Archive for September, 2008

Networking line-up in the socially responsible business world

PICnet works with a unique slice of the American economy, including non-profits, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, associations, and advocacy groups. One of the newer categories of groups we’re beginning to engage are socially responsible businesses (or corporate social responsibility-focused businesses…choose your own titling), and in the quest to learn more about this important slice of the new economy, I’m beginning some research on the networking groups within this world.

Here’s a shortlist of what I’ve found so far. I’m interested in learning about other networking opportunities as well, so please share your thoughts.

  • Social Venture Network – seems to be the gathering place of mid-sized business owners and entrepreneurs, with about 500 participating individuals in North America.
  • Net Impact – my early experiences with Net Impact, way back in 2004, was that it was focused on business school and just-finished-b-school folks, but it looks like the community may have shifted since then.
  • Sustainable Business Network of Washington – this is obviously DC focused, but we were recommended to look into this group in more detail, especially since our friends and partners in DC like Free Range Studios and Democracy in Action are members.
  • Business Alliance for Local Living Economies – what started off as a project within the Social Venture Network has turned into a 15,000 member organization focused on local sourcing of goods and services.

I know that’s only a few of the many networking opportunities available for socially conscious entrepreneurs, so if you have a few to recommend, please let me know.  Happy networking!


Vote for our 2009 NTC session proposals!

NTC 2009In spirit of the season, it’s time for us to lobby for votes! We at PICnet have put together three sessions for next year’s Non-Profit Technology Conference that we think would add excitement to the conference. Now, we’re looking for your support to help us spread the word about open source and the state of the non-profit technology industry.

The NTEN team created a fully transparent process this year, providing everyone in the community a chance to submit session ideas. There were more than 200 session requests this year, so we’ve built this list to help you quickly find what we’re interested in discussing with the community. Do your civic duty and vote before the October 3 deadline!

There are number of other great sessions up for grabs as well, we’d recommend you cruise through the list when you’ve got an opportunity.  See you at the NTC in San Francisco!


Nothing But Nets meets Stephen Colbert

It’s always great to be watching television and suddenly see one of our clients on the screen, up to their typical good doing.  Last week PICnet’s newest client, Nothing But Nets, showed up on my TV late one night while I was watching Stephen Colbert.

The clip below is a terrific example of how an organization with a simple but powerful mission and message, can achieve some wonderful mass messaging through a three minute video clip.  In the interview, Rick Reilly does his best to get the message across to Colbert, even while taking the first interview I’ve ever seen under a bed net.

After a few good laughs, head over to the Nothing But Nets Web site and help save a life in Africa for only $10. If Colbert’s doing it, shouldn’t you?


All your banks are belong to us: a brief forecast for nptech growth

I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination. Well, I did take multiple economics and management classes in college, but those were basic lessons about money supply, market fluctuations, and elasticity. Regardless, it doesn’t take a degree in economics to know that the US economy is not in great health right now.

The real question I’m trying to answer, as the CEO of a growing technology business, is “what are going to be the downstream effects of this current mess on our ability to grow, gain capital to meet demand, and predict our community’s ability to grow as well.”

In a blog post just last week, I pointed out a few thoughts about the natural conclusions from the Lehman Brothers fall. However, with the much more severe failures we’ve seen in just the past 7 days, I’m becoming more bearish on our non-profit tech market’s ability to move through this smoothly.

Essentially, it all comes down to access to capital. If the small businesses that are the true engines of innovation in our sector (define “small business as you see fit”) are unable to obtain even small loans at competitive rates to build up capacity or roll out new features, we’re likely going to see a speed-up of the market’s consolidation as well as slowing innovation.

In short, there’s a good chance that all the nptech innovation fun we saw in 2002-2005 will be remembered fondly as “the good old days”. Of course, I don’t want to see this innovation slowdown. Our community deserves the best tools we can provide. I’m hopeful that with the growing support and use of open source technology within non-profits will continue to drive down costs and enable groups to still have access to powerful tools like Joomla during this downturn.


Non-profit communications 101, in a podcast

Non-Profit JungleYesterday while in New York, I had an opportunity to record an interview with our friends at Big Duck who create the Non-Profit Jungle podcast.

This podcast series, hosted by Big Duck’s Sarah Durham, provides regular interviews with communications practitioners in the non-profit sector, with a wide range of topics covering the use of new media in your non-profit.

If you’re looking for new ways to effectively communicate with your organization’s constituents, take this podcast for a spin in your iTunes subscriptions.


Webinar provides non-profits introduction to Joomla

The Non-Profit Open Source Initiative’s (NOSI) Michelle Murrain hosted yours truly for the latest session the “Setting up a Joomla site for your organization” yesterday, providing an introductory tour of Joomla to those listening in from the non-profit community. The one hour sessions covered most of the basics, from installation, to managing content, and gave participants a better understanding of the overall Joomla community.

There’s something about having 20 Firefox tabs open without my computer crashing during a live training that makes me smile.

This is the first in a series of open source CMS sessions offered by NOSI’s Michelle Murrain, with webinars for Plone and Drupal coming soon. This series is a must watch for organizations looking for an informative introduction to the most popular open source CMSes.

This set of sessions is a terrific service of NTEN, which is specifically reaching out to the non-profit and open source worlds with their Free and Open Source Software Webinar Series.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the webinar, you can purchase the recording of the Webinar from NTEN.


PICnetter Kevin Devine becomes a Joomla co-maintainer

Kevin DevineAfter receiving the firehose of Joomla information this past weekend at the Joomla!Day USA – San Francisco Bay Area, I was excited to learn today in our team meeting that our very own Kevin Devine was selected to be the co-maintainer within the Joomla Bug Squad.

As co-maintainer, Kevin is, “…responsible for comitting patches that have moved to “ready-to-commit” status. Before they commit the code changes they do a final code validation (standards, quality, docbook mark-ups etc.).” In short, he’s one of the last folks to check the code before it goes into the Joomla codebase.

Congratulations to Kevin on this achievement, it’s an honor having Joomla superstars like him on the team!


Joomla!Day USA SF 2008 delivers a successful event to the Bay Area

This year’s Joomla!Day USA San Francisco Bay Area was a terrific follow-up to the inaugural event last year, with familiar faces and great sessions. Delivered in the Joomla!Day USA’s now typical un-conference format (with help from Aspiration’s Allen Gunn), the event covered a variety of areas, including templating, Joomla basics, extension development, and more without even one PowerPoint presentation.

With our gracious hosts at Google, and lead by the growing Bay Area Joomla User Group, the event not only played as a great venue for learning about Joomla, but also for meeting up with friends from the community. We were lucky to have folks like Louis Landry, Anthony Ferrara, and Wilco Jansen fly in from as far away as the Netherlands for the gathering.

With three session tracks to attend, I ended up hosting two beginner sessions and a session CRM-CMS integration. The beginner sessions were a great opportunity for me to get back in the trenches with new Joomla users, and there’s something really exciting to see someone’s face light up when they start to realize the power and ease of using Joomla.

In the CRM-CMS session, we did a review of a few of the top CRM sessions for NPOs and small and mid-sized businesses, especially integrations with CiviCRM, Democracy in Action, and

Congratulations to the leaders of the Bay Area Joomla Users Group who organized the event! Even better, for those of you looking for a Joomla!Day event in your local US community, there is word of many more spreading throughout the USA within the next year! Keep your eyes open on the site to learn more.


PICnetters prepare for Technology in the Arts Conference 2008

Technology in the ArtsPICnetters hail from a wide-variety of backgrounds that makes our team diverse, including book-writing, international aid, and even law. One of our project manager superstars, Katie Guernsey, brings the beauty of the arts to the team with her strong background in community arts management. She’ll be joining strategist and architect Pradeep Suthram at this year’s Technology in the Arts Conference in Pittsburgh, October 9-11, sharing the Joomla story and enlightening folks with a hands-on learning session.

Technology in the Arts is a service of Center for Arts Management and Technology, an applied research center at Carnegie Mellon University, which provides a wonderful wealth of information for those in the arts community. As the conference Web site reads…

The Technology in the Arts Conference annually brings together the nation’s arts community to spark dialog around the intersection of technology and the arts, discuss best practices as well as lessons learned, provide hands-on training, and examine new potential uses for technology in the arts.

We highly recommend this conference for those of you in the arts community looking to learn more about how technology can shape and provide the assistance you need to gain greater efficiencies in your organizations. Hurry though, online registration ends October 7, 2008!


PICnet and Free Range Studios host salon to present Web site best practices

On September 4, Susan Finkelpearl of Free Range Studios and Tim Forbes of PICnet teamed together to present “Planning & (re)Launching Your Website To Reach & Engage Your Audiences” at PICnet DC. The discussion was the first of what we hope to be multiple opportunities for organizations in our communities to learn about best practices that can grow and keep their Web sites healthy.

Some of the topics covered in the presentation included:

  • Audience Identification & Needs Analysis
  • Sitemapping
  • Wireframing
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Overview
  • Best Practices and Worst Practices for SEO

If you missed the presentation, don’t worry, our friends at Free Range Studios have posted some of the best items online. Of course, writing a blog post about this session isn’t terribly helpful for those of you who wanted to attend but didn’t know about it. So, if you have any ideas for a session you’d like to see, or just want to be kept in the loop for the next one, let us know here on our blog.