Tell us about NTEN.
NTEN is the Nonprofit Technology Network; it is the community for nonprofit professionals who know technology is critical to effectively and efficiently meeting their missions and creating lasting change. We provide online educational programs, offline workshops, two annual conferences, a quarterly journal, and many articles and reports throughout the year. We also support over 25 volunteer-led local groups that hold monthly events around North America and beyond.
What are the key areas in which technology enables a non-profit's functioning?
Technology is truly the backbone of an organization's operations, from accounting to constituent management, internal and external communications, and even evaluation and reporting.
What is your advice to non-profits that are yet not using tech in a big way?
Many organizations that I talk to who are not yet using technology solutions throughout their organization often say that they feel overwhelmed by all of the options available and also feel like they don't know where to start or how to take the first step. My advice is two-fold for these organizations.
First, don't be afraid to start having conversations; in fact, have a lot of them! Any time you're in a meeting with someone from another organization, ask them what their preferred tools are for their work or what piece of software they couldn't do without in their organization. Start getting ideas and open up conversations with others so that when you select a technology to implement in your own organization, you've identified another person who may serve as a great resource with feedback and tips.
Second, remember that you have to take just one step to start moving forward. Feeling overwhelmed is never going to stop, unfortunately, as technology is evolving and new tools are launched every day. Instead of waiting to have everything figured out or know exactly how it will all go (it'll never quite go to plan anyway, right?) find something that makes sense and take that first step - maybe it's trying a new social media platform, or moving to a more sophisticated email marketing tool.
What are your thoughts on Drupal for non-profits?
Drupal is an open source website platform solution. I think that it is one of a short list of great options for nonprofit organizations to consider. When thinking about the website or content management solution (CMS) that is right for your organization, it's important to consider integration options you want to have with other systems, the content that you have now and content plans for the future, staffing and web management, as well as your budget for implementation and ongoing support.
Can you share your inputs on any scenario where open source technology increased operational efficiency?
For some organizations, open source solutions are a good fit for the organization's needs, goals, budget, and staffing. With staff that are trained and skilled in technical management of the software, implementing an open source solution can mean the organization is now operating more effectively and efficiently, while potentially saving some money on the actual cost of the tool.
Who are the top three stakeholders who get affected the most by a good/bad implementation of a CMS?
A good or bad CMS implementation affects all stakeholders: the organization (staff, board, volunteers) by impacting their ability to share and access information or content; the community (supporters, donors) by impacting their options or access to learn about, engage with, or promote the organization; and the partners (funders, sponsors, other nonprofits) by impacting the value they perceive or receive in collaborating with the organization and the content created or shared through that work.