Tag Archives: technology

  • 7 February 2014
What the loss of net neutrality means for nonprofits

What the loss of net neutrality means for nonprofits

Last week I was listening to my favorite podcast WBUR with Tom Ashbrook and the topic of net neutrality came up. I never took into consideration that one day our internet freedom could be jeopardized. Net neutrality means that Internet service providers (ISP) cannot discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. A free and open Internet guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. Recently, Verizon challenged the FCC over net neutrality –and won. A federal appeals court tossed out the FCC’s Open Internet rules, citing that the agency doesn’t have the power to require Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally. The question for today is: What does this ruling mean for nonprofits? To start, without net neutrality the nonprofit sector will be forced to compete with for-profits on the cost of messaging. Andrew Raseij, a serial social entrepreneur and founder of the Personal Democracy Forum stated, “For the nonprofit sector, loss of net neutrality may be as devastating as losing their tax free status because cost of reaching the public will go so high as to be prohibitive.” If the ISPs are allowed to put up tollbooths, only those content providers who can afford it will be able to have their content downloaded quickly. Below is a theoretical example of Internet pricing structures by BarStoolSports. If you notice all the websites listed in the packages are major brands. Where is the rest of the internet? Will we only be allowed to access the big companies who pay up to ISP? Network-Neutrality-500x364 The FCC plans to appeal the ruling, but if that effort is unsuccessful nothing can be done to protect net neutrality outside the backing of the Federal government. If you wish to fight this ruling I invite you to sign the White House petition that aims to restore Net Neutrality by directing the FCC to classify Internet Providers as "Common Carriers." The petition has exceeded its goal of 100,000 signatures and is still taking signatures until February 14, 2014. It can be found and signed here. Times are definitely changing and what does the end of net neutrality mean for SEO? Finding a way around the "tollbooths" could mean sharpening the technical skills needed for search engine optimization. What are your thoughts regarding net neutrality? Do you think the increasing number of people moving from cable to Netflix has anything to do with the recent ruling? -Rebecca

  • 23 April 2013
Empower your people for a successful marketing strategy

Empower your people for a successful marketing strategy

Have you ever read an article or some bit of information and felt like saying ‘I knew that already..it’s common knowledge’? But have you reflected upon why the author may have written the article even though there is a wealth of information on the same topic? I recently underwent the ‘reading and reflecting’ process after reading an article titled ‘People are the new channel’ in the Harvard Business Review and realized how much the message in the article resonates with WebServes' mission of 'Empowering through technology'.

People are the new Marketing channel; empower them to further your Marketing Efforts

The authors talk about how the world of marketing has changed and that people are the new channel. This is not necessarily new information in itself. I mean, we know that the concept of Marketing (pardon my textbook-ish analysis for the next few lines) has evolved through some stages from the initial Production Marketing (which was based on creating products and hoping there is a demand for them) to the Societal concept (which focuses on delivering value to a customer in a sustainable way). However, the way in which the authors put the information across is interesting. They talk about how people are replacing the ‘pipes’ that delivered messages to the audience. What was once a one-way street is now a network of traffic flowing to and from all directions; the sources and destinations being people who are using technology at a rate it has never been used before! What the authors stress upon is the fact that the most important marketing gimmick that an organization can have is how they empower their people to do the marketing with them. The authors gave a few suggestions for the same:
  • Externally, empower your clients to become brand advocates. You can do this by asking for reviews, requesting to be tagged in photos, starting conversations and asking for comments, sharing information and requesting your clients to share it with their networks. In short, use your existing clients’ networks to spread the word.
  • Internally, treat your entire organization as your marketing team. Give everyone the ability and opportunity to own the brand they work for and increase its awareness. This includes creating awareness through social media, representing the organization at events and opening up lines of communication.
This empowerment of people is made possible through the use of technology; especially the internet. While it is true that technology cannot replace people, the opposite holds true too. The key is to have a balance and the authors give a very good formula for achieving the harmony; mix one part technology with an equal part humanity! How do you empower your people? Share your ideas with us! ~Ramya

  • 27 August 2012
Make Technology Work for your Nonprofit

Make Technology Work for your Nonprofit

How technology can positively influence your nonprofit’s effectiveness (if only you can afford it)

Despite the prevalence of technology in modern communications, investment in technology to empower nonprofit organizations remains an area that receives little or no attention. The majority of nonprofits’ audiences are online so it makes sense that they establish and maintain an online presence to interact with their constituents where they are. A common issue for nonprofits is a lack of expertise in the technological field as well as a lack of resources to accomplish their goals. Some nonprofits may even have a steady stream of donations but simply lack the freedom to assign a portion of these proceeds towards developing their online identity and making technology work for them. Research on this topic was carried out by ZeroDivide last year, Amplifying Social Impact in a Connected Age, and by Idealware this year, Unleashing Innovation: Using Everyday Technology to Improve Nonprofit Services.

Part of the issue with fundraising for technological needs is the same as with other procedural elements of nonprofits. Donors want to know their donation is going directly to the cause that the nonprofit was established for in the first place and not toward business matters within the offices of the nonprofit. However, this outlook fails to appreciate the potential that technology enables in a nonprofit organization. Technology-related funding can have an exponential effect on the mission of a nonprofit. A donation that enables the technological prowess of a nonprofit can add considerably more than the same donation directly to the cause. For example, a donation that covers the annual social media costs of a nonprofit could lead to greater donations than the associated cost.

The barriers to technology-related funding are evident on both sides. A lack of understanding by funders can result in technology being overlooked in the first place and a lack of strategy in its implementation can be equally damaging to technology’s potential. There is a need within the nonprofit landscape for greater understanding of the potential to empower through technology as well as the strategy to make this so.

What is encouraging from ZeroDivide’s research is that  nonprofits increasingly want to invest in technology. They see the opportunities of technology as more than an administrative tool. They see its possibilities as a new approach that can foster real and impactful change. The dilemma in the short-term is how to encourage technology funding by donors and how to make the information readily available for nonprofit management so that technology can become an active part of the overall strategy.

Two important findings of ZeroDivide’s report:

A 2010 study by the Mitchell Kapor Foundation and ZeroDivide... found that (a) the strongest determinant of an organization’s technology fluency was whether it had a leader actively encouraging change in the internal culture, and (b) that leaders advocating change related to technology share three characteristics:

• They are comfortable learning about and using new technology.

• They hire tech-savvy staff members that share the same characteristics.

• They understand the technology value proposition and how its strategic use can help advance their organizations’ mission.

Note that neither the leader’s age nor the size of the organization were found to be determinative — it is largely the openness and commitment to culture change that are most important.

Technology cannot be externally forced upon an organization, the push has to come from within. The advantages of being a technologically-enabled organization can be demonstrated to the management of a nonprofit but the impetus has to be their own for change to be embraced.

In our San Francisco gatherings, participants suggested the creation of a visualization of the TSP [Technology Service Provider] landscape — one that is interactive and updateable — showing offerings by region and type of service. Funders felt that this would be an important step in fostering increased investment in this provider ecosystem, and would be a valuable resource for connecting their grantees [nonprofits] with service offerings.

At present, TSPs are in competition with one another and there is no directory to assist nonprofits in finding the most suitable candidate, geographically, to serve their needs. This is something that would undoubtedly make the process of finding suitable technology partners easier for organizations but may not be endorsed by competitive TSPs. As a nonprofit organization that is also a TSP, WebServes welcomes collaboration with other TSPs for the greater good of nonprofits everywhere. A comprehensive directory of TSPs, listing their specific services and location, would make the move to amplifying social impact in a connected age considerably easier for nonprofits new to the internet, as well as acting as a useful resource for established nonprofits to enrich their digital presence.

A directory of TSPs would encourage industry standards and best practices and provide authentication. This would enable nonprofits to choose from a comprehensive range of reputable providers to find their ideal match. Accountability is a vital ingredient in business nowadays and a trusted directory of TSPs would allow nonprofits to collaborate with service providers without fear of reprimand from funders.

If nonprofits understand the benefits of technology they can examine their own organization’s needs and determine which tools can improve their services. Idealware’s report contains insightful research and case studies on this subject. One nonprofit surveyed found text messaging highly effective for communicating with a teenage audience. Another utilized a cloud-based database that enabled multiple organizations within a community to share client information so as to reduce time wasted inputting duplicated information. A third nonprofit used Facebook, posting regular photos, to recruit volunteers from a previously unreached audience.

There can be no doubt that technology can empower your nonprofit. The main obstacles to overcome are awareness and strategy. A comprehensive database of TSPs as well as training and guidance for nonprofits could make a substantial difference in making the adoption of technology by nonprofits seem more feasible. Once nonprofit managers are aware of the advantages of utilizing technology, strategy can be implemented effectively with cost-saving and time-saving measures that increase the reach of a nonprofit; increasing donations and volunteers.

WebServes is also an advocate for greater coordination of high-level strategies for funding technology use among nonprofits. WebServes is seeking support for an initiative to create a funding “pool” – a technology assistance fund – to assist its nonprofit clients/partners who need to implement projects based in web and Internet technologies but lack sufficient funds to do so. Research has shown that institutional funders are more likely to fund outcomes over enabling technology; choosing to fund programs before the technological means to execute the programs. A recommendation that WebServes would make to larger private and corporate foundations is to create a nationwide “Tech Fund” that would offer distribution of funds to NPO/NGO initiatives that are dependent on technology for their programmatic impact. Incentives could be added for innovative uses of existing tech, as well as the creation of new tools and methods.

It is time for the Nonprofit space to acknowledge what the For-profit sector has long known (and funded): Technology drives innovation and success.

James

   

  • 28 October 2011
WebServes October Newsletter

WebServes October Newsletter

What’s Happening at WebServes

WebServes is privileged to announce the re-vamp and updated website for Seamen’s Society for Children and Families. We have re-developed this website to coincide with the October 27th, 2011 annual Black & White Gala attended by the former President Bill Clinton as Guest Speaker. 

WebServes also announces with pleasure the launch and branding of hello tomorrow, a start-up business by founders Michelle Stuart and Mary Eiff. They commissioned WebServes to develop a logo for the brand identity to be used for all communications and external media, as well as to be incorporated into the website interface. 

Tips of the Month

The following link has information and strategies, about the use of internet in the organization of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“Finding Your Place With Occupy Wall Street: A Guide for Digital Strategists & Online Organizers”

Steven Paul Jobs: Passing Shots

James Bradley

October 28th, 2011

I was walking down Broadway with a group of 5,000 or so other New Yorkers on our way to join the OWS occupation in Zuccotti Park on October 5, when word of Steven Paul Jobs passing reached me in a buzz of verbal outburst and SMS smartphone vibration. Of course, it was not unexpected to Apple watchers, which I suspect many of those in the crowd were to some extent, these teachers, writers, communication, film and media union workers. The crowd was largely the first generation of the consumers and users of technology produced out of the entrepreneurship and innovation of Steve Jobs.

There is no difficulty in understanding the status of this American icon. For many, Jobs embodied the most lauded of American myths: the hardworking, dedicated, innovative, self-made individual. And, there’s more: he changed peoples’ lives.

Jobs is a luminous figure imbued with qualities that are extremely compelling to many people around the world, not just Americans. He also died with his coached and approved biography ready for publication, with Apple vindictively pursuing patent suits and hounding leakers; with personal worth in excess of $2 billion; and no public record of philanthropy.

These observations are not pointing toward deprecation of Jobs’ accomplishments or to minimize his significant contribution to our society in some important ways. But the mythic may overwhelm and obscure the factual and core nature of what we can think of Jobs representing. Jobs’ most influential accomplishments largely unaddressed in many posts may be:

1) He made a major contribution to industrial design and the UX (user experience) of machines.

2) He made significant contributions to strategic marketing practice and the power of The Brand.

According to many observers over the years, Jobs was notoriously obsessed with design and style. He contributed directly to the design process and is associated with over 200 design-specific features of Apple product. Interesting note: One of his patents is for the glass staircase design in the Apple retail stores. He was referred to as the “ultimate tester” and signed off on every product and accessory coming out of Apple. His vision of the pre-eminence of industrial design as a core part of the business proposition was reflected in his founding of the Apple Industrial Design Group (IDG) in 1977.

Jobs, himself, did not design everything, but he hired top designers to lead that dimension of his business.  Some of the designers have become icons in their own right, like Jonathan Ive, but others preceded him and deserve identification.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Industrial_Design_Group

Over the years, Apple with and without Jobs as CEO developed, manufactured and distributed some of the most elegantly designed and user-centered tech products, starting with innovative PCs to the most recent iPads. These are not just refined objects that might find their way into the MOMA or Cooper-Hewitt design collections. These are visually and physically effective and usable. These devices have incorporated and even elevated the key principles of user-centered design and standards-setting levels of user experience.

The integral relationship between this prioritized orientation to the industrial and experience design has characterized Apple under the influence of Steve Jobs. But what stands out too, is how well this fundamental valuation of aesthetics and usability contributes to the marketability of these products AS design and style, not just tech products that DO things. Jobs was demonstrably interested in how people felt about the use of the things his company produced. Thus, his products had the signal features of both being well designed functionally and experientially. This allows us to think of Jobs, not just as a successful, billionaire businessman, but someone who contributed to improving the quality of life (for those who could afford his goods).

This does of course still lead us back to our gathering at Zuccotti Park where we ponder questions about how much wealth should anyone (or one percent) possess or control, and what social good is produced out of the activity of amassing that wealth.

As a coda, I would add (from another SJ blog post):

He had taste.

He was curious.

He was patient.

He was foolish.

He was hungry.

These things many others can do. Maybe you can.

Source: http://www.asymco.com/author/asymco/

Maybe you can, but do you wish to do so Steve Job’s way?

Maybe you’d like to consider other models, like Dennis Ritchie.

——

Upcoming Blog: “Passing Shots 2: Steve Jobs versus Dennis Ritchie”

  • 29 September 2011
WebServes September Newsletter

WebServes September Newsletter

What’s Happening at WebServes

WebServes has finished implementing the online ticketing and reservations system for the seventh annual Black and White Gala hosted by the Seamen’s Society for Children and Families (SSCF). The organization’s largest annual fundraising event honors former president Bill Clinton as the guest speaker, and foster parent Laura Graham as this year’s honoree. Reserve your ticket here, and check out their facebook page to see who else might be attending. At the end of October, we will follow up with the launch of a completely revamped website for SSCF at their new domain.

WebServes and Hello Tomorrow have finalized the development of the new brand and logo designs for this media agency’s website. WS has incorporated the re-visualized designs on their new landing page at hellotomorrow.tv. WS will be launching their inaugural website in late October.

                                    Bare Naked Bake Sale       
WebServes has launched a limited public beta for the Bare Naked Bake Sale site this month. Built on a customized drupal platform, this innovative crowd-sourcing site is being tested and reviewed by select users. Read the editorial about BNakedB on the blog, Crowdsourcing and visit their facebook page for any updates. Keep an eye out for the public beta release in October!

Camp Kinderland was severely impacted by the heavy winds and rain brought by Hurricane Irene. For over 80 years now, their organization has provided thousands of children with enriching and enjoyable summers (where else do you find a Peace Olympics?). Unfortunately, the road leading into camp has been destroyed by a water surge, and several other structures (including the lake’s dam) were also heavily damaged. As a long-time client (and Technology Partner) of ours, we would like to support them in the rebuilding of the camp. Please consider donating funds to assist Camp Kinderland.

                 

Tips of the Month

Here are a few ideas from Kivi Leroux Miller’s webinar on social media strategy. A downloadable PDF version is available.. Try not to overwhelm your fans with information, instead, give them “snack-sized” bits of info. Not only will it help them to understand things more quickly, but it will also allow them to gather more information. Social media is all about quick updates, so be sure to keep your updates short and frequent. In sticking with this theme, we’ve created a short guide to social media.
              
According to Mashable, a great way to draw attention to a cause is through pop culture and memes. Even though a cause is serious, nonprofits are not limited to promoting them in a serious manner. Since pop culture is always trending, it’s easy to grab the audience’s attention with a notable catchphrase or image. Take a look at how the American Red Cross was able to use Charlie Sheen’s famous phrase, “Tiger Blood”, to promote blood donations.

  • 11 April 2011
11 NTC Recap

11 NTC Recap

Picture 2,008 registered attendees plus attendants (vendors, security, porters, attendees, mechanics, staffers) — think multitudes — all in motion, milling between multiple levels and venues in the cavernous Washington Hilton — think Ronald Reagan was almost assassinated here — bristling with tools, toys, gadgets, more smart devices per square inch than in J&R showroom; and we are here amongst them at our first national conference for WebServes, and we are smiling (like most of the others). Three days of conferencing:  chats, buffets, snacks, bad coffee, worse wifi, workshops, intros, outros, cards, notes, swag, onesheets, open bar, closed shops, and then it’s past.

What can I say about the 11NTC conference? When debriefed by colleagues and staff back in FiDi — insider code for the lowest district of Manhattan — I could offer little in coherent and salient takeaways, except a buzz, a pulse of energy that carried through geographical and temporal “space” to signal a connection to a great many passionate and committed people trying to accomplish good with our newest tools, a kind of social technology. I remain abuzz with renewed energy and lashed commitment to pursue our mission — empowering through technology — but it’s changed. What’s changed is the perception of a community of interest that we are amidst and can draw from and to which we contribute. We are no longer alone. We have people to talk to and people who can talk to us. 


An additional note, I discovered a new term to define our organization at 11NTC: TSP (Technology Service Provider), an organization that helps nonprofits utilize technology to promote their mission and reach their audience. WebServes is more exceptional than most TSPs in that we are a non-profit that assists other nonprofits, since most TSPs are for-profit entities. 

 Lastly, here are some key takeaways from the conference that I’d like to share:  

  •  Social media is the gateway to future online supporters and funders.
  •  Keep your Twitter, Facebook, and blog pages up to date, and don’t forget to respond to comments or retweets.
  • Utilize the tools that are offered by Google for Nonprofits.
  • Use technology to organize your team (shared calendars, dashboard tools, etc.)
  • Remember to take advantage of the many resources available through NTEN itself. They are around every day, not just to produce conferences like this!

En solidaritas digitalis,

James Bradley

  • 4 March 2011
We hosted the “Technology and Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits” Meetup

We hosted the “Technology and Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits” Meetup


WebServes had the pleasure of hosting the “Technology and Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits” Meetup event on 2/28. James and Peter were able to provide insight into the manner in which nonprofits should approach their technology strategy. (Tip: always keep the technology’s users in mind.) We were joined by Save’N Donate, who presented their e-commerce donation app.

Check out out Flickr page for more photos:http://www.flickr.com/photos/webserves/