staff per their organizational staff. These numbers went back down in our most recent survey, however. We suspect that this may have to do more with staff size (that we had more organizations participating in the survey with smaller total staff sizes in 2010 and 2012), but because we kept the budget size comparison consistent each year, it's hard to explain why the ratio would fluctuate so much.
One thing we gained from breaking out technology roles in our recent survey was the ability to see a more nuanced look at the staffing levels:
From this we see that:
- Traditional "IT Staff" seems to be the most-staffed role among organizations
- However, smaller organizations staff other roles -- such as "Data" or "Web" staff -- in a relatively higher percentage than larger organizations, considering their total staff sizes and in relation to their "IT Staff" levels. For example, Very Large organizations seem to have twice as many traditional "IT Staff" positions Web or Online staff, while Small organizations seem to have about the same level of Data or Web staff as they do IT Staff.
So, based on this data, we see that the "traditional" IT staff role is still very well represented among nonprofit organizations, and in our attempts to be more inclusive -- to expand the definition of technology staff, perhaps, in order to make sure all of the nptechies were counted -- we've seen increases in reported technology staff, in general, but the reported ratio of tech staff to org staff is still in question:
Are organizations today made up of more technology-responsible staff, as a percentage of total staff, than in previous years?
Member Round Up: Fundraising tips, new research, and tools
Flickr: W.D. VanlueFundraising tips, some new (and free!) research and tools, and a list of creatures that walk a fine line between ugly and cute bring this week to a close--check out what your industrious community has been up to!
As you refine your fundraising strategy and explore new ways of connecting with donors, check out Blackbaud's 2013 Online Marketing Benchmark Study for Nonprofits to compare your organization to others and gather new ideas. You can also watch Farra Trompeter talk about three ways to keep your donors engaged so that they stay with you longer. If your organization is considering incorporating mobile giving into their online fundraising campaigns, Artez Interactive's free whitepaper on mobile fundraising may be a great resource on how to do it. For the grant-seeking, this article by Hallman Communications debunks persistant misconceptions about the Google Grants program in "The Top 7 Myths About Google Grants for the Small Non-Profit".
New to Salesforce? Cloud for Good released Salesforce 101 for Nonprofits, a free app to help answer questions ranging from, "How do I login to Salesforce for the first time?" to "Salesforce security settings." As the first Salesforce guide for nonprofits, the manual is a "living" document, so you can also contribute it.
Long-time NTEN member and supporter, Atomic Mobile, recently reached a big milestone of 200 clients on the new TapFunder mobile donation platform - check it out! Another congratulations is in order to nonprofit PR firm and member organization Grizzard Communications Group, Inc. who was recently named a "Top 100 Workplace 2013" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
If you're going to be in the Portland, OR area for DrupalCon next week, consider kicking off the event with ThinkShout by raising a pint for a great cause at the Drupal DoGooders Happy Hour for Aaron Winborn. The fundraiser will help the long-time Drupal community contributer in his fight against late stage ALS. You can register for the event or make a donation here: http://pdxdrupaldogooders.eventbrite.com/.
Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helped launch the Norman Lear Center Media Impact Project (MIP) which will attempt to measure the social impact of media. Sound challenging? Learn how a team of researchers from the Lear Center plan to tackle this elusive topic.
The Communications Network's 2013 conference is in New Orleans, October 2 - 4; cast your votes through May 22 to help choose the 12 breakout sessions. In the next state over, the 2013 Lights. Camera. Help Nonprofit Film Festival, August 15 - 17 in August, Texas, is accepting film submissions through the end of May. See the submission timeline, sign up for the mailing list, or submit your cause film here.
Before you blob out the door for the weekend, see what a real blob fish looks like along with 19 other "Animals So Ugly They're Cute", courtesy of Mashable. Happy Friday!
Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments.
Emerging Technology, Engaging Youth, and Your Mission: YOLO!
Flickr: jasonshimBy Jason Shim and Shubhagata Sengupta
At Pathways to Education, we offer cross-cultural conflict resolution training called YOUCAN, and one of the first topics we cover with the students is that the analogy of an iceberg can be useful in understanding people.
Typically, you only see about 10% of an iceberg above the water, and the remaining 90% remains submerged and unseen. We use this analogy to help students remember that when interacting and communicating with others, there is much underneath the surface that remains to be discovered through conversation and engagement.
The iceberg analogy can be a particularly powerful analogy when we think about how we might use social media to truly engage youth. While there is an increasing number of youth-facing nonprofits that employ organizational Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, the usage of separate, professional, Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts can be a more meaningful way to engage young people. In our experience, effective engagement and monitoring of social media in this way can help reveal the “hidden” 90%.
To illustrate this, we will draw upon the high-profile example of 17-year-old Yannis Carayannopoulos, also known as the “YOLO streaker.” In 2012, Yannis hopped over the fence at the Roger’s Centre in Toronto during a Blue Jays baseball game and started running across the field.
He tore off his shirt and pants to reveal only a Speedo and the word “YOLO,” which he had emblazoned upon his chest. He evaded game officials for several minutes before being apprehended by police officers and charged with “mischief — interfering with property.” While most people heard about this incident after it had occurred, we wondered if he may have given any indication online that he was planning this.
Sure enough, Yannis has a Twitter account that provided a play-by-play commentary detailing his plans for what had been dubbed #ProjectY. Evidently, he had done his research beforehand and ensured that he was wearing a Speedo so that he would not be charged with indecency.
While his teachers and parents may have been surprised, his friends knew what was happening the entire time. Indeed, several of them were publicly responding to his tweets about #ProjectY right up until the time he entered the stadium. This is the 90% that can be valuable when considering working with youth.
Yannis and the YOLO streaker incident may be a humourous example, but there have been many instances in the last few years in which Twitter and Facebook have been used to help our organization better provide resources to serve our youth. We have gone beyond having organizational pages, and many staff members have created individual profiles to provide an additional channel in which they can communicate with youth who are in our program.
By using Facebook and Twitter to keep these lines of communication open, we have learned about many situations and circumstances that may not have otherwise been discovered. A young person who had clothes stolen from an apartment laundry machine was able to get help immediately from one of our staff after we saw it on Twitter. Another youth expressed challenges dealing with alcoholism in the family through Twitter. And, of course, we often hear about relationships on Twitter and Facebook, and that provides us with an opportunity to provide support for youth during those times as well.
The front line staff in our organization often meet with students in person, but tools like Twitter and Facebook allow us to engage with them in real-time.
One of the questions we are frequently asked is how to develop policies and guidelines around engaging youth on social media. PolicyTool.net is a great website for developing a very basic policy for your organization. It allows you to input some basic information about your organization and will provide you with a policy to guide initial usage. However, we have also developed what has become known as the “Shopping Mall Question” to help us address some of the concerns that may arise from engaging with youth via social media – as a kind of “general policy” guideline.
The Shopping Mall Question simply asks, “if the situation was happening in a shopping mall, what would you do?” This tends to address 95% of the questions that arise. By framing social media within a familiar, real-life context, this approach empowers staff members to use their best professional judgment without feeling intimidated by the technology or the virtual setting. For instance, if a young person indicates via social media that they may be going through a rough time at home, the Shopping Mall Question application would go something like: “as a professionally trained youth worker, how would you deal with that situation if that was disclosed to you in a shopping mall?” The framework often yields useful considerations.
We are also often asked about establishing boundaries on social media. Our response is that there are no “social media boundaries” -- there are only boundaries.
With this in mind, setting expectations is still important, so setting clear expectations around responses and availability via social media is vital. If you are regularly responding via social media to youth in the evenings, they may have a reasonable expectation that you will be available during those hours.
Since piloting an initial project with one of our local Pathways to Education program sites, we have seen the use of social media help our staff save substantial amounts of time and provide additional opportunities to engage our youth across the country.
When working with young people, one of the most important things that a youth worker can do is simply to be there to listen. Social media provides us with incredible opportunities to do just that.
Flickr: jasonshimA number of years ago, one of us had the opportunity to chaperone an Antarctic expedition with high school students. One sunny afternoon, while standing on the ship’s deck with a few others, we were all startled by a loud crack. A nearby iceberg had calved and large pieces of ice fell into the water. It happened quickly, and soon enough, the iceberg, which was now imbalanced, started turning over in the water. For those of us who were there, we witnessed an incredible sight - amidst all the cascades of water, the overturned iceberg revealed what had previously been submerged.
We are frequently reminded of this iceberg when we see all the Facebook and Twitter updates from youth. If we are there and we are listening, it can provide us with another opportunity to engage with young people when they reveal what is under the surface.
Jason Shim is passionate about the intersection of nonprofits, youth, and technology. In his role as Digital Media Manager for Pathways to Education Canada, he leads the organization's national digital strategy. In September 2012, Jason led a team to create Txtocracy.com, an open-source project that aims to increase voter turnout via text message reminders. Follow Jason @jasonshim
Shubhagata Sengupta is passionate about photography and film. Shubhagata is the founder of LaunchVault Media, which provides unique photography and video solutions for clients in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Shubhagata is currently completing a degree in business and digital media and loves exploring social media, technology, and entrepreneurship. Shubhagata has also been the youngest presenter for two consecutive years at the annual conference of the Nonprofit Technology Network. Follow Shub @shubsengupta.
NTEN Case Study: Financial Management in the Cloud
Jill Farrow, NTEN's chief financial and operating officer, quickly learned that "operationally, we at NTEN do everything in the Cloud," and that includes financial and operations management.
When Jill Farrow, now NTEN's chief financial and operating officer, first toured the organization's Portland, OR, offices, she noticed something conspicuous in its absence. Puzzled, she turned to then executive director Holly Ross, who was giving her the tour and asked, "Where are the servers?"
Farrow, who now laughs retelling the story, quickly learned that "operationally, we at NTEN do everything in the Cloud," and that includes financial and operations management.
NTEN Case Study: Engaging Community from the Cloud to Conference Ballroom (and Back)
Everything Megan Keane does as the community engagement manager for NTEN is driven and supported by one simple principle: "It's all about the people," she said.
Keane joined NTEN in 2012 and has worked as a community manager in the nonprofit sector for several years. "It's about making that personal connection and getting community members to talk to one another -- online and off -- and not just one-to-one, but one-to-many," she said.
And though the Cloud helps foster a sense of community in a number of ways, it also "isn't foolproof," said Keane. "The Cloud is such a buzzword, but it's a tool like everything else. You can't use it without keeping those principles, and your mission, in mind. And," she added, "the Cloud breaks; it is not always your friend."
The 2013 Nonprofit Engagement Data Management Study: A Graphic Report
When it comes to tracking and using “engagement” data – the actions, interactions, and even conversations that relate to an organization’s work but don’t necessarily represent the transactional or financial data that have been traditionally used for measuring an organization’s health – today’s nonprofits are either tracking a lot, or hardly anything at all. And very few organizations are applying that data to make decisions about their programs or measure their strategic outcomes.
That's what we found when we, with Avectra, surveyed nonprofit professionals earlier this spring via an online survey. We heard from 244 folks, primarily Marketing/Communications staff (42%), Fundraising/Development staff (15%), Executive Directors (13%), and IT Staff (10%).
We also learned that those who are tracking engagement data are finding at least some correlation between engagement and the more "traditional" indicators such as annual fundraising amount, event attendance, and even donor/constituent retention levels.
We're sharing the results of this focused online survey via graphic report (download and share!):
Submit Your Session Ideas for 14NTC, May 15 - June 15, 2013!
Flickr: dougwoodsIt's time to move the cat off your keyboard and submit your session proposals for 14NTC!
As you know, the NTC isn’t just any old conference. It’s a gathering of friends - friends made while discussing fundraising software in the Science Fair, while debating the privacy concerns of Facebook, or while in line for a break time treat.
The next gathering of nptechie friends is on the horizon: it’s only 7,248 hours away. Accordingly, the 14NTC call for session submissions are open May 15-June 15, 2013. We're looking for submissions from current and future nonprofit technology thought leaders who want to share their expertise with their peers in ways that will elevate the use of technology in the nonprofit sector and help others accomplish their missions.
What should you submit? Well, think about the issues you've been struggling with, the successes you’ve had, or the emerging issues around the corner. We want to see your two best ideas. Working with our NTC steering committees and the NTEN community, we have provided a list of themes and ideas to help you build submissions. Take a look at these recommendations (please note this is a guide only, and you can submit whatever you think is appropriate to share at the NTC).
Submit a Session for 14NTC:
- We do have a few guidelines for session submission. Please take a moment to review them, then submit your session idea(s).
- After you have read the guidelines, start the process of submission via the Start My Submission(s) button at the bottom of the page.
- The open call for submissions opens May 15, 2013 and will close June 15, 2013.
>> Submit a session!
If you have any questions that are not answered in the guidelines, please feel free to contact Julie@nten.org.
We look forward to seeing you at 14NTC, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C., March 13-15, 2014!
Cloud & Server: Yes It Can Make Sense to Have Both!
Contrary to what you may have read or heard, servers are not going the way of the dinosaurs. It can make perfect sense to still leverage a server along with migrating to the cloud.
How to Install Janrain Federate on Drupal 6.x
This page shows Drupal admins how to install Janrain Federate
Want to see a new Google Community for nonprofit technologists?
Hey all, Google Plus now has communities and I’ve made one for nonprofit technologists. It’s at: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/105979228113489699226 Please join if you’re a coder or an architect. It’s really a group for people who implement technology. Front-end dev code is also very welcome. I tend to specialize in Drupal/web analytics code lately so there’s already a [...]
Did Blackbaud finally fix conversion tracking?
For those of you who don’t know, Blackbaud Sphere was historically bad at conversion tracking using Google Analytics. Here was the problem: User goes to a Sphere-hosted Walk-A-Thon page. User gets specific Analytics code related to that Walk-a-thon. For example, here at Autism Speaks, we use custom variables in Google Analytics to define a Walk [...]
Google Analytics is broken on Blackbaud Sphere — help fix it
Google is passing around a survey asking nonprofit users for their experiences trying to use Google Analytics with Blackbaud Sphere. Go here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFRGOUJfQnlJTVlkNmtPaHlCMVFOTkE6MQ Some background here… Not only is Blackbaud terribad at doing ecommerce transaction tracking. It’s also pretty horrible at conversion funnels. If you try to set up a conversion funnel in Blackbaud Sphere for [...]
API Examples for Nonprofit Technologists
If you’re evaluating a company for how well-documented their product is, the best bet is to look at their API documentation. It should look like this: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/reporting/core/v3/reference or like this, https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api. However, I just happened upon a nicer and more understandable format at: http://weblog.bocoup.com/documenting-your-api/ Notice the general openness of the documentation. It’s as if the people on the [...]
Blackbaud Sphere Remarkably Bad at Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking
Preface: I work at Autism Speaks as their Web architect. These are my opinions and not the opinion of Autism Speaks. Let it be said that Blackbaud Sphere is incredibly long in the tooth. Until last year, Blackbaud had left the copyright notices on Blackbaud Sphere stuck at 2008 when they purchased Kintera. However, Blackbaud [...]
Earliest donor wall in history?
So I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I end up looking at this fairly nondescript statuary. What was the significance of this? The museum had a placard next to it (which I will reprint in its entirety): Marble inscribed statue base Roman, ca. A.D. 160-170 Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.60.70a,b) The base is [...]
Five years from the start of work on Twitter…
Tonight, I got to listen to a marketing class over at St. John’s college over in Queens, New York discuss the use of social media and how it would apply to Autism Speaks (I work there now as their Web architect). They were just as immersed in it as much as anyone else and they [...]
Convio goes public!
Convio goes public on 4/29/2010
The Thrust Fund
Do you ever rely on a friend? Would you ever bet on them? Thats what three promising entrepreneurs behind the Thrust Fund are proposing to kickstart their next ventures. The deal is simple: $600,000 for 6% of their life’s earnings. That’s an average of $250,000/year before retirement age. Startups traditionally pinch pennies, weary of handing [...]