As a tech writer, I interviewed engineers and coders about the software and hardware they developed and translated it into something non-technical users could understand. As a journalist, I wrote objectively about the news and other issues of interest to readers and sought out subject matter experts in various fields to put current events into context. Much of my work as Idealware’s Research and Editorial Director involves finding the people who know the most about the topics that interest our audience and turning their knowledge into impartial, accessibly written publications.
At the agency, I wrote ad copy aimed at motivating readers to take action to sign up for or buy something. In my corporate roles, I drafted messaging that served as the official voice of the company or brand. As the guy at the helm of Idealware’s communications efforts, I helped create and maintain the organization’s familiar, friendly voice, and seek new and creative ways to reach more nonprofits and accidental techies who might benefit from our resources.
Each of my past jobs had downsides, too. The repetitiveness of writing technical manuals is soul-numbing. Journalism keeps a frantic pace, and certain beats—cops and courts, particularly—are toxic. It can be morally confounding to write ads trying to sell people things they don’t want or need, and acting as the proxy personality for a corporation has its own moral fuzziness.
Of course, my job at Idealware isn’t perfect, either. Maybe no job is. But every day I get to work with the smart, interesting people in the network of subject matter experts, consultants, and vendors who make our research possible—and I get to work with people like you.
Earlier this month I was in New Orleans for the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), hosted by our friends at NTEN, where I got to spend time with many of the varied and diverse people who make up the nonprofit sector. These people have chosen to work for organizations with missions aimed at making the world a better place. Seeing so many of them gathered together to learn from each other and share their own expertise toward common goals, it was hard not to feel good about my job, and hard not to feel a little better about the world—even for a cynic like me. All of which is to say, thank you to you and all your nonprofit colleagues for all that you do.
Women And Minorities Are Leading The Charge For Socially Impactful Tech
The startup accelerator Fast Forward, which helps boost nonprofit tech companies, recently published “The State of Diversity and Funding in the Tech Nonprofit Sector.” Over at A-Plus, Isaac Saul takes a look at the report and finds that “a far higher percentage of minorities and women had founded tech nonprofits than those who founded traditional tech companies,” which means that women and minorities are leading the way for tech companies that pursue social good.
Five Reasons Why Nobody is Engaging With Your Social Posts (and How to Fix it)
For Kissmetrics, Neil Patel identifies five obstacles—and five solutions—to attracting and engaging the people who follow your organization on social media. While his language leans heavily on marketing speak—content, brands, and customer acquisition—the lesson applies to nonprofits, their “personalities,” and the constituents who support them.
What Is That Noise?
Along similar lines, Philanthropy News Digest asks you to consider whether your nonprofit is marketing something your followers and constituents want, or just making noise. There’s a lot of both online. Make sure you’re putting out the right stuff.
U.S., U.K. Warn of Russian Hackers Targeting Millions of Routers
A joint statement issued by DHS, FBI, and NCSC said Russian state-sponsored hackers are taking advantage of vulnerabilities in routers to harvest data. This is just the latest in a string of recent reports indicating that hackers are taking a particular interest in routers. Officials are urging people, and device makers, to take security measures. A lot of small nonprofits are using consumer routers; it’s worth revisiting this LifeHacker post on how to beef up your security settings. While you’re at it, you might want to boost up security measures organization-wide with Idealware’s free reports, What Nonprofits Need to Know About Security and our Information Security toolkit.
The Smarter Nonprofit’s Guide to Ransomware
Even good security practices aren’t always enough. What if you do fall victim to some bad actors online? Our friends at TechNetworks of Boston have released a free report on what to do if you’re affected by the increasingly pernicious threat of ransomware.
Are You Ready? Here is All The Data Facebook And Google Have on You
In the latest salvo of our ongoing war for privacy and ownership of our personal data, Dylan Curran tells you everything Facebook and Google know about you. Spoiler: It’s a lot. We offered a lot of information about how to protect your Facebook data in last month’s Best of the Web, and here’s one more: Mozilla recently announced changes to the way Firefox, its popular free internet browser, handles Facebook, making it easier for you to “take control of how you’re being tracked.” It’s called the Facebook Container Extension.
Facebook’s Problems Are Nothing Compared to What’s Coming For All of Online Publishing
In this interesting post, IT guru Doc Searls says that what Facebook is doing in terms of tracking is “just the tip of the iceberg,” and that the majority of online publishers—including many of the news outlets reporting on Facebook—employ similar and questionable practices. He shares a number of statistics about who is tracking you, and to what extent.
Fund Accounting Software Buyer Trends: 2018 Report
SoftwareConnect analyzed data from more than 500 nonprofits and government entities that it worked with to help select fund accounting software and published findings about those organizations’ motivations and requirements. We were interested in this study because of our recent report on Selecting Financial Management Software. You can hear Idealware’s Executive Director Karen Graham and researcher Andy Wolber discussing the report on Nonprofit Radio.
Accidental Communications Directors: You Are Not Alone!
Writing for TechSoup, Kathryn Svobodny has a great recap of a an interesting NTC session that acknowledged the fact that Accidental Techies aren’t the only nonprofit staffers to find themselves in a role or making decisions they weren’t necessarily expecting. Session leaders Kivi Leroux Miller, Anysa Holder, Tara Collins, and Thomas Negron shared their experience and offered a useful roundup of tools to help communications directors. I actually attended this session, and there was a lot of expertise and wisdom on that panel.
See you next month…
P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions for this month’s roundup of links. As always, if you come across something you think would be a good fit for the Best of the Web, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.