Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NTEN And NPT Survey Shows Tech Budgets Average $40,658

Staffing the information technology (IT) function is frequently a challenge for nonprofit organizations. Financial resources are typically limited and hiring managers often feel overwhelmed and under-educated when it comes to IT. Determining where IT should fit into the organization, how many IT staff people are needed and what those people should be spending their time doing can be difficult decisions.

To shed some light on these questions NTEN and The NonProfit Times teamed up and created the Nonprofit IT Staffing Survey. We began this effort with the 2006 survey– the first of its kind. We repeated the survey in 2007, and plan to continue doing so annually, so that we can provide a long term view of nonprofit IT staffing.

This report, the second on the findings, covers IT salaries, budgets and evaluation in the nonprofit sector. The first report, published in January of 2008, covered the nature of IT staffs and departments at nonprofit organizations.

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E-Newsletters: Making Your Code Uniform (Relatively)

To make your organization’s simple HTML e-newsletter appear (relatively) alike across platforms, one tip from the experts: code like it’s 1999. This means:
  • Decide which email clients are a priority. One expert prioritizes Outlook, Thunderbird, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, and recommends against prioritizing Lotus unless your organization uses it (“It’s a pain in the neck to standardize.”). Set up email accounts with each of the email clients to test your email.
  • Also for seamlessness, use tables for layout, not cascading style sheets, or CSS. Many email clients don’t understand CSS.
  • Again, don’t depend on CSS. Use inline styles. This means going back to the old-school style of formatting: putting tags for color, font, decoration, margins, etc., directly on links, paragraphs and images. (Example: a style="text-decoration:none; color:#00ff00; font:Arial".) According to one expert, you can put styles into the header, but make sure to define them in the body of the email as well.
  • Don’t use Javascript, Flash, video or anything a 1999 Web browser couldn’t handle.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Management ... Clouding the decision-making process

As nonprofit managers have learned, an organization does not operate simply in a world of organization and constituent. Current events can play a huge role in the operation of any nonprofit, from the smallest to the largest.

Writing in the book Wise Decision-Making in Uncertain Times, published by the Foundation Center, Dennis R. Young cites the work of Lester Salamon and others to show that there are several forces that have affected nonprofits recently and will do so in the future. They include:

  • Government funding. Government funding of social services has increased since the Reagan cutbacks, but the composition of that funding has changed and continues to be uncertain. Medicaid, for example, plays a greater role in supporting social services
  • Developments in philanthropy. Trends indicate that charitable giving is becoming a less significant proportion of nonprofit income over time, but such revenue promises to remain a critical component of nonprofit support.
  • Demography. The American population is becoming increasingly diverse and multiracial. More than 40 percent of young persons are now "minorities," and by mid-century are expected to become a majority.
  • Technology. Modern and rapidly improving communications, information and other technologies continue to transform the economy as a whole. The implications for nonprofits are enormous and are not predictable.
  • September 11. Most short-term effects of this day have been dissipated or accommodated over time, but an analysis of long-term effects heightened awareness of the need for nonprofits to embed themselves in supportive networks.