Every year M+R Strategic Services and NTEN publish the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, which analyzes data from small, medium and large nonprofits in a range of sectors (including "rights"). This year’s report culls data on email messaging, online fundraising and advocacy, social media, and text messaging from 40 nonprofits. The Study also includes a helpful glossary of terms. You can download a copy of the 2011 study here (your name and email are required, but you can opt out of receiving emails from M+R and NTEN if you like). -M
Jakob Nielsen wrote an interesting piece for his Alertbox feature this week that shares some data from a study of 60 nonprofit websites. The findings suggest that completing the donation process on nonprofit websites took users 7% more time on average than it took to complete an e-commerce checkout process, that making non-monetary donations is difficult, and that people don’t use social networking tools to research non-profits or make donations. There’s good news, however, for those in the legal aid community who use the web to recruit pro bono attorneys: users gave a “stellar rating” for finding how to volunteer at a nonprofit organization. –M
The Ontario Civil Legal Needs Project recently released the report, “Listening to Ontarians,” which examines the barriers that Ontarians face in accessing the civil justice system. A collaboration between the Law Society of Upper Canada, Legal Aid Ontario and Pro Bono Law Ontario, the report does a nice job of identifying and exploring both the promise and challenges of using technology to increase access to justice for low and moderate-income Ontarians (see, in particular, page 58 of the report). The survey also found that “84 per cent of low and middle-income Ontarians are connected to the Internet.” The full report is available for download here (PDF). -M
Update: Only after publishing this post did I come across this great post on the Clicklaw Blog, which covers technology and access to justice issues in this report as well as another recent report, Moving Forward on Legal Aid: Research on Needs and Innovative Approaches.
NPower today released its 2009 Community Technology Survey, which synthesizes the results of a survey completed by over 1,000 nonprofit organizations from a variety of sectors. Topics include IT staffing, spending, funding, infrastructure, adoption, email communication and file sharing, website management and marketing, event and donor management, program and service delivery, finance and human resources, and social media. Overall, the survey suggests that “IT is still a small part of a nonprofit’s overall focus as lack of funding and ongoing costs call for a higher level of quality and affordability in the nonprofit IT services arena.” -M
The Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project (LSNTAP) today released an interactive report based on their 2008 technology survey of the software and hardware being used by nonprofit legal services programs. The report website allows you to filter survey results, rate products and vendors, update survey answers for your organization and export survey data. According to the survey, 31% of respondents reported that their program uses a wiki, 46% of respondents reported that their program uses HotDocs, nearly 50% of respondents reported that they use VOIP, and 50% of respondents reported using web conferencing to attend or host remote presentations. A summary of the survey results are available here. -M
Google uses the keyword link. For example, link:http://www.techno.la returns all of the sites that link to the page at http://www.techno.la.
Yahoo! uses the keywords link and linkdomain. Use link to find all of the pages that link to another page. For example, link:http://www.techno.la returns all of the pages that link to the page at http://www.techno.la.
Use linkdomain to find all of the sites that link to a domain. For example, linkdomain:www.techno.la returns all of the pages that link to any page that begins with www.techno.la.
linkdomain would return pages that link to http://www.techno.la as well as http://www.techno.la/2009/04/articles/softwareappstools/pbwiki-launches-legal-edition.
In addition to satisfying your curiousity, you can use this tool to evaluate how well your outreach has worked or to find out if an organization thinks your site is helpful.
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has just released an updated version of the report, Technologies That Should Be in Place in a Legal Aid Office Today, which incorporates feedback from grantees and an advisory group. According to the LSC, they "will rely on the report when reviewing the technology plans that grantees will be required to submit along with their 2010 grant applications and renewals." -M
Evaluating a website is not easy. Since you don't get to interact with your users on a regular basis, often you have to try to read your their minds based on what the server logs tell you. In addition, the meaning of the vocabulary used in the field of web analytics isn't always obvious. (If you don't believe me, check out this list from WebTrends. It's nine pages when printed!)
The good news: you don't need to know a lot of definitions or look at a lot of numbers to keep your finger on the pulse of your website. Personally, I look at two on a regular basis: visits and page views.
A visit is just like it sounds. It's a visit to your site. It is not a hit. Visits give you a general idea of how many people are using your site. Those people, however, are not necessarily unique. For example, let's say you read technola every day. Your visits during September might be counted as 30 visits or 1 visit, depending on how technola counts visits and the settings on your local computer. Or, if you got up from your computer and had left technola up in your browser and your co-worker came in and started reading and surfing around, technola has no way of knowing that your co-worker isn't you and would most likely count your co-worker's activity as part of your visit.
A page view occurs when someone views a page on your website. It is also not a hit. This number gives you an idea of what content people are looking at. By comparing this with the number of visits, you get a picture of whether people are coming to your site and reading multiple pages or whether they look at one page and leave. (Either of these cases could be good or bad depending on the length of time that a person spends the site, the purpose of the pages they are viewing, and whether you are an optimist or a pessimist.)
Of course, there are many other numbers that you can use to glean additional data. But for me, when I just need to check in, these are the two numbers that I rely on. They give me a good overview of what's going on and signal if I need pull out my crystal ball and try to figure out more about what my users have been up to. - K
Rather than highlighting the usual free software and tools, this week I wanted to point out a great article published this month on Idealware by Peter Campbell (blog), the director of Information Technology at Earthjustice, which is likely to save you both time and money when making your next major software purchase (i.e. case management system or CRM solution). Also, while a RFP may not be appropriate, many of the issues that Peter discusses in the article also apply to not-so-major software and hardware purchases. -M
SurveyGizmo, an extremely full-featured online survey tool, is offering nonprofits a free 30-day trial of their Enterprise account. After that you have to either pay or switch to a free account, but as a nonprofit you can save 50% on their annual Pro or Enterprise accounts.
Remember also that the TIG-funded Poverty Law Survey Tool is available for free to nonprofit legal services programs. -M
[Thanks to Yann Toledano for the SurveyGizmo tip via TechSoup.]
On Tuesday, August 26, TechSoup is hosting a one-hour webinar about implementing online surveys. - K
The W. K. Kellogg Foundation was one of the first foundations to encourage grantees to evaluate the outcomes of their projects. To that end, they have developed a tremendous library of free resources intended to help programs plan and implement those evaluations.
For those of you trying to grasp the basic tenets of evaluation, take a look at their Evaluation Toolkit, which covers planning, budgeting, and managing an evaluation. After that, if you still need more information, check out The Evaluation Handbook and The Logic Model Development Guide. - K
On the way to and from conferences, I usually catch up on reading. For the Equal Justice Conference, I packed two issues of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. I had picked them at the Pro Bono Net office after being intrigued by a couple of headlines. I hadn't ever had the chance to read a full issue before, and I was quite impressed.
While not necessarily about technology, a few articles are worth highlighting:
Drowning in Data - This article describes the difference between summative and formative evaluations and suggests that funders should be very careful about what type of evaluations they require nonprofits to engage in. Summative evaluations, which are conducted at the end of a project and determine whether the project met its goals, aren't necessarily the right evaluations for nonprofits. They assess outcomes and are expensive, time consuming, and hard to do right. Nonprofits should focus on formative evaluations, which take place during a program and identify places for improvements.
From Marble to Formica (Subscription Required) - Low-income communities don't tend to attract traditional banks. While there are many reasons, traditional banks often find that they can't build local bases of customer support. So Union Bank of California developed partnerships and opened Cash & Save, a bank that provides savings and checking accounts, loans, financial advice, and check-cashing services. They learned some important lessons as a part of the project.
- Ask customers what they want. Services and hours mattered more to low-income communities, and they cared very little if the bank had beautiful furnishings.
- Partner with local businesses. They have an existing customer base and know the community.
- If you build it, customers won't necessarily come. You've got to do it well, and you've got to give the customers a service that they actual want and can use.
How to Hire a Consultant (Subscription Required) - This article gives several hints to building a successful relationship with consultants.
- Hire people who come with recommendations from people without conflicts of interests.
- Consulting does not mean pro bono.
- Consultants should act professionally.
- Consultants are project partners.
- A consultant's work is useful only if you use it.
Diversity Training Doesn't Work (Subscription Required) - A study compared diversity training and performance feedback with both affirmative actions plans, diversity committees, and diversity staff, and mentoring and networking programs. It found that diversity training and performance feedback doesn't work. Organizations that appointed someone to be charge - a diversity committee or staff - were best able to up the number of managers who were women or black.
Designing Trust (Subscription Required) - Don't have a line for a graphic designer in your next website project? That could be a big mistake. Turns out that pretty and functional websites are easier to believe and easier to learn from.
Networks for Good Works (Subscription Required) - This article is a really interesting look at how networks work and influence individuals within a network. One example looks at the Mississippi Freedom Project of 1964. Over a thousand people applied, over 950 applications were accepted, but only 720 people showed up. Looking at the nearly 240 people who didn't show up, it turned out that they were generally part of a network that wasn't strongly involved in the movement. Those that showed up were. "In other words, the more deeply people are embedded in networks whose values are aligned with a social movement, the more willing they are to participate in that movement." (Personally, I think that this could have huge implications for developing a new generation of pro bono volunteers.)
Government by Numbers (Subscription Required) - This is a great look at how Baltimore city government used mapping to improve the community. Originally, it started with mapping crime statistics and identifying patterns, but eventually spread through the other city departments. The CitiStat program, as the mapping project is called, has improved city numbers and accountability.
Faith in Fair Trade (Subscription Required) - Lutherans love coffee. Lutheran World Relief worked with this fact and their brand recognition to encourage Lutheran congregations to drink fair trade coffee. Through education, they got congregations to promote and use fair trade before fair trade was cool. - K
Finding out what people think about your Web site is difficult. Statistics, surveys, and usability testing can give you part of the picture, but all of them have their shortcomings. So I'm always on the look out for new ways to connect with the people who use my sites. And today, I learned that del.icio.us has a tool to help me do that. (Thank you, Twitter and Jeremiah Owyang!)
Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site that lets you to store, organize, and share bookmarks. Beyond that, you can also search and see what other people are bookmarking. For example, you can see what sites people have labeled non-profit technology or legal aid technology.
If you took a moment to look at either of those examples, you would have noticed that people will often add a description when they bookmark a site. And Del.icio.us lets you search by URL and find all of the descriptions for a site, which is a great way to see what people are saying about your Web site.
I found a couple of neat highlights from the legal aid community.
- MontanaLawHelp.org - "cutting edge use of live chat/help for legal assistance. "
- LSNTAP.org - "great tech info for non profit legal aid organizations"
So check - how del.icio.us are you? - K