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The Center for Community Technology Services (CCTS) brings technology to non-profits and the people they serve. In other words, we help people who help people.

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our site designs will engage your constituents and give you an easy-to-use content management system

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we help you to select the right tools and to align your resources with your organization's strategic goals

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we provide SEO, content curation, e-newsletters, social media, branding, print-design, and more.

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Find out where you need the most help with these brief nonprofit technology assessments. 

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10 Reasons Why Choosing Software is Like House-Hunting

 _home_ccts_pennstation_releases_20141105024432_public_penn_station_folders_Blog_posts_For_sale_png Is the thought of selecting the right database software for your organization daunting? Although there are a host of software programs to help your nonprofit manage its donors, members, website content and connect with the people that you serve, the selection process is fairly consistent for all of them.  Luckily, that process has many similarities with another you may be more familiar with—that of selecting a new place to live.  To take some of the mystery out of selecting software, consider the following house-hunting criteria:  

 

  1. Cost Can you afford the initial investment and the ongoing payments?  How will you justify your investment? There’s always an initial investment with software—even if it’s free or open source. To name just a few costs, think about installation costs, consulting, training, customization, documentation, and data cleaning and migration.
  2. Location: Are you choosing a good neighborhood—one that supports your lifestyle?  For software, this translates to choosing an application that is designed to support the work of your organization? Was it developed for and is it used by people in your line of work?
  3. Size: What’s the right amount of space for you and your prized possessions? Can the software you are considering accommodate your data and the number of users in your organization?
  4. Flow: Does your life demand open-concept space or formal, dedicated rooms?  Does the software include all the features your organization needs? Are those features priced as separate modules or can you purchase an all-inclusive suite of tools?
  5. Curb Appeal: Does the look of the house appeal to your sensibilities? Is this the place you want to come home to everyday? What about those screens the software presents to you? Are the user interfaces easy and attractive to work with? For you? For other staff?
  6. Renovations: To make this place it really right for you, what changes will it need—and are you willing live with construction? Does the software meet your needs right out of the box? What kind customizations will it require? And, can you DIY or will you need to call in contractors.
  7. Upkeep: What will it cost to keep your new home in good repair? If you have problems with the way your software works, will the remedy require you to pay additional fees?
  8. Security: How safe does this property feel? Does it offer good deterrents to bad things that could come along? How will your software help you control access to your data? What does it do to prevent data loss? How can you get your data back if you ever decide to move to another system?
  9. Reputation of Builder: It may be that homes built by a particular builder during a particular time have known features and quirks. Just as you’ll want to check that out, you want to check into the type of experiences others have had with a software vendor.
  10. Amenities: Do you dream of new appliances, an attached garage, a gym on the premises, or a community pool?  Should your software make data sharing seamless by integration with other applications you use.

 

With all of this information in mind, no “home” or database is going to be the perfect fit forever – there are always compromises to be made. If you are looking for a software “realtor,” someone to help you clarify your criteria and guide you to the best software to house your organization’s data contact CCTS for a consultation.

 

Gather your team and determine your criteria for the various considerations listed above.  Your company may be in its nascent stage, going through a re-organization or experiencing other big changes, and you may not know where to start in answering these questions.  For help making your software decisions, contact me for a consultation! gayle@cctsbaltimore.org

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The Ultimate Social Media Tip: Start with Meaningful Connections!

When it comes to your nonprofit’s social media, do you ever feel like a NASA scientist experimenting with interstellar communications? You’ve tried different radio frequencies and even dabbled with laser technology yet the question persists “Is anybody listening out there?”

 

Last week, at a Tech for Social Change Meetup (TFSC) in Baltimore, nonprofits got free, one-on-one coaching on their social media challenges at a  Social Media Surgery. Experts (Surgeons) offered a lot valuable advice with this tip heard most often:

 

Social Media Surgery Meetup

The Ultimate Social Media Tip: Start with Meaningful Connections!

 

While you’re doing all of this tweeting, posting, and linking, you want to make sure that you’re actually connecting with others.  How?

  • Think about your personal and professional network… Are the right people liking or following you on your social media platform(s)? And, are you lik

  • ing and following the right folks?

    • For example: Organizations that you partner with…. “like” them on Facebook!  Re-tweet their tweets about upcoming events!  Then, find out who they like, and like them, too. Look for groups, people, an

    • d organizations that share your mission in some way. Remember, birds of a feather flock together.

  • Maximize face to face engagement to build online engagement. Recently, nonprofit staff attended a Social Media Surgery in Baltimore to get some one-on-one coaching on their social media challenges from area experts.  They created a “Like me @” list, as a way to share their Facebook and T

  • witter accounts with one another.   

  • Now that you’ve made all of these great connections, stay in touch! Like and share status updates that resonate with you. Comment on an article that another organization posts. Sure, you want to share your own content, but make sure that you become a part of the conversation that’s happening around you!

  • Use the FREE analytics to track your connections online. Facebook

  •  will provide a summary of your “reach” and even give you stats that tell you about your most popular status updates. Twitter provides an alert when someone is interacting with you, so that you can keep the conversation going! Manage your account settings to make sure that you get these alerts right away!

  • Still not sure where to get started with all of this? Connect with some of our “Social Media Surgeons” such as:

 

Did you know… Recently, MD Nonprofits reached 10,000 Twitter followers. In a follow up post they’ll tell you how they did it.

 

In the meantime, join Tech for Social Change to catch our next nonprofit technology learning and networking event.  

 
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