Introduction from Becky – The New Guy

Hello world!

Schipul Holiday Party Picture - 2008
Old School Schipul 2008
Fayza A. Elmostehi, Aaron Long, and Becky Leven

I am most honored to be welcomed back into the Schipul tribe and to be going for new guy round two.

I first joined the Schipul community back in 2008 as an intern while studying at Rice University.

My experience at Schipul was so mind blowingly amazing that I went on to create a self designed major at Rice in Communications, Culture, and Society based on the mission and culture at Schipul.

After graduating from Rice, I moved back to my hometown, NYC, where I worked in the financial services industry, but Schipul was never far from mind.

I am thrilled to be back and look forward to bringing visibility to the amazing people and organizations we work with and to partnering with our clients to grow their reach and strengthen their communities.

When not doing awesome things in Schipul land I can be found cooking and exploring restaurants, travelling, rocking out to NPR, and getting my workout on.

Sign - Welcome New Guy
Welcoming the New Guy

Recap: The First Ever Tendenci Chili Cookoff!

2013 Tendenci chili cookoff

Friday was our first ever Tendenci Chili Cook Off! Our team members offered up recipes from vegetarian chili to chicken to unique ingredients like Guinness beer and even queso!

Good thing we have lots of extension cords for all these crock pots!

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All of the entries!

Chili Cookoff

Our esteemed judges judging in the categories of Flavor, Creativity, and Heat!


We used PollEverywhere to text vote and picked our fan favorite!

Tendenci Chili Cook Off Results

CONGRATS to the winners!

A big thanks to all of our participants! Congrats to Forrest Purser for being the Judges’ Overall Favorite and new guy Ben Floyd for being the people’s favorite!

Also Congrats to Mary Shamburger for winning the judges’ choice for Flavor!

Chili Cookoff

More Chili Cook Off Photos!

Check out all of the Chili Cook Off photos in our Tendenci Photo Album!

Crowdsourcing Your Mental Health at #SXSW

Crowdsource Your Mental Health at SXSW

We were extremely proud to have one of our team members selected to lead a panel discussion at this year’s annual SXSW Interactive festival! Schipulite Sarah M. Worthy and former Schipulite Data Analyst Dr. Dharol Stevens, PhD. led a Core Conversation on the topic of “How to Crowdsource Your Mental Health for Free.”

The audience was made up of an array of medical professionals, those looking for better ways to find health information online, and those curious about the topic as it relates to the growing trend of Health 2.0. The panel was a great discussion with lots of feedback and participation. Below are my highlights:

Why Crowdsourcing for Mental Health?

Crowdsourcing is where many people are doing a little bit of the work instead of one person doing all the work.

Over 50% of people in the US can’t afford afford mental health treatment. Mental health issues are complicated and much of  the treatment is trial and error. Unlike other medical conditions, mental health symptoms do not necessarily have only one answer that a doctor (even a very experienced doctor) can diagnose with a single test or symptom.

For Mental Health issues specifically, crowdsourcing can help piece together the puzzle of what is really going on for symptoms that are difficult to diagnose. The idea is that crowdsourcing is a tool you can use to be more informed and aware when you visit a doctor.

The Power of Crowdsourcing

SXSW Part 2 058Crowdsourcing’s power is in its specifics. Reading other people’s very specific accounts can hopefully ring true to your unique situation as well.

The benefits of these personal experiences include:

  • Reading other people’s stories lets you know you’re not alone
  • Seeing stories of those going through treatment may set expectations for what treatment entails
  • Stories of people who have overcome health issues gives hope that the symptoms will eventually end
  • Reading other people’s accounts can also help you define symptoms you didn’t otherwise know how to articulate, or things you didn’t know were a symptom you should be paying attention to
  • These accounts give access to peer support which can be incredibly powerful for those going through any kind of medical treatment
  • When you visit your doctor, you can ask more informed questions to get to treatment faster

Tools for Anonymous Online Searching

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Many people hesitate to do searches around mental health online because they are worried about the privacy issues involved. If your family or peers cause these concerns, here are some resources to try for anonymous searching online:

  1. Incognito mode in the Chrome browser when browsing the web
  2. Tor – For IP address anonymity online
  3. Duck Duck Go – Anonymous Search Engine with Privacy at its core

Validating Medical Information Online – The Downside to Crowdsourcing

The danger of crowdsourcing is that 50% of health sites have incorrect information. You can combat this by arming yourself with tools to evaluate information online and look for trusted sources.

Tips for Validating Online Medical Information

  1. Verify that it is written by an expert
  2. Make sure it is current & cites valid sources
  3. Look for certifications and disclaimers

Valid Sources for Medical Information Online

  1. Look for .gov or .edu sites
  2. Anything linked from the resource pubmed will be credible
  3. If you find studies cross linked you can look for them on – Sometimes it will appear as though you have to pay for detailed study information, but any government journal is required to release its studies for free after 2 years
  4. Health on the Net is a great resource as well – this organization’s goal is to publish credible medical information

“It’s never been easier to cross reference information online” – Dr. Dharol Stevens

mental health apps to try

Mental Health Apps to Help Focus

  • Mood Tracker tracks your mood over time and shows patterns like how your mood is related to stress, amount of sleep, etc.
  • Focus Booster uses the Pomodoro technique to break down work into 25 minute chunks of uninterrupted time
  • Lifetopix is an app of organization tools help you stay organized and focused
  • Self Control blacklists programs or websites you block for a certain period of time so you can focus

Tips for Finding a Doctor

“If you take one thing away from this, it is that the Internet is not your doctor. You still need a doctor.” – Sarah M. Worthy

The internet will never replace a medical professional. Hopefully it will arm you with the tools to start the conversation.

Tips for Finding a Doctor

  • Unfortunately the best way to find a doctor is still word of mouth
  • Like treatment, know that finding a doctor you like will be effort – it may take some trial and error
  • If you don’t like the person you are working with it’s ok to look for another doctor (your gut feeling is probably right)

Apps to  for Locating a Doctor

(Note that this list was crowdsourced from the audience)

Keep the Conversation Going! More on This Topic:

Tendenci In-Depth Feature Guide – Help Files Module

help files angled with borderThe Help Files Module is included with all Tendenci websites, and is a Tendenci module that I use daily for documenting training guides, tips & tricks, and standards/best practices for Tendenci client websites. I was surprised to discover that many of you aren’t using or fully utilizing this module on your Tendenci websites. So I thought I’d provide an in-depth look into the Tendenci Help Files Module, and show you how other associations are using this built-in ‘Wiki‘ tool to engage with their community and succeed in their online fundraising goals.

Let’s dive in and get to know Tendenci’s Help Files Module!

Why? –> Wiki’s Increase Participation!

help files admin top bar blue menu drop down

Wiki, Help Files, Resource Library, Knowledge Base… these are just a few names that people commonly use to refer to a web application that allows users to add and edit content through their web browser with the purpose of collaboratively managing knowledge online.

The best reason your Association should be using some kind of Wiki tool is because it provides more opportunities for your members and donors to interact with you and feel like they’re really part of moving your mission forward.

I recommend you check out a terrific presentation, by Julie Spriggs, that gives you tons of insight into how Nonprofits can use a Wiki for different collaborative projects including:

  • Maintaining a central repository of knowledge that your Association has amassed
  • Managing large projects that involve lots of moving pieces and diverse people/roles
  • Collaborative document creation and management
  • Planning large events like your annual fundraising Gala or membership drive
  • Organizing your knowledge base by department and committee groups
  • Connect with and involve  your constituents in your association’s activities
  • And more…!

Wikis For Nonprofits from Julie Spriggs

Wiki’s provide a platform for everyone involved with your organization to come together and communicate, collaborate, and share their knowledge and ideas.

Wiki or Help Files…?

Tendenci websites all come with the module called “Help Files”, but we know you probably want to pick your own name to suit your organization. You can easily change the label of the module that displays on your website’s public pages inside your Help Files site settings.

help files settings and place to change name

What’s Included in the Help Files Module?

Tendenci’s Help Files Module gives your organization a built-in wiki tool as part of your association management platform, and we’ve built Help Files flexibly so you can use it for different purposes depending on your unique nonprofit’s needs.

Here’s my top 3 Neatest Features of the Help Files Module

You can try out all the features on our Live Demo Site. Just head here: to get Super User access!

1) Use the Selective Permission Controls for tiered access to different Help Files, enabling everyone in your community to collaborate to your knowledge base securely and privately as needed by your association’s procedures and polices. Check out the screenshot below that demonstrates how easy it is to selectively share access for viewing and making changes to individual help files.

help files permissions advanced options

Tendenci organizes your User permissions by Users, Memberships, and User Group types. You can create custom User Groups and add individual users and then provide them with secure access to only the files they should have access to.

2) Tendenci makes it easy to Automatically Filter and Promote your most important Help Files with the Help File Sidebar.

is featured is faq help files add front end checkbox

The Help File sidebar provides quick access for your site users to Request a Help File as well as a menu for Help Files that have been marked as Featured, FAQ (stands for Frequently Answered Questions), and Most Viewed. When new help files are added to your website and include one of these three tags, they’ll automatically be displayed on the sidebar.

3) Use Topics to Organize and Segment Your website’s Help Files Module. Only Super Users can add new topics and at least one topic must be selected when adding a new Help File. This helps you keep your online community resource files organized and easy to find.

add and change topics for help files

Whenever a member adds a new help file and selects the topic, then this help file will only show under that topic. Topics that don’t have help files won’t be displayed on the main menu, so you can create your Topics using a predetermined structure before you’ve had any files added. Another nifty feature, to me, is that Tendenci recognizes who has access to help files within certain topics and your members won’t ever see the Topics label for your internal staff files when they login. Users only see Topics and Files that they have permission to view, and nothing more.

SEO Bonus!

By including your association’s wiki within your Tendenci site by using the Help Files Module, each new page created counts as new content to search engine crawlers! If you foster an online wiki for knowledge sharing and encourage your members to participate and contribute, they’ll help you with your online marketing efforts naturally.

Ten Benefits for You and Your Members!

private staff only internal files
Create a Private Resource Repository using Help Files

Here’s 10 great ways you can take advantage of the cool features included with the Help Files module and boost your association’s online community participation:

  1. Enable members and registered site users to collaborate on your wiki – this saves your staff time and makes your members feel included!
  2. Create an Internal Repository for your staff and/or Board – use Tendenci’s selective permissions to control who has access to each individual help file. Create on boarding guides for new staff members that only your association’s key personnel can see, without effecting public help files.
  3. Setup Help Files and topics based on user groups – group members can view and collaborate on knowledge specific to the group purpose, and as group members change, the history of the group’s knowledge is available on your site.
  4. Post important local community resources – include things like your organization’s emergency preparedness policies, how to take action in the case of a crisis, and information about other local organizations and groups that support your mission.
  5.  Create a place for event participants to add session notes and takeaways – Create a new topic or Group for event attendees and let them add and collaborate on help file notes from the different sessions. After the conference, embed the presenters’ slides and any other rich media (ie videos and photos) inside the help file.
  6. Offer training guides for developing new professional skills –  Use the selective permissions controls to create members-only repositories and share industry reports and valuable training guides with your paying members and contributors- or make them free for anyone who stops by your website, it’s your choice!
  7. Build a globally diverse resource library – Your website is accessible day or night from virtually anywhere in the world, and with modern day web browser translation options, your International supporters can share their global perspectives on your association’s cause related issues.
  8. Provide getting started guides for your community – new members path, how to volunteer vote for board etc
  9. Think collaboration-both inside your org as well as outside -invite other associations and chapters to contribute on the wiki.
  10. Document external resources and company account information – for tools, like software and vendor accounts, where your staff can quickly access to download, read, learn without the hassle of a search or wondering if the links will be active in a year
project management help files example
Get Members and Volunteers Working Together on Special Projects and Events!

Now you’re equipped with a deeper understanding of ways that you can use Tendenci’s Help Files like any other wiki to reach out to your community, manage volunteers, create a repository for resources. Best of all, the Help Files module comes with Tendenci ready to start adding content to “out of the box”. I’ve added a few help files to the Tendenci Demo site, and you can see that it only takes a few minutes to quickly get your Topics and a framework for adding new content to your site’s Help Files module.

10 Minutes to Set-Up

In about 10 minutes, you can set-up access for your staff and members and give them the tools they need to help you keep up with your online and offline resources. And don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to get started because I’ll help you out!

You can leave a comment below, and include your Tendenci website URL, if you’d like to schedule 10 minutes with me through an online web conference where I’ll walk you through the set-up process. Before our 10 minute training, I’ll send you a quick template that will help you identify the main Topics you’ll want to start building your knowledge base. You can also submit a request using our “Request a Help File” – just be sure to leave your contact information as shown in this screenshot:

tendenci help files request

TED 2013 Starts Today! Some of our Favorite TED Videos

We at Schipul love sharing knowledge and inspiration – especially the fantastic free videos that come out of the annual TED Conference! In honor of the 2013 TED Conference (which starts TODAY), we’ve put together a few of our favorite TED videos to share.

A few ways to follow along with the TED Conference:

What is your favorite TED video? Let us know in the comments!

Some of our Favorite TED Videos!

Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Quote: “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it”

Talk Details on

Loved by Sarah Worthy

Benjamin Zander – The Transformative Power of Classical Music

Quote: “The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. My picture appears on the front of the CD — but the conductor doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful. And that changed everything for me.”

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Loved by Caitlin Kaluza

Brené Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

Quote: “When we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Talk Details on

Loved by Benjamin Floyd

Ken Robinson – Schools Kill Creativity

Quote:  “I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity.”

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Loved by Eloy Zuniga Jr.

Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

Quote: “Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.”

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Loved by Erica Bogdan

What Did We Leave Out?

Have a favorite TED video we didn’t include here? Let us know in the comments!

Friday Fun: Schipul Harlem Shake!

It’s Friday and we had some fun in the Schipul offices today! There are tons of Harlem Shake Videos out there on the internet – and we decided to contribute our own!

The Schipul Harlem Shake!