Winning 100% Buy-In For Your Next Nonprofit Technology Adoption – #15NTC Preview

Have you ever spent a lot of time and effort planning and implementing a project, only to find out months after rollout that users barely use the new system?

15NTCAt the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference, in Austin, Texas next week, I will be a presenter in the session, Winning 100% Buy-in from Staff and Board for Your Next Nonprofit Technology Adoption.  With co-presenters Kathryn Englehardt-Cronk (Community TechKnowledge), Brad Pierson and Jennifer Vocelka (SIMS Foundation), we will share our experiences about how to get your colleagues on board for your next project.

Here’s a preview of what we’ll be discussing:

  • Kathryn will present a model she’s developed to make the case for a new system and demonstrate how it will help stakeholders
  • I will present 10 scenarios on what to do if you don’t have the ideal scenario (where staff, management and board are all supportive both before, during and after rollout)
  • Brad and Jennifer will discuss how they were able to turn around a culture where previous projects had not gone smoothly

Our session will be presented Thu, Mar. 5 at 10:30 AM.  If you’re planning to be at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference (always a great event), I hope you’ll plan to join us.

Who Will Take Care Of You When You’re Old(er)

I believe feeling ‘old’ is often a state of mind rather than a chronological age (or maybe it’s just someone who’s been around a bit longer than you).  But most of us have had some experience with caring for a family member or friend who needs help as they age.   And like it or not, most of us will eventually need help eventually, and few people I know want to end up in a nursing facility.

So who will take care of you so you can continue to live at homeThe Age of Dignity: Preparing For the Elder Boom in a Changing America, describes the difficult life for those who currently care for our seniors.  As baby boomers age, the US will have many more elders needing help – and most likely not enough workers to take care of them.  If you’ve ever been in the position of having to help parents or other family members while taking care of your own family and holding a full-time job, you know why this role can’t only be fulfilled by family members.

Author Ai-Jen Poo is Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations, an organization which is seeking to transform how we care for our family by taking care of those who work for us.  A home care aide generally works extremely long hours, receives low pay and few if any benefits/time off.   Especially with so many of us reaching 65 soon, this situation must change.

My Aunt Minnie
My Aunt Minnie at one of her last birthday parties

My Aunt Minnie lived at home until she died peacefully at age 98 with the help of two dedicated home attendants.  I am still in touch with one of those women (have been unable to reach the other), and her life is still very difficult.  But because of these women, my aunt was able to live a long and happy life in the environment she loved.

Ready The Age of Dignity and learn how we can help those who currently care for our families – and may eventually care for us.  If for no other reason, do it so you can eventually live out your life the way you would want to.

A Simple Tip to Improve Project Success

Have you ever been in a situation where you carefully describe your organization’s database requirements to a vendor / consultant / developer, only to find that months later they still haven’t gotten it right?  Then since the project has taken much longer than anticipated, the people doing the work have changed, so you have to explain again to the new staff, since they weren’t around for the initial round of meetings.

Sadly I find myself in that type of situation currently, but fortunately with the help of my boss, we’ve found a way to make to make our needs crystal clear.   First, take a print screen of your current form. Then,  use a tool like Snagit or Skitch to annotate the form to indicate how you’d like things to change, including explanatory text:

Show What You Need

Yes, this can take time, but probably less time that having repeated meetings about the same topics. Even if the project ultimately fails, we now have detailed specifications that we can hand off to another developer if needed.

Hey, there’s a reason why graphics are so effective on social media in getting people’s attention – they work.  And in this case, they may make the difference between getting the system that matches your needs – or not.

Why User Adoption Shouldn’t Be an Afterthought – #15NTC Preview

Have you ever spent a lot of time and effort planning and implementing a project, only to find out months after rollout that users barely use the new system?

15NTCAt the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference, in Austin, Texas, I will be a presenter in the session, Adoption Shouldn’t be an Afterthought: Making Sure Your Organization Actually Uses the Technology You Implement.  With co-presenters Kevin Peralta (Amigos de los Americas), Austin Buchan (College Forward), and Tucker MacLean (Exponent Partners), we will examine why so many newly rolled out systems fall into disuse – and what you can do to prevent it.

Here’s a preview of what we’ll be discussing:

  • Success in user adoption usually isn’t about the quality of the product you select
  • Training can help, but what happens when the trainers leave?
  • Staff that are actively involved in selecting a new system will be more likely to use it later
  • If you don’t generate reports regularly, you won’t know how much (or not) the new system is actually being used
  • If you don’t take the time to explain to staff why you are bringing in a new product, they won’t be motivated to use it.

Our session will be presented Fri, Mar 6 at 1:30 PM – if you’re planning to be at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference (always a great event), I hope you’ll plan to join us.

Highlights from 2015 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report

Kivi Leroux Miller has released the fifth annual Nonprofit Communictions Trend Report.  As you develop your communications strategy for 2015, take a look at what other organizations are planning (many nonprofits fail to do this regularly):

  • Donor retention is finally getting more attention.  For example, do you have a welcome series for new givers?  Do you regularly report back on the impact of donations? Do you really say ‘thank you’ or just rely on an automated gift acknowledgement?
  • Only a fraction of communications staff focus on fundraising goals.  How can you integrate your development and communications efforts – for example, can you arrange to have these departments report to the same person?
  • The website is still the favorite communications channel.  (Have you checked that your site renders well on a mobile device?)
  • Many survey respondents reported a lack of time to produce quality content.  Do you use an editorial calendar to plan upcoming communications?  Do you repurpose content so it will be appropriate for multiple channels?
  • Facebook, Twitter & YouTube remain the top three channels.  Are you looking at metrics to determine where your supporters are most active, and focusing your efforts there?

Download your own copy of the report – it’s chockful of useful information, whether or not you directly work with communications at your nonprofit.

Why Did My Tech Project Fail?

Have you had this experience lately?  After much research, you pick a new technology system with a vendor or consultant that you carefully selected, plan a detailed implementation then roll it out in stages at your organization.  Afterwards, you feel pretty good about your efforts, and await recognition for your hard work.

But there’s a problem.  Several months (or maybe a year) later, you run some reports from your new system, only to find out that much data seems to be ‘missing.’  You later find out that staff have reverted to way of doing things.  How could they not realize that the new system is superior?  At the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference, I will be participating in two sessions that specifically address why tech projects often fail, despite our best efforts.

In Winning 100% Buy-In From Staff and Board For Your Next Nonprofit Technology Adoption, Kathryn Englehardt-Cronk from Community TechKnowledge will discuss the critical issue of getting management  to help you demonstrate why your staff should embrace the new system.

In Adoption Should Be An Afterthought: Making Sure Your Organization Actually Uses the Technology You Implement, Tucker MacLean from Exponent Partners and Austin Buchan from College Forward will explore the thorny issue of user adoption, and how you can insure that staff actually will use your new system.

I’ve been involved in my share of tech projects that have experienced these challenges, so I’ve reached out to Kathryn and Tucker to  share my experiences at these sessions.  I also presented with Idealware about a similar topic at last year’s conference, Selecting the Right CRM – and Making Sure Staff Use It Effectively.  This year, I will focus on making sure from the start of your project that shareholder buy-in and user adoption are planned for.

I hope to see you in Austin, Texas next March for our annual Nonprofit Technology Conference.  In the meantime, I wish you a healthy and joyous 2015!

A Funny Thing Happened During A Website Design Project

I’ve managed many website designs/redesigns, but my current project took an unusual turn this week that I haven’t experienced before.

When my team first met with our selected vendor, we described what we wanted to achieve with our new website.  This is always a critical part of the process, making sure the designers understand what the users want.  Everything seemed to go well, and about a month ago we received the vendor’s wireframe for review.

My team was disappointed with the wireframe, and during a conference call we offered the designers feedback on how they’d like it to be tweaked.  And so last week, we received an updated wireframe.  I then scheduled two meetings, one with our internal team, and the other (a day later) with the vendor to hopefully approve the latest wireframe.

To my great surprise, when I joined the first meeting, I learned that our team had spent the last few days completely rethinking how they wanted the new site to work and had prepared sketches of most of the principal pages.  (This is not a group that has previously been involved with website development.)   I suggested we provide the sketches to the vendor in advance of the second meeting so they could digest the new ideas.  (I also called my liaison so discuss what had happened and to prepare for our group meeting, scheduled for later that day.)

I explained to the vendor that the new design wasn’t a rejection of what they had done, but rather our team re-examining their requirements.  Instead of being insulted as I feared might happen, the vendor was impressed with our work, and promised to do their best to translate our sketches into the design.  And with my team’s heavy involvement in deciding how the site should work, I am almost certain that they will be happy with the vendor’s final product.

Never have I seen an internal team work together so well to clarify website requirements – and to develop a design that will serve user needs.  We’ll have to see how the site turns out, and perhaps our launch date will be a bit delayed, but if I had this level of involvement from other users on projects I manage, my job would be much easier.


How to Track Your Nonprofit’s #SocialMedia Results

(Guest post by Todd Turner)

Social media has emerged as a key nonprofit resource for getting the word out about a cause, soliciting volunteers and raising funds through online donations. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other social media platforms, nonprofits can build communities and mobilize people to achieve organizational objectives like never before.

But social media activity isn’t worth much if you don’t measure how well you’re doing. Are you gaining followers on Twitter? Are people reading your Facebook posts? How often do fans and followers share the content you offer with their own networks and inspire others to get involved?

Below is a brief overview of different analytics tools and how they can help track your social media campaigns:

Google Analytics

The Google Analytics dashboard provides a vast amount of useful information — from the types of social media sites driving traffic to your website to specific pages most frequently viewed by users when they get there. It’s also possible to monitor conversions, as, for example, if you tweet with an offer to download a white paper, you can determine how successful this campaign turns out to be with followers.

Facebook Page Insights

Facebook Page Insights breaks up analytics by::

Likes, including organic “Likes” and paid “Likes”
Reach, including the number of viewers who see an individual post, whether or not they click on it
Visits, including how often a page’s different tabs are viewed (“About me,” “Timeline,” photos, etc.)
Posts, including the days and times a page’s fans come to Facebook
People, including a breakdown of demographics, including language, gender, country and city

Twitter Analytics

Twitter’s free analytics platform offers users a way to track tweets. Engagement reports detail the number of link clicks, retweets, tweet impressions, favorites and replies generated by individual tweets. On the Tweet Activity dashboard, you can compare and contrast an individual tweet’s performance in real time or how well tweets perform month over month. Twitter Analytics also features a section focusing on the type of followers you attract, separated by location, interests and demographics.


Hootsuite’s chief benefit lies in its “all-in-one” dashboard for monitoring your nonprofit’s social media results. You can track a wide array of social networks and create custom-tailored reports for your constituents and backers. The dashboard also incorporates Facebook Insights and Google Analytics in its offerings.

Social Media Monitoring Tips

• Include conversion assists, traffic from social media, engagement, mentions, shares and comments in your tracking efforts.

• Pay attention to the numbers but don’t lose sight of the “bigger picture” (e.g. how your social media efforts attract new supporters and donors and relate to raising awareness of your cause).

• Maintain perspective over the relative importance of social media metrics.

“Social media should fold into your overall metrics program, not the other way around,” notes J.D. Lasica, founder of Socialbrite. “What you’re really trying to do is advance your organization’s mission. Metrics are just a tool to help you do that.”

Todd Turner is the President of LogoMagnet, a custom design magnet company that produces and distributes magnets for schools, non-profits, sports teams and more.

Before You Take Off For Thanksgiving

Take a moment to support an nonprofit which is providing food for those who are hungry.  These are three organizations that I personally support that are well worth considering:

  1. Mazon – a national nonprofit working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel.
  2. City Harvest – collects leftover food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, manufacturers and farms and delivers it free of charge to over 500 community food programs across New York.
  3. Why Hunger – seeks to end hunger and poverty by connecting people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment.  (If you’re a Beatles fan, and who isn’t, you can also get a premium by donating at their Hungerthon 2014 site.

If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of food at your holiday table this week, take a moment to help those who never know where their next meal is coming from.

Nten Member Appreciation Month

Nten Member Appreciation MonthAs a member of NTEN’s Membership Committee, I’d like to remind everyone about NTEN Member Appreciation Month. Every year during November, NTEN says thank you to its member community of nonprofit professionals committed to using technology for social change by offering a full month of free programming and prizes exclusively for NTEN Members, plus special local events and content. If you’re not an NTEN Member,  learn more and join today just in time for the celebration!

Kick off the celebration with NTEN’s 2014 Year In Review: Community Impact webinar on Mon, Nov. 3rd and hear from NTEN staff and Community who will share their experiences and highlights from 2014; then look forward at what’s ahead for 2015. Check out the full list of upcoming webinars and register.  All November webinars are free for NTEN Members.

ntenmember_badge_0Win a prize! NTEN will be giving away daily prizes, and special prizes for members actively engaged in the community. Plus, they’ll be awarding two grand prizes: an engagement award for an NTEN Member who’s the most active in the community during Member Appreciation Month, and the renewal award for a Member who renews before Nov. 30th.

Learn more and join the celebration.


Bridging Technology, Communications & Development for Nonprofit Organizations