Monday, November 17, 2014

Tech For Small Orgs!

photo from Sergio on Flickr
Having spent the last few years helping Leap of Faith Arts Ministries with their tech has spurred new thoughts on what it means to be a small org.

I think we have heard the pleas of "not enough money", "not enough time", and "not enough skills" so much that we become numb when we hear it. But these challenges are real. Using those challenges as excuses to have no technology plans is still not acceptable though. Even the smallest nonprofit should have a technology plan. Even if it is a napkin with a list of tech they use, vendor info and when it should be replaced.

SO my challenge to all small nonprofits is to stop focusing on your size and challenges and look at the opportunities you have. This video does a better job explaining it, I think...



SO what is the action you should take?
I would start with training the person who will be your technology decision maker. (note, I didn't call them your IT staff. I said technology decision maker. Even if you don't have IT staff, every org needs a formally recognized technology decision maker.)

Here is my full presentation about tech for small nonprofits:



If you are interested in seeing an example list of technology from a small org, you could read my post about the tech Leap of Faith uses. It is a good example of priority in spending tech dollars.

The other awesome part of small nonprofits? Even a $25 donation goes a huge distance. If you found this info or my blog helpful, consider donating to Leap of Faith Arts Ministries!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why do I spend so much time on #NPTech?

Recently a few people have asked me questions like:
Why do you spend so much of your time on nonprofit technology?
Where do you find the time to write, present & speak about nonprofit technology?
Why are you so passionate about nonprofit technology?

Since the early 90's I have been a fan of the ability of technology to change the way a nonprofit meets their mission. My degree is in Finance, so I have a natural interest in process, policies, controls, metrics and the bottom line. Combine my finance education with a childhood full of volunteering in almost every program role possible at the YMCA and you get a process driven love of program delivery with a heart for technology innovation.

Understanding the importance of technology used to be a huge problem, today the problem seems to be moving from knowing technology is important to acting on it. Not to mention the distraction of social media. Yeah, I said it, social media is a distraction from core technology strategy (almost as distracting as gifs...). It seems like too much of our attention in nonprofit technology is on social media. Yes, social media is important, but more important than a solid infrastructure, good security, efficient staff, organization effectiveness and innovative use of technology for mission? I think not.

So I am trying to do my part to bring core technology strategy back into focus. The nonprofit and NTEN communities were there for me when I was starting out and I want to be there for others. I use a big chunk of my spare time reading, writing and speaking about nonprofit technology because I know first hand the power it has. 

I am not saying I am doing this alone, I am doing it as one small part of a community. This is why the NTEN community is so critical. This is why I am an NTEN Champion this year. Your support of this campaign helps nonprofits everywhere learn more about technology. It is like supporting all causes all at once!

Show your support at: https://www.crowdrise.com/2015NTENCommunityChallenge/fundraiser/NTENChampHeye

OR learn about the other causes I am promoting at:
http://steveheye.blogspot.com/2014/11/celebrating-year-of-impact-will-you.html

This video is a teaser of a Bruno Mars song I rewrote. I will release more of the video as more donations come in.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Celebrating a year of Impact! Will you join in?

NPTech or Leap of Faith or The Cara Program - Help me support these causes.

But wait, there is more this year! My 14 year old son has started his own campaign called Comforting Covers!

"Getting stuff done" seems to be the only theme this year. A major project at The Cara Program was super rewarding and impactful, but required extra time, focus and energy. Leap of Faith went through major staff changes, a location move and a fundamental shift by joining More Than Great Dancing.

Not to mention Becca enjoying being a Band Mom and myself continuing to find time for Improv. But I have also been blessed with a number of opportunities to present at conferences including Dreamforce (Salesforce), NTEN NTC, Nonprofits in Motion, and National Catholic Development Conference. It has been a wild ride.

We have still made time to enjoy life, embrace family and love God, but it has all taken a toll. We have put more time and resources than ever into the causes we believe in.

I wouldn't change a thing. A key learning has been that we can't do it alone. We need your help.

Any small or large donation will help me feel I have made the right sacrifices and choices. I am really hoping to find 25 donors across the causes, please join me.

Comforting Covers

Comforting Covers was started in early 2014 by Dominic Heye (my son), a 14 year old boy. Inspired by God, this kid made this little idea he had into a huge plan. He collected over 15,000 dollars in February 2014. Now this year he hopes to collect double that. Comforting Covers collects blankets, gloves, coats, socks, shoes, pants, and anything else a homeless person might need in bitter Illinois weather. All of the items collected will be divided up and donated to Daybreak Shelter in Joliet, IL and Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, IL.

Comforting Covers is an organization that collects warm items, such as blankets and coats, and gives them to the homeless in Chicago and Joliet. Clothing donations can be dropped off at my house or at Leap of Faith.

Visit Comforting Covers on Facebook for more info!


Leap of Faith

New Location, New Curriculum, New Staff, New Website, and tons of New Opportunity.

Watching your kids succeed is one thing, but how do you instill the right values, build their self esteem and ensure strong spirituality as a foundation for life? I think a key to this is to avoid isolating spirituality to church on Sunday. My daughter is a different person because of her involvement with Leap of Faith. As a father, I don't seem as worried as others about how my daughter will behave as a teenager. I am proud of who she is becoming, her self image, confidence and spirituality shine through. When faced with peer pressure and life's challenges, she has leaned on her Faith.

Leap of Faith is building more than great artists, they are equipping youth through spirituality outside of church to live a life to the fullest! And as some of the first students of Leap of Faith have left for college or have grown up and moved on, they talk about the friendships and spiritual lessons having huge impact on their life.

Leap of Faith has taken many next big steps, but it has required a lot of resources. Leap of Faith needs some people to step out in Faith and give them the resources necessary for growth. Operating with a budget around $60,000, any donation today will lead to exponential return and have huge impact.

Donate Now to Leap of Faith or visit the website to learn more or check out the programs!

The Cara Program

Homeless is a serious issue and I have never experienced an org making such a real, lasting impact on individuals, as I have seen at The Cara Program. We prepare and equip our students for entry level jobs and provide a full year of retention support once they are on the job. But don't take my word for it. Take a few minutes to visit The Cara Program website to see the very transparent metrics which try to show the impact.

Or find time to come visit us in Chicago to see our morning Motivations! You will experience our mission first hand and learn about who we are and what we do. We do Motivations Mon-Thurs at 8:25 am till 9am. We are 2 blocks West of Union Station. Just let me know when!

But to see the real impact of The Cara Program, you have to also see the social enterprises we run:

  1. Cleanslate provides our students much needed work experience by providing litter abatement, snow removal, recycling and other neighborhood beautification services.
  2. TCP Staffing is a temp staffing agency which employs our students.
  3. Chapter 2 collects book donations to be resold, redistributed or recycled,.

Consider a donation to The Cara Program

  • Clothing Donations: we also accept professional clothing donations. We need women's and men's suits or interview quality clothes, ties, belts and shoes. (Often we struggle with enough women's clothing). If you get the clothes to me, I will get them downtown.
  • Book Donations: send your book donations over to me as well, I can get them downtown.
  • Hire us! Or if you work for a company in Downtown Chicago and you have entry level jobs, hire our students!
  • Hire Cleanslate! If you work for a company Downtown Chicago, consider using Cleanslate services where possible!

NPTech

For years I have been an avid NPTech (nonprofit tech) community member and champion! I even wrote a book on Meeting your Mission with Technology with NTEN and countless resources on IT Alignment! This is more than a hobby, getting nonprofits the technology they need is a cause I stand behind and fight for constantly.
chapter for a

As I have grown in my experience and involvement in NPTech, I am now in a place to give back some of the knowledge shared with me. I have been presented with a number of opportunities over the last year to connect with some newer staff and have enjoyed it. I always learn something new too!

So this year, I am an NTEN Champion looking to raise funds to help other nonprofits get access to the nonprofit tech community to assist them in meeting their mission!

Please go view my video and read my story on my page to support the NPTech community!

I hope you will consider some sort of donation to one of these causes to show your support!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Does it have to be Innovation or Sustainability?

Are sustainability and innovation enemies?

Is sustainability the opposite of innovation?

It always seemed logical to me, sustainability is working to keep things going while innovation is all about change. They appear to work against each other.

Recently though I attended an innovation workshop one day and a sustainability workshop the next day. And something clicked, which I had always known, but it brought it back. Innovation is required for sustainability. When things are going well or when you are trying to go beyond success, sustainability is the foundation you build. Sustainability is not about status quo, it is about actively taking measures to ensure stability and growth. Innovation is key to growth.

It struck me as interesting when I heard Thomas Kuczmarski say something like -Innovation isn't always looking for a solution. Often it is just understanding & looking at problems differently. Not about idea generation, identifying the right problem to solve is the key to innovation.

And when I think about sustainability it is being able to see your potential problems and reduce the risk of them happening. So the key to both is knowing the problem.

Thomas Kuczmarski continued to talk about innovation as not the same thing as continuous improvement. Innovation is all about creating unique benefits, differentiation from competition, being valued by the customer, creating economic value = key to innovation. Of course I had to translate those to nonprofit terms like mission impact, serving the constituent and such, but you get the drift.

Nonprofits have a responsibility to their donors and supporters to be responsible with the organizations funds. Too many nonprofits see a need & act on it or come up with an idea (innovation), without first understanding the sustainability, which can waste resources. Every organization should have a conversation about sustainability to gain understanding about where you are having impact balanced against the cost. Not to say efforts which cost a lot need to be cut, the trick is to have a balance of efforts and cost for sustainability.

You should know exactly where your organization's contribution to intended impact & excellence in execution = assessing mission impact. If your org is doing something with low impact & you aren't the leader, maybe look at off-loading that to a partner. (Thanks to Steve Strang, MPA from Spectrum Nonprofit Services for the sustainability thoughts in the training)

In the end innovation is a big key to sustainability. Innovation is just an idea until it is defined, actionable & has measurable outcomes (and oh yeah, sustainable).

(The thoughts in this post are based on presentations from Thomas Kuczmarski and Steve Strang. Big thanks to your thoughts and inspiration, it will have an impact on org and me.)



Monday, August 11, 2014

Start with an Inventory - A Rule in Tech to Live by

When you go grocery shopping, first step? See what you have already.
Photo credit Kiri on Flickr

When you go on a vacation, first step? Well, I guess a list, but then you use the list to do an inventory to make sure you bring everything.

When you cook or bake, first step? Well, I guess a recipe, but then typically it is a good idea to make sure you have the ingredients. (Having been sent on last minute trips to spend too much on something we could have gotten cheaper at a time when we didn't really have the time, I can say... you want to make sure you have the ingredients...)

Bringing this back the tech now. Many, if not all, tech strategies and projects start with an inventory. Besides, my analogies were way too much of a stretch anyway.

Tech Replacement. First step in creating a technology replacement plan, take an inventory of your technology. Then use the inventory to determine what needs to be replaced and when. Then look for areas you need upgrades and expansions. Come up with a timeline and bingo. Of course it is a bit more complicated, but you get the idea.  Read this Article from TechSoup to learn more! Plus look at a tool like Spiceworks to build your inventory.

Security. Understand your current security, network, software and setup first. Best way to do that? My opinion is to get an outside security assessment, you can read more about my opinion in this post on Community IT.

Choosing Software. Most people would run out and look at the features or explore choices. But again, start with an inventory. This inventory is different though. It is no longer about a physical count. This inventory is best started with understanding your processes. Yep, good old business process mapping. You could try to jump to business requirements, but it will end up backfiring. The type of information uncovered and discovered when you document how you work is much different than jumping to how do you want the software to work.You must read this article from the Brilliant Peter S. Campbell on IdealwareRead this article from IT For Charities! Then dig through good articles on Idealware.

Websites. OK now you are going to say, start with the audience! Yes agreed, the audience is a key. But a close tie here is an inventory of your content. Shouldn't there be a balance of what you want to say, who you say it to, what they want to hear and what content you already have? Another good article from TechSoup.

Email and Social Media. Too many of the social media conference sessions I have gone to jump straight to the tool, seriously the tools are just tools. A real communication plan is needed first, know what you want to say to who and what you want them to do with the info.  Best place to start? Do an inventory of your current communications. Which leads me to a point going back to the website. Why have a website without a communication plan? Without a plan to communicate, your website is probably just a brochure. Another good article on TechSoup.

This probably all sounds logical and a good idea, but it still surprises me on how many times I hear about org's who skip these steps or even blog posts who just gloss over this.

Anyway, I think you get my not so hidden thought in this post. Start with an inventory. There is a reason most people know about gap analysis and how it starts with an inventory. It is because it works. And if you don't what Gap Analysis is, you might hang around and see if I post something about it next.

Please share any other good articles you have on these topics!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Mission Tech Planning - The Interviews

A big hello to all of my blog readers! (all 3 of you)

I am excited about the attention Missional Technology Planning has been getting! Love it!

I even get to give the presentation here again in Chicago, you should come, everyone is invited:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/501-tech-club-chicago-lunch-n-learn-tech-planning-smack-down-tickets-12209403655

But if you are one of my new blog readers or just haven't been paying attention, you might be thinking: What is the Missional Technology Planning Steve is writing about?

Well you are in luck! Here are two video interviews I did back at #13NTC with MAP for Nonprofits! So go grab your org's mission statement, the strategic plan and some popcorn and watch these!

NOTE! Please forgive my look of exhaustion and hat head. I think I should have left the cowboy hat on... These interviews were after a string of presentations and I had no idea what I looked like.

 


And now that you know what Missional Technology Planning is, Are you ready to use it?



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Due June 22! Tech Session Suggestions needed for #15NTC!


Social Media and Communications session suggestions out number the tech and tool session suggestions in mass quantities.

We need your help to get the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference to have a better Technology focus.

Here is some of the feedback that is listed on the NTEN website about what people are looking for:

  • 58% of respondents identified as nonprofit managers or directors, 17% coordinator/associate level, 17% as executives, and 8% as other.
  • More than 63% describe their level of tech adoption in relation to other colleagues as journey level (knowledgeable and experienced in a few areas), 34% as apprentice (have some knowledge/experience in a specific area), and about 3% as novices (new to it all).
  • What topics did they hope to learn about? 52% identified communications as being a core interest area and 42% named IT as their priority, followed by leadership (34%) and fundraising (30%).
  • 59% mentioned a preference for sessions featuring technical how-tos, 52% wanted to focus on programmatic uses of technology, and 40% requested content about management strategy.
I suggested sessions on:

  1. Making Technology Decisions
  2. Help Desk or Service Desk, either way IT should be a partner
I would love to see some others that have experience suggest some of the following:
  1. Working with technology consultants - how do you pick?
  2. Using a managed network vs hiring your own network admin
  3. My favorite Network and technology management tools: what do you use to monitor your network, run help desk, measure bandwidth, review capacity, audit security, etc?
  4. Data mining and dashboards
  5. Office365 vs Google Apps
  6. Back to the basics on Project Management
  7. The value of a technology committee (project review, peer advisory, etc)
  8. Best practices in desktop support\management
  9. BYOD and other policies needed for todays tech
  10. Governance of all kinds, data, process, etc
  11. Choosing a CRM
  12. What differentiates today's Fundraising Software
  13. How to manage data when you use so many different cloud based or free tools
Anyway, that is just my initial list, I am sure you have ideas, so go suggest them now!


Then go to NTEN and suggest your session! Before June 22, yeah, only 11 days left.