This month Hands On Nashville’s GeekCause program launches its Starter Kit projects meant to help nonprofits get started assessing and maximizing their tech usage and skills. Jason Shelton, our Skilled Volunteerism Program Manager, answered some questions about the Starter Kits and how they can help any agency with any budget.
Q: What are GeekCause Starter Kits and how do they differ from other projects?
A: We came up with the idea for GeekCause Starter Kits because so many of our nonprofit community partners have no idea where to start when it comes to improving their engagement with technology. We wanted to give our partners an easy way to engage with the program and our incredible GeekCause volunteers, on topics we know every partner needs to be thinking about at regular intervals.
We think Starter Kit projects will lead partners to ask better questions, which in turn will lead to more specific projects that will make a huge difference in each organization’s capacity to fulfill their missions. Less time spent fighting with tech that doesn’t work for you means more time engaging in direct service!
Q: Why are these six specific types of projects in the Starter Kit menu?
A: The Starter Kit covers the basics that every organization needs to be thinking about every few years. As your organization grows and your needs change, you probably find that the technology platforms that used to work well for you are starting to fall short.
- Do you have a complete picture of the hardware and software your organization is using? And a plan to replace/upgrade your tech? An IT Assessment is key to not getting caught off guard when your tech inevitably becomes out of date.
- Nonprofits are often easy targets for hackers and spammers looking to sow chaos. Have you had a security review recently? How are you protecting your data – especially your donor’s data?
- Maybe your website that was pretty great five years ago is looking a little dated, or just isn’t up to standards when it comes to performance and accessibility.
- Perhaps you’re looking for ways to present data for grants and funders but the process for getting it together is simply taking too many hours of staff time.
- And where does that data come from? Excel sheets and notebook paper might have been just fine when your organization was starting out, but now you’re wondering if there’s a database solution that’s right for your needs (and your budget!).
- Social media is key to staying engaged with the communities we serve, and it’s changing all the time. A social media strategy review will help you keep up.
Q: Say an organization is interested in the Database/CRM Review Starter Kit. What will that process look and feel like for the organization?
A: All GeekCause projects start with a consultation call. The nonprofit partner fills out a simple form on the hon.org site, and indicates that they want to do a Database/CRM Review. We’ll set up a call to talk through your organization’s needs, get a clear snapshot of the scope of the project, and get to work finding a GeekCause volunteer who’s a good fit for the project.
Once the volunteer is on board we set up a kickoff call, and the volunteer and the nonprofit make a plan for their work. Volunteers vary widely in their availability, so having a plan for engagement is key to meeting everyone’s expectations and timeline. The volunteer then does a thorough review of current data tracking processes, assesses areas for possible improvement, and does the necessary research to come back with suggestions for solutions that fit the organization’s needs and budget.
If that process leads to another project (like maybe having volunteer help to implement a new database solution and migrate old data into the new system), then we can talk about setting that up as a new, custom implementation project.
Q: What if an organization isn’t sure whether the Starter Kit projects are a good fit for them?
A: Send me an email and we can explore that! Starter Kit projects are really just that — a place to start. But if you’re ready for something more we’re excited to talk with you about that, too. Just choose Custom Project on the Consultation Request form, and tell us a little more about what you have in mind. We’ll go from there!