Archive for November, 2009

Giving thanks from the top

This has been an incredible year at PICnet. I mean, if you’re going to take a wild ride, what better way to start it off than by having the US economy nearly collapse? I’ve been humbled by the dedicated work of our PICnetters, clients, and partners that made it possible for PICnet to weather these tough storms.

So before we all take off to our Thanksgiving gatherings with friends and family, filling ourselves with turkey or tofu, I wanted to take an opportunity to share my thanks to those that have helped keep the PICnet flag flying high in 2009. Read more »


Connecting Young People Doing Good

Some of you might have heard of the Young Professionals Network. Well, did you know there is a version for those of us working in the non-profit sector? I belong to the DC chapter of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), a group dedicated to really making as much information as possible available to those in our field through job fairs, seminars and networking happy hours.

It’s amazing that there’s a forum out there to focus on younger people that are dedicated to the missions of many unique and important organizations. At these events, it’s great to hear different stories about the struggles and triumphs that all people in the non-profit world experience. Of course, I would be remiss to attend these events and not mention PICnet’s services, so I always have a quick blurb about us in the hopes of spreading the word about who we are and what we do. At the end of the day, even though I don’t make a sale, it’s still great to spread our mission and see how what we do aligns so clearly with what many non-profits need.

I think attending the YNPN events are a great way to create a community for non-profit organizations located all over the city. It’s amazing to learn how many non-profits could really use a website revamp, and once they learn PICnet does it for such an affordable price, they are quick to ask more about us.

For more information on YNPN and to find your local chapter, click here.


Facebook isn’t just for Gen Y: Nonprofits are making the most of it, too

As the number of Facebook users climbs by the thousands every month, the college-age group who first supported its growth seem to be losing interest and turning their attention elsewhere.

While these users aren’t deleting their Facebook accounts altogether, they do appear to be spending less time on the site and exploring new communities and places to connect with their friends. According to at least one source, a significant portion of them are now revisiting Twitter, the micro-blogging site that limits your updates to 140 characters.

So how does this affect your nonprofit’s social media strategy if everyone is competing for Gen Y’s attention?

The first thing to note is that Facebook aging is just a side effect as it becomes more mainstream, which may actually be a good thing for your nonprofit. Depending on your target audience, this may mean leveraging Facebook as a way to reach and engage your audience is now more powerful than ever and it could boost support for your cause, and even online donations. For starters, make sure your Facebook page caters to your audience and has clear objectives and action items for users. For more tips, check out this recent NY Times article (aimed at small businesses, but applicable to any organization).

Second, if support from Gen Y is crucial for your nonprofit (whether for donations, volunteers or spreading the word), it might be time to explore some other options to make sure you are keeping up with your users. As always, it’s most important to find the right match between your objective, message, medium, and audience to achieve your goals and see successful results.

Still need more tips? Let us know!


Your Cause. Your Website: Free $$$ with Google Grants

Check out our latest Knowledge Base post about using Google Grants to your advantage for some free advertising and marketing for your website and cause – because we all could use a little help spreading the word, right?

Here’s a little preview:

We like free money. The 37 cents you find in between your couch cushions. The crisp, flat dollar bill you left as a bookmark in some random novel three years ago and are just now rediscovering. The friend who pays you back that ten spot from two months back you forgot you ever loaned him. Free money is good money…

Read more here.


Sharing lessons learned at Brazil’s Intercon 2009

The Brazilian technology community is bubbling with amazing energy, and I had a great opportunity to see it first-hand this past weekend.  On Saturday, I was asked to speak at Intercon 2009, an annual gathering of Web technologists in Brazil.  I’m excited to report back that the Brazilian community (especially those in the Joomla world) are heavily engaged in our open source technology ecology.

My presentation focused on open source content management systems (CMS) with two perspectives:  that of a company looking to invest in CMS software, and that of a business looking to build a solid business model based on providing services around open source CMS software.  I provided a little snapshot of PICnet’s history, moving from a pure consulting firm to one providing our flagship Non-Profit Soapbox product, while sharing some lessons learned and paths to success.

Ryan speaking at InterCon 2009

Many thanks go to our friends at iMasters, who put on this great conference, and who were gracious hosts during my stay in Sao Paulo.  I’m looking forward to next year’s event!


PICnet Volunteer Series: Pradeep is providing hope

This is the fifth post in our series about the PICnet Team’s volunteer efforts.

Who: Project Manager Pradeep Suthram How he serves: Volunteer for Friends of Prajwala and the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area

Pradeep has been working for PICnet for several years as a project manager, but still finds lots of time for his community, including his church, and even supporting charities his friends work for as well. But his main project hits close to home: for the last couple of years he has been volunteering for Friends of Prajwala, an organization that works to help victims of sexual trafficking and prostitution in India. As a a native of Hyderabad, India, Pradeep has found a way to help the people from his home country, and has even gotten support from multiple friends and family members.

Through Friends of Prajwala, Pradeep has been leading a fundraising effort called The Rebuild Campaign to help build a new shelter near Hyderabad for 600 women and girls who are survivors of sexual assault and trafficking. Growing up, Pradeep witnessed a lot of poverty and wanted to do something about it – he says that trafficked women and girls are some of the most poor people in India, and therefore denied their rights. He has since built a website for The Rebuild Campaign, and helped to raise $16,000 so far through his friends and networks.

Pradeep also assists the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area (UNA-NCA) with website development (using Joomla! of course) and he has helped to organize an international development career fair and hosted seminars on microfinance and technology related to international development. “UNA NCA has helped me to connect with a lot of like-minded ‘do-gooders,’ and learn about some really interesting issues,” says Pradeep.

Read more about UNA-NCA.

Learn more about Pradeep.


Where in the world is Ryan? … Brazil

Conference dates: September 12; 14 Where: Joomla!Day Brazil; DevinRio

In September, I had the great opportunity to attend two different conferences in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and once again, both were amazing experiences. First up, I went to Joomla!Day Brazil to meet up with Joomla! enthusiasts from a wide range of backgrounds, businesses, the government and nonprofits. I was especially excited to meet Paulino Michelazzo, the president of Fabrica Livre, an open source consulting firm in Sao Paulo.

Similar to what I said in my keynote speech for Joomla!Day South Africa, I gave an update to conference attendees on Joomla! leadership and the drive toward increased transparency in open source matters, and I shared lessons learned from outside the Brazilian community. And then I had the opportunity to learn from the experiences of NGOs in Brazil and how they use Joomla! It’s pretty cool to hear about all the various ways that this software is being utilized around the world.

A couple of days later, I attended DevinRio, a conference specifically for developers with a focus on open-source software. Among the people I had the chance to meet were Guilherme Chapiewski of, a large media conglomerate; and my buddy Rodrigo Spillere, the young developer I met earlier this year at FISL 10. At this conference, I shared lessons learned from building an open-source community around an open-source project, while keeping in mind the user and community experience when writing code – because usability and constituent feedback are key to providing the best experience possible.

Dev in Rio 2009 – Ryan Ozimek e Coding Dojo from Guilherme Chapiewski on Vimeo.

In a nutshell, I was able to explain, as one attendee said, “the secret sauce of the Joomla! community success and show how open-source projects are improving the landscape of technology and helping to change the world.”