Monday, April 3, 2017

My #17NTC Notes (spoiler- it rocked!)

Another year, another amazing NTEN NTC! It came and went so fast! It was one of my favorites because I took more time to spend with some of my favorite Nonprofit Techies!

Each year I follow in the inspiring example of Peter S. Campbell by sharing what I learned at the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference. Be sure to read Peter's Post. And here is the Peter meme we tried to start this year.

But to start, here are a few awesome overheard quotes:
  • "I'd love to play with your API."
  • "if your exec director loves your website, you did something wrong."
  •  "if all of your file names end with "file really really final-final version.xls" you probably need better document management"
  • don't be ashamed to say you don't know how to use a tool or do something, we have all been there. 

Weds, March 22

 #17NTC #NTCBEER was awesome!  Started with dinner with some long time friends and continued with some awesome brews and conversation making for a great night. This is a can't miss event if you come to the conference.

Thurs, March 23

Ignite Plenary!
There were less Ignites at the plenaries this time. A few were great, a few seemed like commercials.  Here are a few highlights.
  • starts with fail story of pricing change from vendor. Yikes! Tip know what you need & make it sustainable
  • so many fail stories start with learning "that has been done" but we decide to recreate it anyway, cuz we are unique
  • know your strength & value, don't fear collaboration & good software takes a team (not just cute boyfriend)
  • I feel like Clay Aiken, always coming in 2nd place.
  • fail story about ridiculous 7 stage, multi hour, meal eating & chart quiz. Ehhh wrong answer, security will escort u out
  • we all need bad experiences to show us what we really want & where we should be. Learn from failure.
  • how we react to failure is often more important than trying to avoid it.

Real World Business Analytics in Action
Live BI demo using Tweets
Many nonprofits struggle with communicating data. Some jump to visualizations without considering their goals or audience needs. Some have a clear idea of whom they are trying to reach, but don’t know how to best tell their data stories. Here are a few thoughts:
  • sometimes you have to start with what you have for analytics, even if it is bad & in numerous places
  • tools like data warehouse &  BI rock but we can't get funding for it to prove it is worth it
  • often first 15 seconds of looking at dashboard is all it takes for people to determine if it has value to them
  • visuals on a dashboard matter, they tell stories &  create interest
    Live BI demo with data
  • predictive tries to guess future, prescriptive tries to control it
  • typically 5% create the reports, 95% use them. Today's BI allows direct report BI creation to end user
  • enjoyed the laughter when Microsoft presenter asked about using Bing... Have fun with who you are
  • has free datasets available for your analytics
  • combining bubble size &  y axis &  x axis with allowing chart to change with time tells a real story (see image to right)
  • gone are the days where your only data source is your internal database. Think social &  so many others
  • cleaning the data before BI reporting can be tedious. get the right tool &  spend the time tho, it is worth it
Welcome to the Future: Mobile Wallets, Payments, and Philanthropy
With so many different payment methods, it can be cumbersome and confusing to think about which methods you should or can accept and how secure your donor data is through these methods.
  • when thinking about mobile payments, consider your end goal (donations, events, engagement) & hire the data will be available to you
  • consider what countries you will work in: payment methods, phone &  tools will be different
  • digital wallets can dramatically increase the speed off making a donation. You don't have to fill out the donor info
  • text to give donation typically $5-$10, stats show higher donation with mobile wallet. But you tend to get more new donors with text to pay.
  • do your research on the platforms your supporters use before you select your mobile payment strategy. Analytics from website can help to determine what the makeup of your current supports is
  • know how pictures will get cropped when shared, if your logo/message is only on the bottom it won't show when shared
  • you can now add donation functionality to your videos on YouTube & your Facebook page
  • I wonder if by spending our time on social media & mobile do we get tech distracted & miss talking to people...
  • find change agent, need tech capability, be nimble, get data-permissions, legal risk & manage expectations
  • before going crazy with mobile payments, start with a good website with solid online fundraising to learn what works
  • key is to capture donations at moment you have supporters interest & attention, time kills conversions

The Role of Technology in Managing the Operations of a Nonprofit
I co-presented this session with Peggy Duvette from NetSuite and Kelly Bleach from the American Foundation for the Blind.  It was a fun session with Legos and Jenga. Plus there was a lot of great content. Feel free to check out the preso slides and the shared notes:

Fri, March 24

The Fully-Informed Approach to Calculating Return on Investment
How can one determine whether an investment is worthwhile? How can we align our spending more tightly with our objectives? What tools and strategies support the formation of reasonable assumptions on the likely return on investment?

Visit the Collaborative notes for this session with the slides!

Mostly went to this because Peter Campbell presented and I always make sure to make time in my schedule to heckle him, but he is super smart! And Peter did not disappoint, it was awesome.
  • Getting the right buy in is always key! (Love the humor-slides from @peterscampbell ! see images to right)
  • to really get ROI realized, you have to follow up & ensure solution gets implemented & used
  • when ROI is about staff- using a survey before/after change can be effective to show change
  • Measure ROI in $ when you can, but list all benefits you can't monetize to see if those benefits are worth cost
  • ROI is unique to your org= your staff skills, existing tools, expertise &  other are all factors in cost/benefit
  • always consider the staffing changes needed for ROI! Will it work for your existing staff & if not.... (changes in staff, positions or training will be required.)
  • EVERY technology decision is a business decision! Know the impact of those decisions!
  • we need to be good stewards of $. Do the ROI work & research on your decisions.
  • combining ROI (return on investment) & TCO (total cost of ownership) can be powerful info
  • often patterns of cost & trends can also inform your ROI (staff retention, system usage, # of workarounds)
  • ROI can depend on knowing difference between Output (we help them get a job) & Outcome (no longer in poverty)
  • assessments are great when used correctly. But self assessments only work if you know yourself & are honest about it.
  • sometimes assessments are more effective when questions are asked across org, not completed by just one person? Multiple perspectives really adds value

Leading in Uncertain Times
These are uncertain times in many ways, but one uncertainty many nonprofits can relate to is funding changes (which seem to be a big topic right now). Peter and Dahna did amazing navigating this discussion and leading the crowd to some energetic conversation.  I have never seen so many people like a session with three slides on layoffs.

Visit the Collaborative notes!
  • It seems that the only certainty today is uncertainty.  So how do we handle it? big hint-get ahead of the crisis
  • Never let a good crisis go to waste! @dahnag (love her & this thought)
  • during uncertain times, keep mission & strategic plan as compass. And don't wait for a crisis if you see it coming.
How leaders should communicate
  • Be Carefully responsive! Don't overreact. Listen. Pay Attention. Be aware. Support and show you care-understand
  • As a leader, set the tone. Communicate. Be direct, but sensitive. Have a clear message.
  • Leaders are trained to leave emotion at home. But uncertainty=ANXIETY! Be aware of this & be proactive on it.
  • Uncertain times (crises) can be awesome opportunities to start a different conversation with your funders.
  • Say to funders: "you have seen the uncertainty in the news, we appreciate your support, but we need to change." – use this as a way to ask for operations funding – not restricted or as a way to ask them for more.
  • during short term crisis don't let it Street you from your long term goals. Strategic plans are key, just adjust 
  • be honest but not create fear. find the balance of reality and hope.
  • if executives aren't transparent, the rumor mill will take over. Lead by being open, don't hide it.
  • leaders might think "talking about it creates panic", but reality is silence is often worse.
  • never forget about the role of the Board during uncertain times.
  • transparency is key in uncertain times, but don't feed rumor mill. APPROPRIATE level of candor &  tone
Have a plan. And the best time to plan for uncertain times is during stable times.
  • Hope isn't a strategy. Have a plan. Setting direction & being able to share it helps address uncertainty.
  • Brainstorm w/ key players at uncertain time on worst case scenario vs likely, then plan for it. assess risk
  • Having a conversation before you absolutely need to have that conversation goes a very long way. 
When uncertain time hit:
  • in uncertain times, don't hesitate to renegotiate with vendors, it is better than just losing you
  • avoid big risks in uncertain times, but great time for small experiments. necessity is mother of invention.
  • find other orgs in similar uncertain times so your leadership has a peer to talk-commiserate with
  • when majority of budget is staff, so in crisis layoffs can be necessary. Don't avoid the conversation internally
  • when dealing with layoffs, involve the right people. Make decisions on impact & position, not the people.

Sat, March 25

Nonprofit Execs Talk about Strategic Assessment
This interactive panel discussion featured nonprofit execs sharing how strategic assessments changed their organizations.

Visit the Collaborative Notes!
    My favorite thoughts
    • we aren't getting things done, so let's just work harder & longer! Yep, that will fix it. not.
    • our staff have been here a long time ="institutional knowledge"... Otherwise known as, "we are set in in our ways."
    • we've always done it that way & now we need a better system to keep doing it the same way. not.
    Reasons to do an assessment
    • how do you move from being band-aid applier to silo destroyer? A strategic assessment may help. 
    • often staff want to make real change but are so buried in what they do that they just can't change
    • we're getting by & things are fine, why change? That is actually the easiest time to improve, rather than after a crisis
    • we don't like assessments, just like we don't like looking in a mirror.
    • we all think we want an assessment, but we fear or don't want to face the results or make the hard changes
    During an assessment
    • a HUGE outcome of assessments is the conversation that happens during Discovery. Let's make our org GREAT AGAIN!
    • your staff wants to be heard & provide strategic input. An assessment gives them that chance.
    • a solid strategic assessment can take 2 weeks, 8 hours a day, to give each dept-staff time to talk=an investment
    • scale the time/scope of a strategic assessment to match your org size, culture, needs, etc. Not one size fits all
    • during an assessment, you will find things that you didn't even know your org or staff does.
    • an assessment is only as good as the changes & actions you take based on it.
    • staff can't think past what they do today. just saying think outside the box doesn't help. Lead them with questions.
    • Avoid having managers in room while staff provide their insight in an assessment, it will be more direct & honest
    After the assessment
    • if your system doesn't work the way you want, ask yourself should I change how I work?
    • assessment is done, review results w/team. What is important to change, can be changed & celebrate what you change
    • create a budget for change based on the assessment & set aside time to make the changes or just don't bother
    • NOT everything from an assessment has to go through your board, just make the operational changes needed.
    • Peeling back the layers of the onion to see how bad we actually smell... Reasons to do strategic assessment 
    • helps to take the time to have staff review the assessment report to verify it is what they meant.
    How to Automate Workflows to Become a Truly Data-Driven Organization
    We'll review the steps involved in moving an organization to full workflow automation, including technical steps and organizational buy-in. We'll also cover ways to ensure that automated workflows are accessible to individuals with different technical skills.

    Visit the Collaborative Notes!
    • why do we design new reports to match the spreadsheet we used to use but hated....?
    • automation isn't just about those massive efforts, think about those 10 minute tasks you do every week, they add up
    • know when to automate. A 10 minute task you do quarterly which would take a week to automate isn't best idea 
    • Automation can be (and often is!) hacky.  Might not be beautiful. Goal is to make it work for you.   
    • if process has alot of copy/paste or waiting to click next between steps, then it might be a good one to automate
    • let me repeat. See if you can use the systems you already have better, before just running out because you saw some new awesome tool
    • before you automate, document the process/flow (even just using post-its on the wall 
    • adding a map to a dashboard or report will always make people cheer, but who cares if it doesn't tell a story

    I got to go all Office Space with Peter Campbell and Dahna Goldstein!

    And had the wackiest, loudest and best conference dinner ever with Lindsay Bealko, Marc Baizman, Tim Lockie and Marisa!

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Getting back to the Soft Skills - Presentation Skills

    I count myself lucky to have landed in my job at NetSuite (now part of Oracle). I get to do some amazing work with nonprofits and spend some time thinking about how we can assist small nonprofits with their operations and financials. So awesome. But another great part is the resources available. I recently got to spend a couple days at a Soft Skills training and learned a bunch of things. So I thought I would take a bit of time to share a few things from this training and other things I have learned along the way that are relevant to anyone who needs to do a presentation.

    Get comfortable with the content

    Death by PowerPoint is no joke. If you don't know your content well enough to present it without reading a script or reading from the slides. If you know your content, it allows you to be natural in your presentation and have some fun with it. So practice it.

    Have a plan.

    Building your slide deck is not a plan in my experience.  All you are doing is planning what you are going to say and when. This would work great if your style is just to present the material and allow for questions, which for some scenarios is the only choice.  But I find it useful to create a training design, this allows me to think through the flow and objectives for each part, not just the content.

    Here is what I typically use, I create a sample in a Google Doc. Beth Kanter has a good post on learning design! (Beth is wicked smart and rocks at presenting, by the way)

    Pick your style for the presentation.

    I think the biggest mistakes I have made when presenting is trying to do it all in one session: tell a story, run a workshop, present, interactive exercises, humor, entertainment, high level learning, detailed deep dive, etc.  I think the ones which worked best were the simple ones. I picked one hook for my session and stuck with it all the way. One theme and one approach with a clear message. You can mix a couple of these styles in, but it has to make sense with the topic and flow. How many times have you been in a session and the group activity felt forced or the story seemed to be a stretch or they spent the whole time entertaining but you never seemed to get to the content?

    Techy or technical presentation?
    Peter Campbell has an awesome post on how to handle this!

    Yeah, I think I already mentioned practice, but practice should be repeated. And this is even more key when you have a team or a panel. Don't just wing it, unless that is the style of your presentation. But if winging is the style, make that clear in the description. However, even with a wing it interview style session, you still have to plan the time by topic, questions you will ask, prep the panel and do a dry run of the flow. So yeah, I go back to my original statement, you have to practice.

    Random tips from the training I attended:

    Tell, Show, Tell
    Tell what you are going to show, Show it, Tell them what you showed.   Basically this goes to recency and primacy.  People remember what was repeated and what was said most recently.

    Rule of 3 
    Things told in chunks of 3 are easier to remember.  Read this article about it.

    Limbic and Stories
    There is a connection between memory and emotions (limbic system), stories are a great way to make this happen. Read this article as an example.  But there are many ways to bring emotion into your presentation, pick ones that match the plan and style you picked earlier, don't force it.

    Well anyway, that is all the time I have for this post.  There is so much more you can do, but thought I would share.

    Here is my list of links for you to read more: 

    Tuesday, February 7, 2017

    Where I'll be at #17NTC!

    Each year I follow in the inspiring example of Peter S. Campbell by sharing where I'll be at the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference and typically I link to his awesome post, but sadly Peter hasn't posted yet this year or I missed it. Peter posted his post, WOOHO, go read it now!

    The annual NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference is something I look forward to all year long! This event has helped shape my career and the orgs I have worked for, plus it has impacted a number of orgs and staff I have collaborated or shared with. I love it. Anyway, here is where I will be at #17NTC.

    HELP! Previous years I made awesome plans to connect with people at Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, but I don't have any of those plans yet, hit me on Twitter at @steveheye if you want to connect or leave a comment.

    Or you can read what I learned at #15NTC to see if it helps you want to go! - seems like I never posted a what I learned at #16NTC, weird.

    Weds, March 22

    A mix of nerds and brew, need we say more? Celebrate the 9th annual #ntcbeer, the pre-conference party known for good refreshments and better conversation. Catch up with nptech friends old and new over a few brews or whatever. This year will be a bit different, our Facebook page will list a few options for you to pick from to meet up for #17NTC #NTCBEER. There are just too many of us to easily organize one place. Check it out on Facebook and meet some new people!

    Thurs, March 23

    Ignite Plenary!
    Lucky for all of you, I am not singing this year.  But the brilliant Amy Sample Ward will be reading some of her poetry! (not sure which day ASW will read it, but in response to my challenge post she agreed to it.) It's a can't miss!

    Communicating Data for Action and Impact
    With my new role so focused on data and nonprofits, time to sharpen these skills. Good session description: Many nonprofits struggle with communicating data. Some jump to visualizations without considering their goals or audience needs. Some have a clear idea of whom they are trying to reach, but don’t know how to best tell their data stories. This interactive session will provide real world examples and actionable advice on applying “The Five A’s of Data Communication” to help you achieve your desired outcomes:

    Technology Wellness in the Nonprofit Workplace
    You can't go wrong with Beth Kanter and I haven't been to one of her sessions in a while. I am sure she will have us doing some walking or maybe even mediation.... But hey she is wicked smart and always pleases the crowd. Plus we could all stand to put our phones down and learn to deal with the overwhelming amount of tech in our life.

    The Role of Technology in Managing the Operations of a Nonprofit
    I will be co-presenting this session with Peggy Duvette, plus a surprise nonprofit guest!  This should be a bit of fun mixed with some learning about tech and operations.  Come on we could all use some help with managing and running our orgs a little better.

    Fri, March 24

    The Fully-Informed Approach to Calculating Return on Investment
    How can one determine whether an investment is worthwhile? How can we align our spending more tightly with our objectives? What tools and strategies support the formation of reasonable assumptions on the likely return on investment? (Mostly going to this because Peter Campbell is presenting and I always make sure to make time in my schedule to heckle him, but he is super smart!)

    Audience Research on a Dime
    We're helping people solve for situations when they don't have resources for audience research, have buy-in for audience research, and understand the importance of audience research.

    FUN After Hours!
    Need to pick a progressive party!

    Sat, March 25

    Nonprofit Execs Talk about Strategic Assessment
    This interactive panel discussion will feature nonprofit execs sharing how strategic assessments changed their organizations.

    How to Automate Workflows to Become a Truly Data-Driven Organization
    We'll review the steps involved in moving an organization to full workflow automation, including technical steps and organizational buy-in. We'll also cover ways to ensure that automated workflows are accessible to individuals with different technical skills.

    Geek Games! Bring it!

    SO much Stuff! If you haven't registered, DO IT NOW! If you have registered, change your travel to be there early for the Pre-Conference (Smaller crowds and more info!)

    Monday, December 5, 2016

    Want greater control of tech in your org? Loosen your grip.

    Centralizing the planning of technology is crtiical to ensuring you have the right solutions for your full org.  Allowing each department or staff person to be involved in tech only leads to silos, disparate systems and inefficiencies.

    This seems logical right? Centralize the control to ensure technology is used well across the org.

    Times have changed though. Technology has been consumerized allowing everyone to be involved and is part of everyone's job. The cloud has made technology more approachable and accessible to all. The tools have also changed to require less IT management. The role of IT is shifting with this to focus on steering the technology plan, not controlling it.

    As this change is happening though, the tensions between departments seems to be growing as well, not to mention the silos. Each department gets their own solution, data isn't shared and people work in isolation.

    This gap is often evident between finance, fundraising and tech. Fundraising and finance each go out and get their own solutions, but end up looking at different data.  Cheryl Gipson describes this great in this article from NetSuite.

    Another example, back in 2013 this article by Richard Cooper you can see how the ease of adopting tools like email marketing, cloud CRM and social media has allowed Marketing to move forward with technology, without relying on IT. Of course this will lead to organizational challenges and IT does still have a role:
    The future role of the CIO is to set people free to exploit technology, but, and this is the big but, the role is also to educate people on the responsibility that comes with this.

    Or as  Michael Enos says in the article called The Future Role of the CIO in the NonProfit (also from 2013):
    ...the future role of the CIO is to ensure appropriate integration and alignment of all these exciting democratizing tools into the business strategy of the NPO. 
    So as times change, the role of technology, the IT team and the CIO has to change. It is no longer about control, but rather about influencing the alignment of technology across the organization. You need to loosen how technology is managed and who is involved to build collaboration across the org. The role of technology will continue to change, but the need for a technology decision maker to steer the technology direction across the org will not go away.

    Thoughts on this or good articles related to it? Please share them in the comments.

    Monday, November 28, 2016

    #17NTCIgnite - Take a Chance!

    First, I want to issue a challenge to the gloriously awesome Amy Sample Ward (ASW), CEO of NTEN. At the 2016 NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference Amy Sample Ward shared a secret. I am not sure she meant to, but it happened.  She shared how she wrote poetry in her early years! Yep, we have a poet in our midst.

    Make #ASWPoems happen!
    So I am calling for Amy Sample Ward to share some of her poems on the main stage at #17NTC! So show your support and get busy on social media with  #ASWPoems at #17NC (feel free to tag Amy on Twitter - @amyrsward)  

    UPDATE ON #ASWPoems! Ok so Amy Sample Ward has already agreed to read some poems at #17NTC, WOOHOO! Can't wait to hear them! Here is her tweet.

    But back to the Ignite sessions. 
    For me I find Ignite presentations a way to push the boundaries and get out of my comfort zone. Facing fears like public speaking and trying things you have never done will help you grow as a person! Taking a risk, doing something new and pushing yourself can help in countless ways, especially if you fail along the way. Allowing the possibility of fear or even better, trying new things where failure is just part of the process of learning, can change you in many ways.

    I can't sing. But taking the risk of trying it out, practicing and then singing as part of my ignite in front of 2,000 people. And hey guess what, I still can't sing.  But hey, I had fun with it and it went pretty well. But more importantly it helped me embrace some big changes, roll with the unexpected, be OK with failure and most importantly never forget to have fun.

    So my second challenge to all of you, take a risk and try something new, maybe like doing an ignite at #17NTC learn more on the NTEN website!

    Visit the NTEN NTC website to sign up for an Ignite!

    Side Note: what is #17NTC and what is an ignite?
    Definition of Ignite from NTEN's site: Ignite is a roller coaster version of a keynote speech that combines education, entertainment, and a bit of sheer terror. Ignite talks give you the opportunity to share your knowledge with the nonprofit tech community from the largest stage at the 17NTC. There is a catch: presenters are strictly limited to five minutes and 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. This isn’t a product demo—this is a chance to share your message.

    What is NTC? I look forward to the NTC every year. It is the Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN. All types of nonprofit staff converge together around the topic of technology and nonprofits. And while the conference and agenda is great, it is really the people and community that make it great! You can read about what I learned on this post.

    Hope to see you at #17NTC on the Ignite stage!  Or at least tweet out the #AWSPoems #17NTC hashtag!

    Tuesday, October 25, 2016

    Volunteering to be in the spotlight? Or in it for the haul?

    What inspires you to volunteer for a cause or org you love?

    You want to make an impact, right? You want to make a difference, right?

    But when we seek out those opportunities do we look for what would help the org the most or do we look for the opportunities where it makes us feel like we helped? And do we just want to go in, do some quick volunteering and feel good? Or are willing to dig in, invest some time and get messy for a longer impact?

    Tutoring, serving food and coaching for youth sports are awesome ways to volunteer. This type of help is needed and appreciated. Many organizations have their whole service delivery built around volunteers. And  it works well! But this need will never go away, they will always need that next volunteer, so while the impact and need is obvious, the impact is short.

    The reality of many nonprofits today though centers on a struggle with their operations, tech and finance:
    • Overhead myth - pressure from Funders and donors to keep overhead low, pushing nonprofits to neglect their operations and infrastructure
    • Nonprofit Scarcity Cycle - Unrealistic Funder Expectations leads to Pressure On Nonprofits to Conform leading to Misleading Reporting And Overhead “Phobia” which confirms Funder expectations.
    • Rapid Tech Changes - digital content, cloud technologies, security/privacy, mobile apps, online fundraising, social media and so many more technologies creating opportunities for nonprofits, But many nonprofits lack the time, skills, resources, planning and strategy to leverage these tools and opportunities
    • Compliance - it seems like every time we turn around there is a new regulation or policy nonprofits have to comply with, whether it is financial reporting in the 990, HIPPA for Case Management, HR rules for staff, FASB changes in financial statements, PCI Compliance for credit cards and so on.
    • Data Transparency - Donors want to see what their donations do. Funders want impact reports. The public wants to know salaries, fundraising expenses and everything else. 
    But before I go too far with my rant on these topics, lets get back to why any of this even matters to volunteering.

    Are you willing to use your professional skills or expertise to have a lasting and deep impact on a nonprofit? 

    Are you willing to step out of the spotlight and into the Back Office to help nonprofit staff strengthen their operations and infrastructure?

    Yeah, helping in the Back Office is not as glorious and is not as directly tied to the mission or the cause, but help a nonprofit strengthen their infrastructure or operations can have a much more lasting impact.

    By volunteering with your skills and expertise to assist a nonprofit with their financial management, technology, HR, project management, data needs, marketing or other operations you can really help. Often nonprofit staff just need some coaching, someone to talk to or just ask a few questions.

    I currently volunteer for an org called The Cara Program in Chicago on their Tech Advisory Board and help in this way. (I have a post all about Advisory Boards) Serving on a board or a committee is a great way to provide your expertise.

    Nonprofits often need help with:

    • Project Management
    • Financial, Legal, HR Management
    • Data Analysis
    • Managing RFP processes
    • Process Improvement
    • Strategic and Operations Management
    • And more....
    If you don't have a current connection to a nonprofit, but still want to help, there are lots of great websites to help you find an org:
    This type of volunteering does require a different approach and commitment though.  If you start working with an org, you should be willing to take the time to follow through and get involved. Another key will be to make sure that whatever you do can be sustained by the org.

    And just a quick plug for how and NetSuite goes out of their way to encourage all NetSuite staff to do pro bono work for nonprofits using NetSuite and giving 2 paid days off to volunteer for whatever nonprofit they want (doesn't have to use NetSuite).

    Now get out there and volunteer in the Back Office!

    Looking forward to more of you helping nonprofits scale, grow and make a difference.

    Oh, and I forgot to include a presentation I helped work on which talks about how to leverage skilled or technical volunteers.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2016

    The more NPTech changes, the more NPTech stays the same

    A few of my last posts have been about how things have changed and all of the differences.  But in the midst of all these changes and progress, it amazes me how so many things haven't changed at all. Back in the late 90s I was hired at to do Software Support because I had an understanding of fiannce and accounting with a knack for technology.  The real need wasn't a technical one, it was a business process and financial management one.

    Today it seems the same. We have better technology than yesterday, but I talk to so many nonprofits who understand technology is important but don't seem to know how to change their org to use it.  This was a big part of why YMCAs came together to help with the IT Alignment model.  We needed a way to express the types of changes needed as you mature how you use technology. You can read more about IT alignment on a special section of my blog.

    But understanding how to mature your use of technology was just a first step in this for me. But the next step was in this was how to think this trhough in terms of your technology plan.  So the next evolution was to focus on how it relates to your technology plan. Focusing on how to pull it all in to a strategic plan just didn't seem to work. If your tech is just starting out in Chaotic or Reactive a strategic plan is just too much. And at some point a strategic plan just doesn't seem to be enough.  This lead to a session called Tech Smackdown: Tactical, Strategic vs Mission Planning.

    But rather than tell you about it, here is a recording of a session I did on Tech Smackdown: Tactical, Strategic vs Mission Planning. This was recorded at the 2015 Legal Services Tech Conference.