For the past 21 years, I’ve been working for 501(c)(3) corporations, commonly referred to as nonprofits. I’ve also become active in what we call the “nptech” community — “nptech” being shorthand for “nonprofit technology”. But nonprofits, which comprise about 10% of all US businesses, have wildly diverse business models. To suggest that there is a particular type of technology for nonprofits is akin to saying that all of the businesses in downtown Manhattan have similar technology needs. So what is nonprofit technology? Less of a platform and more of a philosophy. Snowflakes? No flakes. It’s often said that each nonprofit is unique, like a snowflake,… Read More »What Is Nonprofit Technology
The bulk of the blog posts here are on Nonprofit Technology topics
Early next week, I’m going to publish the “director’s cut” of my recent NTEN.ORG article, “What Is Nonprofit Technology“. But I wanted to talk about it a little first. The story behind this article is that, late in 2014, I was approached by some online tech e-mag to write an article for them. I thought, why not tell all of the for-profit techies what it’s really like working in our sector? And I wrote a solid first draft. Then I started researching the magazine, and couldn’t find much. There was little in the way of a FAQ, so I couldn’t ascertain things like, “who owns the content… Read More »Pre-Post On What Is Nonprofit Technology
It occurs to me that my signature rant these days is not clearly posted on my own blog. Let’s fix that! As I’ve mentioned before. Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) are controversial in the nonprofit sector. Vendors hate them. Nonprofits struggle with developing them. I’ve been on a multi-year mission to educate and encourage the community to rethink RFPs, as opposed to throwing them out. In particular, nonprofits need to break away from fixed bid requests when hiring web developers, programmers, and people who implement CRMs. Here’s why: Done correctly, RFP’s are an excellent practice. A good RFP informs potential vendors about the organization, their current… Read More »RFPs GOOD. Fixed Bids BAD.
I’m back and moderately recovered from the 2015 NTC in Austin, Texas, where, along with plenty of good Texas food and beer, I shared some wisdom and learned a lot. Here’s a summary, with my favorite pics: #NTCBeer is a proven formula. Take a decent bar, Nonprofit techies, and a room without blaring music, and everyone has a great time, whether they’re NTEN mavens like me, or first time attendees. We estimate that about 275 people came by this year. Here’s a great shot of the room by Jason Shim: On Wednesday morning I led my session on contract negotiation. I’d been hoping for… Read More »Highlights Of The 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference
I’m back from our (Legal Services Corporation) 15th annual technology conference, which ran from January 14th through the 16th in San Antonio, Texas. It was a good one this year, with a great location, good food, great people – nearly 300 of them, which is quite a record for us. There were plenty of amazing sessions, kicked off by a fascinating keynote on international access to justice web app partnerships. Slides and videos will be up soon on LSC’s website. But I did want to share the slides from my sessions, which all seemed to go very well. I did three: Are You Agile I… Read More »How I Spent My 2015 Technology Initiative Grants Conference
This article originally appeared on the Exponent Partners blog on December 19th, 2014. It was written by Kerry Vineburg, based on a phone interview with me. EXPONENT PARTNERS SERIES: SMART PRACTICES Is your nonprofit thinking about implementing a large database project like Salesforce? Nonprofit and technology veteran Peter Campbell, CIO at Legal Services Corporation, recently shared his valuable insights on how to prepare your team and culture for long-term success. His organization, the top funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the country, is developing Salesforce as a data warehouse for their grantee information and document management. We asked Peter to tell us… Read More »13 Lessons On Building Your Nonprofit Technology Culture
This post was originally published on the MAP Techworks Blog in November of 2014. For a nonprofit that’s reached a size of 25 or more staff, a key question revolves around how to support technology that has grown from a few laptops and PCs to a full-blown network, with all of the maintenance and troubleshooting that such a beast requires. Should you hire internal IT staff or outsource to a more affordable vendor for that support? I’d say that the key question isn’t should you — that’s more a matter of finances and personal preferences. But what you outsource and how you go about it… Read More »Should You Outsource Your IT Department?
I ask because my articles are up, including my big piece from NTEN’s Collected Voices: Data-Informed Nonprofits on Architecting Healthy Data Management Systems. I’m happy to have this one available in a standalone, web-searchable format, because I think it’s a bit of a signature work. I consider data systems architecture to be my main talent; the most significant work that I’ve done in my career. I integrated eleven databases at the law firm of Lillick & Charles in the late 90’s, using Outlook as a portal to Intranet, CRM, documents and voicemail. We had single-entry of all client and matter data that then, through SQL Server… Read More »How Easy Is It For You To Manage, Analyze And Present Data?
This article was originally published in the NTEN eBook “Collected Voices: Data-Informed Nonprofits” in January of 2014. Introduction The reasons why we want to make data-driven decisions are clear. The challenge, in our cash-strapped, resource-shy environments is to install, configure and manage the systems that will allow us to easily and efficiently analyze, report on and visualize the data. This article will offer some insight into how that can be done, while being ever mindful that the money and time to invest is hard to come by. But we’ll also point out where those investments can pay off in more ways than just the critical… Read More »Architecting Healthy Data Management Systems
News junkie that I am, I see a lot of headlines. And four came in over the last 30 hours or so that paint an astonishing picture of a tech industry that is in complete denial about the intense misogyny that permeates the industry. Let’s take them in the order that they were received: First, programmer, teacher and game developer Kathy Sierra. In 2007, she became well known enough to attract the attention of some nasty people, who set out to, pretty much, destroy her. On Tuesday, she chronicled the whole sordid history on her blog, and Wired picked it up as well (I’m linking… Read More »It’s Time For A Tech Industry Intervention To Address Misogyny