What's on our mind
As nonprofits, we all know the monumental task that handling organizational data can be. At NPower, we offer database services ranging from fully customized Salesforce or Dynamics CRMs to free brown bag trainings on Choosing a Database and Managing Potential Supporters. So we’re super excited to announce the launch of our newest offering to help your nonprofit turn those numbers, names and disjointed records into easily digestible data that improves efficiency and drives decision-making. Read all about it..
As nonprofits, we all know the monumental task that handling organizational data can be. At NPower, we offer database services ranging from fully customized Salesforce or Dynamics CRMs to free brown bag trainings on Choosing a Database and Managing Potential Supporters. So we’re super excited to announce the launch of our newest offering to help your nonprofit turn those numbers, names and disjointed records into easily digestible data that improves efficiency and drives decision-making.
Introducing FlexIt Database Maintenance and Support
At its core, FlexIt is a flexible service that gives you the support you need, when you need it. Take advantage of our Scheduled Support services (covered by the program’s up-front flat fee), while keeping the flexibility to call us for support when ad-hoc issues come up. FlexIt helps to ensure that your organization’s database maintains its health and efficiency over time. Scheduled Support services include:
- An annual database review & assessment
- Coaching sessions for staff
- Data cleanup support
Curious to learn more?
For all the details, head over to FlexIt Database Maintenance and Support or better yet, get in touch with our Client Engagement Manager, to learn how this service might be a good fit for your nonprofit.
As a part of our ongoing free brown bag presentations on a range of topics applicable to anyone working in the nonprofit sphere, we are proud to announce Video for Nonprofits. Our guest presenter will be Greg Tuke, an international video and social media consultant. Register now for this interactive (Greg will be bringing video cameras with him!) free workshop. Now in Greg's own words...
As a part of our ongoing free brown bag presentations on a range of nonprofit technology topics, we are proud to announce Video for Nonprofits. Our guest presenter will be Greg Tuke, an international video and social media consultant. Register now for this interactive (Greg will be bringing video cameras with him!) free workshop.
Making compelling video: the next best thing to being there
Tahrir square, Egypt, 2011 Getty Images
For a decade, I worked with schools in the most racially diverse zip code in America, 98118. This vibrant community is just a short, 10 minute ride down the street from the NPower NW office. Yet, like much of the rest of America, it was tragically isolated from the world at large. So, ten years ago I decided to quit my job to see if we could do something about this. And I hoped the emerging communication technologies might help.
Only a small minority of Americans travel in their lifetimes outside America. Fewer still travel to developing countries with dramatically different cultures from our own. Yet it is these experiences that consistently alter how we see ourselves and others, and create breakthroughs in developing our own empathy and cross-cultural understanding.
I had two big questions as I began this 3 month journey to Central America in the fall of 2003, my first stop on what has turned into an eleven year journey. First, would students in other countries want to connect directly with Americans? And second, even if they did, would they have the technology and know-how to do it?
What I discovered stunned me. Not only did students and teachers and community folks want to connect, but that in some respects, the technology and know-how far surpassed what we had in America! I first saw this in Guatemala one day, traveling for eight long hours, first by chicken-bus, then pick-up, then in a small, wooden boat to a dirt-road village nestled in swamplands near the Pacific. As I walked through the village looking for water to quench my thirst after the long ride, I walked into a small 8 by 10 room that was alive with loud teenagers. All sitting in front of computers, playing games and on Skype talking with friends. The lab was run by a 16 year old girl. In my halting Spanish, I asked where she learned to repair and troubleshoot the computers and she said from her brother, who just “picked it up somewhere”. There were no computers at any school in the village, but somehow, somewhere, villagers were getting access to computers and learning to make them work. Yes, it’s true, the generator would breakdown regularly, losing electricity for an hour or two (you learned quickly to hit “save” often), but people were finding all kinds of ways to get the most out of what they had.
Since then I have found this to be true in the wildest places I have worked: From villages in South Africa, Peru, and Gaza, to urban neighborhoods in Jordan, Senegal, and Morocco, people are using live video conferences, making documentary videos and other forms of social media in more sophisticated and creative ways than we are in the US. Some of the tech tools are more advanced than ones found in the states. But even more common is to see enormous creativity in squeezing the most out of whatever tech is available. Organizations like Witness.org and Soliya are using video technology and social media throughout the Middle East and elsewhere to build cross-cultural understanding and build support for causes they care deeply about.
Wednesday, June 27, at noon at the NPower NW office, I will be teaching some of the lessons I have learned in my travels on how to make compelling videos simply and easily for your cause. So you can then incorporate it into your everyday work, year-round.
Most of the students in zip code 98118 may never travel to Guatemala or meet the people you are serving in your organization, in person. But when we use these communication tools well, it’s the next best thing to being there. And that changes lives.
-Greg Tuke, Tuke International Consulting
This fall, Greg will be teaching a class on Social Media/Global Change at Seattle University, and traveling to Egypt to work with students in Cairo as well. During the 11 week class, students in both countries will use live video conferencing and produce social media together. From 7,000 miles away.
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. Click through for the full post...
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 you’ve been a reader of NPower’s blog, in the last six months, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory. This collection of top-notch, online resources and recommended service providers is becoming the “first stop” for nonprofit pros stumped in their job. The convenience of the Resource Directory – coupled with free phone and email help – is tough to top.
But, we’ll be the first to admit: One collection can’t hold it all…nor should we try! There are several government, university, and capacity builder websites with a wealth of resources geared toward nonprofits. And instead of duplicating information, we’ve compiled our favorite websites in one place.
Need a quick link to the Secretary of State’s Charities Program or the State Legislature? How about a link to the IRS’ main nonprofit page? Or, are you interested in quality tools and templates from other local and national sources we especially like?
Here are the groups of weblinks you’ll find when you visit 501 Commons’ Best of the Web page, which is one of many features of the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory:
- Government Connections Here in Washington State
- Federal Government Agencies
- Our Favorite Websites for Nonprofit Resources
- More Recommended Online Resources
Enough about our “likes”! What are your favorite websites for nonprofit tools, best practices, and other resources? We’d love to hear about them and so would other nonprofits that face similar challenges. Please send me (email@example.com) the names and links to websites you’ve bookmarked and we’ll check them out for inclusion on the Best of the Web page.
Speaking of bookmarking, save the links here for future use. What you see is just the beginning as we’re working to grow our library of resources and online trainings. And did I mention free phone and email help? Call (206-682-6704) or write for personalized assistance.
- Matt Fikejs, Information & Referral Program Manager, 501 Commons
This week we hosted another workshop in our free brown bag series - Conquer Your Inbox: Tips & Tricks for Managing Email. The brown bag conversation focused on tips to more effectively organize and manage incoming emails, from changes in behavior to making use of tech tools that automate email processes. Read more...
This week we hosted another workshop in our free brown bag series - Conquer Your Inbox: Tips & Tricks for Managing Email. The brown bag conversation focused on tips to more effectively organize and manage incoming emails, from changes in behavior to making use of tech tools that automate email processes.
Elissa leads the charge for better email management!
Email Issues, Strategies, & Tools
Did you know that in 2011, the average worker sent and received around 120 emails each day, adding up to nearly 2 ½ hours of time spent handling email? Overload can occur after 50 emails, so the time and energy that goes into managing all these messages is becoming a significant obstacle to organizational productivity.
Strategies that can help combat the flood of communication include disabling new email alerts, setting the inbox to “work offline” and only checking email at specified times of the day. Another tip that can be quite handy is to help your organization find other tools for processes such as document collaboration, scheduling meetings or managing projects.
Email services now provide all sorts of tools for providing better inbox organization, from color-coded categories to sophisticated rules that enable email users to define specific functions like auto-archiving for messages with set criteria.
In addition, Gmail is taking auto-responses one step farther than the “vacation-rule” with “Canned Responses,” a Labs service that allows users to insert text into an email - - paired up with a filter, Gmail can even automatically send out the auto-message! A similar function in Outlook is called “Quick Parts” and provides users with the option of saving text to insert into emails, similar to a signature.
See the full offering of tips & tricks from the presentation in NPower’s Knowledge Center.
Looking for more Info?
If you want to read more about strategies for handling email demands, the Microsoft at Work blog is a helpful resource, as well as Inbox Zero.
For videos and tutorials specific to Gmail, Outlook, and other email providers, there is a vast amount of documentation available online. In particular, I recommend visiting:
Microsoft's Outlook training courses
How to Unclutter Your Outlook Inbox webinar
Become a Gmail Ninja advanced tips
Coming up next week
The next installment of our free brown bag series takes place Wednesday, June 20, with Social Media Fundraising 101.
- Elissa Thomas
Our third and final hands-on workshop for the Tech Assessment Cohort took place last week. Eight participants, representing various local nonprofits, took part in our workshop on website development, content management systems and basic design elements. Click through for the full re-cap...
Eight participants from the tech assessment program came to the NPower Northwest training lab for the third and final hands-on workshop focusing on website development, content management systems, and basic design elements. The training covered:
- Overview of how websites work
- WordPress CMS
- Google Sites
- Best practices for nonprofit websites
Elissa and Stephen help the class with their web creations
What are some important elements of nonprofit websites?
Determining basic website design best practices has a lot to do with taking on the mentality of a new visitor to your website. At this point, many of us have experience as website visitors, however we can become jaded to how our own org’s website appears to fresh eyes. What would they look for? What will help them find the info you want them to see and what will turn them away? Here are some foundational design best practices to help visitors find the content they need:
- Simple, accessible design that includes easy page navigation
- Action links displayed prominently on the home page (Donate, Volunteer, Subscribe, etc)
- Nonprofit mission is easily visible AND understandable.
- Contact us page with physical address, phone, email, social networking profiles, etc. (Including photos of staff can help lend a human feel to your org)
An important reminder: Use a tool, such as Google Analytics, that tracks visitor statistics so that you can have metrics to give feedback on your organization’s online engagement goals.
Tools We Recommend For Small Nonprofits
There are a substantial number of web content management systems available to individuals and organizations. We selected WordPress and Google Sites to showcase to the nonprofits in our tech assessment program because of ease of use and implementation. Both tools have a very gentle learning curve and don’t require a lot of other software in order to create live websites. A nonprofit with a WordPress account only needs access to a web server (In case you hadn’t heard, DreamHost, a popular hosting platform, offers free hosting plans to nonprofits). Google Sites requires no external server, as the websites created through this software is hosted directly on Google’s extensive server network.
A good example of a nonprofit site built in WordPress from our Tech Assessment member, Helping Link.
WordPress is an ideal platform for an organization that regularly posts news items and other content. The basic interface is easy to use and powerful, with a large directory of plugins available for more advanced customization. Built with open source software that uses PHP and MySQL, WordPress is used by many web developers, so it is likely that volunteers can be found to create or further develop nonprofit websites.
Google Sites, on the other hand, is more suited for an organizational website that does not need to be updated frequently. The interface is familiar for anyone who is used to using the Google Apps suite, and a major strength is the ease at which objects can be added to web pages: images, YouTube videos, maps, calendars, blogs, documents, and so on.
We did hands-on exercises with mock accounts so that everyone could get real experience creating pages and posts in WordPress and websites using Google Sites. The results weren’t so perfect, but demonstrated that everyone was learning.
If you missed the Websites for Nonprofits training, or would like additional information, here are some relevant training seminars we’ll be hosting in the near future:
- July 11 - Google Analytics Brown Bag
- July 18 - Search Engine Optimization (briefly covering Google Webmaster tools)
If you’re looking for the slides from Monday’s presentation, head over to our Knowledge Center.
- Elissa Thomas and Abby Nafziger