Nonprofit Technology News, Tips, Events, and Ideas

Posted by .

TIA VerticalOn Thursday, September 10, a panel of expert judges met review applications for the 2015 Technology Innovation Awards.

The judges represented the collective perspective of both for-profit and non-for-profit organizations. Technology executives from leading companies including, but not limited to, Accenture, Amazon Web Services, and CenturyLink, as well as leaders from Good360, the National Military Family Association and Alexandria Seaport Foundation, 2014 Technology Innovation Award winners, worked together to assess the merits of each application.

The judges evaluated innovative plans put forward by local nonprofits in the cause areas of PreK-12 and STEM Education, Skills to Succeed & Workforce Development, and Veterans and Military Families. Particular emphasis was placed on identifying which organizations presented the most innovative technology projects that would have the biggest impact on the communities they serve.

With a record number of applications this year, the decision was not easy. While the panel sought to select two finalists in each of the three cause areas, seven finalists were chosen due to a tie in the Skills to Succeed category.

This year, the following organizations have been selected:

PreK-12 and STEM Education

Skills to Succeed & Workforce Development

Veterans and Military Families

These organizations will deliver a final presentation the judge panel on October 22nd, after which the three winners of the 2015 Technology Innovation Award Winners will be selected!

The winning nonprofits will be recognized at the Celebration of Technology on November 5th at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center downtown.

Congratulations again to our finalists and thank you to all the nonprofits that applied this year. The Technology Innovation Awards applications never cease to inspire all of us here at 501cTECH.

Posted by .

In the spirit of technology, 501cTECH tried something new at the first 2015 Technology Innovation Awards judges meeting held on September 10th: we conducted voting through online polling application, Poll Everywhere. The application replaced traditional voting by show of hands with a simpler, anonymous system where judges voted from their computers or mobile devices. The judges responded to three polls, one in each of the three Technology Innovation Awards cause areas: PreK-12 and STEM Education, Skills to Succeed & Workforce Development, and Veterans and Military Families. Each poll consisted of a list of organizations who had submitted applications, and based on those lists, the judges voted for two finalists. As the votes came in, they were displayed in real time on a PowerPoint presentation screen.

Using Poll Everywhere was a resounding success. As a result of the time saved through online voting, we were able to place emphasis on discussing the applications themselves – exactly what was needed for the record number of applications that we received!

How Nonprofits Can Use Poll Everywhere

  1. Immediate Audience Feedback

Create a poll to ask a question during a presentation, or to conduct a vote. As an online application, Poll Everywhere allows virtual meeting attendees to participate as well. Using a poll during a presentation streamlines the audience feedback process.

  1. Email Polls

Polls can be emailed out to selected recipients. If your organization is does not have time to hold a meeting, but still needs feedback, email polls reduce inbox clutter. All respondent data is organized into graphs, making responses much easier to interpret than if each response was sent in a separate email. If you do use Poll Everywhere via email, the poll will remain open for up to one month before closing (or you can close it sooner).

  1. Social Media Polls

Interested in getting feedback from your community? Post a link to a poll through social media. Anyone who sees the post can answer the poll, allowing your organization to reach a broad audience.

How it Works

If you’re considering using the app, the Poll Everywhere website will walk you through the entire process of setting up a poll. Here are a few useful details to get you started:

Registration: Poll Everywhere has a FREE version available for nonprofits.

Question Format: Questions can be multiple choice, true or false, free response, or clickable images.

Responses: Audience members can submit their responses through text message on their mobile device, or through a web browser. Respondents who wish to engage through their mobile devices can text a code to a number specific to your poll in order to join the polling session, then they can simply text-in their responses. Those responding through a web browser need only to visit your poll-specific web address.

Results: Responses will be recorded in a bar graph as they come in. Answers will be anonymous to the audience, but the facilitator can choose to see who responded what. Facilitators can present the results through the Poll Everywhere website or, as an optional download, you can get the PollEv Presenter Add-in that allows you to show the poll results in a PowerPoint presentation.

Closing the Poll: Votes are tallied as they come in. When all respondents are accounted for, the facilitator can close the poll and responses can’t be changed. The facilitator can then access the poll results at any point through the Poll Everywhere website.

Timeline: The entire process of voting using Poll Everywhere only takes about 30 seconds.

Try it Out

Go to the Poll Everywhere website and make your poll today!

Polling applications provide a simple way for nonprofits to use technology to streamline a process, while also engaging a broad audience. Poll Everywhere is not the only app of its kind. Others, like Google Forms and SurveyMonkey are also useful tools in collecting responses.


Posted by .

Please join 501cTECH, the Progressive Communicators of Washington DC (PCDC), and NTEN for NetSquared’s “Meet the Experts” speed dating event. At the event, a number of nonprofit technology and communications experts will be available to consult with you about challenges and areas of growth for your communications efforts.

Areas of expertise include: website strategy, social media strategy, communications strategy, engagement strategy, mobile strategy, media relations, branding and design, and website analytics.

501cTECH’s Vice President of Client Relations, Todd Peterson, will be there answering questions about IT Infrastructure.


Date: Tuesday, September 29

Time: 6:30-8:30 pm

Location: Taoti Creative

1250 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 610

Cost: Free for all!


Please visit the event page to RSVP!


Posted by .

The awardees for the fourth cycle of 501cTECH’s Small Nonprofit Initiative (SNTI) have been announced!

Congratulations to Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, Perry SchoolAccess Housing, Inc.

logo-teensrundc pc-logo-1 CNHED_4C__Twitter_

The Small  Nonprofit Initiative was created for organizations with budgets under $1M that provide critical services to Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. Most of these organizations have outdated technology, most of which is often broken and expensive to maintain.

For these nonprofits, technology is more of a burden than a resource and that’s what we’re trying to change with the Small Nonprofit Initiative.

Read more »

Posted by .

Windows 95

Twenty years ago today, TLC’s “Waterfalls” was number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Michael Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls after a year of playing professional baseball, and Microsoft launched its unbelievably popular Windows 95 operating system, selling 7 million copies in the first five weeks.

Another really popular thing at the time was “The Rachel,” a hairstyle made famous by Jennifer Aniston’s character on the T.V. show Friends. Here she is with that haircut, and Friends co-star Matthew Perry, in a “cyber sitcom” produced by Microsoft to promote the new software.

In total, Microsoft spent $250 million promoting Windows 95. This was the first OS to include the Start menu, so in addition to funding that perfect time capsule up there, the company purchased the rights to the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up,” and paid to put Start button billboards everywhere.

Knowing how much has changed since then, it’s exciting to imagine what we’ll be saying 20 years from now about the launch of Windows 10, Game of Thrones, and the Man Bun.

Posted by .

SwayIf you’re using Office 365, you may have noticed a new logo show up among your standard suite of apps recently. Sway is an innovative platform from Microsoft Office that lets you create and share interactive reports, presentations, newsletters, projects, and more. A few months ago, Microsoft began rolling this out to Office 365 users for free, but you might have missed it if you weren’t paying close attention.

It’s a great resource with a lot of potential for some users. At a minimum, it can provide a more engaging alternative to PowerPoint presentations. We recommend trying it out if you haven’t already.

Posted by .

John Dawes, Project Strategy and GIS Analysis at Chesapeake CommonsGuest post from John Dawes, Project Strategist and Co-Founder at Chesapeake Commons. Chesapeake Commons was founded in 2011 by members of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network (CBFN) to encourage transparent data sharing for the development of sound and effective Bay restoration policy. John also worked with 2013 Technology Innovation Winner, Potomac Riverkeeper, to develop their winning Water Reporter app.

As a small team we are very fortunate to have a full roster of environmentally focused dev and mapping projects for the year, but when deadlines are tight it’s easy to let best practices fall by the wayside or go out the window all together. Chesapeake Commons and our partners at Viable Industries have been working to design, develop, and deploy open source tech solutions for just over three years. In that time span, three of the major take homes that we’ve learned as a team consist of the following:

  • Always question why the system is being built in the first place

  • Plan more so you can code less

  • Communicate openly and frequently

In nearly all the projects we’ve worked on, our attention to items 1 – 3 have directly correlated with the project outcome.

Read more »

Posted by .

Camacho Headshot WBJOf all the excellent work being done across the nonprofit world, we think that some of the very best comes from D.C’s own Community of Hope, Inc.

Their mission is to provide opportunities for low income families, including those experiencing homelessness, to achieve good health, a stable home, a family sustaining income, and of course, hope.

We have worked with closely with the team at Community of Hope over many years, supporting them as they grew from a small organization to a powerhouse.  So, we weren’t surprised when their VP of Finance, Brenda Comacho, was nominated for 2015 CFO of the Year by the Washington Business Journal.

Congrats to Brenda and thanks for the very hard work that she does on behalf of our region and those in need day in and day out.

Full article.

August NTEN Happy Hour

Image title

Join NTEN501cTECH, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Thursday, August 27 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm for a FREE happy hour and discussion on utilizing the cloud to run scalable, highly-available, and inexpensive websites.

Image title

In this talk, Leo Zhadanovsky, Senior Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services, will discuss how to run content management systems such as Drupal, WordPress and Jekyll on Amazon Web Services in a way that is scalable, highly-available and economical.

He will also discuss how to architect websites in the cloud so they are secure and allow for rapid iteration and change without downtime.

Before AWS, Leo was the Director of Systems Engineering at the Democratic National Committee. From 2009 to early 2013, he ran the DNC’s physical server and cloud footprint and supported infrastructure which was in use by the Obama campaign, state, and local Democratic parties.

AWS will be hosting the event at their offices near Union Station. Get your free ticket HERE to reserve a spot before space fills up!


The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) is the membership organization of nonprofit technology professionals. Members share the common goal of helping nonprofits use all aspects of technology more effectively. NTEN connects and educates on issues of technology use in nonprofits, and spearheads groundbreaking research, advocacy, and education on technology issues affecting the community. 501 Tech Club DC is part of NTEN’s 501 Tech Club program.

Amazon Web Services Office

601 New Jersey Ave NW, 9th Floor

Washington, D.C., 20001

Located near the Union Station Metro stop.

Posted by .

windows 10 loading

As of this morning, Windows 10 is available to Windows 7 or 8.1 owners as a free upgrade! Which is exciting news because the new OS is receiving some high praise. Although the transition to 10 is, by most accounts, seamless and a clear upgrade from previous versions, there are still some things you’ll want to know before clicking the “Begin Install” button.

What’s New in Windows 10?

Windows 10 is basically a refined version of the Windows you know and love, but with a few notable additions.

  • Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri or Google Now, only it’s ALWAYS listening for your voice commands, which makes it at once more efficient and eerie.
  • Microsoft Edge is the company’s new Internet browser and it’s a considerable upgrade from its predecessor, Internet Explorer (IE).  Edge is fast, stylish and has some compelling features like web page annotation. Although IE was leading the pack in browser market share, it lagged behind Firefox and Chrome when it came to functionality. With these new features, though, Edge might be a worthy lightweight alternative.
  • Through Windows Hello, users with the right hardware will be able to log into their PCs via fingerprint, iris, and face scan.
  • The virtual desktops feature essentially allows you to have multiple invisible monitors within your one desktop. Each “desktop” can have its own set of apps and shortcuts, allowing you to separate out tasks into their own custom spaces.
Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

Read more »