What's on our mind
Here at NPower Northwest, we’re striving to make our web design and development practice better than ever by talking to the sector about their web and online communications experiences. So far, the most popular wishlist item for nonprofits is a dynamic website that connects seamlessly with the other tools they use, and they’re not always having an easy time making it happen. Site integration is a huge part of NPower's web consulting work. Click here to read examples of site integration work we've done and the impact it's made for our clients.
Here at NPower Northwest, we’re striving to make our web design and development practice better than ever by talking to the sector about their web and online communications experiences. So far, we’ve reached out to 115 nonprofits in Washington and Oregon and received feedback via phone and online survey from about 25 organizations on topics ranging from website pain-points to favorite online tools to the underlying site technology. As it turns out, nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest have plenty to say about what makes their online operations tick and what snags they hit, and we’ll share this information as we connect with even more organizations.
One topic that’s already showing up a bunch is site integration with outside tools like Salesforce, MS Access, Google accounts, PayPal, event and ticketing management systems, Constant Contact, and Vertical Response, to name a few. People want dynamic websites that connect seamlessly with the other tools they use, and they’re not always having an easy time making it happen. This stood out immediately to us because site integration is a huge part of NPower Northwest’s web consulting services. Integrating your organization’s tools with the web, despite presenting unique technical challenges, enables you to extend the reach beyond the walls of your organization, casting a wider net to collect and broadcast information about your organization’s programs. Integrating your tools can improve the efficiency of your staff by creating a more automated flow of information from and to your constituents. Here are a couple of examples from our work with clients:
- NPower worked with FaithTrust Institute to streamline their processes and get a handle on the data regarding the individuals they serve in order to put the information to better use. FaithTrust staff needed a way to easily push content from their database to their website and, conversely, be able to collect information via their website and have it land in the correct places within their database. NPower built a fully-integrated Plone website and Salesforce CRM system that includes events, volunteer, and donor management, a blogging platform, and an online store. The integrated tools include PayPal for secure payment processing, Plone's GetPaid e-commerce plugin for shopping cart and inventory management support, PloneFormGen for easily creating powerful forms that FaithTrust Institute can modify and extend themselves, and the suite of Plone/Salesforce integration products developed by NPower Northwest, Groundwire, Web Collective and other community collaborators.
- NPower’s collaboration with Humanities Washington also demonstrates the potential of connecting the tools organizations use to build their business with the web. Integrating Humanities Washington’s Plone website and Salesforce CRM allows them to collect applications for their speakers program online; once submitted these applications automatically create records in their database. Once they are approved, the confirmed speaking engagements automatically populate the Humanities Washington events calendar on the website. This whole process is paper-free and avoids duplicate data entry by the organization staff.
You can check out other examples of NPower’s work around site integration in our new Website Portfolio. If you’re interested in talking with us about our website or database consulting services, contact us online or give us a call at 206.286.8880. Stay tuned for more updates on our ongoing sector survey!
- NPower Northwest Web Team
As our phones now have much more in common with our laptops than our old rotary dialers, it's important to create good policies to ensure data security on phones and mobile devices. Learn the key areas of consideration and how to create your own mobile security policy.
As we keep adding new applications, programs, and features to our phones, it’s important to remember that these devices now have much more in common with your laptop or desktop computer than they do with the rotary dialer that we may have had years back. This progression also means that each time an employee loses their cell phone, they can potentially be losing your organization’s data as that device could have access to work emails, files, and even databases (many common databases have “apps” available to provide persistent mobile access). As our staff members are more and more likely to carry these miniature computers in their pockets, we as nonprofit leaders are wise to create and enforce similar security policies for them as we have for our regular computers and networks. Here are a few high-level areas to consider and help you get started in creating policies for both phones and mobile devices like iPads and tablet PCs:
Consider which staff members need full mobile access:
Does every staff member need to access your database or even email on their phone or mobile device? Probably not. The fewer devices that are carrying your sensitive data, the better off your data will be. When choosing which staff will be either using an organization-owned phone or accessing your organization's data on their personal phone or device, make sure to evaluate whether this is a person or staff group who actually needs mobile access rather than wants the convenience. To do that, identify reasons why mobile access will help them work more effectively. These can be whether or not the individual or group regularly receives urgent messages that require an immediate reply, or if they regularly work off-site.
Policies for personal devices:
If we are discussing phones or devices owned by your nonprofit and provided to certain staff, then it feels relatively straight-forward to enforce the security policies that you create. There are more questions that arise when staff may want to access organizational data on their personal items. A good policy is to require that all staff ask permission before adding any organization data to their phone or device – whether through email access, file storage, or information accessed through apps. It’s good to control who has access and which devices they are using – some devices have better security options than others, and you want to make sure that staff will be trustworthy with your data. If a staff person does not agree with your policies, they should not be allowed to access work information on their phone – if they do not want to follow your policies they can opt out by not using their personal devices for work reasons. If they are in a position where it is vital that they have access to this data, you may consider if it’s worth the organization paying for a phone for them to use rather than placing that data on their personal device.
In addition to agreeing to your security policies, there are other items to consider when allowing employees to use their personal phones for work purposes:
- Will they be reimbursed for their used minutes or data usage? Talk with your HR team to decide how to compensate staff in these cases.
- Not all phones and devices will connect to your network with the same level of ease. If a staff member is purchasing a new phone with the intention of using it for work purposes, make sure they know enough to make a good purchasing choice.
Enforce Screen Locks and Secure Passwords:
Every mobile device connected to your network needs to follow the same security policies on your network, and the easiest to start with are screen locks and passwords. We recently went over tips and policies surrounding secure passwords, and it is important to choose similarly good passwords for your smartphone and mobile devices.
In addition, make sure to use the screen lock function that is standard on most devices. These functions require you to re-enter your password if your phone has been idle for a few minutes, which will prevent the average person from using your phone should they find it. We recommend that you have the screen lock after 3 minutes of inactivity, if not sooner.
Create a good policy tailored to your organization:
Below are some key points to include when you create a mobile device security policy for your nonprofit. These are only broad areas of concern, and you should work with your HR, tech support, and possibly your legal team to expand this for your nonprofit. When you have your policy finished, it should be addressed with new staff members and kept with other HR and/or technology policies for reference.
Sample Mobile Security Policy
In order to protect the network and data of ORGANIZATION NAME, all staff members must abide by these mobile security policies.
- Any phone or mobile device that stores any data owned by ORGANIZATION NAME, whether owned by ORGANIZATION NAME or an individual staff member, must have the following security measures put in place:
- A screen lock (may be known by other names on different devices) must be implemented to require a password or code to be entered after being idle for 2 minutes or more.
- Staff members must not use the default passwords provided by their phone or voicemail service, but must create a new one.
- No staff may add any data owned by ORGANIZATION NAME to their personal phone or other device without the express permission of management. Data includes, but is not limited to, email, files, and database access through applications or web browsers.
- In addition to the items outlined above, an individual who is given a phone owned by ORGANIZATION NAME or granted permission to add data owned by ORGANIZATION NAME on their phone or mobile device, agrees to the following:
- They will report any loss or theft of their phone or mobile device to management within 24 hours.
- They consent to having their phone’s or mobile device’s data wiped by our network support staff in the event of loss or theft to protect any data stored on the device.
- They agree to abide by best practices as outlined in this and other technology policies, which can be amended by management at any time.
Provide Security Education to Staff:
The best constructed policy is little more than a slip of paper if you don’t provide education on it, it’s details, and the reasoning behind it. Make sure to go over your policy with new staff when they are hired, and it’s a good idea to go over the policy regularly with all current staff as well. Make sure to include staff that aren't going to be receiving mobile access, so that they are reminded of why they should ask permission before adding information or access on their own.
We hope that these tips will help you get started with creating good policies for your staff regarding mobile security. NPower consultants are also available to help you create policies customized to your organization’s needs, and we can also help you choose and setup smartphones or mobile devices for use at your nonprofit. Please contact us if you would like to ask any questions or get started.
We also invite you to our free brownbag workshop on Wednesday, August 24, Getting Smart About Smartphones to learn more about how your nonprofit can make good smartphone decisions.
- Elaina Buzzell
Last week I wrote a blog post about the innovative new Apply with LinkedIn application that will allow employers to accept applications via a plugin with the popular professional social networking site. In the post I mentioned that LinkedIn has staff working to develop and expand their services for nonprofits. Well it didn’t take long to learn exactly what they’re up to. Read more...
Last week I wrote a blog post about the innovative new Apply with LinkedIn application that will allow employers to accept applications via a plugin with the popular professional social networking site. In the post I mentioned that LinkedIn has staff working to develop and expand their services for nonprofits. Well it didn’t take long to learn exactly what they’re up to.
A blog post on Community Organizer 2.0 reports that former Salesforce.com Foundation director of nonprofits and education, Bryan Breckenridge, has been brought on to lead their new LinkedIn Nonprofit Solutions department. While it sounds like there are a lot of exciting thing to come (including recruiting solutions for staff, volunteers, and board members), LinkedIn has already made a learning center page available for nonprofits to help them utilize the site more effectively.
To read the interview with Bryan Breckenridge and get more detail on what’s in store for nonprofits on LinkedIn, visit Community Organizer 2.0’s blog.
- Mandi Moshay
Microsoft has been a valuable partner to the nonprofit community for as long as any of us can remember. And their partnership just got even more valuable as they’ve made some exciting changes to their global software donations program in an effort to make their technology tools available to more nonprofit organizations. Click here for more details...
Microsoft has been a valuable partner to the nonprofit community for as long as any of us can remember. And their partnership just got even more valuable as they’ve made some exciting changes to their global software donations program in an effort to make their technology tools available to more nonprofit organizations. They’re increasing the allotment of software products NPOs can request, making more categories of nonprofits eligible for donations, and launching a “Get Genuine” helping organizations to ensure their computers are running genuine Microsoft operating systems.
And that’s not all! Through their partnership with TechSoup, nonprofits can now request Microsoft software donations via TechSoup as many times as they like (meaning no waiting for a year to roll slowly by while waiting to make another request). You can get the full details on Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Blog, on TechSoup’s website via their Overview of Microsoft Donation Program page, or at a free webinar offered by TechSoup on August 4 (space is limited and registration is required).
- Mandi Moshay
Many of us use tools like bit.ly to shorten long website addresses in our Tweets, but they've been causing some problems when used in emails. Learn more and how to get around the problem.
Over the past couple of years many of us have become familiar with URL shortening services such as bit.ly. While these services can be great for shortening websites for use in social media, we’ve noticed them causing some problems when being used in email messages.
We recently had a client who was noticing that many of his recipients were reporting they weren’t receiving email messages he was sending. After some investigation, we noticed he was directing people to a specific page of his organization’s website in his email signature and the link was shortened using the bit.ly service. Many email filtering services place emails with shortened URLs into the spam folder - since you can’t tell where a bit.ly link is going from its address, it’s a common tactic for spammers to use them to send people to nefarious places.
To ensure that your emails make it to inboxes instead of spam folders, we recommend avoiding the use of URL shorteners. If you want to send someone to a website with a very long address, you can instead use the tools to insert links that are provided by most email tools. These allow you to embed the link behind the text of your choosing in a way that doesn't trigger the spam filters.
- Elaina Buzzell
Yesterday we kicked-off our free brown bag series with a workshop on keeping your website relevant. NPower trainer Christin Boyd and web consultant Patrick Tewson led the full conference room through a high level discussion of successful web content maintenance strategies. Click here to read the highlights and get links to resources from the workshop...
Yesterday we kicked-off our free brown bag series with a workshop on keeping your website relevant. NPower trainer Christin Boyd and web consultant Patrick Tewson led the full conference room through a high level discussion of successful web content maintenance strategies.
I was pleased to hear them start the discussion by encouraging people to ground their content in their overall communications strategy by identifying key audiences and constantly asking yourself, “Is this content bringing us closer to reaching our organizational goals?” As a member of the NPower team that is responsible for web updates and social media content generation, I am keenly aware of how easy it is to lose focus of the “why” and “who” of online communications, so having that reminder is always nice.
The presenters shared some great tips and tools, including a spreadsheet to help content managers think through updates, track contact information for contributing subject matter experts, and set dates for evaluation and archiving of content. The spreadsheet is available for download, along with the slide deck from the workshop, in the knowledge center on our website. You can also follow the tweets from the day by searching the event hashtag - #npnwbb - on Twitter.
If you weren’t able to make it to the brown bag, but are looking to learn how to keep your website fresh, join us for our training next Thursday – Web Content Maintenance. This training goes into much further detail (3.5 hours’ worth) regarding the effective processes for creating, editing, formatting, publishing, and archiving content. It’s offered at a low rate – just $35 – thanks to generous funding from Adobe. The class will also be offered on October 6 and December 5 in case you can’t make it next week.
As part of our community education efforts, we’ll be continuing our free lunchtime brown bag series with the next installment, Get Smart About Smartphones, on August 24. Register today to save your spot. Did I mention it was free? We’ll even provide dessert!
Thanks to everyone who came to the brown bag and contributed to the discussion. See you next time!
- Mandi Moshay
I had the pleasure of attending a convening yesterday of leaders and participants in the Communities Connect Network (CCN). I'm excited about the social media webinars that NPower will be offering through CCN this fall, and even more thrilled that the CCN experience sets us up to extend the trainings to our nonprofit audience in Washington and Oregon. Click here to learn more...
I had the pleasure of attending a convening yesterday of leaders and participants in the Communities Connect Network (CCN). The Network received a tidy sum of stimulus funding for its "Communities Connect Network Project" to provide training and hardware to community technology providers across Washington State, and they're going for it! NPower has been a CCN partner for a number of years, and if was fun to reconnect with old friends (David Keyes from the City of Seattle, Mike Crandall from the UW Information School, and Carole Fulsom-Hill and Luz Monroy from La Casa Hogar in Yakima...) and to meet new participants like library staff from Burlington, La Conner and Yakima Nation. I'm excited about the social media webinars that NPower will be offering through CCN this fall, and even more thrilled that the CCN experience sets us up to extend the trainings to our nonprofit audience in Washington and Oregon.
Communities Connect Network Project
With leadership from EdLab Group and the City of Seattle's Information Technology Program, and in partnership with NPower Northwest and other training providers, CCN has big plans for expanding the capacity of public computing centers. As a result of the project, thousands of low-income families in Washington State will be able to access broadband services related to education, jobs, and health, as well as the civic tools that information technology provides. Participating organizations include public libraries and nonprofit organizations across the state. CCN is creating a new web-based portal to house information about the program and to provide a forum for participants to connect with each other. The portal is under construction, and a sneak peek provided yesterday by David Keyes from the City of Seattle had the room abuzz. For now, you can learn more about CCN at their current site at http://www.communitiesconnect.org/
As a training partner in the Communities Connect Network Project, NPower Northwest will provide a series of social media trainings (101, 201 and 301) this fall to help public computing center staff and volunteers to better deliver on their missions. The webinars will help participants to use social media to communicate more effectively with clients and supporters, and do it in a way that is manageable and meets the organization's communication goals.
Details on the webinar content and access to registration for CCN partners will be provided on the CCN site soon. And for our general nonprofit audience, we'll be offering free brown bags based on the CCN Social Media 101, 201 and 301 series starting this fall as well. Look for announcements in our Plugged In enews and watch for the events on our training calendar.
Thank you to our partners at EdLab for hosting the convening this week, and for providing us with an opportunity to contribute to the Communities Connect Network Project.
- Peg Giffels
While the world is still atwitter with the excitement surrounding Google+, the team at LinkedIn has been gearing up to release an exciting new feature: Apply with LinkedIn. Click here to read more about this feature and its implications...
While the world is still atwitter with the excitement surrounding Google+, the team at LinkedIn has been gearing up to release an exciting new feature: Apply with LinkedIn. This new plug-in will allow employers to add a button to their websites that lets applicants throw their hat in the ring via their LinkedIn profile. Employers are given access to LinkedIn users’ full profiles, including resume information, recommendations, status updates, linked Twitter and blog feeds, and whatever other information the user has chosen to include.
Apply with LinkedIn might make you think twice about the information you include on your LinkedIn profile (maybe time to change that profile pic?), but will certainly make it easier to apply for jobs with the early-adopting companies that use the plug-in. Considering that nonprofit organizations employ about 10 percent of Americans, news of this feature’s availability will likely be music to the ears of nonprofit staffers responsible for recruitment.
Despite being less-talked-about than Facebook, Twitter, or even Google+, LinkedIn can be a dynamic tool for nonprofit organizations – and with staff members devoted to developing services for nonprofits, we can look forward to the site improving as time goes on.
If you’re on LinkedIn, you can connect with NPower by becoming part of our new group (recently started post re-brand). We’re excited to share a lot of great resources for our nonprofit colleagues on the world’s largest professional network.
- Mandi Moshay
Ah…summer in the Northwest. Just when we all get accustomed to sunny days and 70 to 80 degree temperatures, Mother Nature yanks it all away. But – sunshine or not – summertime often brings with it a slightly slower pace in the office. People take vacations, deadlines seem to stretch, and there’s actually time to breathe and think. What better time to pursue a little professional development? Get out of the office and learn something! NPower has a slew of great training classes and brown bags coming up. Click here to read more about them...
Ah…summer in the Northwest. Just when we all get accustomed to sunny days and 70 to 80 degree temperatures, Mother Nature yanks it all away. But – sunshine or not – summertime often brings with it a slightly slower pace in the office. People take vacations, deadlines seem to stretch, and there’s actually time to breathe and think. What better time to pursue a little professional development? Get out of the office and learn something!
NPower has a slew of great training classes and brown bags coming up. Here’s a few to get you started, and you can check out the training calendar on our website for more:
FREE Lunchtime Brown Bag – Keep Your Website Relevant – THIS WEDNESDAY: Learn tips and tricks to keep your site up-to-date and avoid having to do a massive overhaul every time an update is necessary. We’re bringing dessert!
Web Content Maintenance – 8.4.11: Updating your web content can be a daunting task. This training class will help you establish processes and checklists to make it easy. The last class sold out, so reserve your spot today at 50% thanks to funding from our friends at Adobe.
Salesforce Foundations – 8.11.11: Whether you’re exploring potential database systems or new to Salesforce, this introductory training will give you all the basics and highlight the advantages of this dynamic CRM.
InDesign Intermediate (two-part class) – 8.12.11 and 8.19.11: If you’ve got the basics of InDesign down but want to take your skills to the next level, this class is for you. We’ve broken it into two parts to make the information easier to digest. And it’s 50% off thanks to funding from Adobe!
Photoshop Foundations (two-part class) – 8.22.11 and 8.29.11: Learning the basics of Photoshop can take your amateur photos from ho-hum to “holy cow!” Learn your way around this amazing tool in two sessions, giving you time to tinker in between and bring your questions to part two. This class is also 50% off thanks to funding from Adobe.
There’s much, much more on our training calendar, and even more to come. Check it out now and come back often.
- Mandi Moshay
Are you one of the early-adopters of Google+? I was invited a couple weeks ago by a friend and signed on to see what all the fuss was about. I must admit that I was reluctant to sign on as I shudder to think about having another social networking site to monitor. But the more I've played around with it and read articles about it's intended purpose, the more I have begun to buy-in to Google+ and it's potential as a collaboration tool. There are a ton of great articles out there, so I am not going to attempt to re-invent the wheel here. But, I wanted to share the slide deck responsible for my Google+ ah-ha moment. Click to read more and get the deck...
Are you one of the early-adopters of Google+? I was invited a couple weeks ago by a friend and signed on to see what all the fuss was about. I must admit that I was reluctant to sign on as I shudder to think about having another social networking site to monitor. But the more I've played around with it and read articles about it's intended purpose, the more I have begun to buy-in to Google+ and its potential as a collaboration tool.
There are a ton of great articles out there, so I am not going to attempt to re-invent the wheel here. But, I wanted to share this slide deck from Vincent Wong at first-time tech founder. This series of slides is responsible for my Google+ ah-ha moment, and hopefully it will help others understand Google+'s place in the social landscape. Psst...it's not about taking down Facebook! Enjoy:
- Mandi Moshay