Technology

5 Techniques To Safeguard Your Technology

The Internet is a useful place for nonprofits to be, but it can also be a veritable danger zone for your technology. If you aren’t careful, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a malicious virus that could severely hamper all the hard work your organization has done.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your information out of harm's way before you dive into the web.

In the book "Nonprofit Management 101," Holly Ross, executive director at the Drupal Association in Portland, Ore., encouraged nonprofit managers to take the security of your devices seriously. She recommended the following five techniques to keep your operation running smoothly:
  • Firewall: This is basically a gate between the outside world and your network of computers. It’s essential that you have a firewall set up to keep spammers, hackers, and other malicious people from infiltrating your network to use it for nefarious purposes.
  • Antivirus protection: Antivirus software should be installed on each of the computers on your network. Worms and viruses continue to be written every day, so it’s essential that you purchase the regular update packages for whichever program you choose to use.
  • Backup: Most people view backing up as insurance for extreme situations such as natural disasters, but the backup is most important in many day-to-day situations.
  • Passwords: The simplest thing you can do to protect your organization’s data and files is to put in place a strong password policy. Ensure that staff are both using different passwords for logins and changing their passwords frequently.
  • Physical security: Equipment like laptops, printers, and desktop computers should be secured to desks with cable locks so they can’t be removed.

Thes Nonprofit Times’ Resource Marketplace: Technology Guide 2013

The October 15th edition of The NonProfit Times includes a number of great editorial items for our readers to enjoy, but it also has another great feature useful for nonprofits which is our semiannual Technology Guide.

The Technology Guide contains the latest top resources for nonprofits seeking assistance for all types of technology, from donor management software to payment processing. The guide is designed to help decision makers in the nonprofit section who are seeking technology-related products and services.

Clients who are featured in the 2013 Technology Guide include:
All of these services and more will help your nonprofit make the right decisions when it comes to technology. Check out the 2013 Technology Guide II today to see what options are available for your organization.

If you’re a supplier and want to advertise in either our April 2014 or October 2014 Technology Guides, please contact Mary Ford at 973-401-0202 x206 or mary@nptimes.com

4 Questions To Ask About Web Technology

Though some would like to believe otherwise, there is simply no way to run a successful nonprofit or business in today's world without being at least familiar with online technology. There are many questions managers will have but, according to experts speaking at this year's Bridge Conference, they should start with their organization's website.

Speaking at the New York City-based conference, representatives of Big Duck and the Environmental Defense Fund said that website technology is an important component of maintaining a good site and keeping it effective.

Getting the most of this technology, the representatives said, means answering specific questions regarding your current web hosting. They said that if the organization cannot give a definitive yes answer to the questions, then it is time to re-evaluate the content management and constituent management systems (CMS and CRM) and to consider alternatives.

The questions you should ask are:
  • Does the organization have a way to track actions such as donations, open rates and event sign-ups?
  • Is there enough support for the system that there is confidence it will be around for the long term?
  • Does the site’s publishing system make it easy for staff to update content?
  • Does the site have the tools and functions to meet organization goals and those of the organization’s audience?

Microsoft To Offer Nonprofits Office 365 Free Of Charge

Tech giant Microsoft announced Tuesday that it would be offering qualified nonprofits free versions of its Office 365 program.

As reported on CNET.com, this offer allows nonprofits in 41 countries worldwide to use Office 365 -- which contains word processing, e-mail, video conferencing, and calendar programs -- in their workplace free of charge. The donation program is part of the Redmond, Wash.-based software company's larger "Technology for Good" initiative, which distributes $2 million worth of software every day to organizations around the globe.

"In the hands of nonprofit organizations, technology can boost productivity, increase effectiveness through better collaboration, and extend services to new communities and individuals in need," Microsoft wrote on its web site. "Moreover, technology can be a powerful force that opens exciting opportunities for nonprofits to better achieve their missions and accelerate their impact."

Organizations must be recognized as a tax-exempt organization in their respective countries to qualify for this giveaway. In addition, eligible organizations should work to improve their communities in a meaningful way, including, but not limited to:

  • Providing relief to the poor;
  • Advancing education;
  • Improving social welfare;
  • Preserving culture;
  • Preserving or restoring the environment;
  • Promoting human rights; and,
  • Establishment of a civil society.
One confirmed, organizations will have the choice to upgrade their Office 365 program to a cloud-only version for a reduced price of $4.50 (down from $20). You can find out more about this offer on Microsoft's website

Do you think your nonprofit will take advantage of this program? Let us know in our comments section.

Nonprofit To Oversee Broadband Network

The city councils of two Central Illinois towns have approved a measure that would create a private nonprofit to oversee a large broadband network running through both locations.

The Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband network (UC2B) was created by the towns of Urbana and Champaign to boost Internet access in low-income areas, but there were concerns over government control of the network. That's why, according to a report in The News Gazette, both city councils passed the bill to have it run by a nonprofit.

Before it could pass, however, several key changes had to be made to the bill. This includes a requirement that the nonprofit submit an annual report to the cities and that the network's high, self-imposed standards for procuring minority contractors be maintained. Another key provision, which was critical to gain the support of Urbana Alderman Charlie Smyth, was to allow attendees of the organization's board meeting to provide their input.

The board will not have to follow Illinois' Open Meetings Act, which has strict requirements for advance public notification of meetings and the accessibility of meetings. Council members in Urbana and Champaign believed those requirements would hurt the board's efficiency.

The UC2B network, which cost $30 million to create, is currently being funded by a federal grant created in 2010. That grant expires on Sept. 30 and at that time, much of the expenses will fall on the shoulders of local governments. City officials are confident that it will only need support from the cities for the first six months, just to get it off the ground.

The nonprofit overseeing UC2B, which has not yet been given a name, will be governed by a nine-member board, and the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois will each appoint three members to that board.

You can read the full story in The News Gazette.

Nonprofit To Oversee Broadband Network

The city councils of two Central Illinois towns have approved a measure that would create a private nonprofit to oversee a large broadband network running through both locations.

The Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband network (UC2B) was created by the towns of Urbana and Champaign to boost Internet access in low-income areas, but there were concerns over government control of the network. That's why, according to a report in The News Gazette, both city councils passed the bill to have it run by a nonprofit.

Before it could pass, however, several key changes had to be made to the bill. This includes a requirement that the nonprofit submit an annual report to the cities and that the network's high, self-imposed standards for procuring minority contractors be maintained. Another key provision, which was critical to gain the support of Urbana Alderman Charlie Smyth, was to allow attendees of the organization's board meeting to provide their input.

The board will not have to follow Illinois' Open Meetings Act, which has strict requirements for advance public notification of meetings and the accessibility of meetings. Council members in Urbana and Champaign believed those requirements would hurt the board's efficiency.

The UC2B network, which cost $30 million to create, is currently being funded by a federal grant created in 2010. That grant expires on Sept. 30 and at that time, much of the expenses will fall on the shoulders of local governments. City officials are confident that it will only need support from the cities for the first six months, just to get it off the ground.

The nonprofit overseeing UC2B, which has not yet been given a name, will be governed by a nine-member board, and the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois will each appoint three members to that board.

You can read the full story in The News Gazette.

6 Tips For Your eNewsletter Campaigns

eNewsletters are an easier and cheaper alternative to print for keeping people in the loop about the latest happenings at the organization. Just because this technology is convenient, however, doesn't mean it's free of potential pitfalls.

People hate unwanted online communications just as much as telemarketers, and anti-SPAM rules have made sending eNewsletters to your supporters into an art form. If you don’t do it correctly you could find yourself in trouble and blocked.

Kivi Leroux Miller, president of NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, wrote in the book "Nonprofit Management 101" that there are a multitude of ways to ensure your organization gets its message across through eNewsletters while also remaining in compliance. She wrote that you should begin by following these six dos and don'ts:
  • DO use an email service provider. You can’t do bulk email from your desktop for a variety of reasons, including the potential you’ll be labeled as a spammer.
  • DO let your readers talk back. If someone replies to your eNewsletter, make sure it goes to an email box that someone is monitoring.
  • DO master the art of subject line writing. The “From” field and the “Subject” line determine whether your email gets opened or deleted. Ensure what’s in the “from” field is recognizable to the reader and what’s in the subject line is interesting, intriguing, or otherwise compelling to your readers.
  • DO master the art of headline writing. People naturally skim email, starting with headlines and subheads, so you want to grab their attention.
  • DON’T send attachments, including PDFs of your print newsletter.
  • DON’T rent or sell your e-mail list, and let your subscribers know that’s the case.

7 Dos And Don’ts For Nonprofit Technology

Nonprofits have embraced technology, but that doesn't mean they have all done so with open arms. It's this factor that will determine whether or not your organization will have success with the various new devices and software available.

Holly Ross, former executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) in Portland, Ore., and now head of the Drupal Association, set out a list of Dos and Don’ts to make dealing with technology much easier:

Do:

  • Let mission and strategy be the guides when making technology decisions.
  • Establish strong systems. Staff can’t get mission-critical work done if they have to reboot the system every half-hour.
  • Plan. A crystal ball isn’t necessary to plan for technology needs.
  • Evaluate continuously. Learning from experience isn’t possible without stopping to reflect from time to time.
Don't:
  • Make technology decisions based solely on cost. It is only one factor in determining the value and expense of technology.
  • Forget to include staff in technology decisions. Allies will be needed while new systems are being implemented.
  • Select mission-critical software such as a donor database without first documenting key business processes.

Google To Add Nonprofits To Knowledge Bar

Last year, Google rolled out its "Knowledge Bar," a section on the right-hand side of your search results that contains information about the person, place, or company for which you searched. Nonprofits were not included in the Knowledge Bar at the time, but that all changed this week.

The search engine giant announced Tuesday that nonprofits would begin to be included in the Knowledge Bar. While the feature is still in its roll-out phase, many of the larger organizations already have their information online. For example, a search for the Livestrong Foundation will provide the following information:

  • A short blurb of the nonprofit's history via Wikipedia.
  • The founder of the organization.
  • The founding date.
  • Tax deductibility code.
  • The latest post from their Google+ page (if applicable).
  • Similar organizations.
The most significant thing about the Knowledge Bar is that it has the potential to increase the number of followers for a nonprofit's Google+ page. Facebook remains a giant in the social networking field, but this change could bring more nonprofits to Google+ since they will know that people searching for them will see their posts.

What do you think about this announcement? Do you think it will make a difference for organizations in the long haul, or will it just be a cosmetic change?

The Problem With Personal Devices


The proliferation of easily portable communication devices has changed the working landscape dramatically, but not all changes have been for the good.

Speaking during the 2012 Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits, Cecil Lynn of Littler, Phoenix outlined some of the problems employers have encountered by providing employees with personal devices at work or allowing employees to use their own devices on company business. This practice is referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

Lynn said that although cost saving is the major motivation for BYOD, some employers have found that it has increased their costs rather than lowering them. There are also problems with employment law and organizational security.

He offered the following recommendations for BYOD that can help avoid problems or lessen their consequences:
  • Decide whether all employees should be permitted to participate in a BYOD program or whether certain groups should be excluded;
  • Install mobile device management software on dual-use devices;
  • Require employees to consent to the company’s access to their data on the device;
  • Modify or create employee agreements;
  • Restrict employees from using cloud-based apps or cloud-based backup or synchronizing with home PCs for work-related data;
  • Ensure that use complies with wage-and-hour obligations by prohibiting off-the-clock work and ensuring pay for all hours worked;
  • No use by friends or family members;
  • Training; and,
  • Revise exit interview processes.