What's on our mind
PointB is a management consulting firm that helps clients develop strategic insights and translate them into reality. A broad-based, locally driven firm operating across 7 U.S. markets, PointB has 425 employee owners. One of those employee owners is Paul Lambert, President of Consulting for the Firm and past President of the NPower Northwest Board of Directors. Paul’s passion for NPower’s mission comes from his sense that PointB and NPower are both in the business of success....
PointB is a management consulting firm that helps clients develop strategic insights and translate them into reality. Point B clients look to the firm for industry and functional expertise combined with our ability to execute in a variety of areas including healthcare, retail, technology strategy, business processes, operations, and mergers and acquisitions. A broad-based, locally driven firm operating across 7 U.S. markets, PointB has 425 employee owners. One of those employee owners is Paul Lambert, President of Consulting for the Firm and past President of the NPower Northwest Board of Directors. Paul’s passion for NPower’s mission comes from his sense that PointB and NPower are both in the business of success. “We’re in similar businesses that involve change and the power of technology to help groups fulfill their missions.”
In his role as steward and advisor to NPower through six years of service on the Board, Paul has supported NPower from both a financial and resource perspective. PointB has provided generous corporate sponsorship of NPower’s annual event for the past five years. In addition, Paul has brokered pro-bono support from PointB experts on change management and recruiting leadership, and brought in NPower to provide technical support for a larger PointB engagement with the MacArthur Foundation. Paul adds, “When we give money and resources, NPower makes much more out of it for the community by supporting nonprofits in meeting their missions.”
Paul has always had tremendous respect for NPower and the people who work here, and a visit to several NPower clients a few years ago clinched it for him. In speaking to staff from Rainier Scholars about the difference it makes for them to have a stable and secure technology infrastructure, Paul found himself getting choked up. “My father was a professor, so I knew early on about the transformative power of education. Hearing the stories of the kids that Rainier Scholars is able to help thanks to technology support from NPower, really brought that home for me.”
The case for corporate sponsorship of NPower is an easy one for Paul to make to others in the community. “Think about how important technology is to your organization, and then consider the organizations like Rainer Scholars…who you care about personally and that NPower helps so significantly. It is so important to support what NPower represents: the good and beneficial use of technology in the community.”
Serving on the NPower Board has been a delight and an eye-opener for Paul. “NPower has nurtured my understanding of philanthropy and its role in my community. Getting involved with NPower was absolutely the right thing for me. I am an even better community supporter as a result.”
A part of our Techtacular sponsorship series, this profile seeks to give a glimpse into some of the organizations that devote time, stewardship and financial support to NPower. If you want to join in the work of NPower, come mingle, sip and get inspired - May 17th, 2012.
In addition to the work that the AmeriCorps team does for NPower, we’ve also been reaching out and connecting with other organizations and communities. While Abby has been volunteering at the Seattle Public Library, Stephen and Elissa have been assisting various RecTech programs as part of the Seatle Parks and Recreation. Read more about Stephen’s experience....
In addition to the work that the AmeriCorps team does for NPower, they've also been reaching out and connecting with other organizations and communities. While Abby has been volunteering at the Seattle Public Library, Stephen and Elissa have been assisting with various RecTech programs as part of the Seatle Parks and Recreation. Here is more about Stephen's experience with RecTech:
What is RecTech?
RecTech is a partnership between the Seattle Parks and Recreation and the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology. They provide after-school programs, internships, and open computer labs in ten locations throughout Seattle. The particular program that I helped out with was the Adobe Flash after-school internship which was designed for teenagers to learn technology skills while completing tasks and projects for nonprofits.
Adobe Flash Internship
Students learned how to create animations, text, diagrams, and how to design a user interface. They also learned how to program using ActionScript, which allowed them to create buttons, navigation screens, mouse-over effects, or procedural animation. Rain or shine, every Friday I would make the hilly commute to the Southwest Center in West Seattle (via bicycle) to share my knowledge in Adobe Flash and programming. Although I am far from a professional Flash developer, I have enjoyed using my knowledge to provide hands-on training in the small classroom setting.
A Happy Volunteer
What’s been great about this program is that I’ve felt very useful. There have been times when I see that students are struggling with a new concept, or don't know how to execute the clear ideas in their head into the final product, and I can step in and show them the right tools or process. I’ll see students spending a few minutes trying to get something aligned or in the right position, and it’s usually simple things that I can say, such as “Hey, if you press the arrow keys with an object selected, you can nudge it pixel by pixel” and suddenly they try it and feel incredibly accomplished. Adobe Flash is a powerful program, and it’s really fun to see students at such a young age doing great things with it. It really allows students to be creative, but at the same time, teaches them skills that will be useful for a long time to come.
- Stephen Eggers
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s belief that every life has equal value is at the core of the wide-ranging work of the foundation. The foundation tackles ambitious goals, and employs an outstanding leadership team to direct their strategies. NPower Northwest is the lucky recipient of the generosity of one of those outstanding leaders: Dale Christian, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the Foundation. Dale serves on the NPower Board of Directors and CIO Council. As an advisor and supporter of NPower Northwest, Dale expresses his deep passion for the role technology plays in creating the greater good...
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s belief that every life has equal value is at the core of the wide-ranging work of the foundation. The foundation tackles ambitious goals, and employs an outstanding leadership team to direct their strategies. NPower Northwest is the lucky recipient of the generosity of one of those outstanding leaders: Dale Christian, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the Foundation. Dale serves on the NPower Board of Directors and CIO Council. As an advisor and supporter of NPower Northwest, Dale expresses his deep passion for the role technology plays in creating the greater good:
“I have seen and believe in the power of technology to dramatically transform how people engage and get things done. Technology is a huge lever for positive change when used appropriately, but it takes expertise and skill to do that. By bringing that expertise to the nonprofit sector – where it otherwise may not exist – NPower makes a big impact on many lives with a small investment. That’s what sparks my excitement for the mission of NPower.”
From Dale’s perspective as CIO of a global organization (the foundation supports grantees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and in more than 100 countries), NPower’s Managed Services program has special appeal. NPower utilizes an industry-standard set of tools that enable us to monitor our nonprofit clients’ technology systems remotely, resulting in higher quality service and proactive support. According to Dale, “NPower’s Stable and Secure Managed Services is a scalable, high-quality and low-cost service that makes technology work for the nonprofit. In my mind the perfect tagline comes from the NPower website: ‘On a day-to-day basis, your technology will fade into the background.’” To see the tagline in action, see the Easter Seals case study and other examples of the impact of NPower’s work.
In supporting NPower by sponsoring the Techtacular event, the Gates Foundation joins a growing number of corporations with local and global reach who see the value of investing in NPower’s mission. Reflecting on the importance of NPower to the Northwest region, Dale says,
“The current economic climate is tough for nonprofits. Fundraising is more difficult, and every dollar has to go further than ever. As in for-profit business, the temptation during a downturn is to make the first cuts to “operational overhead” functions. But the fact is that with the right investments in operational process and technology, the organization’s core functions can be more effective. NPower is an outstanding way to make that smart, leveraged investment across many valuable areas of the nonprofit sector in the Northwest.”
Dale Christian looks forward to working with NPower as an advisor and friend to help the community to thrive. “We are all going through a period of reevaluating fundamental assumptions about our economy, business models and technologic possibilities. I’m excited to be a part of NPower as we reimagine that future. “
A part of our Techtacular sponsorship series, this profile seeks to give a glimpse into some of the organizations that devote time, stewardship and financial support to NPower. If you want to join in the work of NPower, come mingle, sip and get inspired - May 17th, 2012.
This week we hosted another brown bag workshop in our free series: Free and Low Cost Programs for Nonprofits. We discussed software discount and donation programs through TechSoup and Microsoft; the range of tools available through Google for Nonprofits, as well as free Google products that anyone can use; and shared more recommendations for software that we use regularly. Click through for takeaways and other resources...
This week we hosted another brown bag workshop in our free series: Free and Low Cost Programs for Nonprofits. We discussed software discount and donation programs through TechSoup and Microsoft; the range of tools available through Google for Nonprofits, as well as free Google products that anyone can use; and shared more recommendations for software that we use regularly.
Over 500 different software packages are available through TechSoup, including donations from Adobe, Blackbaud, Cisco, Dell, DonorPerfect, eTapestry, FileMaker, Intuit, Microsoft, Sage, and Symantec!
To receive discounts on Microsoft software, any nonprofit can sign up through TechSoup to request products such as Windows PC operating system upgrades, server software licenses, Microsoft Office, and more. In addition, through NPower’s partnership with Microsoft, NPower clients receive guidance from consultants and can request Microsoft products without paying administrative fees. NPower clients are also eligible for discounts of up to 75% on Office 365 and Dynamics CRM hosted licensing.
Signing up for Google for Nonprofits is easy and allows a nonprofit to access the Google Apps suite for up to 25 users. Google also offers 24/7 customer support and programs such as YouTube for Nonprofits, Google Earth Outreach, and Google Grants. If you haven’t heard of Google Grants, definitely look into this program, which offers $10,000 of free AdWords advertising to organizations enrolled in Google for Nonprofits.
Looking for more info?
- Check out the presentation slides in the Knowledge Center for the full brown bag content.
- NTEN, Idealware, and TechSoup feature regular reviews of the latest cool tools.
- There are many other websites publishing recommended lists of free or low-cost tools, such as:
Coming up next week
The next installment of our free brown bag series takes place Wednesday, April 25, with Google Analytics.
- Abby Nafziger & Elissa Thomas
On April 17, the VISTA team officially launched the Tech Assessment Project, with 14 nonprofits in attendance at the kick-off party eager to learn about utilizing technology to build organizational capacity. In addition to the all-important snacks, we started the evening off with introductions and enjoyed reflecting on our earliest tech-related memories....
On April 17, the VISTA team officially launched the Tech Assessment Project, with 14 nonprofits in attendance at the kick-off party eager to learn about utilizing technology to build organizational capacity. In addition to the all-important snacks, we started the evening off with introductions and enjoyed reflecting on our earliest tech-related memories. From soldering capacitors and playing Oregon Trail in school, to discovering the wonderful world of word processing software and being envious of a cousin’s Atari systems, we bonded over the many ways technology has shaped our lives.
Our AmeriCorps team prides itself in laying out a great spread!
Much of the rest of the evening focused in breaking down the specifics of the program, its timeline, and the tools we will be using to produce quality technology plans for each nonprofit. This cohort includes a broad range of area nonprofits, ranging in location, size and mission. However, they are united in the shared work of alleviating poverty and finding ways to better use technology to raise more money, communicate more effectively and run better programs.
We had a packed house with nonprofits eager to learn more about the program they enrolled in.
This project will take place over the next 2 months -- we will keep you updated as our VISTA AmeriCorps team works with each nonprofit to prepare a thorough tech assessments, a comprehensive strategy map and provide 3 hands-on trainings. Stay tuned to NPower’s blog for more details on our progress in May and June, and feel free to contact our team if you have interest in learning more about future opportunities like this.
- Abby Nafziger, Elissa Thomas, Stephen Eggers
We believe strongly in driving adoption of technology solutions for ALL nonprofits. Some times that means working with nonprofits directly, other times that means providing free technology training. However, we always do our best to provide cheerful AND helpful service. Click through to read an experience fresh from the inbox...
We believe strongly in driving adoption of technology solutions for ALL nonprofits. Sometimes that means working directly with nonprofits to create databases and websites that increase their capacity to do good work and engage larger audiences. Other times, we work with clients through our managed services program to monitor their technology remotely, working behind the scenes to keep their systems running smoothly and efficiently. However, not all nonprofits are ready or able to afford our low-cost services, so we offer a range of free technology trainings through our AmeriCorps VISTA team and a Tech Assessment Project that seek to help small nonprofits raise more money, communicate effectively and run better programs.
Another important part of our work with nonprofits is our Client Engagement Manager, Jade Greene. Often the first point of contact for nonprofits inquiring about our services, Jade always seeks to provide superior service that meets nonprofits where they are. Recently, this email came in after Jade took the time to share some resources to aid UrbanSparks in their database decision-making:
From: Jack Tomkinson, Urban Sparks
To: Jade Greene, NPower Northwest
Thanks a million for taking the time to give us a detailed recommendation on how to evaluate potential solutions to our needs. This means a lot to us with our very small operations and fundraising budget. Our project director, EB, did the reading and reviewing, and then she ran everything by me. I’m eager to have an online solution that isn’t dependent on the internal office computers. That will allow us to make much more efficient use of staff and volunteers. We appreciate your helping us preserve our precious funds while we pursue our charitable mission.
P.S. EB thanks you too:
Thank you so much for recommending the Idealware survey of CRMs. It was the perfect tool for our investigation! After reading the prose part of the report (which was very approachable and well-styled), I navigated back and forth between the "If you are a...." recommendation section and the pricing information to narrow down my recommendations. Then we used the "feature grid" and the in-depth write-ups on 2-3 systems to make our final decision. With the Idealware report, everything was at our fingertips. You all have saved us time and agony, so I wanted to send along my BIG THANKS!
In case you too are curious about low-cost database options, the Idealware report mentioned above can be found here. Alternately, we keep our Knowledge Center chock full of helpful presentations, workbooks and other resources available to anyone.
Last week was the annual Nonprofit Tech Conference in San Francisco and several staff members along with our VISTA team were in attendance. Organized by NTEN, this conference offered both an in-person version and an online version which featured live-streaming of keynote speakers, plenary events and a broad range of speakers. Team members Elissa and Stephen kept the home front going and attended the online conference via the Seattle office, while Abby accompanied Alison Carl-White, Peg Giffels, Dave Forrester, Shawn Michaels and Ash Shepard to San Francisco. Click through to hear our reflections...
Last week was the annual Nonprofit Tech Conference in San Francisco and several staff members along with our VISTA team were in attendance. Organized by NTEN, this conference offered both an in-person version and an online version which featured live-streaming of keynote speakers, plenary events and a broad range of speakers. Team members Elissa and Stephen kept the home front going and attended the online conference via the Seattle office, while Abby accompanied Alison Carl-White, Peg Giffels, Dave Forrester, Shawn Michaels and Ash Shepard to San Francisco. Here are our thoughts and reflections on NTC, the sessions, the networking, and everything in between.
You know a conference is gonna be great, when it starts of with a dancing, jiving marching band!
NTC Sessions: So much to do, so little time
One of the best parts, and sometimes the most overwhelming part, of NTC is the many great sessions to choose from. Divided into tracks according to various nonprofit tech roles, the sessions offered opportunities to talk shop with other IT admins, learn from Executive Directors guiding their nonprofit’s use of technology, chat with other communications folks or hear about the ever-changing Best Practices for nonprofit tech. While there is breathing room built into the day, conference days always end up feeling packed and nonstop. Two of my favorite sessions were Picturing Your Data is Better Than 1,000 Numbers: Data Visualization Techniques for Social Change with Beth Kanter, Brian Kennedy, and Johanna Morariu and The Story of Stuff: How an Environmental Campaigner Became a New Media Mogul - and So Can You by Annie Leonard and Christina Samala. Both sessions offered engaging speakers who managed to both tell their own stories as case studies AND provide clear take-aways that can help a whole range of nonprofits.
Another great part of attending NTC this year? Getting to experience 3 solid days of San Francisco sunshine!
Networking: the secret sauce of conferences
In the end, one of the biggest things I gained from NTC beyond the insightful sessions or inspiring plenary talks and discussion, was the chance to discover the sense of community that comes from bringing a group of really smart committed people in one place and letting them loose to share and discuss. From meeting the faces behind twitter handles, to making random connections at lunch, networking with other nonprofit folks was one of the highlights of my NTC experience.
NTCOnline: Experiencing the livestream
For those who couldn’t make it to San Francisco, Online NTC offered live streaming of selected panel discussions and plenaries, with an opportunity for attendees to participate by asking questions, sharing resources, or adding commentary in the text feed. Watching the speakers in one browser and scanning the #12ntc twitter feed on another screen provided more context for what was going on in the room at the conference and experiencing the collective mind of the workshop or discussion.
More Round-ups and Resources
- NTC You need a social media strategy by Socialbrite
- 6 Nonprofit Technology Takeaways and One Killer Find at #12ntc by NetWitsThinkTank
- Takeaways from 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference by Nonprofit Bridge
- Highlights from the Nonprofit Technology Conference by Socialbrite
- NTC Data Visualization Panel by Beth Kanter
- What if you drew your mission statement? by MixtapeCommunications
- Death of the Elevator Pitch? by Claxon Marketing
- Moving Forward from NTC 2012 by Idealware
- Nonprofit Technology Conference Withdrawal by Beth Kanter
- 12NTC: A Love Letter by Holly Ross
For recorded sessions, handouts, resources and to stay connected to the nptech community check out myntc2012 - the online home of NTEN’s 2012 conference.
- Elissa Thomas and Abby Nafziger
If there’s one thing that ties nonprofit-sector “newcomers” with those more experienced, it’s the learning curve. Board members, staff people, even those that arrive with years of private-sector experience, all share the need to get up-to-speed on the uniqueness of the sector. It simply takes time to learn and understand. Thankfully, for whatever the issue-at-hand, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel or spend hours tracking it down. 501 Commons, through the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory, has curated some of the best in the business. Read more...
This is a guest post from Matt Fikejs, Information & Referral Program Manager at 501 Commons. Matt writes periodically writes for the NPower Northwest blog to share updates from the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory.
If there’s one thing that ties nonprofit-sector “newcomers” with those more experienced, it’s the learning curve. Board members, staff people, even those that arrive with years of private-sector experience, all share the need to get up-to-speed on the uniqueness of the sector. It simply takes time to learn and understand.
When starting out, the focus tends to be on bylaws, fundraising strategies, and other requirements, like financial reporting. Soon, attention shifts to evaluation, human resources, and even marketing. Over time, organizational and leadership development emerge as areas to address. And, throughout it all, there’s the issue of board roles and responsibilities.
Are there other topics to grasp? Plenty! Is it humanly possible for anyone to know all of the “best practices” and tools and templates of the trade? Unlikely at best.
Thankfully, for whatever the issue-at-hand, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel or spend hours tracking it down. 501 Commons, through the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory, has curated some of the best in the business. With over 20 categories and countless more subcategories, the list of resources is too long to include. But here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:
- NPower’s Social Media Audit
- CompassPoint’s Internal Controls Checklist
- United Way of King County’s Board Composition Analysis Template
- Independent Sector’s Basics of Nonprofit Advocacy
- WAACO’s Nonprofit Legal Self-Assessment Checklist
- 501 Commons’ Volunteer Management Resources
- And many, many more…including some that are in the works!
No matter where you are on the learning curve, you’re still learning. So it pays to be ready for that next challenge before it comes up. When it does, use the Directory’s search function or visit the Tools and Best Practices for Nonprofits page to meet your information needs.
And, as always, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-682-6704). We’re here to help.
- Matt Fikejs, Information & Referral Program Manager, 501 Commons
Our AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Elissa Thomas, attended Innovate 4 Good at Microsoft last week and put together a re-cap of the conference's conversations. Read more...
There was an interesting blend of social technologies at the Innovate 4 Good conference at Microsoft on March 31. Facilitated by Allen “Gunner” Gunn from Aspiration in San Francisco, the conference brought nearly 100 young people together for innovative conversations around contemporary social problems.
Analog Opinion Differentiator
The morning began with Gunner introducing “the analog opinion differentiator,” a long piece of blue tape spanning the entire room. We generated controversial statements, then arranged ourselves around the room in position to where we stand on the issues, from total agreement at one end of the room to total disagreement at the other end. There was a sizable centrist crowd in the middle of the room, but many participants were very passionate and argued for and against the various position statements. “Eating meat is murder,” for example, divided the room up into clearly distinct camps. “Employers should be able to log in to their employees’ Facebook accounts” resulted in a mass of movement towards the disagreement direction. The activity allowed us to become aware of the diversity of perspectives and experiences in the room and set the stage for the rest of the day’s conversations.
Throughout the day, participants wrote down their aspirations for improving the world.
Heat Map of the Mind
Similarly, the “heat map of the mind” activity generated a reflection of issues facing young people all over the world. We broke into small groups to brainstorm a list of compelling topics, then posted them on a large white board that spanned the entire width of the conference room. As a group, we read and organized the topics into categories. Not surprisingly, a significant number of post-its focused on education. I was very surprised, however, to observe how few “wedge issue” topics were up on the white board. Considering the strident political discourse right now, I would have expected many people to be strongly concerned with same-sex marriage, abortion, and other social issues. On the contrary, the young people in the room listed education, poverty, inequality, global health, and human rights as the pressing issues in their lives. In the afternoon, we broke up into different groups to discuss specific problems and solutions. We were encouraged to hold off on conversations about implementation until the last few workshops.
The conference process emphasized thoughtfulness and big-picture thinking rather than coming together to churn out quick fixes. The activities were structured to maximize creativity, collaboration, and community. I appreciated the opportunities to connect with inspiring and intelligent participants from all over the United States and Canada. The youth panel, for example, randomly picked out attendees to share their stories and included: a social entrepreneur, two Microsoft employees who started programs for teens, a high school student who organized TEDxRedmond, and an Imagine Cup doctoral graduate who developed an application that can detect malaria using a Windows phone.
An illustrator depicted the conference workshops through expressive cartoons and charts.
I look forward to seeing more from the Innovate 4 Good community as the initiative launches in other cities around the world -- Singapore, Beijing, Mexico City, Brussels, and Cairo.
- Elissa Thomas
CHOICES Education Group, a nonprofit partner of NPower's, has a cool new tech tool that complements their CHOICES workshops for teens. Learn more and check out a trial version...
CHOICES Education Group, a nonprofit partner of NPower's, has a cool new tech tool that complements their CHOICES workshops for teens.
The CHOICES Challenge is a text messaging activity taken by teens on their cell phones. Based on the CHOICES Challenge activity in the CHOICES workshop, the Challenge helps teens use critical thinking to discover that making well-considered choices will likely lead to more desirable outcomes and possibly more opportunities in their lives. Teens also learn that the choices they make about their lives and education can have both short and long-term consequences.
How can teens get the CHOICES Challenge?
Teens opt into the Challenge via scratch cards provided by CHOICES workshop delivery partners. The cards are packaged in sets of 30 so they can conveniently offer the Challenge to students that participate in the CHOICES workshop.
There's also a trial version that will give you a good idea of how the Challenge is played and what the content covers. Each character has some unique situations that relate to their dreams and challenges, so you will see those for the two characters who are included in the trial. You can play the Challenge as many times as you want…just reply TRIAL at the end to play again.
The access codes for a trial version of the Challenge (simply text the key word to the short code):
Short Code (phone number): 40762
Key Word: Trial
A couple of things to know about the trial version:
- This version has two characters you can choose from (the full version has five).
- This version plays in real-time (you get all replies right away, so it takes about 1-2 hours to complete if you reply right away as well), where the full version sends the scenarios once a day (so it takes 20 days to complete).
Congratulations to CHOICES Education Group for creating savvy technology to reach teens!
-- Alison Carl White