Are you a small nonprofit that wants to use technology more effectively but finds it overwhelming to get started? Maybe you are curious about the cloud and eager to experiment. Or maybe you already have a server and want to work more effectively while minimizing the change for your staff. You are not alone! There are lots of other charities, nonprofits and libraries in the same situation.
Jane and I are always thinking about how to make it easier to embrace technology, and how we could talk about this at the My Charity Connects conference this year. When we thought about it, the questions we get asked most often are “What tool should I use to do X?” and “What does it cost?”
If I’m honest, sometimes these questions frustrate me because I think: you’re asking the wrong question! It’s not so important what tools you pick, what matters is why you’re using it, how it is going to help you achieve your mission, and how you integrate it into your work. And while all this is true, the fact remains that you still do need to pick a tool and use it. So if you’re working at a busy nonprofit or charity and are overwhelmed by the choices out there, how do you even get started?
So without further ado, I now introduce....
Jane vs. Tierney
(It's a little bit like Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, with less boy drama and more awesomeness.)
Sounds epic? It is. And the best part is that you will have the chance to be involved! (You could start by helping us to come up with an appropriately epic name... seriously, we need help!)
Over the next month, Jane and I will challenge ourselves to do day-to-day nonprofit tasks with free and low cost tools. We’ll get advice from you, share our experiences in this blog, and probably make a few mistakes and learn some things along the way. We'll each try out different tools and see how they work. Here’s our basic plan:
Challenge 1: Send a newsletter: We have a Toronto Net Tuesday coming up, so we need to let everyone know about the event. Check out our review!
Challenge 2: Plan an event: We need to plan one of our Toronto Net Tuesday events and manage RSVPs. Check out our review!
Challenge 3: Collaborate on a document: Now it’s time to put together a presentation for the conference - how can we work with each other to create a great presentation? Read our review
Challenge 4: Team project management: How do we coordinate our team to work together on a project, so we can keep our information in a central place and cut down on the number of emails? Read our review
We think this is a really important one for nonprofits and charities; in fact it's because it's so important that we really struggled with it. We know lots of tools (CRMs) that are great so we hesitated to narrow it down to only two tools. The other key challenge here is that implementing a CRM successfully (even more so than other tools) has much more to do with your processes than the tool. So we've decided not to dive into this one for a Jane vs. Tierney challenge, and find other ways to share content around CRMs. If you want to learn more, I recommend taking a look at our list of resources on CRMs.
It's time to get started with Challenge 1 and we need your input! What newsletter tools do you use? What would you recommend for Jane and I to try out? What questions would you like answered? What other ideas do you have for us? Leave a note in the comments, share your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter (#janevstierney), or send us an email.