Like many of the folks reading this blog, living the life of adventure which accompanies working with worldwide NGOs, we serve on a lot of boards and sponsor a lot of activities for the greater good. We love that part of our responsibilities!
May your organization never again lose a board member to the tedium of going through financials printed out of Excel that have evolved from double entry accounting as fast as Moore’s law to quantum accounting for no reason at all. Simplify with the Unified Chart of Accounts. Even if the rules are constantly changing on you.
And Python is the most Popular Coding Language of 2015. A nice winning streak! This matters to people choosing membership software because open source means it can’t be taken away from you. Lots of options to export from Tendenci as well if a better solution for your particular needs comes up.
Given the Django web framework behind Open SourceTendenci is written in Python, and all of Tendenci’s apps are written in Python, we feel pretty good about the future stability of our technology stack.
In other words, the future looks bright and we welcome more developers to join the Tendenci community!
The current version of Tendenci (7.x) has significant changes which are not compatible with Tendenci 5. This has prevented us from publishing the new code to make it easier for new users to install.
We will begin publishing Tendenci 7 as a package possibly as soon as October 1, less than two weeks from now. It may not get pushed out on October 1, but people who are using the open source version and are on the 5.x release need to be prepared. The actual date Tendenci 7 will be pushed out as a package is when it is ready. But please plan on October 1.
Well, if you are hosted on tendenci.com’s servers and we manage your web site then you don’t have to change a thing and it will all just happen in the background. Clients on version 5 will remain on version 5 because of the theme changes made between version 5 and 6. Clients on version 6 will be upgraded to Tendenci 7.1
If you have your own developer or you are a developer, maybe jump over to github and the docs and keep an eye on things for the next couple of weeks. Maybe even submit issue requests for features.
Why are you telling us if there is nothing for us to worry about?
Because not everyone hosts with us and we need to try to make sure their IT team knows the upgrades are possible, but will require your technical team to do them. This is important to us even if they aren’t hosting because they are part of the community.
In fact growing the open source community of people using Tendenci is the biggest driver pushing us to refactor Tendenci. We’re geeks and collaborate on github.
Wait, what does “Refactor” mean again?
It means making it easier for programmers to work on the code. Technically from wikipedia they define it as “Code refactoring is the process of restructuring existing computer code – changing the factoring – without changing its external behavior.”
It’s time to refactor so we have more happy programmers. Tendenci is just too hard to install in the wild right now. That isn’t right. Plus Happy programmers means more contributors and it builds on the virtuous cycle that is what makes FOSS (Free Open Source Software) so cool. It truly takes a village.
Can’t you just contact every one who self hosts?
Unfortunately we don’t have a list and Tendenci doesn’t “phone home” so we really don’t know how many people are using it by self installing. But we care about them and we’re doing everything we can to get the word out. Everyone should be backing up their sites of course, but still, if you click “upgrade” and your layout goes wonky that isn’t fun. No data will be lost, but what a hassle.
If you are on Tendenci 5, because of the changes with the django project itself you will need to upgrade from T5 to T6 and then to T7.1. This is all documented at https://tendenci.readthedocs.org
If you need legacy files they are linked at the bottom of this post.
OK, tell me the biggest benefit of refactoring again?
A programmer will be able to type “sudo pip install tendenci” and make a few server configuration changes and they’ll have a site up and running quickly. This matters because ease-of-use changes behavior. If you want to move forward, we have to take care of our programmers first! They care about you, so it is a virtuous cycle.
Wait, this stuff is too technical! (the opposite of above question)
I apologize for the technical stuff, but sometimes when working with software it can be technical. Just know that if you self host, talk to your local programmer and they will take care of you with the documentation we are posting at https://tendenci.readthedocs.org/en/latest/
So if I self host, and my webmaster clicks “update tendenci” and I’m on version 5 my site will break?
What if I don’t wanna upgrade ever and my server is completely isolated on a ship in the middle of the ocean?
OK, well, we like an occasional steak so you have our sympathy for a diet of 100% fish. But secondarily we have all of the historic zip files, that are still on github but will be removed, available for download for some time at https://www.tendenci.com/download/release-archive/
First – let’s talk about the NOW. Newsletters are back in Tendenci 6!!
Tendenci’s Open Source Integrated Newsletter Generator
A lot of long time clients have resisted upgrading to the responsive-mobile-first-open-source-version of Tendenci 6, or even the responsive designs in Tendenci 5, because of one killer feature in Tendenci 4 (the old Microsoft version) and that was NEWSLETTERS.
We listened. We heard you. It’s back.
The ability to communicate with your membership by study group, by event attendees, to only the board of directors, etc. We heard you loud and clear and the newsletter generator is back in full force in Tendenci 6. To prevent the tragedy of the commons (e.g. another client blacklisting a shared email server) we are requiring clients to use either their own SES or a product like Mailgun.com for the newsletter. This will offload the sending to the third party and each client can manage their own newsletter statistics for the first time.
This also alleviates another area of pain. If one client out of 500 ish purchased an email list and the bounce rate was too high, well, then EVERYBODY got slammed and nobody could even do a “forgot my password” request because another client blacklisted the mail server. It’s just the way the Internet works. Why can’t we all just get along, right?
If you are on Tendenci 6 (not an automatic upgrade from T4 or T5 because we pushed more of the design to the front end … um…. where it belongs and the designers can do their thing. Rock on you artsy folk who make software look awesome. More freedom for you. (just please no comic sans, ok?)
Just one of the many new functional mobile-first capabilities that have been built into open source tendenci since we started the rewrite in 2009. This is functionality we have been able to bring back with the help of the Tendenci community.
After 17 years we know the functionality the people who use the site to register for events need, as well as the needs of the people on the board-of-directors and the person functioning as Executive Director. It just takes a while to rewrite 10 years of code in a completely different technology. And we’re just getting started!
When event organizers plan fundraising events, they meticulously plan out details regarding location, accommodations, logistics, and fundraising goals, but it’s also important to formulate a strategic plan for connecting with your online community.
In my half, (viewable on SlideShare), I discussed basic tips and tricks to help event organizers make their fundraising events successful.
Three things to keep in mind to make sure your event participants come back year after year are:
Personal relationships drive event fundraising success.
Your organization can significantly influence participant behavior.
Think of the event as an engagement tool to lock in a relationship.
One tangible takeaway for the audience was an event planning checklist for your online strategies. I thought it would be helpful to share it with the rest of the internet! Read on for a detailed explanation of each point. You can download a printable PDF from our website.
6-9 Months Before Your Event
According to Mashable, 17.4% of all online traffic is mobile. If your site isn’t mobile optimized, your event could be missing out on a possible avenue of promotion. Additionally, if participants can’t access basic information about parking and registration on their mobile device, they’ll be less likely to participate again next year.
If you have participant teams fundraising for your event, give them tools to make their jobs easier. Did you know that 64% of participants don’t know that they should be raising funds? Creating email templates for team leaders is a great way to make fundraising easier for everyone involved!
Share Last Year’s Highlights
Past events can be an ill-used marketing medium. Don’t be afraid to resurrect last year’s stories to remind people how great this year is going to be.
Share Personal Stories
If your event had beneficiaries, then tell their story. People like to hear about the real people. Show your audience that you’re real and so are the people you’ve affected!
Both Twitter and Facebook use hashtags (#) to aggregate data and content. Establish a hashtag for your event and begin using it to keep track of all your event data and content. That way, you can search for it and event attendees can participate by “hashtagging” posts during your event.
3-5 Months Before Your Event
Organizing your content ahead of time can really free up your time on event day. As speakers, giveaways, or certain events are locked in, pre-write content about them that you can save and share during the event for increased engagement and exposure.
As you continue preparing for your event, continue sharing speaker announcements, past anecdotes, and news. Don’t forget to continue sharing highlights and personal stories. It’s always a good idea to link folks back to your website so they stay engaged with your organization.
1-2 Months Before Your Event
Schedule Your Content
Remember that pre-generated content you’ve been sitting on? Now’s the time to use it. Create a schedule for sharing all those wonderful words online and then put someone in charge of that said sharing.
Designate, volun-tell, or hire someone to be in charge of photography and create a shot list to document the event. Use photos in your promotional materials and on your website to tell your organization’s story!
During Your Event
Just because the event is here doesn’t mean your job is over. Keep using your hashtag and make sure you share announcements and event updates or changes.
Engage, Respond, Act
When people are using your hashtag and talking about your event, you need to be involved. Show that what people are saying is important by responding to what they say. Come up with a plan for how you will respond to social media–both negative and positive feedback need responses!
1 Week After Your Event
Say Thank You
Use your online mediums, whatever they may be, to say publicly say thank you to all the volunteers, attendees, and various participants. Send personalized thank you notes to the speakers and participants. It’s a nice extra touch and they be flattered. It show that you put in extra time and that you actually care.
Share Your Photos
Sharing photos should be a two-pronged attack.
Use your social outlets to post a few “teasers” of the photos you took
Store the photos on your site and include full album links on your posts
This way, you’ll share relevant content on social media anddrive traffic to your site.
Share Your Content
If you have any photos, blogs, whitepapers, infographics etc. create a schedule for sharing those to continue exposure and keep people talking about what happened at your event.
1-2 Months After Your Event
Analyze, Analyze, Analyze
Use traffic tools to analyze traffic to all of your sites or online portals. You can use these free tools to ensure accurate results:
Gain insightful feedback from your event participants by sending out a survey. For example, if folks complain about the parking at your event, when it comes time to market your next event, fix the parking situation and let participants know that they helped to make the event better!
Use your newly-gleaned analytics to plan ahead for next year by maximizing your strengths and minimizing your areas of weakness.
You can download a formatted checklist of all these steps in PDF format at on our website.
“Public relations is about winding a compelling story” – Julie Fix
Successful PR writing comes from good storytelling. Stories simplify the complex, make intricate ideas understandable and accessible and do two important things:
Deliver an organization’s message
Create and reinforce opinions, attitudes and beliefs
With Great Writing, Comes Great Responsibility
As a public relations writer, you have two responsibilities:
The first step is research.
It’s important to have the pertinent facts about a story before moving forward. If you’re wondering, “Should I include this?”, err on the side of collecting too many facts. You can always put them in a fact sheet if they don’t fit in the release.
Better to over-prepare and be safe, than under-prepare and be caught off-guard. Then, if a question comes your way, you’re equipped with an answer. Also, be clear. Don’t muddle your message with too many words.
People have short attention spans, so if you want an effective message, take time to polish and edit.
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” – Blaise Pascal
Whether your writing is proactive or reactive, it’s imperative to speak to the situation. Use timely, relevant examples and appropriate behavior. Jokes after a tragedy are not appropriate behavior, but being light-hearted about a family-oriented fundraising event is. Use common sense and think how you’d feel if you heard your message.
You can have good paragraph structure, great sentences and an excellent press release, but if the right message goes to the wrong audience, it still falls on deaf ears. Think about what problem you’re solving and who benefits from your message. Tailor your writing to these people.
Finding the Right Audience
“Everyone is pulled in a hundred different directions at once.” – Ted Moon
According to research, the average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds. That means if people aren’t interested, they stop reading.
They want to know, “What’s in it for me?”. So next time you write, do two things:
Recommend the solution to a problem
List benefits not features of your product, event or service
What Else Can I Do?
When you write for PR, be sure to practice good PR writing techniques:
Write a great headline
Use good grammar, spelling and punctuation
Write a Great Headline
The headline is your first and last chance to grab your reader. If you don’t have a good headline, people stop reading and your message is lost.
Use Good Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation
Nothing says, “I can’t write” like bad grammar, spelling or punctuation. Practicing good grammar makes your writing easier to read, which reinforces your message.
Always polish and edit your writing. Don’t muddle your message by using more words than needed.
“Focus more on the nouns and verbs. Leave out the adjectives.” – Ted Moon
Improve Your PR Writing
The key is practice. By using these tips you can learn to self-edit and consistently produce quality content. You can also improve your skills by reading good writing. Read/subscribe to sources like PRSA, PR Week or PR News.
If you’re interested in more topics related to NPOs, technology or open source, leaf through some of our other categories and feel free to share the knowledge!
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 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
Perhaps 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.
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:
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.
If you lived through the 70s and the 90s, you know that trends are cyclical.
How many times have we seen bell bottoms and big sunglasses make a come back?
Of course this isn’t limited to fashion. A detailed look into your Google Analytics charts will reveal that your organization has cycles, predicable ones you can plan for.
So how do you read this data and equate the data to your organizations live campaigns?
1) First, collect your data. (Everything you do on a recurring basis including dates). Create an aggregated list of anything involving donor/volunteer/member communication including:
2) Find your data store. (Google Analytics is free to install and has a lot of useful data.)
3) Choose your relevant date range. I like to look at two or more time frames. Typically a year’s worth of data, a smaller three month period of activity, and a one month period.
4) Run your analytics for the type period then look for patters in your data!
Types of patterns you are looking for are
b. Sequential Dips
c. Dead Spots
We partnered with one of our clients, a large nonprofit organization, to increase donations an engagement of their audience in nontraditional ways.
To achieve this we turned to the data recorded on their website:
The graphs below are pulled from a report in the Tendenci software (the cms software is free for download on http://tendenci.com/ – click on “For Developers”). These same practices can be applied with Google Analytics or whatever your analytics of choice is.
This graph shows site activity grouped by module/plugin (for example any event page that was clicked on during the time period would show up as orange)
This is an engagement graph of activity on a client website.
What we noted:
We see a huge increase in site visits on the 4th-6th
Followed by a huge increase in site visits to photos on the 11th
And then a decrease in site activity after the 12th
So what did we find when we matched up the engagement graph with our dates of activities
Saturday, 6th was a large event
Thursday, 11th a newsletter goes out to members
When we compared to another month with a large event, we found the same graph shape.
The data tells us:
Before the event and day of we had lots of people on the site looking for information and directions
After the event we had a dip in activity but we had a lot of people visiting the photo pages to look for images of the event
The newsletter contained links to the images for the event so we had a huge increase in visits to the photo page.
So what types of actions can an organization take based on this data?
Have upcoming event information on your website loud and clear. People will be looking for it
Make sure to be taking lots of photographs at the event – photos generated a huge amount of traffic to the site
Newsletters or an email post event drive traffic.
Add a call to action on your photo pages. These pages get huge amounts of traffic post event and people are reliving the experience – make sure there is a call to action to donations or volunteering.
Engagement is low post event. Brainstorm ways to reengage audience after the event excitement is over.
The patterns are there, you just have to look for them and connect the pieces of the puzzle.