3 Cool Free or Low Cost Tools for NPOs

We like the number 3 and non-profits like to save money and dedicate their funds to their causes. Combine them and you get a super short list of 3 cool things that are free or low cost for nonprofits and associations to control costs.

  1. FREE Google PPC money for those who Qualify. Learn more about Google Grants here:  https://www.google.com/grants/
  2. Tech Soup Stock has super cheap software for NPOs  http://www.techsoup.org/get-product-donations
  3. And the NTEN community isn’t free but will help you save thousands through knowledge sharing.  http://www.nten.org/
#peace

Houston Writeathon Talk From the February Netsquared Houston Meetup

Every month at The Stag’s Head Pub, nonprofit innovators, startup entrepreneurs, civil servants and social influencers meet to talk shop. The February NetSquared Houston meetup was visited by Greg J Micek, Founder of the Young Inventors Association of America and Jeff Reichman, the Principal at January Advisors.

 NetSquared Houston February Meetup Attendees

This month’s meetup was riddled with interesting startups and nonprofits ranging from Kandy Kruisers, a Houston company that builds skateboard and skateboard accessories, to the Houston Center for Literacy, a nonprofit working to increase adult literacy in the city of Houston.Greg J. Micek Portrait

Greg J. Micek – IQ Biometrix & YIAA

Among the speakers, was Greg J. Micek, President of IQ Biometrix, a company that creates facial recognition software, and founder of the Young Inventors Association of America (YIAA).

Greg talked about the 26th Annual Young Inventor’s Showcase, to be held at the Wolff Center of Entrepreneurship, in the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston campus on May 24, 2014. The showcase aims to promote creativity and innovation among students from Kindergarten through 8th grade.

 

Jeff Reichman – Open Houston & The Houston Writeathon

Jeff Reichman PortraitPerhaps you’ve heard about a marathon. How about a hackathon? A writeathon? If not, you have now!

In conjunction with Open Houston and The City of Houston, a group of volunteer designers, writers and data scientists are teaming up to streamline the local Houston government’s communication strategy.

Reichman says, “It’s about diversifying the pool of people who are civically engaged. Our key is to get writers and designers to communicate universally outside of language, because people assemble data in different ways.

The Houston Writeathon aims to improve government communication through building infographics that simplify processes, drafting petitions onto Change.org and working with affiliated organizations on general communication tactics and strategy.

The city provides so many services that just aren’t marketed. We have to be able to rally the talented and improve our surroundings if we want to improve local government,” said Reichman.

The event will take place at the Freed-Montrose Public Library on Saturday, February 22, from 10am to 5pm. They are still looking for volunteers and all are welcome. Get involved with the Houston Writeathon here.

If you’re interested in coming to any of the NetSquared Houston meetups, you can find out more information here. Attendance is free and meetings are held monthly at the Stag’s Head Pub on Portsmouth Street. See you there!

As a bonus, to demonstrate how much fun a writeathon can be when you get a bunch of creatives together in a room. The group wrote this techie Valentine’s day story tag-team style:

The Story

It’s Valentine’s Day, the year 3000. I’m cruising on my spaceship, headed to pick up a bouquet of flowers, when I look over to my artificial girlfriend that I’ve created from a 3D printing lab and ask her, “What color would you like?”

“Wow,” she says. “I’ll defer to you.  This is worse than the time I had to jump out of a train after my old boyfriend, which made me lose my legs. I had to get them replaced by an open source firmware running on a 3D printer. My previous legs were shorter so I decided to get new ones to make me taller. What do you think about augmentation, honey?” She asked me. 

Ignoring her comment, I remembered I had a 3D printer on board and decided to print the flowers myself. As I was doing that, the 3 moons and 2 suns began to rise over the horizon and it reminded me of when I first downloaded her from Github. At that moment, a horrible thought struck me, as I plummeted out of the sky, crashing into Earth and destroying it. I’d forgotten to put space gas in my space gas tank…

Meanwhile, at a bar on the other end of the universe, the women toasted to the destroyed earth, celebrating the end of man and all his artificial girlfriends as they had pillow fights and braided each other’s hair.

 

4 Crowdfunding Tips For Your Nonprofit or Association

You are a nonprofit or association with a great cause and a world of potential audiences out that that could get involved in forwarding your mission.

So, what if I were to tell you there is a way to accomplish the following actions, that you probably aren’t taking advantage of:

1) Engaging new audiences

2) Utilizing the super powers of your followers and volunteers in meaningful ways

3) Raising funds and awareness towards your mission

 

Enter crowdfunding

Crowd in Times Square
Leverage the crowd!

 

Crowdfunding is the ability to use the web to raise money for a project or cause.

Last week Pledge Cents – a crowdfunding platform focused on the education community gave a great presentation at Net2.

Net2 Logo

Luckily we were there to pick up some handy tips on running a successful crowdfunding campaign….

4 Takeaways:

1) Don’t spread yourself thin – choose 1 platform for your campaign – you are kicking yourself if you are sending your supporters to multiple crowdfunding sites and harming your credibility. If the platform wasn’t a good match, go with another one next time.

2) Make a realistic ask. Many people make the mistake of going for the pie in the sky. What is your minimum goal to achieve what it is you want? Start with that number and anything above that is icing on the cake.

“Why  wouldn’t we want to reach for the highest we can go?”

  • Financial reasons
    • Some crowdfunding platforms will not give you any of your funds if you do not attain a certain percentage of your goal. Example: On Kickstarter, if you do not reach 100% of your goal you don’t get your funds
    • Some crowdfunding platforms will charge you a percentage of your stated goal
  • Build street cred
    • If this is your first crowdfunding venture – let’s start realistic and build trust with new followers before jumping to the big numbers
  • Finially, it just feels good to be a winner!
    • There is no limit to how much your allowed to raise – and gosh darn it, doesn’t if feel good to exceed those initial expectations!

3) Keep your donors updated on your progress

  • If  people are donating to your cause, they have invested in you and want to know where that investment is going. Keep them updated. Upload photos and videos. SAY THANK YOU!
  • The relationship doesn’t end when you reach your goal. Follow up post campaign. If donors can see the good they have helped to create they are much more likely to donate the next time you come a knockin with your next crowdfunding campaign.

4) Make your campaign specific

  • Andyshea Saberioon from Pledge Cents  helps coach a lot of educators on their campaigns. If you send him a campaign that says you want $500 to raise money for calculators – you know what his response is going to be (paraphrasing here) “and?  why should we care?”
    • Who are the calculators for? Why do they need them? How much does each calculator cost? If you want a successful campaign, you need to tell the world your story!

 

So as an organization, nonprofit, or association what should you be doing?

 

Crowd

1)  Get out there, try running a campaign

  • If you have a great project that you just don’t have the budget for, may be the community can help you make it happen

2) Empower your members or volunteers to start a crowdfunding campaign

  • Maybe some of your members have a great idea for a project. Empower them to make change by supporting their efforts towards a crowdfunding campaign.

 

Crowdfunding is a great way to get yourself out there to new audiences, especially if your volunteers and members are involved. They are reaching out to their communities to help spread the good and your mission.

It’s 2014. Make the jump. Trust the crowd.

 

Photo Attribution: Photos by eschipul

Come Brainstorm Ways to Use the City of Houston’s Big Data for Good with Netsquared this May!

houston netsquared logo 2012 twitter

 

#NET2Houston will host the City of Houston and Houston’s Civic Hackers on May 14th for our monthly meetup at Stag’s Head Pub. RSVP on the Netsquared Houston meetup group.

 

Houston’s City Data Goes Open Source

I’m really excited about our upcoming event, where we’ll learn about the City of Houston Hackathon to kick-off the City of Houston’s Open Data Initiative.

City of Houston Open Innovation HackathonBruce Haupt, from the City of Houston’s Finance Department, will share the vision of Mayor Annise Parker and Council Member Ed Gonzalez for utilizing Houston’s Open Data Initiative to improve our city.

Bruce will show you some examples of how initiatives like this have benefitted other cites, and tell you about some of his favorite projects. You can view a few ideas the Mayor’s office has developed on the HoustonHackathon.com Projects page.

We’re going to also be brainstorming our own ideas about how open City data sets can help advance civic-minded causes in Houston!

Learn More about Open Data and Your City

Open source data sets are rapidly being released by local, state and Federal governments regularly now, and thanks to newer technology frameworks, like Django and Rails, it’s easier than ever to connect to different databases and sync or share data sets.

Here’s 3 awesome links to get quick facts and juicy details about the City of Houston and Code for America’s Open Data and Innovation projects:

1) The Code for America App database aims to be the “most complete and up-to-date database of government and civic software”, according to their website: (http://commons.codeforamerica.org/apps/), and some of the apps they have listed are really incredible and they’re open source.

ckan_logo_box2) The open data portal software that Houston’s data portal will utilize is called CKAN. CKAN provides the tools needed to enable and manage file and data sharing between two databases. Learn more about Code for America’s open source data portal platform: http://commons.codeforamerica.org/apps/ckan.

3) Read the Mayor’s Press Release announcing the Hackathon and Open Initiative Program launch: http://www.houstongovnewsroom.org/go/doc/2155/1762955/.

How Will You Use the Data for Good?

Tuesday May 14th – Join us for Netsquared at Stag’s Head Pub

Come share your ideas for using the city’s data with Bruce and other civic-minded hackers and techies. Your ideas on how to use these data sets can dramatically improve our community by providing us with more accurate, real time data about our city’s resources and how they’re utilized.

May 17th-May 19th – Join us at the Houston Hackathon

The City of Houston will Kick-Off the Open Data Initiative with a weekend long Houston Hackathon.

Ed and I will be sharing Tendenci t-shirts and stickers at the Hackathon, and we’re available to help with your project if you need an extra geek. If you’re interested in using Tendenci’s open source platform for building a city data app, come find me because I have a few ideas about how nonprofits and associations might want to use public city data with their websites and membership databases.

Join Us Tuesday, and Bring a Friend!

Leave your comments below if you have ideas to share, and follow the conversations on Facebook, too!

“Like” Net2Houston on Facebook

“Like” Tendenci on Facebook

RSVP for the Houston Hackathon Pre-Launch Happy Hour on Facebook