If You Cannot Find a Local Community, DIY It!

By guest author Rebekah Jenkins, Director of Operations, Grow Pittsburgh. For more information about the Peer Operations Network, email Rebekah: rebekah@growpittsburgh.org.


“What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows”
Ralph Marston

I absolutely adore nonprofits. I love how they are mission-driven and are built on serving others. I’ve worked for nonprofits in some capacity for the last 18 years. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that many of these small organizations are not always fully staffed. Sometimes there’s not enough money for everything and people are forced to wear many hats. This much has been true in the previous positions I’ve held at nonprofits and it is still true in my current role as Director of Operations for Grow Pittsburgh.

Operations work has never been ‘sexy’ but it has always been vital to every organization, no matter the industry. Operations work is needed to keep programs work moving, but the level of support for operations staff never seems to be as accessible as it is for program-centered employees or high-level leadership. For a long time I searched for a support system…a group of individuals who do the same kind of work that I do, and who understand what it means to be a nonprofit operations professional. I had found support for the ‘accidental techie’ in me from the Bagels & Bytes group, sponsored by BCNM, but I was looking for the equivalent for my operations work. I looked around to see if someone else had started such a group – with little success. I searched and asked around and no one had heard of such a thing. Thus the Peer Operations Network was born.

I was really anxious about starting something like this. What if my request went ignored? What if I was the only one who was dealing with these issues? How did everyone else find their support system??

I started by sending messages on LinkedIn and Facebook, two easy and quick ways to reach real people. I figured it was an easy way to organize folks around this topic. When I first sent out the message only a few people responded. One of those people was Robert Young from Simpson McCrady Insurance. He responded with a desire to support this work, after having spent some of his career in nonprofits as well, and offered to help recruit and supply an important need for each of our meetings: FOOD.

Between the two of us we brainstormed and came up with some names and/or organizations that we thought would benefit from these meetings. Slowly, individuals in the area who held the roles of Operations Coordinator all the way up to Chief Operations Officer responded with a desire to hear more from other professionals doing operations work and how they helped their organizations run more efficiently.

We’ve now held several of these monthly meetings and our numbers keep growing! We’ve discussed a variety of topics such as how to pick an auditor, how to handle sensitive documents and best practices for storing documents in the cloud. I’ve learned so much and I find pleasure in knowing that there are other people in the Pittsburgh area who do what I do and have the same needs that I have. I am know thoroughly convinced that having the willingness to step out of your comfort zone any day can improve all of your tomorrows.

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TechNow 2018 Conference Registration Opens in 2 Weeks!

TechNow: A technology conference for nonprofitsAbout TechNow

Join us on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, for the 15th anniversary of the TechNow Conference, organized by The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University.  Anyone who has an interest or stake in his or her nonprofit’s technology management or usage is encouraged to attend.  TechNow has something for everyone!

TechNow 2018 will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

Registration opens July 1. Visit the conference website, www.technowconference.org, for more information.


Our Keynote Speaker

Lucy Bernholz, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University

Lucy Bernholz

Bernholz is a Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab. She has been a Visiting Scholar at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, the Hybrid Reality Institute, and the New America Foundation. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including the annual Blueprint Series on Philanthropy and the Social Economy, the 2010 publication Disrupting Philanthropy, and her 2004 book Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution. She is a co-editor of Philanthropy in Democratic Societies, published in 2016 by the University of Chicago Press. She writes extensively on philanthropy, technology, and policy on her award winning blog, philanthropy2173.com.

She studied history and has a B.A. from Yale University, where she played field hockey and captained the lacrosse team, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Follow Lucy on Twitter: @p2173


Headline sponsor

Microsoft

NEW at the Bayer Center: Microsoft Summer Bootcamp 2018

MicrosoftAbout the program

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsor, Microsoft Corporation, the Bayer Center is offering a two-day intensive Microsoft product and technology training program FREE of charge to nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region. (A $250 value!)

There are a limited number of seats available. Applications will be accepted through June 30, 2018. We will notify applicants about acceptance in early July 2018.


The program will be held in two separate cohort groups on the following dates:

  • July 25-26, 2018
  • August 22-23, 2018

Applicants must attend both days of one cohort or the other (e.g.. cannot select to attend Day 1 from one cohort date and Day 2 from the other cohort date).

Both program cohorts will be located at:

The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at RMU Downtown
339 Sixth Avenue, Suite 750
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Laptops will be provided for the hands-on instruction portions of the program.

Program Agenda:

Day 1
9 am – 10 am: Getting to Know Windows 10
10 am – 11 am: Microsoft Word 2016 Tips and Tricks
11 am – 12 pm: Fundamentals of PowerPoint 2016
12 pm – 1 pm: LUNCH (please plan to bring brown bag or eat out)
1 pm – 2 pm: Online Safety – What You Need to Know
2 pm – 3 pm: Fundamentals of OneNote 2016
3 pm – 4 pm: Cybersecurity Basics for Nonprofits
Day 2
9 am – 12 pm: Introduction to Microsoft Excel 2016
12 pm – 1 pm: LUNCH (please plan to bring brown bag or eat out)
1 pm – 4 pm: Intermediate Excel 2016

Program Instructors:

Cindy Leonard is Consulting Team Leader at the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University. She manages the consulting program and technology program, working with the consulting team to maximize client satisfaction and identify areas for growth. Her own consulting specialty is helping nonprofits leverage technology to meet their missions. In addition to technology assessments, planning and decision support, she specializes in website development on the WordPress platform and community organizing around nonprofits+technology. She presently serves on the board of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. She holds a B.S. in computer science, an M.B.A. and a M.Ed. in instructional design technology, all from Seton Hill University.

Gina McGrath is the Technology Director at the YWCA Westmoreland County. In addition to being the network administrator for the organization’s two sites, Gina also manages the YWCA Technology Center, creating the curriculum and class schedules and regularly teaches technology classes to adult learners. She also manages the afterschool YWCA TechGYRLS robotics program, organizes the nonprofit technology meetup group, Bagels & Bytes in Westmoreland County and is an adjunct instructor at Westmoreland County Community College. Gina holds an associate degree in computer science from Westmoreland County Community College and a bachelor of science in business management/information technology from Seton Hill University.

Additional Information:

  • There is no registration fee for this program. (Course value is $250.)
  • Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2018.
  • Only one applicant per organization will be accepted.
  • Preference will be given to organizations with small- to medium-sized annual budgets.
  • Parking, travel and lunch costs are the responsibility of the applicant or the applicant’s organization and will not be reimbursed.
  • If an applicant is accepted to the program and is unable to attend, the organization is responsible for giving the Bayer Center notice 5 days prior to the start date of the program and must send another staff member in the applicant’s place.

How to Apply:

Apply for the program today!

Questions?

Please email Cindy Leonard, leonard@rmu.edu, with any questions you may have about the program.

Call for Breakout Proposals: TechNow 2018 Conference

TechNow: A technology conference for nonprofits

Share your technology knowledge or “lessons learned” story with other nonprofits at a TechNow 2018 breakout session!

We are looking for leading edge, well-designed and interactive breakout sessions.  The content and format must fit into a 60-minute session. Vendors and consultants are permitted to propose sessions, but we prefer that a nonprofit co-presenter be included. (We can help you find one, if needed.)

To complete the breakout session proposal form easily, you’ll want to have the following information ready:

  • Working title for session
  • Session description (100 words max)
  • Three key takeaways
  • Name, contact information (including address, email and phone) and a bio (100 words max) for at least one speaker

Propose a Breakout Session now!
Session proposals are due by the close of business on Friday, May 18, 2018.


Contact Cindy Leonard at the Bayer Center if you have any questions – leonard@rmu.edu – or visit the conference website for more information.

Save the Date: TechNow 2018 Conference is Wednesday, October 3, 2018

TechNow: A technology conference for nonprofitsAbout TechNow

Join us on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, for the 15th anniversary of the TechNow Conference, organized by The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University.  Anyone who has an interest or stake in his or her nonprofit’s technology management or usage is encouraged to attend.  TechNow has something for everyone!

TechNow 2018 will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

Registration opens July 1. Visit the conference website, www.technowconference.org, for more information.


Our Keynote Speaker

Lucy Bernholz, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University

Lucy Bernholz

Bernholz is a Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab. She has been a Visiting Scholar at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, the Hybrid Reality Institute, and the New America Foundation. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including the annual Blueprint Series on Philanthropy and the Social Economy, the 2010 publication Disrupting Philanthropy, and her 2004 book Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets: The Deliberate Evolution. She is a co-editor of Philanthropy in Democratic Societies, published in 2016 by the University of Chicago Press. She writes extensively on philanthropy, technology, and policy on her award winning blog, philanthropy2173.com.

She studied history and has a B.A. from Yale University, where she played field hockey and captained the lacrosse team, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Follow Lucy on Twitter: @p2173

April 2018 Technology Classes at the Bayer Center

Tech Wizard - this could be you!Taking a tech class at the Bayer Center is an affordable way to sharpen your skills in a user-friendly, comfortable environment!

To register for any of these classes:


SERIES: Work Smarter Not Harder – Technology Integration for any Size Organization

Social media, email, marketing, accounting – everything has a system. Does it feel like managing a circus? Don’t throw your hands up! This fast-paced, practical course will demystify systems and teach you how to pull the pieces together effectively and efficiently. Integrating your technology saves time, money, headaches, and expedites growth. You’ll leave with a solid understanding of how digital systems work together, an integration plan for your organization, and a toolbox of resources to help you learn more and implement your plan.

Intro to Integration:What it Means, How It Works and Why It Matters 
Monday, April 9 from 1– 4 p.m.

Discover why integrating technology is essential to the growth of your organization and how to keep your sanity during the process. Learn commonly-used technical terms and techniques, and what it means to integrate technology. We will also explore why technology integration is a mindset and leadership issue, and how to foster collaboration.

Doing Your Homework: Creating a Technology Plan That Grows with Your Organization
Monday, April 16 from 1– 4 p.m.

Learn how to identify the technology needs of your organization now, while keeping an eye on the future. We will discuss how to evaluate systems like Mailchimp, Quickbooks, etc., to create ease-of-use and compatibility for your organization. Additionally, you’ll learn how systems can help you identify new opportunities.

Organizing and Using Your Data
Monday, April 23 from 1– 4 p.m.

Discuss different data metrics, what they mean, and how to decide which metrics matter for your organization. You’ll learn how to use data to tell your story and we’ll cover data visualization as well – what it means and how to do it.

Instructor: Connie Capiotis, Digital Bridges Pittsburgh
Fee: $65 ($55 if paid online) per session OR $150 for all three classes in the series


Writing for the Web and Social Media
Tuesday, April 17 from 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.

Writing content for your website or social media is very different from writing for other types of communications because of the way people read and use the Web. Learn how to improve your written website and social media content, increase your site’s usability as well as readability and improve the effectiveness of your online communication channels.

Instructor: Cindy Leonard, Bayer Center
Fee: $125 ($115 if paid online)


Advanced Excel
Thursday, April 19 from 9 a.m.– 4 p.m.

The deeper you go into Excel, the more directions you can pursue. In this full-day class, we’ll have plenty of time to go beyond the typical functions and into more magic, time-saving techniques you may not have used before. We’ll cover creating links between sheets, text manipulation, pivot tables, advanced formulas and customizing charts beyond the wizard. This session will combine context for techniques, guided practice and ample time for questions.

Instructor: Cindy Leonard, Bayer Center
Fee: $125 ($115 if paid online)

How Hackable is Your Password?

While information security can be a challenge for nonprofits in general (e.g., lack of resources, lack of knowledge, lack of in-house technology staff, etc.) – there is one simple thing that everyone working at a nonprofit can do to improve security:

USE STRONG PASSWORDS!

Most of us have either made or heard the usual excuse (“That’s too hard, I’ll never remember it!”) and some of us even use the same weak password for multiple accounts. Even if your face is turning beet red right now with shame, keep reading…it might save your life someday.

But…I’m not a target for hackers

If you are reading this and thinking “oh, why would anyone want to hack my stuff?” – consider that hackers don’t actively sit there at their computers and look for attractive targets. Hackers use software apps that let them scan hundreds or thousands of sites and accounts automatically, looking for flaws and ways into a system. They also have apps that let them try “brute force” attacks, which essentially means trying password after password (computer generated as well) until something works.

What’s a “strong” password these days?

A strong password contains a combination of letters, numbers and special characters like @, #, %. However, that’s not enough. The length of your password also makes a difference:

Amount of time to crack passwords

How are you feeling about your password strength now?

Other ways to improve password strength

Some of these may be obvious, but they are worth repeating here because, after all of the news we hear about hacking and compromised accounts, many people are still kinda lazy about passwords.

  • Don’t use a common word or a dictionary word. You can use a phrase, but even then you’ll want to mix it up a bit.
  • Use 2-step verification if it’s an option. Yes, 2-step verification is a pain in the behind that gets no love from anybody. It sure beats all the work you have to do to clean up identity theft though.
  • Change your password regularly. If you are the person responsible for your nonprofit’s technology, set password policies that enforce regular password changes.
  • Don’t give your password to anyone else. Regardless of the situation or need.

As a final thought, here’s a great infographic on creating strong passwords:

Creating strong passwords