Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology

Data Ecosystems

Not so long ago, nonprofit organizations had software tools, that dealt with specific parts of their organizational process. They had fundraising tools, client management tools, volunteer management tools, HR tools, accounting tools, etc.
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Evaluation and being a learning organization

Beth Kanter tweeted about an article by Gale Berkowitz relating to evaluation, which I found really fascinating - it is a must read.
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Some great tech and nonprofit tech stuff I've come across lately:
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Specify Story, not details

I've been a fan of user stories for several years now. User stories are a way to describe a set of functionalities of an application in a way that is focused on results - it's easy to connect to mission. An example from an events management application:
The organization should be able to create several different kinds of events, and determine for each kind of event which detailed information will be taken. Those events can be displayed in a list or calendar format.
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Diversity and Open Source

The python community has started a conversation about diversity, with the ultimate goal of creating basically a welcoming statement. It comes out of Kirrily Robert's keynote at OSCON about women and open source.
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The wonders of libcloud

Here at OpenIssue, we think a lot about the web. I mean, a LOT. And we've been thinking a lot about web hosting, and the varied flavors it comes in. We're working to figure out what makes sense for us to use and implement, and what makes sense for us to recommend to our clients. A while ago, we decided, like many folks, virtual private servers were going to be the preferred hosting set up.
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Here's a broad ranging list of interesting tidbits I've found recently.
  • Heard of RDFa? A List Apart has a great introduction to it.
  • Have a Mac? Have an iPhone? Want to use it as a remote? Learn how.
  • Interesting strategy for wireframes: add color shading for emphasis. Example 1.
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Newly discovered project management tool: Redmine

Any consulting shop that does significant amounts of implementation and development (as we do) needs a project management and ticketing tool. Basecamp seems to be a standard that many people have reached for. We were using Intervals for a while, which is really a fabulous tool if you do a lot of hourly consulting. We also have been using Google spreadsheets for some elements of project management. All tools have their strengths and weaknesses.
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Why we're not friends anymore: the nptech echo chamber

I did a kind of radical experiment a couple of weeks ago: I de-friended almost all of my nptech and client Facebook friends (cutting my friend count by more than 60%). I had a few reasons for this, and over the past couple of weeks that I've been living this experiment, it's made me quite happy.
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Avoiding Trainwrecks

I spent a big chunk of my day dealing with a project that is, in no uncertain terms, a trainwreck. The client has sunk a ton of money into a product which is in, its current (first phase supposedly finished) state, unusable (client and vendor shall remain unnamed.) My role in the project has been strategic and as a liason, not technical, which to some extent gives me a bit of a distanced view. Web development trainwrecks are, sadly, far from isolated cases - they happen all the time, even when all of the parties have good intentions.
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