Archive for the ‘npsf’ Category

Social Media Sewing Circle in SF – Sign up now!

Our PICnet friend and partner Aspiration is hosting a “Social Media Sewing Circle” from 1-4pm, Sept. 15, as part of “Mozilla Service Week,” in San Francisco. They will be hosting a few free sessions such as: Social Media Tracking, Publishing strategies for social media channels, Facebook and Twitter Essentials, and Beginning and advanced blogging skills.

The event is free, but space is limited, so RSVP now if you plan on attending! It is hosted at the San Francisco Nonprofit Technology Center.

Check it out here.

What is Mozilla Service Week? Starting tomorrow, techies will be donating their time (more than 9,000 hours pledged so far and counting) to help make a difference in their communities and the world – and doing it all online! You can sign up to volunteer here, or just to find out more about this exciting week of web service.


Digital Storytelling and Community Outreach

I attended my first Community Technology and Digital Opportunity Meetup in San Francisco on July 20th and left feeling inspired about the potential of using digital media to express the realities, triumphs and work of my clients.

The purpose of this meetup is to share the work of various nonprofits around the Bay Area who provide technology access and programming to the local community through either computer labs or innovative digital literacy curricula. The week’s topic “Bayview Hunter’s Point Center for Art and Technology and Digital Storytelling!” was hosted by the titled organization, BAYCAT, and also featured a presentation by Jen Nowicki from Creative Narrations.

Jen first defined what digital storytelling is: it’s a vignette told in the first person and made up of personal images and text in a video format. Her organization helps nonprofits and education institutions empower their constituents’ voices by training them to develop their own digital story. From what I saw, their process is focused, impacting and cathartic for many of the individuals they serve. They teach the elements of how to tell a story and move their students through four stages of developing their work: Preparation, Production, Publishing and Promotion. The final stage is important to the recognition and ownership of the work, and helps ensure that the community hears the story. For resources on how to create your own digital story, you can go to Stories for Change.

Here is one of the highlighted videos: Boston YWCA:

BAYCAT is an organization that educates the underserved communities of Bayview and Hunter’s Point on various media production techniques, and then employs some of their graduates to fulfill corporate and other nonprofit media needs. This cycle from student to professional creates an incredible incentive for the students and their families to continue supporting their talents. Many of the production pieces serve as public service messages to the student’s community, so they become change agents against drugs and violence.

Here is a very creative and funny one done by a teenager:

I would love to see some of my clients start to utilize these resources. I know that the web development process is quite an undertaking in itself, but starting to incorporate video to tell stories would be a great 6 month follow up to keep web content fresh. It would also be a great case for strategic partnerships among nonprofits.


MyQuire- A Handy Collaboration Solution for Nonprofits set precedence towards virtually mobilizing left-leaning activists around the nation. Friendster to MySpace to Facebook created the social networking phenomenon that allows users to find people that share similar interests, friends and institutions with a multimedia, personalized flair. There is something that finally combines the two: MyQuire.

Working virtually is a reality for many these days. PICnet, for instance, at any given time, has employees in four different locations. My volunteer work for the Emerging Leaders Council of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), for whom we serve hundreds of young professionals, is completely virtual save two meetings per year. And now I’m finding myself in San Francisco, helping a friend in Oregon organize a fundraising event in our Southern California hometown for her younger sister who has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Being able to coordinate communications, documents and tasks in a central location is key to any project whose members are remote.

The tools that we use at PICnet, while adequate for project management on a small enterprise scale, would not hold water in the non-techy environment of AFTA or among my friends where networking is at the root of collaboration. (I actually heard of MyQuire through the annals of AFTA as I have been pushing them to become more transparent and innovative with their Council and constituent organizing.) I decided to give MyQuire a test run with my fundraising event to see how easy it would be to replicate for AFTA’s purposes.

Before I begin my review, I should state that MyQuire is in Beta right now, so I am hoping that some of these issues will be fixed by the formal launch in late Fall.

Overall MyQuire’s interface is great. The design is clean and intuitive and you can’t beat the price. It’s free for a user with five projects or less, and it only costs $9.99 per month if you need to coordinate more projects. The founder of the company is a person with a vision to remedy a need by nonprofits, and they are even awarding grants to their nonprofit users. The application cannot be wrapped under the guise of a nonprofits’ website look and feel, but I hear they have plans to do this in the future. And that is wonderful because in the long run, does an organization want to look like it’s coordinating through MyQuire, or through its own technical prowess?


Stokes: I created our project, “Lauren’s Fundraiser,” added Jason and Lisa, my co-coordinators, and we track all our communications through the website. We each have created our own profiles much like the current popular social networking sites, so you can see our interests, our other projects, any photos we upload, and who we know.

We are even given a specific email with the project name:, that acts as a group email list. Another great feature is that I am able to chat live with my co-coordinators if they are online. If you are feeling like dropping a w00t! or some kudos, post a comment to my wall

Bummers: What I’d really like to show you- RIGHT NOW- is a link that goes directly to my project. Much like how you can see MySpace pages from the Web. I’d like to have a one pager that has a picture, the event details and who is coordinating the event so I could pass it around to all my friends. Even better, a way to RSVP for the event! How cool would that be?

MyQuire: Think guerilla marketing! Your domain would be in all the links.


Stokes: They have enabled a system much like Google Docs or any wiki that provides for online collaboration. I can create a meeting agenda, and Lisa and Jason can add whatever items they need to without re-uploading a new document. I have uploaded Word docs to share, however I haven’t tried any Excel, Power Point or Visio files. I’d be interested to know if those fly.

There is also an area called “My Hard Drive” that looks promising with a Window Explorer feel. It breaks down all your items- photos, projects, files, etc- into directories.

Bummers: Lisa is Mac user and Safari doesn’t support much of the mentioned functionalities. I also had trouble navigating back to the “Files” directory once I opened a document. There is no close or cancel button, and the back arrow on my Firefox browser landed me back to my profile. Lastly, I only see the html document I created in MyQuire in the Hard Drive section. Where are the Word docs?


Stokes: I assign tasks with due dates to Jason and Lisa and mark milestones on the project calendar. I can subscribe to my project’s calendar via Outlook, iCal, or Mozilla Sunbird and superimpose it on my Google calendar to help organize my hectic lifestyle.

Bummers: I can’t track time spent on a task nor have a Gantt chart view of the project. Resource allocation and tracking would be a nice addition. Finally, the link to subscribe to the calendar didn’t work. :(

All in all, MyQuire has been a good resource to coordinate my fundraising event remotely. I think that after their launch, MyQuire should have the solid foundation which will make it recommendable to AFTA.


NPO consultants can’t afford the systems they deploy

Salesforce.comWith all the great discussions happening at the Non-Profit Summit this week, there’s one ironic point that I think many of us “for-some-profit” consultants face in the sector: the solution we provide to our clients is well outside our own budgets as small businesses.

Even more ironic, we at PICnet use the open source SugarCRM to have heavy access to the CRM’s API. This is something we couldn’t do with for less than, gulp, thousands of dollars a year.

It’s funny being priced out of the chance to eat your own dog food, especially since we’re heavily focused on building bridges between the Joomla and Salesforce platforms. I’m not sure what the solution is, but if non-profits are being provided 10 donated seats to the Enterprise level of, it’s difficult to see how those other than the largest consulting firms working with the large end of the non-profit marketplace will be able to afford the same level of Salesforce that they deploy to our sector.

I’m not sure what could be done to help make these tools more affordable, I just needed to get this irony off my chest as I simultaneously continue to applaud the Salesforce Foundation for all its hard work.