Nonprofit Technology News, Tips, Events, and Ideas

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todd Through the Noise Interview


501cTECH’s very own Todd Peterson was featured on a recent episode of Through the Noise, a podcast that “explores the business of communicating through conversations with executive directors, CEOs, communications directors, entrepreneurs, and other professionals who deal with the management – technical or creative – process of communications.”

In this episode, Todd discusses how organizations can improve their performance through upgrading to secure technology.


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


December NTEN Happy Hour

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Join NTEN, 501cTECH, and NetSquared on Wednesday, December 9th from 6:00PM to 8:00PM for a FREE happy hour and panel discussion where we will reflect on digital trends from 2015 and look ahead to 2016.

Discussion Questions:

  • Which digital platforms were most useful for effective digital campaigns in 2015?
  • What are some of the lessons learned from the most successful movements and nonprofit campaigns in 2015?
  • What were some new digital innovations that happened in 2015 and what should we look for in 2016?
  • How will the 2016 elections influence digital advocacy and technology?

Charmaine Nokuri
Chris Tuttle
DeRay Mckesson
Jo Miles

Colin Delany & Roshani Kothari


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!

@NTENorg | @501cTECHDC | @Net2DC | #NTENDCHH

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.

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At the Celebration of Technology on November 5th,  501cTECH announced the selection of Hopecam, the Arc of Northern Virginia, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors as the winners of the 2015 Technology Innovation Awards. The event was attended by leaders from area nonprofits and technology leaders from some of DC’s leading companies including Accenture, CenturyLinkBAE Systems, Clark Construction, Amazon Web Services, Capital One, Deloitte and SapientNitro.

Read more about Celebration of Technology and the Technology Innovation Award Winners in Washington Life’s online magazine!


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nonyear winner seal logo med-resQuestions answered by Joyce Raezer, Executive Director at the National Military Family Association. This follow-up survey was designed to serve as a resource for understanding how grants serve nonprofits, and what obstacles grant recipients might encounter while implementing projects.

The Project was to add a new, crucial feature to a recently launched mobile app, MyMilitaryFamily. According to the application, this feature would allow military spouses to add content and recommend resources to their peers around the country. This was expected to be an essential tool to capture the more informal community support that was currently happening on platforms like Facebook. The hypothesis was that this social feature would increase engagement and habitual usage of the app.

Q: Did this feature get added since winning the award?mymilitarylife-app-download-now

Yes, the feature was added and launched early in the spring of 2015. We worked with a developer to test several versions and used our military family volunteer testers to ensure it was working.

Q: What kind of feedback are you receiving? is it garnering the usage you hoped?

Feedback has been positive, but the military spouse usage has not been what we had hoped for the MyMilitaryLife app. Increasing usage of the app has proven to be a challenge for us. We’ve tested Facebook ads, did a billboard outside a military installation, and were featured in several military family blogs, but have not been able to translate that visibility into app usage and user engagement at the levels we had hoped. As a consequence of our inability to gain more than 10,000 app users despite significant marketing, development, and maintenance costs and staff time needed, our Board decided in late September 2015 to end support of the app. We will be transitioning app users to our mobile website, adding additional content currently found in the app to our website, and expanding our social media, web and email efforts to engage military families in new ways.

Q: Can you talk about programmatic impact? You indicated that this app would give you better target audience data and insights, setting National Military Family Association up for far greater efficiency in service delivery, allowing you to scale support. Have you seen that?Got-Questions-App-Image

See comment above. We have not gained the usage that we needed from our app. We learned a lot about how organizations can and should measure engagement on mobile apps and applied those metrics to our app evaluations. We did see significant engagement by a few users and determined that we gained approximately 2,000 unique military spouse email addresses from the app over the past year that we had not received through our website or program usage. Because the usage has not been at a high-enough level, the data we have gained from app users has not been rich enough to use in our advocacy work. The biggest benefit from the app has been as a way to do customized alerts that could be sent out to app users about news or programs of interest to them. Also, because of the research we did on measuring the effectiveness of mobile apps, we now have better metrics to use in evaluating all our online platforms and military families’ engagement with them. As part of our preparation for the Board’s decision on the app, we did a survey of several hundred military families and how they use mobile apps and other platforms and what they expect from each. We will use this information as we move forward to guide our efforts to better engage military families in conversation and in connecting them with the resources they need.

Q: Similarly, you indicated this app would allow you to better serve your military families by giving you greater insights into needs and allowing you to provide customized solutions or preventative programs. Do you still feel this is the case? Any anecdotes or examples of impact?

See previous comments. We’ve learned a great deal about how military families interact in the social media and online spaces and, while the user base was small, military families’ questions and comments and what information they accessed on the app have given us a sense of when we might time the delivery of certain information and the types of information they need. Military families tended to seek basic information about military benefits on the app and about what resources were available as they transition from the military. We will be adding more about these topics to our revamped website and also doing periodic social media pushes on these topics

Q: What have you learned in doing this project that might hold valuable insight for other nonprofits seeking to do something similar?

Before going the mobile app route, fully develop the capacity of other platforms. We didn’t have a viable mobile-friendly website when we began our app project. If we had, we might have made different decisions. It is also important to understand how the people you serve use technology and to continuously work to see how these usage trends change. We’ve learned a lot since we started our app project about how military families use technology and what they expect of a mobile platform. We still believe that the goal we set when we started the app project-push vetted customized information to military families when they need it-is important and will be working to leverage our exiting platforms to do what we can to provide the customized information and to be able to push that information to families. It is also important for organizations to understand what apps can do and what they can’t. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Everyone’s learned a lot about apps over the past few years! I could write a book about what we’ve learned!

Q: What has winning the 501cTECH Technology Innovation Award mean to your organization. What have you done to communicate about your win and, perhaps, leverage it for other key opportunities?

Winning this award was a morale boost for our app team, but we were unable to leverage it successfully. The award definitely helped us get the spouse advice feature built and was essential to our learning.

Q: For Joyce specifically, what has judging the TIA mean to you personally?

The judging experience has been a lot of fun and it’s been instructive to see the range of tech insights, skills, and dreams presented this past year as a winner.


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nonyear winner seal logo med-resQuestions answered by Jim Halling, Director of Corporate Development at Good360. This follow-up survey was designed to serve as a resource for understanding how grants serve nonprofits, and what obstacles grant recipients might encounter while implementing projects.

Good360 was the recipient of $7,500 in grant money to put towards a major new platform, DisasterRecovery360, seeking to prepare for, and address the short and long-term needs that follow natural disasters. The award, specifically, was to be used in the build phase, allowing Good 360 to think through what the portal should do specifically to help communities and organizations, and how it should be set up for the greatest benefit and efficiencies.

Q: How was the Technology Innovation Award of $7,500 used?

dr360 logoThe award from the 2014 Technology Innovation Awards competition enabled Good 360 to continue to move forward with our plans to create DisasterRecovery360.

Built and managed by Good360, DisasterRecovery360 ensures that the needs of communities impacted by disaster are met in a timely manner throughout the full recovery process by ensuring the right goods are delivered to the right place at the right time.

The new DisasterRecovery360 technology platform:

  • Collects real-time product needs from nonprofits responding at the site of a disaster,
  • Spotlights and shares those needs with generous companies and individuals who can help,
  • Provides timely updates as product needs change with every stage of disaster, and
  • Shares stories about how donations are used and how they are helping

Good360, officially launched DisasterRecovery360 in New Orleans during events marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in September.

Additional funding for the Disasterrecovery360 technology platform was provided by The UPS Foundation and Walmart.

DR360 Main Page


Q: From a programmatic perspective, this new platform was to take a more holistic view of disaster relief, allowing Good360 and its partner’s better tool for staging donations through the entire life cycle of a recovery. The goal was to make Good360 and its partners work more effectively and efficiently post-disaster. Is this still what you expect?

The DR360 technology platform addresses the longstanding challenge of distributing donated goods following disaster.

After disaster strikes, millions of individuals and companies donate money, products and time to help local communities rebuild. Unfortunately, many of those well-intentioned supporters don’t know the exact needs on the ground and end up sending items that are either too early to be used in the recovery process or are not a top priority.

It’s estimated that around 60% of all product donations given immediately after a disaster end up in landfills.

That reality led to significant changes at Good360. The launch of Disaster Recovery360 culminates a more than 2.5 year journey to improve how we help respond to disasters.DR360 Donation Page


Q: From a service perspective, the platform would allow for great ability to serve those in need at a time they need it, impacting more lives for the good. Is this still what you expect?

With the disasterRecovery360 platform, we can now collect timely and specific needs from community-based nonprofits working at the site of a disaster and empower companies and individuals to help fulfill those needs. This allows us to deliver critically needed supplies to the right place at the right time immediately following disaster and throughout the full recovery process.

Featured Disasters


Q: From the perspective of Good360, what has winning the TIA meant to the organization? Has it been used to leverage more funding?

Receiving the 2014 TIA award reaffirmed our long standing commitment and belief that the DisasterRecovery360 technology platform would revolutionize how we would be able to do “good” better. In January of 2015, Good360 received additional funding from Walmart and The UPS Foundation to build out the technology platform.

Q: What has serving as a TIA judge meant to you personally?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be part of this year’s judging panel for the 2015 Technology Innovation Awards. Having worked in digital in the Washington DC area for more than fifteen years, I love seeing first-hand the innovation, impact and use of technology by these great local organizations. There are so many deserving entrees that started with a simple goal of how to improve their impact on the community. OUTSTANDING experience.


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nonyear winner seal logo med-resQuestions answered by Kathy Siefert, Director of Development at Alexandria Seaport Foundation. This follow-up survey is designed to serve as a resource for understanding how grants serve nonprofits, and what obstacles grant recipients might encounter while implementing projects.

The Alexandria Seaport Foundation was the recipient of $7,500 in grant money to put towards STEM on the Potomac, a middle school initiative that uses wooden boats, the natural environment, and technology to improve students’ STEM skills. The Alexandria Seaport Foundation’s proposal outlined that the grant would support the purchase of SeaPerch kits, containing tools for building Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs); the purchase of tools to build an OpenROV (an open source robot); and the purchase of navigation software. Collectively, these were to serve as the foundation for a unique water-based STEM curriculum that would allow students to build and launch these ROVs, measure a variety of relevant data, and learn navigation skills.Seaperch photo - for blog

Q: Where you able to use the $7,500 to make the purchases outlined in your proposal?

Yes, the $7,500 went to the purchase of the SeaPerch kits, the software and the execution of the project

Q: How many students are using the Kits, OpenROV and software (across programs) and what kind of feedback have you received since implementing the program?

A total of 18 SeaPerches were build on site. In our Middle School Math Program, 95 students were involved in the building of the SeaPerches, and in our Apprentice Program, 2 apprentices built SeaPerches. The feedback from this program has been extremely positive, with students who had not previously exhibited interest in the sciences becoming very excited about both building the device and launching it. Using this project-based approach, students were able to gain STEM concepts through hands-on activities and have become more engaged in the process of learning.

Q: From a programmatic standpoint, has this hands-on engineering and technology curriculum allowed the Alexandria Seaport Foundation to reach more at-risk students than before? How has this changed the way ASF delivers services?

It is, actually, less about the ability to reach more at-risk students and more about improving the “how to’s.” This grant allowed us to purchase a device which really excited the students and which would have been financially out of reach for the Foundation without 501cTech’s support. Some of the projects we have done in the Middle School Math Program include cigar box guitars, skate boards and small model boats. The SeaPerchase allowed students to work with a very high tech project and gain such skills and understanding buoyancy, electrical circuits, mechanics and engineering.

Q: Obviously STEM education is an educational priority everywhere and it is certainly true in Alexandria City Public Schools. how receptive has the City and community been to this program? Do you plan to continue the program as is or do you see it changing in the future based on your early learning? How?blog Seaperch photo 2

I am happy to report that our STEM program is going very well. In fact, in a year where Alexandria City Public Schools experienced severe budget cuts, ASF was one of only two organizations to receive a grant this year for in-school, on-site services.

Q:What have you learned in doing this project that might hold valuable insight for other nonprofits seeking to do something similar?

We have learned to go after what we want and believe in our ability to achieve our goals. When we applied to 501cTech for this grant, we were excited but anxious – I’m not sure any of us really believed we would win. We would advise anyone who wants to reach for a grant like this to make the effort, as it just might pay off!

Q: What has wining the 501cTECH Technology Innovation Awards meant to your organization? What have you done to communicate about your win and, perhaps, leverage it for other key opportunities?

I remember the day we learned that ASF had won the grant, that first thing we did was report to our Board that we had been recognized by 501cTech with a $7,500 grant to build SeaPerches. We put it on our website and reported it to our data base (which goes to 2200 people) through our newsletter. We use it whenever we talk about ASF’s awards and recognition.

Q:What has judging the TIA meant to you, personally?

I have to say that I was initially a bit intimidated by my agreeing to be on the panel as a judge, as I have absolutely no technical background as a Development Director. However, I am thrilled that I am doing it and have found it to be a wonderful experience. My value is in bringing my non-profit perspective to the table in a heavily corporate arena. I think the work these non-profits are doing is fascinating, and I am grateful to be a part of the decision making.


October NTEN Happy Hour: Digital Fundraising


Register HERE

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Join NTEN, 501cTECH, and CommitChange on Thursday, October 22 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm for a FREE happy hour and discussion.

CommitChange co-founder and CEO, Roderick Campbell will be presenting a candid, funny, and tactical look at the world of digital fundraising. You’ll learn design hacks that increase giving, hear inspiring real-world stories, and have the opportunity to discuss 21st -century fundraising strategies with one of Silicon Valley’s brightest tech founders. Attendee warning: content may blow your mind.

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

Don’t forget your business cards because we’ll be raffling off a Google Chromecast!

@NTENorg | @501cTECHDC | @CommitChange | #NTENDCHH

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 Metro stop.

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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.

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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.


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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!