The Ethnic Check

The Ethnic Check

Yesterday I received a letter from the State of California alerting me that my Census form is due next week and that I should be sure to fill it out and return it, as is decidedly my intention. That form will include the page that drives many Americans crazy -- the one that offers you a bunch of ethnic backgrounds that you can identify yourself on. As my spouse of African-Cherokee-Jamaican-German and who knows what else decent says, this is not a multiple choice question for many of us.

Won’t You Let me Take You On A Sea Change?

Won’t You Let me Take You On A Sea Change?

Last week, I reported that Nonprofit assessors like Charity Navigator and Guidestar will be moving to a model of judging effectiveness (as opposed to thriftiness). The title of my post drew some criticism. People far more knowledgeable than I am on these topics questioned my description of this as a "sea change", and I certainly get their point. Sure, the intention to do a fair job of judging Nonprofits is sincere; but the task is daunting. As with many such efforts, we might well wind up with something that isn't a sea change at all, but, rather, a modified version of what we have today that includes some info about mission effectiveness, but still boils down to a financial assessment.

Get Ready For A Sea Change In Nonprofit Assessment Metrics

Get Ready For A Sea Change In Nonprofit Assessment Metrics

Last week, GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and three other nonprofit assessment and reporting organizations made a huge announcement: the metrics that they track are about to change. Instead of scoring organizations on an "overhead bad!" scale, they will scrap the traditional metrics and replace them with ones that measure an organization's effectiveness.

Why Geeks (like Me) Promote Transparency

Why Geeks (like Me) Promote Transparency

Last week, I shared a lengthy piece that could be summed up as: "in a world where everyone can broadcast anything, there is no privacy, so transparency is your best defense." (Mind you, we'd be dropping a number of nuanced points to do that!) Transparency, it turns out, has been a bit of a meme in nonprofit blogging circles lately. I was particularly excited by this post by Marnie Webb, one of the many CEO's at the uber-resource provider and support organization Techsoup Global.

Evaluating Wikis

Evaluating Wikis

I'm following up on my post suggesting that Wikis should be grabbing a portion of the market from word processors. Wikis are convenient collaborative editing platforms that remove a lot of the legacy awkwardness that traditional editing software brings to writing for the web. Gone are useless print formatting functions like pagination and margins; huge file sizes; and the need to email around multiple versions of the same document. There are a lot of use cases for Wikis:

Why SharePoint Scares Me

Why SharePoint Scares Me

For the past four years or so, at two different organizations, I've been evaluating Microsoft's Sharepoint 2007 as a Portal/Intranet/Business Process Management solution. It's a hard thing to ignore, for numerous reasons:

Regular (Expression) Magic

Regular (Expression) Magic

Let's get a bit geeky. Many Idealware visitors come here for advice on purchasing and deploying data management systems, such as donor databases, constituent relation management systems and content management systems. And, more often than not, are replacing older systems with new ones, meaning that one of the trickiest tasks is data migration. If any of this work has ever fallen to you, then you might have found yourself doing tedious editing and corrections in Excel, pouring over data screens or rows in Access trying to formalize non-formalized data entry, and generally settling for some lost or incorrect data moving from old system to new. Wouldn't it be great to have a magic wand that can instantly reformat the data to the proper format? Well, I have one for you.

Does Your Data have a Bad Reputation?

Does Your Data have a Bad Reputation?

As you probably know, the U.S. Congress has been having a big debate about what went on behind closed door briefings on the treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism. At issue is whether House Leader Nancy Pelosi was told about the use of harsh interrogation tactics, which many of us define as torture, in 2002 and 2003 briefings, when the tactics were actually in use. Rep. Pelosi maintains that they weren't discussed; The CIA, responsible for the briefings, maintains that they were, but neither of them has yet provided documentation that might settle the matter. Meanwhile, Rep. Pelosi's Democratic colleague, Rep. Bob Graham, who, as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was also to be briefed on such actions, reports that the CIA's assertions are in error. Dates that they claim he was in briefings on the subject are wrong. His his meticulous notes, which he has traditionally been kidded about keeping, establish that only one of four CIA-alleged meetings actually occurred, and, in it, the harsh interrogation tactics weren't discussed.

The Road to Shared Outcomes

The Road to Shared Outcomes

At the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference, I attended a somewhat misleadingly titled session called "Cloud Computing: More than just IT plumbing in the sky". The cloud computing issues discussed were nothing like the things we blog about here (see Michelle's and my recent "SaaS Smackdown" posts). Instead, this session was really a dive into the challenges and benefits of publishing aggregated nonprofit metrics. Steve Wright of the Salesforce Foundation led the panel, along with Lucy Bernholz and Lalitha Vaidyanathan. The session was video-recorded; you can watch it here.

Both Sides Now

Both Sides Now

Say you sign up for some great Web 2.0 service that allows you to bookmark web sites, annotate them, categorize them and share them. And, over a period of two or three years, you amass about 1500 links on the site with great details, cross-referencing -- about a thesis paper's worth of work. Then, one day, you log on to find the web site unavailable. News trickles out that they had a server crash. Finally, a painfully honest blog post by the site's founder makes clear that the server crashed, the data was lost, and there were no backups. So much for your thesis, huh? Is the lesson, then, that the cloud is no place to store your work?