On a Shoestring

How can you make a smart decision when you don’t have good information? 

That question that was on my mind a lot in the early 2000s. I was living in Brooklyn and splitting my time between corporate consulting and partnering with a small family foundation to help their grantees with digital communications. In most cases, my nonprofit clients didn’t have any digital communications software—this was before social media was widely used by nonprofits, so we’re talking about broadcast email tools primarily—and they needed my help finding the right tool.  
It didn’t take long to realize that I hated software selection, not because I wasn’t interested in the tools and how they worked, but because I couldn’t get the information I needed to begin comparing them. My instinct was to find every relevant tool, line them up side by side, and compare their features—apples to apples.
What I found was a marketplace that made that kind of comparison virtually impossible. At that time, vendors treated product information as a trade secret. Pricing was also very secretive. Many nonprofits were forced to choose software based on the recommendation of a friend or the persuasiveness of the vendor’s marketing. Consultants tried to help by developing a roster of three or four tools they were familiar with, but there was no guarantee that one of those was what the client needed.
In 2003, I started publishing an email newsletter called Software on a Shoestring, which provided software information as I collected it. In some ways it was my attempt to justify all the unbilled hours. I was spending a lot of my own time tracking down specs and features for my clients, but just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea that there might be a better product out there that I didn’t know about. 
It was a testament to the state of nonprofit technology information that through word of mouth Software on a Shoestring gained more than a thousand subscribers in just a few months. All those weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons spent in my Brooklyn apartment—my “office” was a little room just big enough for two desks and two chairs side by side, one each for me and my husband—began to feel like something bigger than a newsletter.
I’ve heard from a lot of people who started nonprofits in a similar way. You have an idea or you notice a gap that no one else is filling, and then you jump in, and before long it starts to get bigger than just you.
In late 2004 I started talking to people like Ami Dar at Idealist and Ed Batista from NTEN. I had this idea: Start a nonprofit that provided all the tech information a nonprofit needed to be smart about technology. We wouldn’t do consulting work. We’d just provide information as a way to help organizations get started.
Many of the people I talked to had mixed feelings about what I was proposing. They liked the idea and knew there was a need for something like it, but they weren’t sure we could pull it off. Would general information that’s not tailored to a specific organization really be useful? And would vendors cooperate and provide the in-depth details we needed?
Nonetheless, the nonprofit tech community—including TechSoup and NTEN—embraced us and put us to work. Ten years, 1.1 million words, and 68,000 people hours later, it’s clear that the Idealware model is a success. We’ve been part of a sea change toward transparency in nonprofit technology. Today, in an hour, any nonprofit leader can sort through dozens of software products and narrow them down to three or four. We’re proud to be one of the leaders of this movement and to see that so many more organizations are now also working in their unique ways to make sure nonprofits are not left guessing when it comes to technology.
I’m also proud that this year Idealware has grown into the kind of organization that will sustain itself long into the future. It’s not just me typing away at my newsletter anymore. We have a whole team of researchers, strategists, and communicators who will shape the next 10 years of Idealware. And most importantly, we have Karen Graham, who has taken over leadership of Idealware and is pushing us further than I ever thought possible all those years ago.
I’ll let Karen tell you her plans for Idealware’s future, but I just want to say thank you to everyone who believed in this crazy idea and helped us out along the way these past 10 years. Idealware wasn’t founded by a big seed grant. We built it one report, one training, and one research project at a time. Whether you are a funder or a reader (or both!), you are what sustain us. You are the foundation of our success.
Idealware began as a hobby that I hoped would do some good in the world. It’s so gratifying to know that all of you who are reading this have done so much to make the world a better place and that we have played some small part in supporting you.
Thank you for being part of Idealware for these past 10 years and please consider supporting the future of Idealware. I’m excited about what the next 10 years will bring. 


Best of the Web: October 2015

It feels as though a tide is turning. 
For years, you’ve heard me and others in tech try to convince you that data is important, that collecting and analyzing program data can do a lot for your organization and its mission. 
But I’m starting to get the sense that most people are convinced at this point and are now turning their attention toward the next important question: What do I need to know to use data effectively?
Four of the most popular posts on social media this month were not about “why,” but about “how.” How to become more data literate. How to format and clean data. How to show your teammates the story in your data. How to maintain your database so that the information you need will be there for you.
This is an exciting time for all of us who believe in the power of program data. As more nonprofits develop data skills and expertise, I think we’re going to see nonprofits taking increasingly more important leadership roles in finding solutions to small and large challenges around the world.
Enjoy this month’s collection of news, insights, and best practices found on the web.
All best,
Laura Quinn
Director of Partnerships and Knowledge
How to Become Data Literate in Seven Easy Steps (Datassist)
“Learning to use data is like learning any new skill: You don’t look at the masters and think you can emulate them right away. There’s nothing wrong with starting at square one!” This blog post from Datassist promises to take anyone willing to learn from the “kindergarten” of data knowledge to a “PhD” in data literacy. 
Trifacta Wrangler to Format and Clean Data (FlowingData)
For you data wranglers out there, this new free tool allows you to streamline the process and get a visual inventory of the data you’re working with so that you can quickly identify problems such as percentage of missing values or columns that seem to have mismatched formats.
Overcoming Database Demons (Robert Weiner)
Just in time for Halloween, Robert Weiner shows you how demons can lurk in your database and how to cast them out.
Leveraging Data Storytelling (LinkedIn)
Kevin Zhao of the Ford Foundation outlines how to develop a data story—a selection of your data that highlights a series of connected events to make a point.
Why There Aren't More Women in Tech and Why It Matters (Lifehacker)
This infographic compiles data on the state of women in tech. It shows how far behind the industry really is, asks important questions about why women are so significantly underrepresented, shows the value of gender diverse companies (in terms of real money), and highlights a few organizations making a difference.
How to Build a Prototype Without a Technical Co-Founder (Inc.)
Is this a sign of a growing tech bubble? Inc. Magazine outlines how someone with an app idea, but no ability to actually create it, can still make a pitch to investors.
Edventure Builder (Website)
Have you ever wanted to build your own “choose your own adventure” story? This simple new tool allows you to guide a user through a series of questions or scenarios that branch into different possibilities along the way.
Six Fast Facts On The Future Of QR Codes For Nonprofit Fundraising (Tech Impact)
Do QR codes have a future? We asked that question on Twitter and got a resounding: “NO.” Tech Impact outlines all the reasons why QR codes are likely to go extinct.
Five Nonprofits Making The Most of Short Videos on Social Media (See3)
Video is a powerful tool for focusing your viewer’s attention and delivering a message that resonates. See3 shows a range of successful videos—from unedited moments that capture the spirit of the organization to very short videos that use music and graphics to engage emotionally with the audience.
Five Qualities A Nonprofit Social Media Coordinator Should Have (Tech Impact)
For a lot of organizations, especially those with older leadership, the assumption is that they just have to be young. Turns out, there’s more to it. Tech Impact breaks it down into five important qualities.
10 Common Tech Questions (Lifehacker)
A look behind some of the tech world’s most puzzling phenomena. (Finally, an answer to why I have to restart my wireless router so often.)
What Does Probability Mean in Your Profession? (Math with Bad Drawings)
Math with Bad Drawings reminds us that every profession is its own world complete with its own reality. On Twitter we said that there’s a high probability that you’ll find this blog post funny. Our followers seemed to agree.
Why donors leave your donation page and how to stop them (4aGoodCause)
Imagine doing all the hard work necessary to get someone interested in donating only to find them click away once they reach the donation page. It happens more often than you think. These tips can help you make sure that they stay focused on their mission once they reach your page.
The Landscape of Salesforce for Nonprofits: A Report on the Current Marketplace for Apps (Idealware)
We’re still getting a lot of buzz about our Salesforce report—probably because more nonprofits use Salesforce than any other database system. If you’re looking for a straightforward rundown of your options, including apps that can help you turn Salesforce into a tool that does more than just store contacts, download our free report.
Do you have a suggestion for next month's best of the web? If so, email

How to Build Your Email List for Your End-of-Year Campaign

It’s that time of year again—end-of-year fundraising campaign season. As you think about your overall story and plan your tactics, don’t forget the first step: building up your email list.

In truth, list building is a year-round process. One of the best ways to keep your list growing throughout the year is to create something worth subscribing to—for instance, an eNewsletter. A regular email that includes relevant news, events, tips that align with your mission, or resources that could benefit your readers is a smart move because it provides your constituents with something they value and gives them a reason to keep checking in on your organization. If you’re just starting out with your eNewsletter, recruit your current supporters to sign up and ask them to invite their friends. 

Your year-round eNewsletter provides a good foundation, but what should you be doing in October that might pay off in December?
  • Get email addresses for people on your snail mailing list. Can you send them a postcard about your great email resources and ask them to sign up? If you have a bigger list, you can consider a service such as FreshAddress, which will sell you email addresses for current supporters.
  • Ask for email addresses on social media channels. Consider a social media campaign to encourage people who follow you on Facebook, Twitter, or other channels to sign up for your great email resources. 
  • Promote a resource online and ask people to subscribe for more. It’s hard to directly promote an ongoing resource such as an eNewsletter. It’s much easier to promote a great one-off resource like an infographic, video, article, or report. What can you create that might encourage a lot of folks to click through to view your resource in more detail? Where can you promote it? Through partners? On relevant blogs? Through social media? Make sure you ask people who click on the link to sign up with their email address to get more great resources like it.
  • Ask a partner to introduce you to its list. If you have the right partners, it can be very effective to ask them to send an email to their list about your great resources. In this model, no email addresses actually change hands, but you’ll be introduced to a new audience. Do you have, for instance, a media or corporate partner? A like-minded nonprofit that doesn’t overlap too much with your mission?
Join a Webinar to Learn More

For more information on how you can build up your email list and convert your readers into donors, join our five-part email fundraising class. The Email Fundraiser’s Toolkit will take you through every detail of creating a successful email campaign.

Not sure you want to commit to five classes? Sample our free course: Eight Tips for a Successful Email Fundraising Campaign.



Email is Here to Stay

Every year for the past decade, some internet writer looking to make a splash writes why he or she thinks email is dead. Whether it’s RSS, instant messaging, or the smartphone, each new application seems to spell the end of email.
But the predictions haven’t come true. And they probably won’t. Why not?
Think about what email is and why, according to Salesforce, there are more than 3 billion email accounts in the world. Email:
  • Is a written record that can be created and stored easily.
  • Is universal—nearly everyone has at least one email address.
  • Is not restricted to a single platform or device.
  • Is not instantaneous and doesn’t have to interrupt your life—people don’t expect you to respond immediately, so it’s easy to file emails away for later or ignore them completely.
  • Can handle short and long messages equally well.
  • Can include attachments, images, and links with one or two clicks.
  • Is flexible enough to be formal or informal, depending on the situation.
No other tool can easily provide all that. These are just a few of the reasons why email is such an effective marketing tool. Most people don’t necessarily like email, but the world runs on it.
For many nonprofits, email is a big opportunity that isn’t being fully realized. That’s why Idealware is presenting The Email Fundraiser’s Toolkit, a five-session online training series that will teach you how to develop your own successful email fundraising campaigns. 
Idealware’s expert trainers will show you how to design an email plan for your organization, create content that is valuable and gets noticed, choose the tools that can help you pull off your plan, and measure your reach so you know what’s working and what isn’t. 
Need to get your emails in shape for end-of-year campaigns, a day of giving, or just a monthly appeal? The Email Fundraiser’s Toolkit will get you there. Register now.
Image credit: Tango! Desktop Project


Why Some Organizations Struggle to Introduce New Technology Systems

We just spent a zillion dollars on this client database that was supposed to transform our nonprofit organization—and it's not doing anything for us. 
Does that sound familiar? What went wrong? 
Organizations that struggle to introduce new technology systems usually fall short in one of these three key areas.
1. Selection
The software marketplace is huge and sorting through the options and how they might benefit your organization can be challenging. That’s why it’s tempting to select a system based on one recommendation or on what’s already familiar. But that can be a big mistake. Taking the time to figure out exactly what your organization needs and how a particular system matches those needs is essential. Not every system fits every organization, so find the one that fits best for you.
Idealware has resources that can help you begin to narrow down your choices. If you’re looking to choose a donor management system, start with our consumer’s guide. If you’re more inclined to consider a CRM, download our Salesforce landscape report.
2. Implementation
Software configuration and data migration can go wrong in so many ways. The villain is usually some sort of failure—failure to ask the right questions, failure to meet deadlines, failure to stay within budgets, failure to test. An experienced project manager, paired with consulting services from the technology vendor or a third party, can help you avoid these traps. Realistic expectations are important too.
3. User Adoption
User adoption doesn't happen on its own; it requires effort and diligence just like the selection and implementation phases did. 
Hopefully, you’ve already involved key users during selection and implementation to make sure your organization gets the right system and that it’s configured in the way that’s most useful to the people who will use it most. By doing that, you’ve laid a strong foundation for user adoption. 
Once your new technology is deployed, spend some time training staff and setting clear expectations for how to use the system. Help them connect the dots between the new technology and its positive impact on the organization so that they are motivated to learn and use it. Finally, be open to feedback and build in opportunities for testing and refinement. Remember that your system is about helping your people do their job better. If people feel it does the opposite—get in their way—the system is going to shrivel up before it even gets started.
Learn More
To hear more about why nonprofits often struggle to get new technology off the ground or to hear me riffing on other technology topics, check out my recent appearance on the podcast Next in Nonprofits with Steve Boland.
Photo credit: Juha Finkman, SubZone OY


From Fuzzy Mission to Actionable Metrics in 7 Steps

In my experience, almost every nonprofit thinks their mission is harder to measure than most. I sometimes give presentations on performance measurement that include case studies. And no matter how many organizations I show that have defined metrics to measure core, mission-related programs, I still hear from people who think that the examples I give are of organizations with much more straightforward missions than theirs.
That’s backward thinking, in my mind. The example missions feel more straightforward because they’ve been broken down into concrete chunks that are more manageable. This applies to any mission—if you break yours down too, you’ll hopefully find yourself saying, “Hmm… maybe my mission isn’t too hard to measure after all.”
Here are seven steps to help you make your mission more clear and translate that mission into actionable metrics.
1. Write it out. In a sentence or two, write out your fuzzy mission. It could be an actual mission statement or tagline. It could cover your whole organization or a single program. So let’s say:
2. Identify the fuzziness. Circle all the words that aren’t completely clear. Where could you add some—or a lot—of clarity as to what this means to your organization?
3. Define. For each of the circled words, define what it means to your organization. How do you define a “volunteer”? Are they mid-career professionals? High school kids? How do you know if a volunteer is “engaged”? If they show up once, are they engaged, or do they need to commit to a longer-term activity?  
This isn’t an easy step. In fact, it could be the subject of a whole retreat. Often, we use words in fuzzy ways in our mission, but in practice they could mean something pretty specific. For instance, this mission could describe either an organization that was pairing high school and college kids with mentors with the goal of creating life-long supporters of the environmental movement, or one that was placing retired professionals in environmental organizations for long-term engagements to strengthen their capacity. Clearly, the way these two organizations would define their terms—and therefore measure their missions—would be very different.
4. Brainstorm measures. For each of your clarified terms, brainstorm things that might tell you whether you’re doing that successfully. For instance, if we’re trying to measure whether we have successfully engaged high school volunteers, we could:
  • Count the number of times they show up.
  • Count hours.
  • Ask the volunteer if they feel connected to the mission.
  • Ask the organization if they feel the volunteer is contributing.
  • Using a rubric, assign a number to the quality of the project the volunteer and organization are doing together.
  • Follow up in a year to see if anything actually happened as a result of the volunteer work.
5. Brainstorm tactics to get that data. You’ve got a list of a lot of things that could be measured, but not necessarily ones that are at all practical to measure. Take some time to do the opposite brainstorm—what tactics could you use to collect your data? For instance, could you survey one of your audiences? Pull data from existing constituent management systems? Count things in other systems—such as email inquiries or appointments with legislators? Is there public data that could help?
6. Find a few metrics to start with. To get the metrics process rolling, pick a few metrics that seem both useful and practical—ideally ones that rely on data you have already. 
7. Use the metrics. It sounds obvious, but if you don’t actually pull the metrics and use them—perhaps in a recurring meeting, or as part of a standard decision-making process—then they’re not useful. It can be a bit strange to start, as you often have little basis of comparison (e.g., What does it mean that 80% of volunteers feel they’re making a difference?) But over time, you can see that number change and get comfortable with what it means to your mission.
Fundamentally, the goal is to break down your fuzzy mission into actionable chunks, figure out how to move forward on a chunk, and get started. Perfect is absolutely the enemy of the good in this area. Start somewhere, do something, and don’t worry if you have the perfect set of metrics to measure everything.
Learn More
If you’re just getting started with mission metrics and are looking for more in-depth guidance, check out our recorded webinar: Measuring Your Mission: Using Data to Track Organizational Health and Success. It will help you:
  • Understand what it means to use data to measure organizational health and success.
  • Learn what types of metrics tend to be useful for what types of things.
  • Identify the next steps in creating your own metrics strategy.

How to Build a Better Website

Last year, we put together a series of five short videos for the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (LSNTAP). These videos were created specifically for legal aid organizations, but the tips and best practices apply to anyone with a website. Whether you're starting from scratch or seeking incremental improvements for your existing website, check out these videos before you begin.










Is the Donor Management System Dead?


“In another 10 years, there will be no such thing as a donor management system.”


That’s what Tompkins Spann, Vice President of Business Development at KELL Partners in Austin, Texas, told me a few months ago as I was researching an article about donor management system trends for the Nonprofit Times. 
The statement was intentionally provocative and comes with the caveat that Spann and his colleagues at KELL focus their consulting exclusively on helping nonprofits work with Salesforce—a CRM system. But it also had a ring to truth to it. 
Other experts I spoke to talked about the “CRMization” of donor management systems or recounted how often they heard clients express a wish for an all-in-one system that includes marketing automation, fundraising, payment processing, website integration, volunteer management, and event management tools. There’s a current of dissatisfaction with the limitations of most donor management systems.
But is it possible? Can one system really provide everything an organization needs while still being affordable? How well can one vendor develop and maintain such a diverse range of tools? 
Some think Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge NXT can pull it off. Others are betting that Salesforce and its massive AppExchange will offer an increasingly simple way to put together a customized system that has everything an organization needs.
At the heart of the problem is the question: How good is good enough? For example, it’s unlikely that a vendor will be able to offer an email tool that’s better than MailChimp, Constant Contact, and VerticalResponse. Are you willing to pay enterprise software prices for a second- or third-tier tool?
Integration is potentially a way around the problem of settling, but even with Salesforce, different tools and systems are not always good at communicating with each other and the power of your tool may be dimmed by the limitations of your integration. 
And for many small organizations, a CRM system might be too big and not user-friendly enough to entice them to switch. Tech consultants and IT geeks may be thrilled with the power of a system with multiple modules or integrations, but for people on the ground, smartphones and tablets have taught them that technology should be powerfully simple. What Tracy Kronzak of BrightStep Partners in San Francisco calls “button-click ease” is something we’re all starting to take for granted, but that’s not always easy to build, especially when not everyone wants to press the same buttons.
For now, the donor management system has an important place in the market. However, if vendors begin to cooperate to make integration easier or the individual tools continue to be commoditized and only slightly differentiated, we may see donor management systems scramble to become CRM systems or get squeezed out entirely. Maybe check back in about 10 years.
Learn More
For a rundown of the latest donor management system trends according to experts across the nonprofit technology community, read The Evolution of Donor Management and its Fundraising Future at the Nonprofit Times

4 Things You Need to Know Before You Implement a Salesforce App

For many organizations that use Salesforce, especially those that signed up for free through the Salesforce Foundation, there is often a “Now What?” moment. You have this powerful, flexible CRM solution, but you aren’t sure yet how to make it do everything you want it to do. You need apps.
The Salesforce AppExchange currently offers nearly 3,000 apps and consulting firms and vendors offer dozens more that are not listed on the Exchange. How do you sort through them all to find exactly what your organization needs? And once you find an interesting app, what should you look for before you implement it? Here are a few handy questions to help guide you.

Will the app work with your implementation? 

Typically, the Salesforce developer community follows clear guidelines and agrees on best practices, both for setting up an organization’s implementation and for developing apps in order to make sure they all play nice together. But if the app you’re considering uses a standard object (such as Households) differently than your implementation, or if you have heavily customized your standard objects, the app is likely not to work properly. While you can’t control how an app developer uses objects, you can test-drive apps in a testing version (Salesforce calls these "sandboxs") that uses your actual data, but without affecting your actual system. That way, you have to opportunity to see how a new app will handle your data, as well as how well it will work with other apps in your implementation.

Is the app compatible with your edition of Salesforce? 

If you obtained your licenses through the Salesforce Foundation’s Power of Us program, you’re using the Enterprise Edition. Before you purchase or install an app, check on the “Details” tab of the app’s listing in the AppExchange to see what editions it supports. You’re not likely to find an app that doesn’t support the Enterprise Edition, but it’s a good idea to check. 

Who supports the app? 

Most apps on the AppExchange are developed and supported by a software vendor or consulting firm that should provide updates to fix bugs, keep up with changes to the Salesforce platform (or packages, such as the Nonprofit Starter Pack), or address other issues. However, if that company goes out of business, will anyone still support the app? In one example where the outcome was positive, the popular and free volunteer management app Volunteers for Salesforce was originally developed by a now defunct consulting firm. When the firm folded, the person who developed the app continued to maintain it on his own, and is now part of the Salesforce development team. Other apps may be supported by a community of volunteers. But just as often, such orphaned apps may be completely abandoned, leaving users to fend for themselves.

What do other Salesforce users think about the app? 

Do other people use this app? Do they like it, or are there outstanding issues? Have other nonprofits found it helpful? As with any software, it’s good to hear from the people who use it, not just the company providing it. Widely-popular apps may have hundreds of reviews on its AppExchange listing. You should also visit the Power of Us Hub ( to connect with other nonprofits on Salesforce to find out what they like and don’t like about a particular app (or even get recommendations for alternatives). 

Learn More About Salesforce Apps

Interested in learning more about what apps are out there? Curious about apps for a particular need? Check out our report, The Landscape of Salesforce for Nonprofits: A Report on the Current Marketplace for Apps, updated for 2015! Readers can learn whether Salesforce is right for them, review useful apps in more than 15 categories, and find a list of consultants to help them implement or modify their systems. Whether they currently use Salesforce or are considering implementing it, they'll find something in this report to help.



Best of the Web: September 2015


Data in Focus

The nonprofit world is talking a lot about data—which is mostly a good thing. But as several of this month’s stories show, more data isn’t necessarily the answer. It’s important to put data in context—to think through what’s realistic, avoid prejudice, and display it honestly. 
Most of us don't need more data. We need more focus. And fundamentally, as a sector we’re not going to get very far with data unless we fund the ability to strategically plan, collect, and analyze that data. 
If you want to get started using data to enhance your mission, I would encourage you to take Andrew Means’ advice and “start where you are.” Ask yourself what you need to know for your organization to be successful and figure out a handful of metrics that can collect that information. 
But don’t feel you have to collect everything you need to know all by yourself. Larger organizations that are working toward similar goals often publish and analyze their data. By leveraging their work, you can build a foundation of knowledge that makes zeroing in on a handful of metrics more straightforward and realistic. 
From data analysis to funding technology to the complexities of the digital divide, here are the stories that stood out to us this month. Enjoy.
Laura Quinn
Director of Partnerships and Knowledge

Best of the Web

Andrew Means Says to “Start Where You Are” (Markets for Good)
To kick off its Community Insight series, Markets for Good talks to Andrew Means about the projects he’s working on, the quickly changing research and analytics landscape, and the biggest opportunities for data in the nonprofit sector.
Avoiding Prejudice in Data-based Decisions (Sunlight Foundation)
Many large nonprofits have lead the push for "data-based decision-making" in the past few years, and we often think of this approach as smarter and less-biased than human decisions—after all, numbers don't lie. But this post from the Sunlight Foundation explores the ways we've built our own prejudices and biases into the data models we analyze and uses this finding to make a case for greater transparency in collecting data.
Visualizing Data with Integrity (FlowingData and Visme)
What do you do with all that data? FlowingData shows you how to design charts that communicate your data points clearly and honestly. Visme provides a guide to different ways to use infographics.
What I Learned From Grantmakers About Funding Technology (Idealware)
Here are a few grantmaker insights from a recent Idealware training session.
How Can We Help Our Grantees Strengthen Their Capacity for Evaluation? (GEO)
If there's a nonprofit equivalent of an earworm, program evaluation is it. In the past few years, more and more nonprofits have been collecting and scrutinizing data about their programs, and for the most part, foundations and other major funders are the ones leading the charge. This whitepaper from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) highlights what it found when it interviewed leading foundations about how they help nonprofits develop program evaluation systems.
Using Technology to Innovate at Your Organization (Nonprofit Quarterly and Markets for Good)
There were a number of exciting case studies this month on how nonprofits can use technology to help them deliver programs or services in new ways. Nonprofit Quarterlyhas an interesting roundup on nonprofit uses of text messaging. Markets for Goodtalks about GlobalGiving’s use of gamification, incentives, and behavioral economics to encourage organizations to listen to the people they serve, to act on what they hear by testing new ideas, and to learn faster and more efficiently.
Using Open Data, a Scientist Is Finding New York City’s Best Stories (Observer)
Buried in New York City’s open data are fascinating stories about how people live and work in America’s largest city. Computer scientist and blogger Ben Wellington combs through that data to find oddities such as the most expensive fire hydrant as well as serious patterns in police behavior and racial bias.  
How to Manage Colleagues (and Yourself) While Working Remotely (Fast Company and PC World)
Do you or members of your team work remotely? Check out these handy guides to help you stay in touch, work as a team, and keep focused. 
The Online User Experience (Note to Self)
Most of us read, click, or swipe our way across the Web at lightning speed. Our ability to take that for granted is made possible, in part, by user experience (UX) designers. The public radio show Note to Self takes a closer look at how those designers decide to put every element of a website or app in just the right place. 
Curated Research for Changemakers (Frankology)
If you don’t know about Frankology, you’re missing out on a valuable resource. The site is a treasure trove of peer-reviewed research across multiple disciplines that was selected to provide nonprofits with information that could help them approach complex problems in new ways.
Thinking Past the Digital Divide (Civicist) 
When most people talk about the digital divide, they're talking about bringing broadband access to low-income or rural individuals. But this post from Civicist takes a look at how many seemingly "unconnected" people use smartphones and public Wi-Fi to stay connected, suggesting that those working to improve online access for low-income Americans may be overlooking some big opportunities. 
Staying Ahead of the Competition with Social Listening (Epolitics)
If you’re involved in a contentious political or advocacy campaign, social listening can help you strengthen your messages, get ahead of your critics, and expand your knowledge. This article helps you get started developing a social listening strategy.
Recommendations & Resources from the Digital Adoption Report (NTEN)
NTEN’s Digital Adoption Report now comes with additional resources to help you dig deeper into the report’s findings and apply what you learn to your own organization.
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