Cindy's CatsAnyone who knows me, knows that I adore two things above all:  nonprofit technology and my seven cats.  What you may not know about me is…

“Everything I Need to Know about Nonprofit Technology Management I Learned from My Cats”

  1. Sometimes unexpected things happen, nobody knows why, and nobody claims responsibility.
  2. Flexibility is one of the best traits to have.
  3. Clawing your vendors’ or staff’s eyes out will get you nowhere.
  4. When it’s working well, you won’t notice it’s there.
  5. Servers purr when they are happy.
  6. Regular check-ups can help you avoid larger bills later on.
  7. If the room is too hot, things may flop over on their side and refuse to budge.
  8. Getting it wet is disastrous and you will pay dearly for doing so.
  9. When it makes a loud or weird noise, you should pay attention.
  10. A little bit of care and feeding go a long way.

I know I can sound like a broken record when it comes to our TechNow conference (“come to TechNow, come to TechNow!”) but it is heartfelt and not just promotional marketing.

I was a TechNow attendee before I started working at the Bayer Center.  It was my first technology conference and it opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t alone in my “nptech” endeavors.  I used to be the mostly one-person IT shop at my old nonprofit, and TechNow helped me to expand my support network, meet some new vendors, and to think about the possibilities.  It can be difficult to be innovative when you deal with the same grind day-in and day-out, without taking time out to sharpen the saw and to think and dream about “what could be” rather than what is.

I’m also excited about this year because our keynote speaker is Ami Dar from Idealist.org.  Ami is amazing, in my opinion, because he has been all over the world, is self-made (see below for details), and is truly innovative in his thinking.  I’ve read and watched interviews and speeches by Ami, and I know he’s going to bring us all something great to stretch our minds and challenge our paradigms.

I recently asked Ami to complete a list that I used in a promotional email.  His answers were pretty neat, so I’m going to repeat it here for anyone who hasn’t seen it:

10 Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know About TechNow 2009 Keynote Speaker, Ami Dar

  1. AmiDar_webHe was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Peru and in Mexico, and lives in New York.
  2. He dropped out of high school and didn’t go to college.
  3. He can’t drive.
  4. Thirty years ago he was a paratrooper in the Israeli army.
  5. There is a classic video game that shares his name: “Amidar,” released in the 80’s by Atari.
  6. He started Idealist in his apartment with $3,500.
  7. He loves playing backgammon.
  8. He eats everything except eggplant and spinach.
  9. He gets annoyed by conference organizers who call themselves “curators.”
  10. Many people who meet him online think he is a woman.

Fascinating guy, eh?  I personally can’t wait to hear what he has to say!  And now it’s time for one last shameless plug…

There’s still time to register and hear Ami speak at the TechNow 2009 nonprofit technology conference, which will happen at Robert Morris University’s Sewall Center on Thursday, October 29!

Visit http://technow2009.wordpress.com for more details and registration information.

Note:  The early bird registration deadline for the TechNow 2009 conference is this Thursday, October 8!  Register at http://www.rmu.edu/bayercenterregistration to take advantage of the discounted fee.


Presenting Sponsor: TowerCare Technologies

Presenting Sponsor: TowerCare Technologies

Summer draws to an end, the kids go back to school, and leaves start changing colors.  That means it’s nearly time for TechNow!

TechNow is the Bayer Center’s annual conference devoted to the new and important technology trends and resources for nonprofits.  Since TechNow affects virtually every area of a nonprofit’s mission, it is beneficial for non-techies as well as techies to attend.  We promise you’ll learn a lot, network with like-minded people, and…have fun!

For more info on the conference, including breakout session, keynote info, and scholarship/payment options, visit the conference website at http://technow2009.wordpress.com.

Here is this year’s list of the top ten reasons you should attend TechNow:

10.  Cream pies are back!!

9.  Your friends will be there.  If you don’t know anyone into nonprofit tech, you will have new friends by the time you leave…we guarantee it.

8.  The exhibitor who gave away the widescreen TV last year has hinted about bringing another fantastic give-away.  They won’t say what it is, so we’re all left to guess at it.  (The Bayer Center has a few fantastic give-aways of its own stashed and ready.)

7.  If you’re getting stimulus money (or federal funding of any kind), your website must be compliant with Section 508 web accessibility guidelines.  There will be a breakout session where you can find out what that means.

6.  USB drives are back.  Conference materials will be pre-loaded, so note-taking is optional.

5.  Our exhibitors are great local tech companies who “get” nonprofit organizations.

4.  If you don’t know about GIS, thin clients, user interface design, or green IT…you’ll learn all kinds of new stuff!

AmiDar_web

Our Keynote Speaker: Ami Dar, Founder & Executive Director of Idealist.org

3.  The conference has its own Twitter feed!  Follow it at http://twitter.com/TechNowConf. We will broadcast the feed on the main screen during the conference so you can give immediate feedback for sessions, locate friends and colleagues, tweet interesting session points, etc.

2.  We have scholarships available and a “Budget Impasse Payment Plan” – visit the conference website for details:  http://technow2009.wordpress.com.

1.  Ami Dar, Ami Dar, Ami Dar!  ‘Nuff said!

Register today by calling 412-397-6000 or online at:  http://www.rmu.edu/BCNMregistration. We hope to see you there!

Raise your hand if you remember dial-up Internet access.  For those of us who got online early in the game before broadband was affordable and readily available, you’ll remember it well.  Dialing up (waaah, dee do dee do dee, hissss), and then going to get a cup of coffee while waiting for pages to load.  Forget doing anything fancy, like watching videos or even viewing pages with a lot of photos.  Thank goodness social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube weren’t around back then – almost nobody would have been able to use them.

If you have broadband (cable, DSL, etc.) Internet access at work or home, I bet you take it for granted.  Broadband is available everywhere in the U.S. these days, right?

Wrong.  Broadband Internet access is still lacking in many rural parts of the United States, even right here in Pennsylvania.  Even in places you’d expect it to be.

For example, consider the case of a Beaver County nonprofit called the Independence Conservancy.  Victoria Michaels, executive director of this all-volunteer organization, works from her home office located about 6 miles from downtown Beaver.  She spent many years using dial-up, half-jokingly referring to it as her “tin-can-on-a-string” Internet access.  She has spoken to all of the neighbors who live on her road – everyone wants and is willing to pay for broadband access.  Unfortunately, no company will run the line down their road, Verizon, Comcast or otherwise.  She and a few neighbors have recently settled for obtaining a satellite dish for access, but she says it is almost as slow as the dial-up.  She still cannot view videos and multimedia or participate easily on social media sites.

Vicky Michaels goofing on her "Tin-Can-on-a-String" Internet access.

Vicky Michaels goofing on her "Tin-Can-on-a-String" Internet access.

Here are some considerations for nonprofits serving rural populations:

  1. Is your website usable for all constituents in your target audience?  Have you optimized it so that people with dial-up and slower Internet access can easily view it?  Or, is it attractive (lots of pics and interactivity) but takes forever to load.  If you serve rural populations, consider the implications involved.  You cannot assume everyone can access your site or that they can access all components of your site.
  2. Social media still excludes many people in rural areas because they do not have enough bandwidth to get the various tools like Facebook or YouTube to operate efficiently (if at all).
  3. Emails with large file attachments (PDF newsletters, photos, etc.) can be nearly impossible for people with dial-up to download.

Until broadband has truly become available everywhere, your organization will need to consider its rural constituents and continue to provide alternative ways for those people to access your agency’s information and to participate.

For statistics on Internet access in rural Pennsylvania, check out this fact sheet from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania: http://www.ruralpa.org/Internet_connectivity.pdf.

Here’s some good news on this front – vice president Biden recently announced rural PA broadband funding:  http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D995S27O0&show_article=1&catnum=0.

Those of you who know me, know that I get really excited about TechNow, our annual nonprofit technology conference.  TechNow energizes me in a way that only one other event in the year really does (and that would be NTEN’s tech conference).

Hence and therefore, please don’t be shocked if I’m spouting TechNow from here until October.  When I get excited about something, I tell people.  This is no exception.  🙂

So….mark your calendar, tell your fellow techies, co-workers, and friends!  TechNow, the annual conference devoted exclusively to nonprofit technology, will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2009.

Ami DarThis year, we have another fabulous and relevant keynote speaker for you!  We will be joined by Mr. Ami Dar, the founder and executive director of Idealist.org.  Built in 1996 with $3,500, Idealist has become one of the most popular nonprofit resources on the web, with information provided by 90,000 organizations around the world, 70,000 visitors every day, and a staff of 60 in New York, Buenos Aires, and Portland.  Ami plans to speak about how nonprofits can successfully collaborate, accomplishing more with fewer resources.

This year, we are delighted to be hosted by Robert Morris University at its very own Sewall Center, located on RMU’s Moon Township campus.  The Moon Township campus is near the Pittsburgh International Airport and is easily reached via car or Port Authority bus.

If you would like to be notified when TechNow conference registration opens on the Bayer Center’s website, email me at leonard@rmu.edu.  Look for more TechNow updates in the upcoming months, including a re-vamped conference website!

Hooray for Technovians everywhere!

My colleague Jeff Forster and I teach a number of day-long technology classes in the summer months that we call “camps.”  Not that tech classes at the Bayer Center aren’t always fun :P, but we especially try to promote a casual, summer fun feeling during these classes.

To this end, Jeff (a former camp counselor) wrote a pretty funny summer camp song for our classes.  Our marketing manager didn’t think it would fit the style of our course catalog, so the song was nixed.

In the process of writing an article about these summer tech camps in my TechNotes e-newsletter yesterday, I recalled the camp song.  I ran the videocam while Jeff sang and I thought you all might enjoy this:

(He may not dance like Britney Spears, but I have no doubt he’s got a really great voice when he’s not goofing around.)

If you normally don’t enjoy technology classes, you haven’t taken one here at the Bayer Center.  Learn more and register at http://www.rmu.edu/bcnm.


If you cannot see the YouTube video above – watch it here.

Hi all,

I’m writing from San Francisco, where I’m attending NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) 2009.

It’s been a busy day, as these conferences always are, and I’m looking forward to coming back and digesting all the things I’m learning here so I can share them with you!

It’s ironic, but I was looking forward to some warm sunny California weather here and it’s been in the 50s so far. My husband told me it hit the high 80s in the ‘Burgh today. Go figure, eh? Tomorrow after sessions are over, my plan is to jump on a cable car and do some sightseeing.

In particular, I want to share one of the conference highlights that marked the end of a brilliant and extremely creative fundraising campaign on NTEN’s part. Those of you who attended our own TechNow 2008 conference will remember our keynote speaker, Holly Ross, who is the executive director of NTEN.

A few months back, when NTEN wanted to raise scholarship money to help members be able to afford the conference fee, Holly posted this video call for donations:

http://www.nten.org/scholarship (P.S., I tried to embed these but WordPress won’t cooperate – sorry.)

This tactic worked and NTEN raised $10,395, just over the $10K goal. Convio matched it dollar for dollar and a bunch of people got to come to the conference who wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise.

As our “reward” and her “humiliation,” Holly chose to remake the Beyonce video “Single Ladies – Put a Ring On It,” which debuted at breakfast this morning. This is my third year at this conference and I have to say, I’ve never seen so many people show up for breakfast as happened this morning.

True to her word, Holly re-made the video with gusto:

http://www.nten.org/blog/2009/04/27/hollys-remake-beyonces-single-ladies

What an fundraising inspiration, eh? I probably would have chosen the trombone playing myself, and I give Holly kudos for not chickening out. She rocks.

So what creative way can you raise money for your organization?

See you in a few days,
Cindy


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