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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. 

Assessments

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Does Your Nonprofit Need a Technology Intervention?

I finally upgraded my phone to a faster, bigger, sharper screened model, with apps that require fewer steps to


get things done. So why do I miss my old phone with its spider web of cracks on the

 screen? Because I knew just how to work with the 32% of its functionality I actually used–that’s why. My new phone still holds mysteries for me – and I’m one of those people who think instruction manuals are for wimps. Many of us use our technology just enough to get by. We adjust and make do with whatever we learned how to do when we first got it. That can produce minor discomfort on a personal level. Hands reaching out to help with technologyBut what happens if we manage our organization’s technology this way?

 

where does it hurt? 

 

When this practice of barely getting by with limited technology functionality becomes an organization-wide approach, the effects can shift from discomfort to debilitating. Here’s a brief list of symptoms to monitor in your organization:

  • File Dysplasia (Dis-place-ia): Your files are in the cloud, and on the server, and stuck in emails, and tucked on flash drives and saved on your intern’s laptop and….
  • Spreadsheet Sciatica: When spreadsheets become a pain in the “lower back” instead of the productivity tools they can be.You’ve got too many spreadsheets and limited skills to use them well.
  • Database Dementia  A progressive condition marked by a decrease in the ability to use tools to track, interpret and report meaningful data
  • Vendor Confusion – The state uncertainty when choosing between vendor pitches about why you need the next best thing – which they happen to be selling.

 

what’s the prognosis?

 

Over time, these annoying conditions will turn into tangible costs to your organization, undermining its capacity to function effectively. They are signs of an organization where information assets are not being tended to and the ability to make and substantiate data driven decisions is diminishing. Your Board members, funders and constituents begin to notice you are not as responsive to new opportunities and environmental changes as they would expect. This compromises your organization’s integrity and competitiveness. Frustration and decreasing productivity can cause staff to burn out and to seek a more supportive and professional working environment. When staff turnover, they often take both information and know-how with them, further weakening your organization’s capacity to achieve its goals. The longer these and other issues like them go untended, the more it will cost you when you address them down the road.

 

is there help?

 

If you want to interrupt the spread of these and other technology issues in your organization, know that help is available. Contact us and we’ll help you to get on the path where you and your technology are working  in partnership to build your organization.

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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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