Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Last week, I facilitated an interactive keynote in Seattle at the 2011 Tech for Good Leadership Summit sponsored by Microsoft Community Affairs, in partnership with NPower Seattle. By all accounts, the event held the space for peer learning.
It was great to see long-time colleague from NPower Seattle Peg Giffels who I met ten years ago when she first joined the staff. I was presenting a strategic technology workshop at one of their conferences. I also got to meet the dynamic NPower Seattle executive director Alison Carl White who talked passionately about her organization's mission and programs. And I also got to catch up with more recent NPtech colleagues San McColloch, Erica Mills, and Peter Drury.
NPtech Colleagues: @zanarama Zan McColloch Lussier @ericamills Erica Mills @seattledrury Peter Drury photo by Akhtar Badshah
Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs for Microsoft kicked off the day with an interactive presentation about the trends in nonprofit technology. He didn't do the "sage of the stage" thing, he gave ample opportunities for the audience to digest the ideas he shared as well as to engage them in conversation. Alison Carl White from NPower Seattle has a good summary on her blog.
That got me thinking… There are people who just want an expert on the stage to share their wisdom. They don't want to engage, reflect, or hear what others in the room are doing. I just don't like that style because it prevents deeper sharing of insights. On the other hand, people do want those tips and best practices. So, letting the knowledge out in the room isbecomes a balancing act of peer interaction with expert insights. So, hHow can you do that in a keynote with several hundred people in the room? It's a design challenge.
1. Don't Just Research Your Audience, Make Them Part of the Presentation
I used a brief pre-survey where I was able to collect information about success stories, challenges, and current social media usage. I incorporated examples from people in the room and then asked them to talk about themit. As the facilitator, you have to design questions so they illicit stories.
The survey asked participants to share a story that illustrates how social media has brought value to their organizations. I've asked this question before, but this is the first time I had so many stories that it was hard to narrow it down to a few. I used a "living case study" approach - doing an interview with them selected attendees to share how they achieved their success. This generated some fantastic insights:
Foundation for Early Learning shared a story about how they used social media channels to spread awareness about a funding program and how it resulted in getting the information to a wider audience - a 33% increase in traffic and downloads of the information. When asked to share how they achieved their success, they told the audience about the importance of doing homework in the form of listening and setting realistic expectations for results.
Northwest Harvest Food Bank used its social media channels to mobilize supporters to give food donations that ended up breaking a Guinness Book of World Records!. While you could visit their blog, Facebook page, and Twitter stream to see how they engaged and mobilized their supporters, the hidden gem came out when asked, "What was the secret to your success?" Turns out Tthey had a partnership with a number of other hunger organizations and advocates who worked as volunteers to share the word of the record-breaking food drive through their networks, leveraging a networked effect.
Museum of History and Industry ( MOHAI) uses social media to engage with Seattle residents whom they would not be able to connect with otherwise, and who want to have a say in how history is being interpreted. Thise video is part of a series of "MOHAI Minute" videos on Youtube. The woman in the mouth of the Alligator was in the room. She told the story of how she created the videos herself initially, but when they started to catch on, she documented the results. She was able to go to her boss and get some more resources in the budget for social media.
Seattle Symphony created a flashmob and promoted it with Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter effectively. It directly increased ticket sales. In this living case study, the staff person from the Seattle Symphony shared how they did conversion tracking. I asked her where they got the idea for doing a flash mob. She mentioned how useful Twitter is for connecting and following peers to get ideas to evolve pilots for social media initiatives. What is remarkable - as busy as they are getting the Symphony on the stage, this staff makes time for on- the- job, informal learning through social media.
Photo by Microsoft Citizenship
2. Use Metaphor or Inspirational Quote that Sums Up Your Key Point and Use It Throughout
Over the past year, as more and more nonprofits are embracing social media, we are starting to see different levels of practice or "maturity of practice." On Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday this year, I came across a quote that offered a good metaphor for such a framework:
"If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."
I created an assessment framework that a nonprofit could use to determine the level of their current social media practice and a way to think about getting to the next steplevel. I explained the model and had people discuss it with their peers. and then we had a full group discussion about where people were and what was needed to get to the next step. The full group discussion allowed people at different levels to share their experiences.
Twitter Advocates: NPower's Ash Shepard (@NPTech_Ash) and Microsoft Citizenship's Nathan J. Peterson (@NathanJTweets)
3. Use Twitter to Bring More People Into Tthe Conversation
The conference hashtag #watech4good was used to encourage people both in the room and not in the room to Tweet - and ask questions. I appointed two Twitter advocates who live- Tweeted the discussion and also verbalized questions and comments from Twitter, providing a link between online and offline.
4. Give Them aA Couple of Practical Tips or Insights tTo Solve Their Problems
The survey asked participants to share their great social media challenges. These boiled to do: Lack of strategy, capacity issues, adoption issues, and lack of measurement techniques and approaches. I used their problems input to share a few points about how to begin to address those challenges, holding the space for other participants to add their knowledge.
What people in the room were most hungry for were tips and steps on listening and measurement. After my keynote, I was asked to tweet a few good links to help people get started, something they could read back at the office.
Actionable Social Media Listening for Nonprofits
Social Network Analysis Tools for Social Media
Get Your Social Media Strategy in Shape: Spreadsheet Aerobics
How Feeding America Uses KPIs to Measure Social Media
A Roundup of Social Media Measurement Resources for Nonprofits
To do keynotes that illicit peer learning on a large scale takes careful design. Most of us - when faced with a presentation - only think about content, we don't think about ways to spark interaction. It's a challenge to shift from focusing on your "getting your content out" to "how to spark insights from the audience," but as we saw at the Microsoft Tech for Good Leadership Summit last week, it is well worth doing.
After years of working to build the technology capacity of nonprofits, I have to admit: great examples of technology for good can be elusive. I often hear nonprofit organizations say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” They want great examples from their peers for both inspiration and to share in the lessons learned. They don’t have time to find these examples. Nonprofit case studies seem to elude us all.
It is for this reason that Microsoft decided to work with our long-time partner, TechSoup Global, to sponsor the 2011 Tech for Good Contest for Washington State nonprofits and public libraries. We wanted to help highlight organizations using technology to engage their communities and create real impact. More than 50 Washington State nonprofits and public libraries stepped up to share their stories of technology for good. And they weren’t just good, they were great...
With so many wonderful entries, selecting three winners was not easy. But today, at our Tech for Good Leadership Summit in Redmond, Washington, we were pleased to announce the Tech for Good contest winners and share their inspirational and savvy examples of technology use with the 200+ nonprofit staff in attendance.
And the winners are…
Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project
Densho is a Seattle-based nonprofit that promotes awareness and critical thought about civil liberties through the preservation and examination of the Japanese-American experience during World War II. Densho needed a better way to capture, preserve and widely share the stories of a disappearing generation of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. In lieu of operating a physical museum, Densho was able to use SQL Server, Visual Studio, and ASP.NET to digitally collect, preserve and – most importantly – share these personal stories on its site, which includes over 10,800 photos and documents and over 450 interviews of Japanese Americans. Today, Densho has more than 150,000 web site visitors from all 50 states and 123 countries, a reach they couldn’t have dreamed of achieving without the help of technology.
Read Densho’s full contest submission >>
Visit densho.org >>
Seattle Works' mission is to connect volunteers, develop emerging leaders and inspire dialogue. When the economy hit rough times, Seattle Works, like many organizations, saw both corporate and individual gifts decline. They knew they needed change how they were spending money in order to survive. So they gathered their courage and took a leap – to the cloud! To reduce high fixed costs related to their physical office space (rent, parking, phone service, hardware, and data storage, to name a few), Seattle Works implemented Microsoft’s cloud solution, Business Productivity Online Suite (“BPOS”). They now use SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, LiveMeeting (online meeting software) and Communicator to collaborate virtually. In their words, “Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.” Seattle Works shifted its notion of what a workspace could look like, and shaved nearly $20,000 off their expenses in the process.
Read Seattle Works’ full contest submission >>
Visit seattleworks.org >>
YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish County
The YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish County advances the quality of life for women of all ages, races and faiths, and their families. But with offices and services spread over 32 geographical locations, they were struggling with efficient communications, collaboration and work processes. According to Cathy MacCaul at the YWCA, “Every minute wasted looking for or recreating a file, document or process was time wasted from the service of our clients.” Using Active Directory and SharePoint, they were able to network all locations together and create a robust intranet. “The ability to bring all locations into a centralized medium for information, document sharing, and collaborative tools has revolutionized this organization.” Further, they used InfoPath to automate more than 50% of their processes, moving key organizational processes from manual, paper-based processes to dynamic, electronic workflows hosted in SharePoint. Staff is collaborating more, better able to share mission-critical information, and can shift focus to what matters: the mission.
Read YWCA Seattle’s full contest submission >>
Visit ywcaworks.org >>
Congratulations to all of our winners, who will each receive a $5,000 cash grant, up to $100,000 worth of donated Microsoft software, and consulting services donated by NPower Seattle to help them continue their journey of IT adoption. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
Finally, while our winners will provide inspiration to many nonprofits who want to “know what they don’t know,” I hope you’ll also take a look at the other stories in the Submission Gallery, each is a winner in their own right.
On a personal level, I hope these stories will encourage you to learn more about what technology can do for your nonprofit. Why not to visit our software donations page to discover how you can receive software donations from Microsoft.
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, we all now have a fantastic gallery of nonprofits using technology for good. Here’s to continued learning from and with you!
Last week, Microsoft Community Affairs hosted a Nonprofit Technology Leaders Summit on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington. The summit brought together leaders from a variety of our nonprofit partners, including NetHope, NPower, NTEN, and others. We spent two days discussing the role technology plays in the work of nonprofits around the world. This included looking at the potential opportunities for nonprofits to take advantage of powerful new and existing technologies that can positively impact their work. Along with a series of lectures attendees also spent valuable time talking together about how to more effectively bridge the gap between the ‘techies’ and ‘non-techies’ within their organizations. There were also a lot of opportunities for getting hands-on with new tools during a number of “speed geek” sessions - think rapid-fire-speed-dating-meets-technology demonstrations!
NPower Seattle’s Alison Carl White has shared a good summary of the event on the NPower Seattle blog, discussing the importance of technology leadership to an organization and the incredibly important role that data - and the sharing thereof - will play in tackling significant social challenges.
Timothy DeChant with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation discusses the important role of new and existing cloud technologies, including Dynamics CRM Online, SharePoint Online, and Windows Azure.
Walt Carter, COO of TechBridge highlights some of the technologies we showcased, including Silverlight, DeepZoom, and data visualization tools in Bing Maps and the Local Impact Map. He also shared some perspective on the opportunity to see what Microsoft is doing in the nonprofit space and to be part of the discussion to influence the direction of Microsoft investments in that space.
Opportunities to meet with a group of knowledgeable, capable nonprofit leaders are one of the highlights of the work community affairs does around the world, and spending two days learning with -- and from -- these individuals is a good reminder of the central role technology plays in the work we all do. As both Tim and Walt mention in their videos, there is great value in practitioners hearing and learning from other practitioners about what is working in the “real world” in which they all operate.
If you’re interested in learning more about these types of events and following the conversation around them, be sure to follow us at @msftcitizenship. We’ll be hosting the Washington State Tech for Good event this Friday, February 4th with NPower Seattle. Beth Kanter will be speaking. Virtual registrations are available for a number of sessions, but you must pre-register (its free). You can also follow the Twitter conversation online at #WATech4Good.
Interested in a software donation to empower your nonprofit with technology? Check out our software donations page.
Back in September we launched the Elevate America community initiative, a new grant program to support nonprofit organizations offering employment services, including technology skills training and job placement, in local communities across the United States. We had an incredible response with over 300 nonprofits applying for grants through our request for proposal process.
This is the latest extension of Elevate America, which was launched in February 2009 to provide people across the United States with no cost and low cost access to the technology skills they need to find employment. Since the program’s launch we have worked with 32 states and the District of Columbia to distribute nearly 900,000 no cost Microsoft training and certification vouchers. Last year we announced the Elevate America Veterans initiative, which focuses on working with nonprofits to address the specific challenges facing U.S. veterans and their spouses in their transition from military to civilian employment.
Bonnie, Wayne, Janice, Jesse and Jim have all benefitted from training through Elevate America you can find out more at the Elevate America website.
It’s clear that the demand for the technology skills people need to prepare for employment is as high as ever. Since 2003, we have worked with nonprofit organizations through our Unlimited Potential initiative to support technology skills training in underserved communities across the United States. These programs have reached more than 27 million people to date and we know the core success factor is partnership. Addressing the issues of skills is about working with organizations with a presence and knowledge of the local community.
Our approach to the selection of Elevate America community initiative grant recipients was to find partners with a strong track record in the provision of training services, who bring fresh thinking to how we address the issue of helping people get into the workforce. We want to support local community models that can be successfully replicated elsewhere and specifically address the needs of women and young workers (ages 18-25) who have greater barriers to employment, as well as the broader population.
We received over 300 applications from outstanding organizations across the country. In order to review the large number of proposals we commissioned a team of 13 workforce experts to participate in the evaluation process. After several iterations of review and discussion our team selected 27 finalists to participate in phone interviews. Following this we were able to identify 12 organizations to receive over $5 million in Elevate America community initiative funding over the next two years.
Reviewing the proposals provided a valuable insight into the incredible work underway in communities across the country. Trying to settle on a shortlist was incredibly difficult, but we’re satisfied that we have identified twelve organizations who will deliver high-impact programs:
In addition to providing these organizations with $5 million in cash over the next two years, we are also committing up to $10 million in software to all of the organizations that applied to the Elevate America community initiative grant process, to both recognize and support the important work they are doing to help people in their local communities.
We are looking forward to working closely with these organizations over the next two years as we continue to focus on giving people the skills they need to find employment.
Online training resources
You can find more information about Elevate America and the no cost and low cost training and education resources we offer to help people develop better technology skills for the jobs of the 21st century workforce please visit: http://www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica
Maria Nicolacoudis, executive director at TransAccess
TransAccess, a Bay Area nonprofit organization, helps youth and adults with disabilities to achieve their goals. In partnership with local schools, government agencies, and businesses, we provide individualized assessments, career and job placement assistance, adaptive technology, and more. Since 1997, TransAccess has served 10,800 youth and adults with disabilities through direct services. Our programs include the Access Technology Center, giving persons with disabilities the opportunity to identify, evaluate, and train on the latest computer adaptive technologies; the School-to-Future Program providing tools and support for students to further their education and prepare for employment and Access-to-Jobs, an employment service for persons with disabilities.
Computer training is vital for just about every job that will be in demand in the coming decade. We provide training that empowers persons with disabilities to work in a variety of careers, and continue vocational learning if they choose. Through our partnership with Microsoft we have expanded our services to more youth and adults with disabilities. Microsoft has provided software and financial support that allows us to integrate computer use training while we are teaching job preparation skills such as resume writing, web based job search skills, budgeting and presentation skills. Microsoft support has also increased our ability to provide assistive technology training, integrated with basic computer skills. The assistive technology training is critical for so many individuals with disabilities who need accommodations to use a computer to be successful in school or at work.
Our clients goals are to achieve success in their education and careers, Melissa, a good example of someone who completed our pre-employment and job placement services, which were integrated with the technology provided by Microsoft states: ”TransAccess has helped me find employment by helping me understand what employers look for and expect from an employee.” TransAccess started working with Melissa during her sophomore year. She was interested in working, but did not know where to begin. TransAccess assisted Melissa in identifying her career goals, transferable skills as well as skill she would need to acquire for her future profession. Through our classes, she learned Microsoft Office skills while she learned how to create a resume, cover letters and a career portfolio. She developed professional communication skills which she used successfully to network with employers and self-advocate for any accommodations she might need. Through TransAccess’ assistance, Melissa was able to conduct a job search, obtain and maintain employment, pursue her educational goals and obtain her driver’s license. She is currently attending a community college pursuing a degree in nursing and working at a local retail store. Melissa will also be volunteering at a clinic where she will be getting basic nursing skills.
Like Microsoft, we also understand that the community is the other side of the equation of success. Our services extend to employers and other community organizations to meet the diverse needs of persons with disabilities in our area. We train their staff in how to provide appropriate accommodations, disability awareness, and the use of assistive technology.
We are most proud of the real results we have for our clients. Melissa summed it up well when she told us:
“TransAccess has impacted my life by providing information about school and work. I have learned a lot and continue to learn something I will use on a day to day basis.”
Watch a mini-documentary on TransAccess and our work at: http://transaccess.org/news_events/video.php
Maria Nicolacoudis is the executive director at TransAccess.
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