This article was originally published by Techsoup on July 8th, 2016 Some say life’s a gamble. But gambling can be very random, as in the rolling of a die, or very scientific, as in the calculation of odds and percentages. Investing in technology should not be a gamble, in as much as you can predict what it will do for you. In the standard business lingo, we call this prediction “return on investment” or “ROI.” And whether you calculate that with all the vigor of two college students on a weekend trip to Reno, or a scientist who deeply understands the odds, is important. In… Read More »How to Measure the Value of an IT Investment
Last week, the house held hearings on the new overtime rules that double the base salary requirement for exempt employees. With these changes, if you make $47,476 a year or less, you can not be granted exempt status and, therefore, must be paid overtime when you work extra hours (per your state regulations). The hearings were dramatically one-sided, with testimony from a stream of nonprofits and small businesses that oppose the increase. My hope is that the politicians that staged this play had to look pretty far and wide to find nonprofits willing to participate, but I doubt that they did. We can’t change the rest of… Read More »It’s Past Time For The Overtime Change
As you likely know, when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, she set up a private email server at home and used it for her email communication, passing up a secure government account. This was a bad idea, for a number of reasons, primary among them the fact that sensitive information could be leaked on this less secure system, and that Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests could be bypassed. But the burning question, at a time when Clinton looks likely to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for President, is what her motivation was for setting up the server in the first place. Was… Read More »Hillary Clinton’s Shadow IT Problem
This post was originally published on the NTEN Blog on December 24th, 2015. As years go, 2015 was a significant one in my career. The work of a CIO, or IT Director, or whatever title you give the person primarily responsible for IT strategy and implementation, is (ideally) two parts planning and one part doing. So in 2015—my third year at Legal Services Corporation—we did a couple of the big things that we’d been planning in 2013 and 2014. First and foremost, we (and I do mean we—I play my part, but I get things done with an awesome staff and coworkers) rolled out the… Read More »Year-end Reflections
This article was originally published in NTEN Change Magazine in June of 2015. What kind of challenge does your organization have supporting technology? Below are several scenarios to choose from: Little or no tech staff or tech leadership: We buy inexpensive computers and software and rely on consultants to set it up. Our IT support is outsourced: there is no technology plan or any staff training. We have a tech on staff who does their best to keep things running: no staff training, no technology planning. We have a tech on staff and an IT Director, but no technology plan: IT is swamped and not… Read More »Creating A Tech-Savvy Nonprofit Culture
Just a quick post to commemorate ten years of blogging here at Techcafeteria. That’s 268 entries, averaging to 22 posts per year, or damn close to two posts a month, which is not too shabby for a guy with a family and a demanding day job. The most popular stuff all now lives in my Recommended Posts section. The goal here has never been much more than to share what I hope is useful and insightful knowledge on how nonprofits can make good use of technology, peppered with the occasional political commentary or rant, but I try to restrain myself from posting too many of… Read More »Happy 10th Anniversary!
We’ve gotten far past the early internet days when registering a domain name usually meant choosing between .COM, .ORG, and .NET. The number of top level domains (TLD) has exploded, and you can now grab names ending in .BAND, .BEER, .BARGAINS, .BEST, .BLOG, .BOO, .BUZZ, and .WTF (really!), to name just a few. The full list of new additions is here. Two new TLDs are of particular interest to nonprofits. Next week, you’ll have the option of registering a .NGO domain (Non Govermental Organization). Should you? I’d say that it depends on the scope of your nonprofit. Is it international? Do you work outside of… Read More »A Tale Of Two Domain Extensions
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
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.