Nonprofit Technology News, Tips, Events, and Ideas

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CNSG_logoFullColor_webGuest post from our Technology Partner, Converged Network Services Group. CNSG provides comprehensive, end-to-end telecommunications services. From carrier, cloud and IP infrastructure services to contract negotiation, issue resolution and every matter in between—they do it all.

Does this sound like you? Your computer keeps deleting the grant application you’ve been working on for the past 3 weeks because your storage is too full. Your phone keeps sending your selfies to your boss and you can’t figure out why. You want to tweet that there’s a clothing drive on Friday, but you can’t figure out why your Wi-Fi isn’t working. You think an update is going to a fancy restaurant instead of McDonald’s. You had no idea why people keep saying your music is “in the cloud.”

The world of telecommunications can be daunting and overwhelming to organizations currently transitioning to the newest and most efficient services available. The terminology, the wires, and the codes are just some of the things that scare nonprofits away. Who has time to manage services and host data when they’re saving lives, rolling their sleeves up, and inspiring communities?

Recently, Converged Network Services Group (CNSG) launched a quarterly service initiative, to support and give back to nonprofit organizations working to better their communities. It takes the scary part out of breaking down and building up systems and makes it easy for nonprofits to do critical work in their communities. CNSG has always been a top telecommunications leader, providing the best value for the best price.

For years, CNSG has been partnering with 501cTECH to provide the biggest portfolio and catalog of suppliers for its nonprofit teams. This partnership is why CNSG and the DC team are motivated to provide the most comprehensive solutions to back these organizations. We work to maximize technologies available to nonprofits, providing the most objective recommendations and cost-saving resources. CNSG works to familiarize 501cTECH’s nonprofit teams with cloud services, voice/VOIP, and managed telephone services. CNSG’s clients depend on the industry know-how and unparalleled telecommunications knowledge to help assess and implement their needs, and CNSG is committed to optimizing a sustainable technology solution for each and every one.

“As a master agent, CNSG is committed to delivering affordable and effective nationwide network solutions. We know this is so important for the critical work nonprofit organizations do in their respective communities,” said Ali Niroo, CNSG managing partner, “501cTECH has a stellar reputation and we are excited to continue to support their mission of providing innovative and sustainable technology solutions in the DC Metro.”

Here are 4 ways you can optimize your tech services:

    1. Get a comprehensive assessment: It is important to have a comprehensive assessment of current data, voice, and networked services and future needs, to research how to optimize performance and reduce costs. This will help improve the efficiency of daily operations
    2. Get some help: Work with an organization that will oversee every detail of whatever project you settle on, providing ongoing support and detailed information. We know you have important day-to-day tasks, so let us do the heavy lifting!
    3. Go with experience: Partner with CNSG to guarantee an experience driven by specialists who are committed to customer service and complete satisfaction. Our managed services will require absolutely no background knowledge or industry know-how.
    4. Take a deep breath: We know you may have no idea what bandwidth initiatives, VoIP or basic tech services are, but we can help you figure out the best solution to make your team more efficient and budget-friendly.

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Quizaira RecioIs your nonprofit organization thinking about moving to 501cTECH’s Technology Program Manager, Quizaira Recio, offers a few things to consider before jumping into the project. While this advice is tailored to nonprofits considering, the decision process can be applied to a variety of technology projects.

The biggest challenge nonprofits face when it comes to implementing new solutions, such as Box, is that they don’t have the time or resources on hand to provide a smooth and painless transition for their staff members.

Since we first discovered Box about 2 years ago, we’ve been encouraging nonprofits to consider the possibility of transitioning to a cloud based document management solution, but not diving in until they were ready to absorb the impact of such a transition. While this technology can be considered colloquial in the consumer market, nonprofits (and for profits for that matter) still view this technology as cutting edge – primarily because of the uptake. Acclimating to a new technology solution is not always easy. Using a solution such as Box requires you to take a few things into consideration:

  • Identify Your Objective: What do you want to accomplish with this transition? Some might argue that being more mobile is a contributing factor. While others might agree that sustaining file storage on premise is simply no longer affordable, compared to the cloud solutions available.
  • Identify Level of Effort: How long will this project feasibly take? Realistically, how many files do you need to move? Are those files currently organized? Chances are, it’s been a while since you’ve taken a long look at your Shared drive. So prior to having this discussion, identify exactly what you’d like to move, as this will often help answer what the level of effort will entail to transition.
  • Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Putting together a plan for your transition to the cloud is paramount to its success. This will allow you to see a clear path through the project, and it also helps ease your staff members by creating real expectations that won’t sneak up on them at the last minute.
  • IT Alignment: Finally, you can’t go wrong if you’re choosing technology solutions that are aligned with your mission. For many nonprofits, technology can feel like a foreign language, so it’s important to make a connection between the technology and your mission. The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (NTEN) defines IT alignment as “the coordination of an IT strategy with the with the goals, strategies and processes used to meet an organization’s mission.”(Managing Technology to Meeting your Mission).


Want to learn more about how can help your nonprofit? Check out the following articles:

Box Blogs: Empowering Nonprofits to Achieve Their missions with

TechSoup: Box Starter Edition, 10 User licenses

Exponent Partners: Partnership with offers Nonprofits Powerful Content Collaboration Technology 



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pathfinder title

When: Friday, February 12th, 12:00PM-1:30PM
Where: Mayer Brown LLP, 1999 K Street

Join 501cTECH’s Vice President of Technology Services, Mike Raftery, and Client Relations Manager, Marc Noël, at the 2nd of a 3 event series. The Pathfinder Initiative is a series of conferences that connects and engages nonprofit leaders with industry experts. It recognizes the need for nonprofits and NGOs to effectively utilize and access the internet in a safe and meaningful way, and provides a forum for discussion on how to achieve this. The event will be an opportunity for your organization to:

  • Learn about new products and services
  • Connect and network with others in the nonprofit community
  • Speak up and be heard about international internet policy

501cTECH’s presentation will discuss the challenges that nonprofits face in technology, and solutions that will increase their efficiency in everyday operations. Specific topics include secure cloud solutions available to nonprofits at little to no cost, the importance of frequent technology health checks, and implementation and impact of best practices.


About the Presenters:

Marc Noël, Mike Raftery  501cTECH @501cTECHDC 501cTech is a nonprofit organization helping to build the capacity of nonprofits serving the common good by providing innovative and sustainable technology solutions. 501cTECH provides services such as Managed IT Support, cloud migrations and IT consulting, and is an organizer and thought leader in the nonprofit IT community.

Jennie Armstrong - TechChange @jennie_armsy TechChange provides online professional development in technology and social change. Around the world, implementers in public health, emergency response, monitoring and evaluation, all struggle to solve pressing issues with limited resources. TechChange connects them with relevant content, experts, and certification using our facilitated learning platform.

Ruarai McKenna - @Care2 was founded in 1998 with a simple mission: to help make the world a better place. Today, Care2 is a highly-engaged social network of over 34 million citizen activists standing together for good and making extraordinary impact – locally, nationally and internationally – largely by working in solidarity on petitions and pledge campaigns.

More About the Pathfinder Initiative:

The Global Knowledge Partnership Foundation, (GKPF), and its partners launched the Pathfinder Initiative to to help build effective Civil Society Internet use strategies. Civil Society Internet Awareness and Capacity Building offers an opportunity for your organization to:

  • Access resources and services that enable you to make better use of the Internet.
  • Offer additional solutions and services to your members and supporters.
  • Develop and implement digital strategies, such as effective online communication, community engagement, and fundraising.
  • Increase your security and stay on top of Internet security best practices.
  • Gain a voice for your organization in how the Internet is run and governed.
  • Demonstrate to Civil Society organizations products and services that enable them to make better use of the digital technologies and the Internet.
  • Gain exposure to and goodwill among Civil Society Organizations.
  • Develop a deeper understanding of and access to an important yet underdeveloped market segment.
  • Demonstrate corporate social responsibility.

Learn more about the Pathfinder Initiative

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From United Way of the National Capital Area:

Corporate sponsorship acts as an important income stream for many nonprofits, and corporations besieged with requests for funding must decide carefully which organizations to support. Within the nonprofit sector, we have reached a critical decision point: How can we improve results when procuring corporate sponsorship?

We must go beyond offering standard and outdated benefits if we are to increase sponsorship income. This interactive three-part series offers hands-on practical training so that you and your organization can implement proven strategies and tactics to increase corporate sector revenue.

In this three-part series, you will learn to:

  • Differentiate your organization from the crowd of other nonprofits seeking sponsorship
  • Use a proven methodology to create a successful partnership-based sponsor program
  • Navigate within the corporate environment so you can reach decision-makers
  • Focus on your own best potential partners rather than wasting time and resources on dead-end leads
  • Tailor your business development strategies to connect with your specific sponsor prospects

Join the United Way for the recommended three-part series. Secure your seat today and register!  

Dates:  Tuesdays: February 9th, February 23rd, and March 8th
Time: 9:00 AM – 9:20 AM Registration, breakfast, and networking 9:20 AM -11:30 AM Session followed by Q&A
Location: Flax Associates, LLC 1120 G Street, NW Suite 1000 (10th floor) Washington, DC 20005
Metro: Metro Center
Registration Fee: $399.00
Food: Continental breakfast provided


Can’t make all three? Choose any of the available sessions (Cost: $149):

  1. Structure Your Corporate Partnership Program: Learn how to move beyond events and establish more valuable benefits to offer to the corporate sector (Register for February 9th)
  2. Gain Internal Support and Launch Your Program: Suggested approaches to gain internal buy-in and approval resulting in the ability to launch the new program (Register for February 23)
  3. Conduct Outreach to Targeted Companies:  Learn a step by step outreach process that will lead to connections with key decision makers at the right companies (Register for March 8)

United Way NCA is committed to helping our nonprofit network succeed and we hope to see you soon at one of United Way NCA’s Nonprofit Learning Series events.

Please feel free to email if you have any questions.

January NTEN Happy Hour: Website Strategy




Join NTEN, 501cTECH, and SW Creatives on Monday, January 25th from 6:00PM to 8:00PM for a FREE happy hour, presentation and discussion.

Shala Graham, Principal & Creative Director at SW Creatives, will be presenting an engaging, tactical look at developing your website strategy.

Technology is a beautiful thing. When done right, it makes our lives easier and produces immaculate results over analog methods. However, technology itself doesn’t replace the human mind when it comes to developing your website strategy. So we’re going to go analog and talk about clear methods for developing strong website architecture and content strategy, then dive into tech tools that will help you define, communicate, and validate the wonderful workings of your mind.

There will be plenty of time before and after her presentation to chat with the other attendees and enjoy the free food and beverages.

Please be sure to bring your business cards to enter for a FREE door prize.

 Register Here



The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) is a 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 program.

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logo-teensrundcTHE CHALLENGE

Helping students set goals and work towards them is a huge step in empowering underserved youth. That’s the idea behind Teens Run DC, a nonprofit that promotes the physical, social and emotional well-being of DC students through running and mentoring programs.

Two years ago, Teens Run DC had a staff of two; last year, they had a staff of seven; this year, they have a staff of fourteen. Each year, with the increase in personnel, Teens Run DC has been able to double the number of students they reach through their programs – whether in PE classes, lunch clubs, or after school running programs.

However, technology became a sore point for an organization that essentially grew overnight. When Teens Run DC started working with 501cTECH in 2015, employees were using personal computers that did not always have software compatible for sharing documents. There was no main fileserver, and employees used personal Dropbox accounts that quickly ran out of space. Program data was saved in Google spreadsheets with hundreds of columns, formulas and multiple people inputting information. Working with an array of staff, AmeriCorps volunteers, coaches and mentors, Teens Run DC needed to develop an IT strategy that could withstand the growth of the organization. quote


501cTECH assessed Teens Run DC’s needs and developed a solution that would address Teens Run DC’s hardware, software and data management needs.

Services included:

  • Securing nine laptops and one desktop for employees, as well as a printer/scanner for student forms
  • Providing new mechanisms for file sharing: and Microsoft Office Suite
  • Setting up a customized Salesforce account that organizes student and mentor data
  • Equipping coaches with an attendance recording app that is linked to Salesforce
  • Implementing data governance policies and procedures for security


Having this new, cutting edge and reliable technology gave the staff more time to focus on their mission.

  • Coaches can easily review student attendance records, race times, and goals in Salesforce, making one-on-one time much more focused and meaningful
  • Mentor/mentee matches are made in Salesforce with ease, saving time and allowing for room for the program to grow as interest grows
  • The organization can run reports comparing data across schools and programs to inform decision making

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blue keyboardAs we enter the new near, we’re all making plans for New Year’s resolutions. Why not take your resolutions into the workplace, starting with one of the things we all come in contact with the most in an office environment – email. It can be daunting and overwhelming to open a full inbox every morning. By the end of the year, we’re all happy to take a break from it and rest during the holidays – email free. As you go back to the work place after some restful time off, make it a priority to stay on top of your emails this year. Having a more organized inbox will reduce stress, and help you be more efficient in your work.

Outlook 2013 has several options you can set that help you automate and simplify your email experience. Here are five ways to make your Outlook experience more convenient.

1. Use Your Task List

Have an inbox full of unread messages? They can pile up quickly and get overwhelming. To avoid the stress of a full inbox, flag emails that you need to reread or get back to.

Simply click on the flag in the top right corner of the email. Once you’ve identified them for follow-up, you can prioritize the follow up time – today, tomorrow, this week, or next week. After you’ve followed up, click on the flag again and it will be marked as completed and disappear from your task list. Managing a task list will keep you much more organized and will relieve the stress of the daunting question – “Have I forgotten to respond to an important email?”

2. Create folders

Do you answer hundreds of emails a week? Don’t let your inbox leave you scrolling through messages to find what you’re looking for. Sure, you can use the search bar when looking for emails, but subject lines don’t always include key words, or you might be looking for words so common that dozens of emails come up in the search results. Make your email more organized by creating folders with sub-categories.

To avoid the clutter and to stay organized, remember to consistently file emails away into the folders. If you already have folders, but haven’t been diligent in filing emails, take some time during the first weeks of the new year to move emails from your inbox into their respective folders. It might be tedious and time consuming now, but it will save you a lot of time in the future.

3. Set a Future Delivery Date for Messages

You can write a message and have Outlook send it at a future date instead of sending it right away. This is beneficial if you’re going on vacation and need to send a message at a certain date.

With the email message open, click the “Options” tab. Click “More Options” in the bottom-right corner.

Click “Do not deliver before” and select a date. Click “Close.” Make sure you leave Outlook open to ensure the message is sent while you are away.

4. Increase the Font when Reading Email

Outlook lets you set your font size when you send email, but your sender might choose a small font that’s hard to read. You can change the font on-the-fly to make it easier to read.

To change font size, open your email and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard. With the Ctrl key pressed, scroll up on the mouse scroll wheel. The font size is increased as you scroll. You can also use this method to make the font smaller.

5. Read Message Headers

Message headers can give you lots of clues when it comes to the origin and legitimacy of a message. If you can read the headers, you can identify phishing scams and people spoofing email senders.

To view the headers, double-click the email message to open it in a new window. Click the “File” tab and then click “Info.” Click “Properties.” The headers are shown in the “Internet Headers” text box.

Email headers are read from last to first. The last server in the list is the originator.

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If you use Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, you probably know the keyboard shortcuts to select all (Ctrl+A), copy (Ctrl+C), and paste (Ctrl+V). Did you know there are other helpful keyboard shortcuts that you can use in all three applications? Being able to use the same keyboard shortcuts can make them easier to remember.

Here are nine keyboard shortcuts that you can use in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to save time and effort.

1. Ctrl+F

Do you need to find a certain word, number, or character? Press Ctrl+F (press the Ctrl key and the F key at the same time) to bring up the find feature.

2. Ctrl+H

Using the find-and-replace functionality is much faster than manually finding and replacing many instances of a word, number, or character. Use Ctrl+H to access this time-saving tool.

3. Ctrl+Z

When you have an “Oops, I didn’t want to do that” moment, press Ctrl+Z to reverse your last command or delete the last thing you typed. You can press it multiple times to keep undoing your actions.

4. Ctrl+Y

Pressing Ctrl+Y will redo an action that was just undone with Ctrl+Z. You can also use Ctrl+Y to repeat the last action you performed, which is helpful when you want to apply formatting that doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut. For example, suppose you want to put the words Pull, Aim, Spray, and Sweep in red to set them apart in some instructions describing how to use a fire extinguisher. After highlighting the word Pull and changing its color to red using the toolbar, you can change the color of the other words by highlighting each word and pressing Ctrl+Y.

5. Ctrl+K

Do you want to insert a hyperlink? Press Ctrl+K to bring up the functionality that lets you insert a new hyperlink as well as edit an existing one.

6. F7

Spell checkers are popular, especially among people who know they are spelling-challenged. In Excel and PowerPoint, pressing F7 produces a basic spell checker. In Word, it produces a checker that looks for both spelling and grammatical errors.

7. Ctrl+B

Many documents and presentations use bold formatting for titles and headings. In spreadsheets, column headings and totals are often in bold. Use Ctrl+B to quickly apply bold formatting to the elements that need it. This keyboard shortcut can also be used to remove bold formatting.

8. Ctrl+I

Italics are useful for emphasizing text and identifying the names of magazines, books, and other publications. Press Ctrl+I to apply or remove italic formatting.

9. Ctrl+U

Like italics, underlining is useful for emphasizing text. Use Ctrl+U to apply or remove underlining.

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IMG_3582On December 9th, 501cTECH, NetSquared DC, and the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) co-sponsored a happy hour and panel discussion on digital trends. Panelists included thought leaders in the digital engagement space: Charmaine Nokuri, Chris Tuttle, DeRay Mckesson, and Jo Miles, and Colin Delany and Roshani Kothari moderated.

The discussion focused on how nonprofits can use digital platforms to further their missions.

Photo: Colin Delany, Jo Miles, DeRay Mckesson


Chris Tuttle’s opening remarks summed up the focus of the discussion quite well. There are three areas where organizations tend to struggle on digital platforms:

  • Standing Out - With the internet being used more than ever before, organizations can get lost in promoting themselves, instead of organizing the communities they serve.
    • To combat this, organizations should focus their energy on using online platforms to organize communities offline.
  • Getting recognized - Organizations may confuse followers with recognition.
    • Remember that digital engagement is all about relationships. Followers do not equal relationships; a few actively engaged followers can be more influential than many followers.
  • Keeping up with current trends – Technology is always evolving and organizations may always feel like they are trying to catch up.
    • Instead, focus on creating new trends, and breaking through the noise.

A recurring theme in the discussion was the importance of having a conversation digitally that serves to build a community around that dialogue. Much of the value of digital engagement stems from converting online interaction into offline community engagement. It is important to remember that technology alone cannot define your message; you must actively target your message to your audience.

To learn more, watch a recording of the discussion.

More about the Panelists & Moderators:

Charmaine Nokuri has over 15 years of experience in the digital space. During the day she is a Web Analyst for Erickson Living and also moonlights as owner of Allegiance Branding.  She had developed or optimized over 30 digital marketing campaigns, and was recently named Marketing Director for the National African Business Association.

Chris Tuttle is a thought leader in the technology, social media, and communications industry, specifically in building relationships with nonprofits, and has worked with organizations such as GLSEN and Idealware.

Colin Delany, a leading expert on digital advocacy and internet politics, is the founder and editor of He has 17-years of experience in the field, and consults advocacy groups on how to leverage online tools. He was named one of “Ten Who Are Changing the World of Politics and the Internet” at the 2010 World E-Gov Forum.

DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist, known for using social media to promote conversation and to bring people together. With a twitter following of over 266K, Deray is a powerhouse in stimulating offline action through online engagement.

Jo Miles is the Digital Program Director at Food & Water Watch. She manages strategy for the use and integration of digital channels across the organization and uses online tools to win campaigns and engage and educate people who want to put their food and water above corporate profits.

Roshani Kothari is a nonprofit technology consultant, and co-organizer of NetSquared DC. With over 10 years of experience working with nonprofits. Her work focuses on the intersection of technology and social good.