One of the primary reasons nonprofits have difficulty deploying technology successfully is confusion about where to go to get assistance. I suggest a four-pronged strategy.
1. Learn More
Numerous websites feature nonprofit technology issues. The Internet has become a primary source for information. See the recommended sites below.
2. Get Connected
Sign up to receive online newsletters and join technology-related listservs to stay informed and reach out for information when you need it.
3. Reach Out
Call nonprofit colleagues you trust to see how they have addressed similar technology challenges.
4. Seek Professional Help
Seek out advice and assistance from professionals who work with nonprofits. You’ll end up saving money and time in the long run.
Arts Wire (http://artswire.org)
Both the Arts Wire Nonprofit Toolkit (www.np toolkit.org) and Spiderschool (www.artswire. org/spiderschool) are incredible resources. There are several great “workshop” outlines on issues like technology planning, using the Internet, and marketing your organization online. Each workshop outline has links to many resources to bolster your knowledge.
The Benton Foundation (www.benton.org/ cpphome.html)
The Benton Foundation’s Communications Policy and Practice is an excellent source for information on the digital divide and nonprofit technology use in general. Their Best Practices Toolkit, Lessons Learned, and What’s Working sections are full of articles, extremely helpful tips, and links.
Helping.org is a partnership between the America Online Foundation, Benton Foundation, and several nonprofit organizations. It is comprehensive online resource with tools to help nonprofits integrate the power of the Internet into their strategic planning and to organize, recruit, fundraise, and publicize their mission and successes online. The Resources for Nonprofits section is a gateway to an incredible bank of materials on everything from website design to online advocacy and finding computer help in your area.
NPower’s website is loaded with easy to access resources for online training, technology planning, and fundraising. The site also offers well-organized links to general nonprofit resources and technology-support organizations around the nation. One area not to miss is the Hands-On Technology How-To’s section. Here you’ll find great information on databases, networking, the Internet, virus protection, and much more.
The ONE/Northwest website is full of useful tools, especially for technology planning (see technical assessment forms), online advocacy (see “activists toolkit”), as well as information on hardware and software, e-mail, doing research online, and even the basics of getting online.
Technology Project (www.eriders.org/resources.html)
The Technology Project’s Eriders Resource section offers visitors a wide array of resources. The site offers you information on issues such as protecting your data, using your website effectively, and picking the right Internet service. The Technology Project’s standards for using technology are important to check out.
TechPortal is a simple to use search tool that specializes on technology issues and the nonprofit sector. You can easily search on topics like training, recycled computers, support and consultants, and discounted hardware.
TechSoup.org, a site recently launched by Compumentor, a nonprofit that matches volunteer technology professionals with nonprofit organizations seeking information, is packed with every imaginable nonprofit-technology issue. The site’s internal search engine delivers its results in an easy-to-use table of contents. The site also features a nifty tool called “mytechsoup” that allows you to customize the site based on your personal interests.
Telecommunications Cooperative Network (www.tcn.org)
TCN’s website has a library with sections for nonprofit resources and tech help. Direct links are provided to useful journals and magazines. In the Tech Help area, there are multiple listings for everything from training to Internet use to ergonomics.
By the Cup (www.techsoup.org)
Compumentor’s newsletter on nonprofit-technology-use is sent weekly and is full of interesting news and stories about how nonprofits are using technology today.
NetAction Notes (www.netaction.org/notes)
The NetAction staff fills this online newsletter with information on ways that nonprofit organizations use the Internet in their advocacy work on social and political issues.
ONE/Northwest’s monthly newsletter is full of great technology tips. Old issues of the newsletter are available on their website.
This is a listserv for people who do technology support work for nonprofits. Several hundred technologists regularly share questions and solutions to common and not-so-common technology problems (http://www.eriders.org/list.html).
Computer Use in Social Services Network is an interactive listserv for people who use computers in their social-service work (www.uta.edu/
The Nonprofits’ Policy and Technology Project at OMB Watch (http://ombwatch.org/npt/) moderates this discussion list on various technology issues related to communication and public policy. To subscribe, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following text in the body of the message: subscribe nptalk (your name).