501cTECH’s Blog Dedicated to Nonprofit Technology News, Tips, Events, and Ideas

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canstock15239169Another day, another bug. Just a few months after correcting Heartbleed, researchers discover a new security flaw that exposes millions of users through the Apple, Linux,  Unix and Apache operating systems and servers. ”Shellshock,” as it’s being called, could be even more widespread than Heartbleed, though the two are not similar vulnerabilities.

‘Bash’ &  Shellshock

In simple terms, ‘bash’ is a commonly used utility in each of the systems above which we now know contains a flaw that can be exposed by an attacker. Through exploiting this hole, a motivated hacker could potentially take control of an entire system.  And unfortunately, the bug has gone undetected for a very long time which will make it difficult to squash completely.

The Good News

Patches for Shellshock are already being pushed out for Linux, and OS X is expected to release one soon. The odds of Shellshock impacting you are probably pretty slim if you use standard security precautions.

How to tell if you’re vulnerable

To test if your version of Bash is vulnerable to this issue, Red Hat says to run this command:

$ env x=’() { :;}; echo vulnerable’ bash -c “echo this is a test”

If the system responds with the following, then you’re running a vulnerable version of Bash and you should apply any available updates immediately.


  this is a test

bash-640x360 2

H/T: The Verge, PC World, Mashable, Tryhunt.com

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The awardees for the second cycle of 501cTECH’s Small Nonprofit Transformation Initiative (SNTI) have been announced! Congratulations to Capital City Area Health Education Center (Capital City AHEC), Chess Challenge DCand Father McKenna Center

CCAHEC       Chess Challenge           Father McKenna Center

Though they improve our community in countless ways, local nonprofits like these face a challenge when it comes to technology. Even a small investment in improving their technology can be transformative as we have seen through our own work in the community.

This is the rationale behind 501cTECH’s Small Nonprofit Transformation Initiative.   We want to help these organizations create a more cost-effective and sustainable technology infrastructure.

SNTI’s Three Stages

1.      A strategic assessment of an organization’s technology needs in the form of a three-year technology roadmap

2.      Implementation of key recommendations from the roadmap

3.      One Year of IT support (subsidized at a monthly fixed rate)

The objective of a strategic assessment is to evaluate not only the organization’s existing technology infrastructure but to review how the organization uses technology to achieve their most important goals.  The strategic assessment provides a three-year technology roadmap—a tool that merges a strategic plan with tangible action items, including making recommendations, prioritizing when recommendations should be implemented and providing the costs of those recommendations.  In the past, many nonprofits have successfully used their technology roadmap for fundraising efforts.

Based on their individual roadmaps, the awardees will be provided with updated hardware and software.  All specifications are based on routine work and include vendor discounts, which are passed directly to the nonprofits.  A key component will be the migration of their data to a cost effective and secure cloud computing solution. Subsidized technology support in the form of patch management, automatic updates and help desk services will be provided to these organizations as part of this initiative.

The turnkey nature of the program is very powerful and will be truly transformative for these organizations.  501cTECH will provide ongoing coaching to the staff of these organizations to help them identify additional ways and means to use free or discounted technology resources.

The work will begin officially on October 1. Our thanks to Clark Charitable Foundation and the Marpat Foundation for their continued support of this worthwhile program.

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Through the Noise

In celebration of this wonderful young podcast’s birthday, here is 501cTECH’s very own Abigail Goliber on an episode of Through the Noise, the podcast that explores “the business of communicating.”

In true 501cTECH fashion, Abigail brought a touch of nerdiness to this episode with talk of CRMs, infrastructure, servers and data migrations. She also provided some insight into the benefits of having quality IT support in the nonprofit world.

Through the Noise is produced by Human Factor, Pivot Point Communications, and Infamia.

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Amazon-Smile-300x300Have you heard of Amazon‘s new program called AmazonSmile? It makes online giving unbelievably easy for fans of online shopping.

Through this program, Amazon shoppers can now choose to donate 0.5%, or 50 cents out of every $100, of all their purchases to a US-based nonprofit they would like to support. With $26.5 billion in Amazon sales projected for the fourth quarter of 2013, up to $13.25 million in funds could be raised.

Through a partnership with GuideStar USA, over one million nonprofits are already listed in the AmazonSmile database—all Amazon shoppers need to do is search and select their favorite nonprofit. However, nonprofits must register with AmazonSmile in order to claim the funds they’ve raised. After one year, they will be distributed to other registered organizations.

How to Sign Up for AmazonSmile:

1. Visit smile.amazon.com and login to your Amazon account.

AmazonSmile 1

2. Search for and select your favorite nonprofit.

AmazonSmile 2 AmazonSmile 3

Sources: Nonprofit Tech for Good, AmazonSmile

First Meeting for 2014 Technology Innovation Awards Judges’ Panel

Tomorrow morning, two months after a record number of DC-area nonprofits applied to the 2014 Technology Innovation Awards, an expert panel of technology executives from 24 major companies, and two representatives from last year’s winning nonprofits, will review each technology idea and choose two finalists in each of the three cause categories: PreK-12 & STEM Education, Workforce Development & Skills to Succeed, and Veterans & Military Families.

Leaders from top technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Salesforce, GE, Blackboard, CenturyLink, and Accenture, to name just a few, will evaluate the project ideas through the collective lens of an experienced technology professional in the for-profit world. Leaders from YWCA National Capital Area and Potomac Riverkeeper, winners of the 2013 Technology Innovation Awards, will represent the nonprofit perspective in the meeting.

After the six finalists are selected tomorrow morning, representatives from each of those nonprofits will present their project ideas to the judges in October, and the panel will choose the three winners.

The winning nonprofits will be recognized at the Celebration of Technology on November 6 at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center downtown.



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EZGSA 2501cTECH will be the featured nonprofit at EZGSA’s GovCon monthly networking event on September 10 at the UberOffices in Bethesda, Maryland.
This event is geared towards facilitating connections between prime contractors, sub contractors and business owners. Technology professionals and Vets will connect, network and gain insight into contracting with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Visit the EZGSA site to register. We hope to see you there!

Event Date: Sep. 10 – 6:00 PM
Event End Date: Sep. 10 – 8:00 PM
Cut Off Date: September 10, 2014
Individual Price: $15.00
Location: UberOffices


6:00 PM – 6:40 PM: Individual networking

6:45 PM – 6:55 PM: Introductions & Member Spotlight

6:55 PM – 7:05 PM: Featured Speaker: Tom Leney, Executive Director for Small and Veteran Business Programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

7:05 PM – 7:10 PM: Door Prize Drawing

7:10pm – 8:00pm Individual Networking

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ChannelPro Cover

This month’s ChannelPro Magazine cover story, “An MSP on a Mission” features an article from 501cTECH President and CEO Julie Chapman that expands on what it means to be a nonprofit serving the technology needs of nonprofits.

Though very exciting to everyone in this building, technology can be a daunting and overwhelming space to decision makers in any sector, let alone those who work at nonprofits with limited resources. As a nonprofit leader, your focus is on the organization’s mission and constituency, to which IT can often take a very distant back seat. 501cTECH operates in the same way with regard to its mission, which is to build the capacity of those nonprofits by providing innovative and sustainable technology solutions.

As a nonprofit, 501cTECH provides the technology support of a for-profit MSP but with a dramatically different end goal that serves the nonprofit client rather than our own bottom line.

Read more »

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Picture_LauGuest post from Ayleen Lau, Accenture Consultant and 2014 Technology Innovation Awards Project Lead.

Through its Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative, Accenture is committed to equipping 700,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business.

We are all familiar with the many gadgets and electronics used every day to make our lives more convenient. While we communicate with friends and family around the world at the click of a button, companies similarly wield a vast array of technological tools in order to connect with their users more effectively.

My career since joining Accenture four years ago has revolved around technology. As a consultant, I specialize in the project management of large-scale programs that transform our clients’ technology platforms. Working alongside these programs for several years has given me a greater appreciation of the many ways technology has influenced my life, personally and professionally. After joining Accenture’s Washington, DC office, I have been amazed by how technology is wielded to positively impact the DC community. For example, Accenture’s Skills to Succeed Corporate Citizenship initiative brings together our people, our clients, nonprofits and others to drive collaboration, and we are putting technology to work to accelerate and expand our impact in innovative ways. Through Skills to Succeed, Accenture has equipped more than half a million people with the workplace and entrepreneurial skills.

Social Change in Cambodia

During a leave in 2012, I travelled to Cambodia to work alongside The Open Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering its community for social and economic advancement through the use of technology. At The Open Institute, I provided support to the Women for Social Change Program. In addition, I advocated for some of the organization’s ongoing projects, including the Khmer Software Initiative. This project focused on developing computer tools in the country’s official language – Khmer. The initiative sought users to communicate in Khmer in the digital world – ultimately fostering greater access to information in their home country.


Whether in Cambodia or the United States, I am consistently amazed by the array of possibilities technology provides. I have witnessed first-hand the way it reshapes how organizations, big or small, interact with their communities. This year, I am excited to take part in Accenture’s partnership with 501cTECH in their effort to encourage nonprofit groups to develop new technologies that address evident needs. Whether it is in the field of STEM Education, Workforce Development, or Military and Veteran Families support, the Technology Innovation Awards facilitate nonprofits to be forward-thinking in how to best serve our community.  While no one technology solution may tackle all of the various needs of Washingtonians, I am confident that the impact each project has will help create a healthier and more prosperous community for all of DC’s residents today and well into the future.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 293,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries Accentureand business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. Through its Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative, Accenture is committed to equipping 700,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

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John Dawes recently shared some great insights on how to make sure your app development project pays off in spades.  While some of you planning to submit project ideas for the 501cTECH Technology Innovation Awards (TIA), may submit app ideas, we know the bulk of the project plans will span many different platforms and purpose. As such, we thought it might be useful to take a step back and share some very basic reminders about project planning in general.

When a project falls in our professional “sweet spot,” we all tend to be more relaxed about mapping out and closely following a set process.  But when projects fall into areas that might be newer to us—and we as nonprofit employees know all to well what it’s like to take on responsibilities for which we aren’t formally trained—it’s truly critical that the responsibility be shared, the steps deliberate and clear communication remain a constant. Like most everything in life, project management can seem incredibly overwhelming when looking at the multitude of tasks as a whole, but it becomes far more do-able and less daunting when broken down into a few simple concepts, excerpted from a wise general project management blog post written a few years back by Kelly B. Short.

Define the Project

Undoubtedly this is the single most important task to get right as most everything else depends upon it. Projects that are not well thought out, have unrealistic goals, or are not clearly time bound, are prone to failure. Speaking of clarity, a project, by the way, is defined as, “a temporary endeavor having a defined beginning and end, undertaken to meet particular goals and objectives.”

A Temporary Endeavor

Projects are an activity performed to achieve a specific goal. Activities that support on-going production and operations of the business are not projects.  However, a new phase or stage of an ongoing project and the act of planning and executing it to become part of an ongoing work IS a project.

A Defined Beginning and End

Projects must be time bound with a beginning and end date that realistically allows enough time to perform the work effort required of the project but not too long so as to lose focus, funding, and control. If you simply aren’t sure what’s realistic then consult an objective, trustworthy collaborator to guestimate, get buy-in from the team, and set check-points to re-evaluate.

Meet Particular Goals and Objectives

A project must have a goal or objective, the more clearly defined and measurable, the greater the project success.  A clear project goal or objective reduces ambiguity and holds project team members accountable for their actions.

With a clear project definition in hand it’s time to get into the weeds.

Set and Assign Tasks

Work backwards from the goals and strategy to set the specific tactics to reach your goal.  Again, consult colleagues and trustworthy third parties to help you think about all of the sub-tasks each main step will require.  Keep asking yourself if they can be broken down further. Recognize and allow for the fact that as the project gets underway, some tasks will be refined, as well the dependent tasks, and new ones added.   Once the tasks have been identified assign each one to a responsible party who becomes accountable for completing that task.  If the task is a team effort, assign a lead so there’s no ambiguity.

Track Status and Keep it Real

A project that is defined and assigned can fail simply because assumptions are then made that the work is being done. Setting the team up on a shared project management tool (there are oodles out there and many are cheap or free like Base Camp) so progress can be reported in real time is a great idea, unless no one on your team will use it in reality.  A basic spreadsheet is totally fine as long as it’s readily accessible in a shared space for updates.  In addition, it’s critical that team members regularly meet (in person, via video, whatever it takes) to check in on progress, issues, circumstances beyond their control, etc. Projects have to be flexible to allow for the reality of change and regular, clear communication will mitigate any issues changes might present.

Your day job is hard enough, and your colleagues feel the same way.  A new technology project, or any new project worth doing, requires challenging and thoughtful work.  As such, it’s just too important to skimp on the set up process and risk failure by not keeping the lines of communication open, simple and grounded firmly in the context of everything else nonprofit “doers” do.

If you have an idea for a technology project that you’d like to implement at your organization, apply for a Technology Innovation Award for a chance to get it funded!

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Guest post from Shana Heilbron, Chief Development & Communications Officer, YWCA NCA

YWCA NCALast December, I wrote about the YWCA National Capital Area’s excitement over being named the 2013 Technology Innovation Award winner.  Today, I wanted to reflect on the impact of the award, share how our program has grown, and some of the lessons we have learned over the past year.

First and foremost, we tell EVERYONE that we won the award. We are proud to share this with our government, corporate and foundation partners, and also our individual donors and community partners. We have been able to use the cash prize as leverage for other dollars – particularly in the technology community – and that has meant additional capital to support the growth of the distance-learning project.

Second, we have added additional face-to-face time to the program – we now require our participants to complete 12 hours of in-person class time (they actually come to the YWCA one night a week for in-person instruction) and also participate in an 8-hour orientation program.

The distance flexibility has proven to be the most convenient component of the program, but the once-a-week in person requirement has created an opportunity for social interaction that we found our students needed. Currently, we have six students participating in the program, and they will likely be ready to take the GED exam before the end of the year.

YWCA NCAFinally, our team is constantly looking at ways to make the program stronger. When we looked back and discussed the main reason for implementing the program – to provide an opportunity for learning to students who were working to support a family, but wanted to improve their academic standing – we asked ourselves if we had fully accomplished our goal, and the answer is, mostly. We are doing great work but know there is always room for improvement. We have created plans for more instructor training and development; we want to understand best-practices across the country and implement those into our work; and, we want to make sure we have the systems in place to capture the data so we can understand and evaluate the level to which the program is working.

What began as a small pilot project for about 5 students is growing into a much larger initiative for the YWCA. The distance-learning program has been operational for just over two years now, and we will continue to build the program each year. We want to again thank 501cTECH and the TIA judges for their support of the YWCA, and for continuing to recognize the impact technology has on local nonprofits.

Find out more:  Technology Innovation Awards Overview, Technology Innovation Awards FAQs, Technology Innovation Awards Previous Winners