By Jennifer Phan
Last month, we discussed how to properly request for donations through social media. On a larger scale, the way you treat your donors at any channel correlates to the amount they are willing to contribute to your organization. Do you feel that you have been providing your donors with the friendliest experience?
The donor continuum is defined as the journey nonprofit organizations send their supporters through, beginning from the first inquiry to when they become a committed donor or even when they entrust a bequest to the organization. Seeing that a plethora of supporters fall off the continuum, we will discuss better ways to preserve their presence.
How exactly do you respond to their inquiries, especially when they request for specific information? We hope that you don’t direct them to something you assume they had already seen or that you already sent out by saying, “you can find that on our website, or that information is found in the newsletter we sent out last month.” Such words sound as if you’re depreciating them. It makes them feel ashamed, as if they should have already known that. You also shouldn’t make them go the extra mile while you can so easily access the information, and quickly send over what they are looking for. Meet them where they are instead of making them come to you.
Chances are, people are not going to make the effort to come to you when it involves going out of their way. As you have the lower hand in these circumstances, it should be your obligation to provide them with care, consideration and convenience – gently show them the way along your donor continuum.
First and foremost, show your supporters their contribution and involvement is valuable. Show them their support is always much appreciated. Often times, you may not realize the little effort you put into making your supporters feel welcomed and respected. It goes beyond sending them a thank you; it’s about making them feel thanked.
Second, effectively deliver information to those whose interests your organization peaks. Show them that you would go the extra mile for them just as they would go the extra mile to make a donation. You can start with a welcome series, “a series of emails automatically sent to new subscribers, donors, ect. over the course of time that educations them about your organization and encourages them to become more engaged and connected.”
Having a welcome series is the safest route to reach new members. It doesn’t make you appear too direct, and allows you the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to new subscribers and ease them into the regular flow of things. If you simply throw brand new subscribers into your regular email flow, they will feel perplexed. The messages you’re sending in your main marketing emails will not make sense to them. As an alternative, you should walk with them, step by step – convey your story, discuss the impacts you have made, tell them of exclusive perks for donors/members, and include a calendar year of events they can look forward to – all while establishing a warm connection. More than likely, you will give your subscribers a wowing first impression.
According to Emma, “the average open rate for a welcome email series is 50%, making them 86% more effective than email newsletters. And get this: subscribers who receive a welcome email show 33% more long-term engagement than those who aren’t welcomed appropriately.”
If you don’t have a welcome series, we recommend you craft and coordinate one now so that you don’t miss out a key engagement opportunity. Read Emma Email Marketing’s article to gain a better understanding of the benefits of an email welcome series as well as a fascinating step by step guide!
Last by not least, we hope you have been taking time to hear out your members and supporters. If you realize you haven’t, you may want to act now and start taking their comments and complaints seriously.
“Research firm TARP has found that for every person who complains, there are 26 who do not. That means if 10 individuals complain, another 260 may have quietly dumped you, never to call again.”
Listening intently and responding carefully to your donors and potential donors will help improve mutual understanding and trust. Even if you can’t particularly deliver them what they want, by offering an alternate solution, you build a strong relationship along with improved communication. Remember to act on the solution with a sense of urgency. They might respond more positively to your focus on helping them immediately versus on the solution itself. Asking them for their feedback on how you can improve the way you serve them is also key. Keep up with the pace of constant feedback from your respondents and act accordingly. It’d be a waste if you didn’t consider their suggestions. After all, they are your most precious assets – your donors and supporters.
These listed actions do take up some time, but if you properly show gratitude, provide them with necessary information, and give them all ears, there is no doubt they will be much happier. And since you give them no valid reason to steer away, the chances that they will continue to support you are going to be high.
Always keep in mind that the way you treat your donors greatly affects their length of stay on the donor continuum. Let this be the drive of your endeavors.
Technology has the ability to “disrupt” businesses and the way they perform. Some examples are Uber upending the taxi business, or Facebook changing how people communicate. The news focuses on business disruption on a grander scale, usually focusing on companies that grew to hundreds of millions in revenue almost overnight.
Disruption happens on a smaller scale too, and you can use this to your advantage to positively disrupt how business is done in your industry. With many new apps and software available every day, strategic thinking and smart investment can help you use these new technologies to put your business a step ahead.
Some of the hot “disruptive” trends that people are talking about include:
- Mobile Internet
- The Internet of Things
- Knowledge work automation
- Cloud Technology
- Big Data
Take a look at this Microsoft article to read more about five digital trends that could help the way you do business.
By Jenn Phan, TNB
Due to its cost-free nature, almost every organization participates in content sharing across social media platforms. In the past, you might not have placed emphasis on your social media strategy as you’ve thought, “What could possibly be so complex about sharing posts and interacting freely with my audience?” After all, even if your social media presence is not benefiting your organization as much as you wish it did, you’re not losing a physical penny.
What if we told you gaining a return doesn’t involve much more effort? Let us take this time to discuss a way to ensure your social media efforts are paying off.
While the preferred form of communication has drifted from in-person to online, we must not forget the fundamentals of human connection. The 80/20 rule incorporates human connection into your social media strategy so that you can build lasting relationships with your fans and followers. Social Media Manager of Honest Tea, Austin Graff, expounds that this stratagem is stemmed from the basis on creating connections off the web. When developing a healthy friendship, 80% of your time and energy is consumed of building each other up – being the source of encouragement and support to each other. The remainder of the time may involve doing favors for each other, but the prior establishment of companionship is vital to this step. As part of human nature, we take more pleasure in giving (and we give more and more) when we receive gratitude in return.
Similarly, to increase and maintain the engagement levels of your fans and followers, and to ultimately obtain more donors, you must invest greater amounts of time into giving. Adjust 80% of the content you share to become “gifts,” such as inspirational stories and videos, eye-opening graphics, or the latest breaking news – anything that fills their buckets and helps them resonate more with your brand. Also don’t deprive them of attention; like and comment on their posts/shares to remind them that your organization cares. Your consistency will earn you the relational collateral to ask them to an action. The remaining 20% of content may then include calls to action of your choice. However, you don’t want to drain and overwhelm your audience with requests, whether it be to donate, sign a petition, or share a piece of content. Your best bet would be to make these requests sporadically.
International Justice Mission, a leading global human rights agency that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world, proves that living by the 80/20 rule creates external and internal success for its organization. Instead of constantly asking their social fans to perform an action, they began to ask them only once a week. This resulted in their fans becoming more engaged and more likely to take action since they felt invested in the relationship. This also helped IJM prioritize on one area of focus a week, and thus become more organized in their actions (Graff, 2016).
Refocusing your content can escalate your economic profits while gaining more leads; it’s like growing two plants with one seed!
Would your nonprofit benefit from a day of volunteer service? Building Impact is partnering with Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG) to host their 6th Annual Tech Gives Back city-wide day of service on Thursday, October 20, 2016. In 2015, Building Impact supported more than 250 nonprofit organizations with the help of 20,000+ volunteers across more than 600 companies across Greater Boston with supplies and volunteer time.
This year, 1,500 volunteers will be matched with nonprofits to provide services such as:
- Beautification projects
- Direct service/interaction with clients
- Marketing and social media consultations
Volunteers will be matched with projects that will positively support your organization. Funding is also available in order to purchase supplies for these projects.
Nonprofits are asked to complete this form to provide the activity, along with the length and location of that activity, that they need volunteers for. This is a great opportunity to utilize volunteers for the projects your organization needs help with. Project proposals are due by August 5th. A video clip that showcases last year’s projects can be viewed here.
Please contact Building Impact Director of Nonprofit Programs Robert Kordenbrock, at Robert@buildingimpact.org or at 617.933.8290 for more information regarding hosting a group of volunteers for your organization.
Every organization has a different cloud strategy, and it’s always useful to see how your strategy compares to others. Take IDG’s Cloud Computing Survey and you’ll receive a free benchmark report with a personalized recommendation based on your responses! Plus, you’ll be entered to win a trip to Palm Springs! Take the survey now and get personalized recommendations for your business.
There are many tools out there to manage information, and fortunately, many of them are free or low cost. Bear in mind, “free” isn’t always free. Marc Baizman of The Salesforce Foundation had said “free tools are not like free beer, more like free puppies” and the discovery phase, implementation, long-term support, and training costs should always be taken into consideration when deciding to use a new tool to manage your nonprofit’s information. As technology evolves, more and more new technology options will be available to your nonprofit. We were inspired by a recent Webinar from Idealware.org and a useful doc from NPtechforgood.com to generate a handy document to reference. TNB also presented a great Roundtable session on this topic “Free web tools for your nonprofit” last fall.
Here is a list of free or low cost tools that are handy for your organization’s security, productivity, communications, infrastructure, project management, and more compiled from the Idealware “25 Free and Low Cost Tools for your Nonprofit” webinar and other web resources.
Softmaker’s FreeOffice – SoftMaker’s FreeOffice is a feature-rich office suite essentially functioning as a light version of the company’s more robust, commercial suite. The free download includes Textmaker, Planmaker, and Presentations as replacements for Microsoft’s big three, and each is comparable to its Microsoft counterpart.
Google Apps – Cloud based, include email, doc management, word processing, presentation software.
Microsoft Office 365 – Reliable cloud-based web services, including email, document collaboration, shared calendars, online meetings, and more.
Zoho Docs – It includes three cloud-based apps – the usual spread of word processing, spreadsheet and presentations – as well as document versioning and desktop syncing.
LibreOffice – LibreOffice is community-driven and developed software for packaged doc management, word processing, and presentation software.
Apache OpenOffice – OpenOffice offers a high degree of compatibility with commercial office software, but with none of the costs or license worries.
Avast– Antivirus software. Update software, schedule comprehensive checks for viruses and malware.
Avira – Award-winning free antivirus protection for PC & Mac. Secures your devices against malware and spyware.
Panda – Cloud-based antivirus best suited for small organizations that don’t need the application centrally managed on a server.
Sophos Home – Free antivirus with a sleek new user interface that allows you to protect all computers in your home (Mac and Windows) from a single interface.
npCloud – Provides cloud-based technology products and services to nonprofits. A service of Tech Impact, npCloud is a nonprofit whose mission is to ensure all nonprofits can use cloud-based technology to better serve their communities.
interconnection.org – Charitable computer reuse and recycling.
GOOD360– Nonprofit that connects companies who have goods, with nonprofits in need and individuals who want to help them.
Document management and Storage
Google Drive – Store files in the cloud: 30GB of storage space per account across Gmail and Google Drive.
Box.org – All eligible nonprofits of any size can receive 10 Box Starter Edition licenses. There is no charge for this licensing – there’s only a nominal, one-time administrative fee.
OneDrive– Improve your staff’s ability to access files, collaborate and work smarter with SharePoint and OneDrive for Business file storage, syncing and sharing.
Crashplan– For a few dollars a month you can get unlimited automated backup for you and your whole team. Crashplan also offers a free option for backups on local drives.
Amazon Glacier– Secure, durable, and extremely low-cost cloud storage service for data archiving and long-term backup. To keep costs low, Amazon Glacier is optimized for infrequently accessed data where a retrieval time of several hours is suitable.
Owl– Free document management but requires deeper technical knowledge to set up.
Productivity and data management tools
Huddle – Collaboration platform. Free for nonprofits with revenue under $7 million.
Formstack – Allows nonprofits to easily create online forms to capture contact information of new supporters, volunteers, and donors. Create custom forms for donations on your website or blog or to manage event registrations.
Joshua Peskay of Roundtable Technology had a useful list of time and meeting tracking during his presentation in Idealware.org’s “25 free and low cost tools” seminar:
Toggl– Time tracking for your activities. Ability to classify projects, and create charts to better visualize what you are spending the most time on.
Todoist– Manage tasks and projects from anywhere and across 10+ platforms.
Doodle– Simplifies the process of scheduling events, meetings, appointments, etc.
Youcanbook.me – Allows people to see available time slots and book your calendar for one-on-one meetings.
MeetingWizard– Schedule meetings and events
Assistant.to – Integrates with your calendar to schedule meetings and appointments.
Calendly– Schedule meetings based on your availability.
Google Voice – Free VOIP platform. Make calls through the computer and integrate many different phone numbers. Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail as easy as email, free US long distance, low rates on international calls.
Freeconferencecall.com – Free video conferencing or calls, call recording, screen sharing, and more.
Uberconference –Low cost conferencing, great for google apps users. Simple, visual, and free to use, you can easily set up and join free conference calls without PINS.
Skype for business – Provides great meeting functionality too and is free for nonprofits. Skype provides cost effective and collaborative tools for businesses.
Project management tools
Harvest – free time tracking for small businesses. Resource-based project management and reporting.
Clockspot – web application that provides a convenient way to track employees time records from multiple locations. This platform generates payroll reports and comes with a 30 day free trial. Pricing depends on number of users.
Trello– Web-based project management applications that lets you keep track of all the moving pieces of a project with visual organizational tools. This application takes some time to learn.
KanbanFlow– Lean project management tool allowing real-time collaboration between team members. Supports the Pomodoro technique for time tracking.
Asana – Free project management tool (for teams up to 15) that integrates nicely with Google Drive.
Gqueues– The full-featured online task manager perfect for Google-powered individuals and businesses.
Basecamp – Low cost project management tool.
Smartsheet – Provides easy, scalable work management for businesses of all sizes, and offers discount for nonprofits
Salesforce– Available free to nonprofits for up to 10 users but implementation can get very expensive. Track donations, fundraising, case management, etc. requires significant expertise to implement and maintain effectively. It is a great tool for tech savvy orgs with complex needs.
Piktochart – free use of a design tool for visually-appealing infographics.
Weave– Open source free data visualization tool. This application takes some time to learn.
Tableau – Data visualization tools that can help anyone see and understand their data. Connect to almost any database, drag and drop to create visualizations, and share with a click. Tableau Service Corps is a volunteer network of Tableau experts eager to help non-profits do more with their data.
infogr.am – Can be used with tableau to create visually enticing graphs and charts with your own data.
Windows Remote Assistance – Every version of Windows can send a remote assistance invitation and invite someone else to assist with their computers.
TeamViewer– Access computers remotely or provide IT support to workers in multiple offices. It also allows you to schedule meetings.
Foundation Directory Online– The Foundation Center offers a free online tool to help you find the right foundation to fund your next big project.
Google translate– Free to translate websites, but with very basic functionality.
Dragon dictation– Easily turn speech into written text, even record on the go with mobile devices. This is low cost and free dictation with google docs.
Marketing and Communications
Addictomatic – Track mentions of your nonprofit on social networking platforms, blogs, and websites.
Crowdvoice – Useful for activist organizations, CrowdVoice allows organizers to create “Voices” of protest where users can share and track videos, photos, and links of other activism efforts across the globe. This is a great database to share your organization’s activism efforts online. a creative, visual way to tell your organization’s stories of protest to your online communities.
MailChimp –Free broadcast email with up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month.
Constant Contact – Email marketing solution that offers a 20% discount to nonprofits.
Benchmark– Send email campaigns to up to 2,000 of your subscribers for $0 per month. Upgrade whenever you’re ready and gain access to additional enterprise features.
Google analytics– Website analytics- learn more about your communications strategies with free metrics and reports. Googles website, learn.googleapps.com or YouTube, there are many free training resources on how to use google analytics.
Eventbrite – free event registration for free events.
GreatNonprofits – A user-generated charity review site that’s ideal for nonprofits that are too small to get officially reviewed by Charity Navigator or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Supporters can review your nonprofit and link to a donation landing page.
SurveyMonkey – Free and easy to setup for online surveys. Google forms is another easy option for online surveys.
Google grants– Free AdWords advertising to promote your website on Google through keyword targeting. Nonprofits are given 10k a month and u can apply for up to 40k of AdWords a month if u are effectively using what they are already giving you.
Causes – Causes.com is a campaigning platform that empowers individuals and non-profit organizations to collaborate and take action together. Its Supporter Network is a social networking platform that connects likeminded, socially conscious people.
Crowdrise – Meant to help existing fundraising and volunteer activities. Basic accounts are free.
Razoo– Fundraising tool. Razoo provides charitable gift receipts, electronic payments, no monthly fees or setup costs and a low transaction fee on a fully PCI-compliant platform.
Hootsuite– Social media management that allows you to schedule posts for the most visible times. You can manage more than one social media site on one platform. Focuses on management, with some additional metrics to support strategy.
Instagram – A mobile phone App that turns your mobile photos into art, with the ability to create hashtags, edit your photos, and share across all social media. Using this app, you can target many different users with use of hashtags and grow your brand presence.
Crowdsourcing tools and Pro Bono assistance
Fiverr– Pay only 5 dollars to find crowdsourcing work. Search for a designer that can provide what you need, and view their portfolio to make a decision.
Catchafire – Matches professionally-skilled volunteers with nonprofits and social enterprises.
The Community Corps– Skills-base volunteering platform that provides free tech help from skilled professionals.
Idealware.org – Idealware.org provides free training and webinars. You can view a summary of their webcast “25 free tools and resources for nonprofits”, and sign up for their mailing list for future trainings. These are very helpful for nonprofits, and have helped us craft this list.
Taproot– Pro bono resources for your organization.
Edit or enhance your photos without paying for the Adobe Suite.
- Clkeris an online database of royalty free clip art. Allows you to turn your image into a vector image for free.
- GIMP– Photo editing. Most popular free photo editing software.
- FotoFlexer– a free Web-based photo-editing tool that allows you to cut, crop, resize, and embed text and logos onto your photos
- NET – Isn’t quite as advanced as Photoshop and GIMP.
- Inkscape – Professional quality vector graphics software that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
- PIXLR – Mid-level image editor run entirely in the browser, no need to install software.
- Canva– Graphic design. A simplified graphic design tool perfect for amateurs.
TO sum it up…
Consider the true costs when you use free software. How much time can you afford to spend on testing new tools, researching, presenting it, and training your organization? Most of these free or low cost web tools also integrate nicely with nonprofit apps you may already be using.
Remember that setting up a system and process for using it can be a considerable effort. Take notes on each platform, make sure it is easy to use, and that you can see your organization using it well. Asking a small focus group for your organization to test a new tool can be very helpful.
We hope you take advantage of these special offerings to help your nonprofit!
TNB to present Roundtable panel “Defining Ourselves – Data Analysis within Nonprofits” Tuesday, June 14
This coming Tuesday, Tech Networks of Boston will present a Roundtable session on a data analysis within nonprofit organizations. This event sold out with 80 registrants, and 87 people on the waiting list. Our panelists have been preparing for the past couple weeks to present a well-executed, organized Roundtable discussion.
This session will feature a distinguished panel of nonprofit data analysis professionals: Shane Culliton (Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation), Annie Fletcher (St Francis House), Matan BenYishay (Pine Street Inn), Blessing Dube (Institute for Community Health), and Gavin O’Brien (Community Servings).
Each panelist had a comment on the session:
“We’ve all heard that data can revolutionize impacts in the nonprofit world – making nonprofits smarter, leaner, and more effective. But can these benefits be realized without a real understanding of the proper use of this data? Most likely not.”
“The truth about data is that it only has real value if it changes the way organizations act and think. And yet, while many nonprofits recognize that they need a data-driven strategy to boost impact, maximize capacity, and build better relationships, a recent study shows that more than 56% of respondents said their nonprofits don’t have any staff dedicated to data strategies.”
“The availability of data by itself isn’t enough. In order to have a an effective data strategy as a whole, nonprofits need to be able to define the questions they’re trying to answer with data, why they’re asking those questions, how exactly they will use the answers to become more effective, and how the organization navigates the changes necessary to arrive at a “data culture.” Who are the staff members that do this data work? How will they work as part of your team? What can you expect from them and how should you expect to support them? And who might already be using data at your agency without being aware of it?”
“This roundtable series will bring together several nonprofit data professionals to discuss their experiences and recommendations around these very realities.”
“This session is recommended for people involved in nonprofit data analysis as well as staff and leadership interested in bringing this culture to their organization.”
Here’s a bit more about our panelists:
Shane Culliton joined Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation in April of 2014 as their systems and data manager. Over the last couple of years, he has been guiding the staff through the processes of pertinent data capture, analysis, and impact measurement. His past positions include project manager of the Choice Neighborhood Planning Initiative and program manager of the Woonsocket Main Street Program at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. He holds an undergraduate degree in International Affairs from Northern Arizona University, and an MBA from Webster University.”
Annie Fletcher joined St. Francis House in June of 2014 as the database and program evaluation manager. St. Francis House is a day shelter in Boston that provides an array of basic need services including food and clothing, vocational rehabilitation, and permanent, supported housing for individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness. Annie works with other members of the leadership team to strategically design and build data collection methods agency-wide. As part of her role, Annie manages data input into the client-based ETO data collection system and analyzes information in relation to agency goals and program key indicators. Annie also trains staff on database usage, protocol, and the value of program evaluation. Annie Fletcher holds a MSW from Boston College, where she specialized in macro practices.
Gavin O’Brien is the programs data analyst at Community Servings, an organization that delivers medically-tailored meals to people with critical illnesses. He manages a client database, tracks progress toward meeting organizational goals, and reports on program outcomes. Prior to joining Community Servings in 2014, Gavin received a Master of Public Policy from Brandeis University and worked in state government at the Maine Ethics Commission.
Blessing Dube is a data analyst at the Institute for Community Health; a research and evaluation nonprofit organization that utilizes participatory research and evaluation to improve community health. She drives quantitative solutions for multiple projects by applying statistical modeling and optimizing processes to analyze public health data for project implementation, research and evaluation. She believes that “data without use is data without value,” and she is passionate about translating effective interventions for improved healthcare delivery and outcomes. Blessing received her BSc. in Health Education and Health Promotion from the University of Zimbabwe and her MPH from Tulane University’s School of Public Health.
Matan BenYishay joined Pine Street Inn Housing in September 2014 as the data collection and reporting coordinator, and now holds the title of administrator of systems and performance management. Pine Street Inn is dedicated to ending homelessness by, among other things, providing supportive housing for chronically homeless people. Matan manages data collection and outcomes measurement for the Supportive Housing Department, with close to 120 staff. He analyzes trends, builds reporting tools, trains staff, and attempts to transform evaluation culture by “democratizing data.” Prior to Pine Street Inn Housing, Matan worked for Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, where he managed a longitudinal survey project of participants who lost rental subsidies. Matan holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Master of Public Policy degree from the Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management.
We look forward to this session!
As a reminder, if your organization is a Massachusetts Nonprofit Network member, you are eligible to sign up for our early-bird mailing list for all Roundtable events. This group receives the invitations 24 hours in advance to the general public. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, organization and contact info, and we will be sure to add you to the list. For general Roundtable signups, visit our website at www.techboston.com to add yourself to the mailing list.
-Tech Networks of Boston
By Cindy Bates, VP Microsoft’s SMB Group
Innovation is quite possibly one of the most overused words in the business world today, but the definition — a new method, idea, or product — is at the center of what allows small businesses to expand and contribute to overall economic growth.
Once considered antiquated, brands like Old Spice and The Yellow Pages have managed to successfully innovate in the modern age — reinventing themselves to reach a new generation of consumers. Whether you have a long-standing business in need of a refresh or you’re just getting started, continuous innovation helps your business stay relevant and top of mind for consumers.
The Maker Movement — an umbrella term for the independent inventors, designers and tinkerers who are creating and selling self-made products — is an inspiring innovation source for any small to medium business. Underpinning the Maker Movement is new technology. Modern technology has made it easier than ever for individuals to create and distribute items that are customizable and unique.
The most recent winner of the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER Challenge is a great example of the kind of innovation spurred by the Maker Movement. Elizabeth Caven, founder of the UpCraft Club, a modern sewing association, realized there was a need to bring together like-minded people who love to sew but don’t necessarily fit into traditional sewing categories like professional seamstresses or quilters.
UpCraft is taking traditional paper sewing patterns, which haven’t significantly changed in almost 150 years, and offering them in an innovative way online. This club is just one of the many places high tech and traditional artisans converge. Now in its second year, the UpCraft Club offers an amazing array of patterns — from polka dot socks to patterned clutches — as well as discounts at local fabric stores.
In my experience, the most successful entrepreneurs continually seek out inspiration to promote fresh thinking and help build capacity to innovate. Showcase TV programs like Shark Tank and recent addition America’s Greatest Makers, which debuted recently on TBS, offer a wealth of inspiration and free insights. Like the “Sharks,” longtime advocate for small to medium businesses and entrepreneurs Carol Roth is one of the judges on America’s Greatest Makers and dishes out great advice for those looking to develop new products or tap into new markets.
While you might not be ready for your television debut, here are four areas to embrace innovation:
1. Commit to continually expanding your knowledge
“Innovation” can be somewhat of an abstract goal. However, pushing oneself to step beyond an established comfort zone to acquire new skills, new thinking or more advanced skills forces you to connect with new people and in turn challenges the status quo.
2. Broaden your customer base
While repeat customers are the foundation of any good business, in order to grow, you have to acquire new patrons. Perhaps there are aspects of your product or service which are applicable to other industries. Or you have an entirely new idea for a related business sector.
3. Shift perspective and keep the long term goal in view
The fear that makes some risk-adverse is the same fear that prevents long-term success. When you commit to innovation, an idea that doesn’t create the positive outcome you’d hoped for isn’t viewed as failure, but rather as one step closer to your next great idea.
4. Examine business processes to increase productivity
One of the easiest ways to innovate is to incorporate new technology to streamline complicated processes. For example, note taking is, for the vast majority of us, a daily grind. However, advances in digital inking on devices like theMicrosoft Surface Pro 4 combined with OneNote offer much more efficient ways than pen and pad. Similarly, if you’re too often tied to your office desk, get mobile with a tablet such as the newMicrosoft Surface Pro 4 to get work done on the go. For more ideas on how to innovate through technology, download the Transform Your Business eGuide.
Developing an organizational focus on innovation, while potentially daunting, plays a key role in ensuring momentum and growth. If you want to take your business to the next level, embrace change, seek out insights, and don’t be afraid to take bold chances to improve your business and be a leader in your market.
The Next Mile Project is hosting an interactive workshop on grant writing tips presented by Lori Dunn, consultant and former Nonprofit Effectiveness Fellow at The Boston Foundation on May 23.
Lori will conduct a 1-hour workshop, which includes a 30-40 minute presentation, questions, and discussion among participants. The presenter earned her M.A. from The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University and has been an organizer and facilitator in support of the work of several local and international nonprofits. Lori was a Nonprofit Effectiveness Fellow at The Boston Foundation where she planned trainings and workshops and reviewed grants. She is currently a consultant within the nonprofit sector and a Field-Based Recruiter for the Peace Corps.
Please respond to email@example.com to inquire about attending.
Tech Networks of Boston makes it our goal to contribute to the community and assist a number of mission-driven and nonprofit organizations succeed with the use of technology. We had a busy month, and would like to share some recent news with you!
- On April 19, Bunker Hill Community College conducted a technology networking night for students to socialize and connect with industry experts and employers, learn the newest trends, and discover career pathways in the technology industry. TNB was represented by Deskside Support Technician Vincent Huynh who did an excellent job sharing his experience in the IT industry to interested students.
- Tech Networks of Boston’s IT Consultants helped a nonprofit fair housing alliance migrate their outdated email to Microsoft’s Office 365 platform in order to increase collaboration, improve scheduling and document sharing. Being based in the cloud, Office 365 means your colleagues no longer need to be chained to the desk to access company data and be productive. It’s possible to work from mobiles, tablets and laptops on the go – and it’s all backed up by comprehensive security measures.
- TNB was awarded Third Place in the Small Technology Sector at the Green Street’s Initiative Awards Ceremony on March 29. Tech Networks participates in Green Street’s Walk/Ride Day Corporate Challenge to raise awareness about how each individual’s commute impacts the environment and also to promote healthy and sustainable ways to commute.
- Kathleen Malin, Vice President of Technology and Operations Management at the Rhode Island Foundation, was interviewed as part of a series of female powerhouses who are making their mark in leadership roles. She has been a featured guest at the TNB Roundtables twice in the past. Kathleen mentions TNB’s own Deborah Finn in the article as one of her role models! You can read the article here.
- On Sunday, April 10, Kathryn Bukovi participated in the 2016 Walk For Change. She raised over $200 for BARCC (Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) and their mission to end sexual violence.
- Deborah Finn wrote a “bloggerview” that she did for Annkissam with Roxanne Reddington-Wilde at Action for Boston Community Development, which is a large social service agency. In this bloggerview, Roxanne is unusually candid about a number of aspects of technology for nonprofit organizations; it provides a user’s perspective on many of the challenges that face TNB’s nonprofit clients. You can read the post here.
- Boston Charity Events is a free event listing service by Tech Networks of Boston. Nonprofit organizations of all types and sizes use Boston Charity Events to expand their reach, collaborate with others and fulfill their missions within Greater Boston and the rest of Massachusetts. Our April 2016 Boston Charity Events newsletter had a record number of posted events – 44 to be exact! It’s great to know that many more organizations are making use of this free event posting resource.
- TNB hosted two Roundtable events for nonprofit clients and friends. On April 6, the topic was Nonprofit Collaboration & Constructive Conflict Resolution, and on April 20 the topic was Issues and Pitfalls in Nonprofit Collaborations and Mergers. You can view our upcoming schedule of events here.