Mind the Gap: Ideas & Resources for Meeting ICT Needs

Last week we posted results from our ICT Needs Assessment survey, with our analysis and insights. In particular, we highlighted three needs that were expressed throughout the survey: integration and maintenance, training, and strategy.

Our primary goal for this survey was to reassess the tech needs of Quebec-based community groups and the landscape of available tech services, in order to adapt Commun-IT services to the current reality, and potentially develop new services. After reviewing the responses, we decided to:

  • Make ICT strategy a central part of all our services
  • Offer training and coaching on building and implementing communications strategy
  • Actively reaching out to grassroots organizations and movements in need of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) support

Last week on our blog we touched on a few good reasons for filling the gap, but now we’d like to offer a few ideas and resources your organization can use to get started.

What can your organization do to get more training, create better strategies, and fully commit to the integration and maintenance of your tools?

Seek advice and training from trusted sources
COCo’s Commun-IT service offers free consultations by phone or email, Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm. Commun-IT also provides training on a number of digital platforms and tools, as well as how to use them strategically.

Diversify funding sources
COCo offers free sessions with a fundraising database called AJAH Fundtracker, and our Commun-IT team are registered Innoweave Cloud Computing coaches.

Do a digital assessment.
Identify your ICT tools and platforms, discuss the pros and cons of each, and set goals for the utility of each one. The Engine Room’s Alidade tool might help you get started.

Create a strategy for your digital tools and platforms.
A strategy is a plan that defines your goals, guiding principles, concrete steps to achieve those goals, and a method for measuring your success so that you can build on your achievements and change what’s not working. See strategic resources below.

Consider working on strategies with an external facilitator.
Outsiders often have a helpful, fresh perspective since they can approach and evaluate your ICT situation free of organizational biases.

Budget for ICT Planning
Consider your digital infrastructure and professional development (training!) needs when developing annual and project based budgets – and check out Tech Soup Canada for discounts on software, resources on free and open source software, and webinars.

Create recurring training opportunities, and empower staff to ask for training
Staff, volunteers, and board members may not feel comfortable asking for training. Create space for the discussion, research local training organizations, and/or make time for online learning (see online learning resources below).

Ask your members for feedback.
‘User testing’ with a survey or focus group can reveal a lot about how easy it is to find information on your website, why people follow your facebook page, or what your members most enjoy about your newsletter

Ask your team for feedback.
Do a survey of staff members, volunteers and/or board members to understand whether the team has the tools and training that they need, and if their purpose (ie. strategic purpose) is cohesive and well defined


Strategic Resources:

Building and Managing a Website Strategically – from the Not-for-Profit Law Resource Hub

Alidade a tool selection guide – from The Engine Room

Social Media Policy Workbook  – from DARIM and IdealWare

The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide – from IdealWare

6 Things to Consider When Developing a Website for Your Non-Profit Organization – from the COCo Blog, this article also includes some helpful links

I Think We Need a New CRM, Now What? – article about choosing a Constituent Relationship Management system

Choosing Technology (UK) – an online tool at gov.uk – the UK’s Digital Service is an award winning team that revolutionized the way government services and information were made available online, with a focus on cutting through internal bureaucracy to meet people’s needs, and they’ve shared how they do it; learn about their guiding principles and process at https://www.gov.uk/service-manual

Holistic Security Manual – from Tactical Tech


Dive into the online Nonprofit Tech World!

The following websites and organizations publish articles, tools, webinars, and research about how non profits organizations around the world use technology for data and communications and how we can do it better:

Community Networks  – more about grassroots tech

Let’s Encrypt – free HTTPS security certificates

IdealWareworkbooks, guides, and more

Association for Progressive Communication – articles and resources

Take Back the Tech – feminist tech and media hub

AWID – not ICT specific, but covers and provides resources

Tech Soup Canada – articles, webinars, discounts on software, and free G Suite access

Tactical Tech – free guides, toolkits, research

Nonprofit Technology Network – articles, webinars

M+R – tools and articles

The Engine Room & The Engine Room Library – research and resources

The Electronic Frontier Foundation – digital rights advocacy

Nonprofit Tech for Good – a blog about fundraising and social media


Online Learning Resources

Online courses and webinars are a great way to expand your knowledge on a subject where you already have a basis.

Udacity – free online learning, with optional paid ‘nanodegree’ programs

Codecademy – dip a toe in coding for free, Codecademy is a classic starting place

edX – free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), on any subject that can be taught at a university, with optional certificate programs and lots of data/tech/marketing classses

PluralSight and Code School – online learning on a huge range of topics (visual design, coding, project management, and more) paid as a subscription model

Free Code Camp – apply to have a custom tool created for free by developers-in-training

Udemy – self paced, online classes on a variety of topics, at a range of prices


Want More Data?

The following, large scale, reports may be interesting, both from US based organizations

2017 Digital Outlook Report – from NTEN, Care2, hjc, and Resource Alliance find the pdf here

2017 M+R Benchmarks Study – from M+R