Nonprofit Technology News, Tips, Events, and Ideas

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The third cycle of our Small Nonprofit Transformation Initiative (SNTI) is now underway!

If your nonprofit has an operating budget under $1M, serves wards 7 or 8, and is in need of a technology transformation, then we strongly encourage you to apply.

Three nonprofits will be selected by the end of February to receive a strategic assessment, key project implementation, and one year of technology support.

The deadline to apply for a Small Nonprofit Transformation is February 17th at 5:30 PM.

You can complete the application below, or submit through this window. If you have any questions, please contact Abigail Goliber, Director of Development and Outreach. For more on the Small Nonprofit Transformation, read our blog on the three winning nonprofits from the previous cycle.


Date & Time

February 5, 2015
9:00 to 11:30 AM


Todd Peterson – Vice President, Client Relations 501cTECH


With technology impacting how nonprofits communicate with stakeholders and shifting how we approach our work, the myriad technologic options available in our work is easily overwhelming. The tools technology provides can support increased productivity and time efficiency. How then do we begin to learn about these tools while conveying our organization’s needs and limited resources? 501cTECH has been a regional leader in helping nonprofits make the best use of technology to impact their missions through strategic technology planning, hands on support and workshop presentations. Join us for a workshop that will highlight simple steps to revitalize your organization’s approach to computer systems and lessen the fatigue and frustration around technology use.

Purpose/Learning Objectives

Objective 1: Better understand how technology can complement how your organization works-whether it’s a traditional office set-up, program staff in the field or completely virtual-and help lessen obstacles to achieving your mission

Objective 2: Learn how a simple plan prepared for your organization can better match the needed technology to meet your program and service goals, and create an alternative preparedness plan should technology fail

Objective 3: Explore various technology solutions available to nonprofits, including free and free-based, that will help you and your staff work more efficiently and effectively


9:00 AM – 9:20 AM Registration, light breakfast, and networking
9:20 AM – 11:30 AM Session followed by Q&A


Pepco Edison Gallery
702 Eighth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20068

Metro Accessible: Gallery Place/Chinatown

Registration Fee





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Microsoft officially entered the world of augmented reality at yesterday’s Windows 10 event in Redmond, Washington with the unveiling of a new headset that allows interaction with holographic images. Microsoft is entering a competitive space with HoloLens, its VR headset, but early reviews of the product look exciting.

Wired has a pretty comprehensive look into the brand new product that I would recommend for those interested in ever expanding world of virtual reality!

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0Guest post by Gratzer Graphics LLC Principal/Designer, Colleen Gratzer.

Since 2010, Gratzer Graphics LLC has provided design services to 501cTECH, including for the Celebration of Technology. Like 501cTECH, Gratzer Graphics is committed to serving nonprofits and understands their needs and budget. Gratzer has almost 20 years of experience serving nonprofits in the areas of branding, marketing collateral, online presence, events, and publication design and layout. Her expertise has resulted in increased fundraising and attendance at events, increased fundraising through direct mail and heightened awareness about a nonprofit’s mission. Below is the first part of a blog series written by Gratzer that details how to get the most bang for your buck when working with a graphic designer.


Help Your Designer, Help Yourself, Pt 1

AaPreparing Copy

This is the first of a three-part series called Help Your Designer, Help Yourself. This segment is about preparing your copy for your designer. Following all or most of these steps will allow your designer to lay out copy in the most efficient way possible and may keep you from incurring additional charges. You’ll help yourself and your designer.

  • Use styles in Word or place a consistently used code (for which the designer will later search and remove throughout) to denote headings, sidebars, block quotes, etc., such as <h1> for first-level (largest) headings, <h2> for second-level headings, <block> for block quotes, etc. You may also denote the end of a block quote or sidebar if that element’s length exceeds a paragraph.
  • Remove double spaces.
  • Use only a single tab when aligning text.
  • Do not use multiple paragraph marks.
  • Use center alignment, not tabs, to center text.
  • Do not use the return key unless you intend to start a new paragraph. Typing on the computer is not like typing on a typewriter: a line break should not be placed at the end of every line of text—only at the end of every paragraph.

When writing your copy, you may find the following resources helpful to type special characters and symbols in Windows or on a Mac.

If you cannot send all copy at once, it is usually OK to send the copy in sections, but only once those sections have been finalized.

Only send what needs to go in the layout. For example, if you have a document with more information than will be included in the piece, it is faster and more efficient to only send what is needed. Otherwise, the designer has to guess or stop and ask questions, which causes confusion and delays.

To keep your costs for revisions to a minimum, all text should be edited and proofread prior to sending to any designer. Having to redo the layout due to major text changes will result in additional charges.

501cTECH Referral Program

In an effort to help improve the work of even more nonprofits in the Washington, DC area, 501cTECH is asking its current partner organizations to share their experiences with other local nonprofits in return for some great benefits.

As a reward for helping 501cTECH broaden its impact, if your referral becomes a client, their first month’s balance will be applied as a credit to your current monthly bill at the time of signing. This credit can’t exceed your bill, but it could cover all of it!

If you know of any DC-area nonprofits that could use some IT support, let us know through to the Referral Program Page and we’ll reach out to see how we can help.

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501cTECH has developed a new program called “The Smart Lab Advantage” in response to a growing need for access to computers and the internet. We’ve reached a point in time where it’s very difficult to thrive professionally and personally without access these resources. They are now essential in social service programs as things like GED prep and testing, government benefit notifications, the Affordable Care Act, and more happen almost entirely online. It’s also considerably more difficult to enter the job market without access to a computer on which to write a resume or submit an application.

Our nonprofit partners YWCA NCA and Friendship Place rely heavily on computers and computer labs to help their constituents. Without a functioning computer lab, those organizations wouldn’t be able to help people in our community enter the workforce or enroll in social benefit programs.

Read more »

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So you’ve just landed in the driver seat of a great nonprofit—congratulations! What better way to start the new year. You’ll have plenty to focus on over the next several months, like delivering services, securing finances, and hiring the right people, but we’re here to remind you that technology is one of the more important pieces of the puzzle and should be addressed within your first sixty days.

As a new or interim ED, what should you do?  How do you know if you have a problem? And, if you do, how do you solve it?  Here is a quick, four-step checklist to get you started.

√ Get the lay of the land

The first step is to find out just where your technology is.  Is technology at the top of the staff complaint list?  Unable to access your email from home?  Not clear where to go if your printer stops working?  This suggests that your new organization has a technology problem. You should plan a comprehensive review of your organization’s IT situation and push it to the top of your priority list.

√ If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it

If you and the staff have very few complaints related to technology, don’t rush to make any changes.  A smooth working technology environment is a beautiful thing and you shouldn’t be quick to disturb something that is isn’t broken.

√ Ask about the basics

Here are a few good questions to ask:

  1. Do you have sufficient internet bandwidth?
  2. Is there a redundant or backup access?
  3. How long since you renegotiated with your telecom provider?  Rates change and you might be able to renegotiate a better deal.
  4. Do you have a technology line item in your budget, particularly for hardware replacement?  If not, you should.  Equipment should be replaced on a rolling basis rather than all at once; the latter is cost prohibitive.
  5. How do you buy new hardware?  Does the office manager stop by Best Buy on his way home or do you have a procurement process where you look at competitive bids?
  6. Is your organization making use of TechSoup to get your software?  And, are you optimizing TechSoup?
  7. How long does it take to resolve a tech problem?  Some problems can be resolved immediately with the right kind of tech support provider.
  8. Speaking of support providers, how much are you paying your provider and what are they doing for you?  You will want to pull out that contract and take a close look at it.
  9. Among the most important questions—are you backing up your data? If so, how and with what frequency.

√ Get some help

If you are not sure where your organization stands with technology, then you might want to consider getting some outside help.  We often do technology environment assessments for incoming executives.   If you have a tech vendor, ask them for the most recent network health report.  Investing some resources in getting the right kind of help can be invaluable.

Congratulations on your new role! We know you’ll do an amazing job helping this organization make our community a better place in which to live, and here’s to hoping you find that the technology is working smoothly.  If not, give us a call and we’ll help—that’s what we’re here for.

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Goodwill of Greater Washington is a flagship nonprofit in the D.C. area with a mission to transform lives and communities through the power of education and employment. With nearly 12,000 homeless individuals reportedly now living in the region, the importance of this work has never been clearer. With free job training, employment services and assistance initiatives such as travel stipends, Goodwill of Greater Washington is working to get these individuals back on their feet and into the workforce.

The organization is perhaps best known for its many stores throughout D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Revenue from these retail stores is used for workforce training programs, which yield hundreds of graduates each year who move on to become contributing members of the local working community.

Managing the technology at each of these sites was a real challenge for Goodwill and left them with no time to be proactive or think strategically about technology. Goodwill’s systems were not integrated across their multiple sites and the IT staff spent most of their of their time “putting out fires.” In 2008, Jeff Cole, a former Capital One executive, was hired as Chief Information Officer (CIO) and asked to provide an assessment of Goodwill’s infrastructure to the board within 60 days. Tasked with stabilizing the network and trimming costs wherever possible, Jeff needed a strong partner to provide both strategic direction and tactical support to the organization in this short time frame.

Goodwill Case Study QuoteTHE SOLUTION

Through its remote technology solution, server virtualization project, and a series of patches and updates, 501cTECH helped stabilized and streamline the Goodwill network.

Services included:

  • Audit of each site and an inventory of hardware and software
  • Remote technology management
  • VMware IT infrastructure virtualization (17 servers on 4 machines)
  • Strategic guidance and planning

501cTECH was with Jeff Cole, and the existing Goodwill IT team, every step of the way as they tried to rebuild the organization’s IT infrastructure.


Goodwill’s IT infrastructure runs smoothly now, allowing the team to work with 501cTECH on new and innovative technology projects, rather than “putting out fires.”

  • Savings of approximately $4,000 per month through over 2,000 patches deployed by 501cTECH in the first sixty days
  • Eliminated thirteen physical servers, thereby reducing cost and maintenance

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You know those distorted, indecipherable combinations of letters and numbers that some websites require you to enter before buying concert tickets or holiday gifts? Those exist to protect websites from spam and abuse, presumably at the hands of some robots who are passionate about live music and presents.

This method is called CAPTCHA, or “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart,” and although it has stopped many robots over the years from infiltrating websites, its dependability has diminished, making how annoying it is for the user harder to justify.

In response, Google has created “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA,” which simply prompts the user to confirm that he or she is not a robot.

Last year, Google developed a new backend technology for CAPTCHA that evaluates the user’s entire engagement with the CAPTCHA to determine whether that user is a human. That way, users could enter less jumbled text and CAPTCHA could still offer the same protection to websites. “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” is the next step in that technology and only requires users to check a box!

CAPTCHAs aren’t totally disappearing, though. In instances where this new robot can’t confidently predict whether or not you are a robot, it will provide a couple CAPTCHA hurdles for you to climb.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 3.03.37 PM

Early adopters of the new API include  Snapchat, WordPressHumble Bundle, and many more. According to Google, in the last week, more than 60% of WordPress’ traffic and more than 80% of Humble Bundle’s traffic on reCAPTCHA encountered the No CAPTCHA experience—users got to these sites faster.

To adopt the new reCAPTCHA for your website, head over to Google’s reCAPTHCA page. Otherwise, enjoy the faster access to concert tickets and holiday gifts.


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unnamed After Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday comes #GivingTuesday, an opportunity to give a little back to the community during a time when we’re all buying so much! 501cTECH has joined this great new tradition, and hope you’ll do the same so that we can work together in transforming the way people think about the giving season.

Please find some time today to contribute to a nonprofit like ours and share the news of your generosity with others so they’ll be motivated to give as well.

A gift to 501cTECH goes towards the IT needs of more than 2,000 nonprofit staffers at the 70+ DC-area organizations we serve.

Giving Tuesday 501c

Visit our Donate Page for info on all the ways to give. Once you do, share the news with your friends and family and encourage them to do the same for their favorite nonprofits!

Thank you in advance for your support on this #GivingTuesday! Your contribution has a big impact on the local nonprofit community.