This course, and this site, is essentially a walking tour of the Web for nonprofit organizations. It is not all-encompassing. Rather, it is meant to help you learn some basics, use the Internet more efficiently, familiarize yourself with some great resources and to enjoy your computer, regardless of your skill level. It is a primer to help nonprofit professionals gain a better sense of what is possible, so that life is a little easier and less expensive. It is hoped that you will return to this page often, to “play in the sandbox,” as the late co-presenter of Nonprofits Online! Evan Mahaney used to say.
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Google Search Basics—remember to keep it simple, limit terms, use terms likely to be on the page Advanced Search—Some terms to try: “” or +term, site:, -subtract, *, link: (www.cfwnc.org), OR (AND is default), lucky?, cached, similar Directory Search—Challenge: What the heck was that early Atari game that I played on an early system that started with a “G” and had cadets in it? Now, you try!: What was the group ABC’s top UK hit?
The first case study traces the steps taken to compile data needed for grant proposals for HARC, Inc. (Health Assessment Resource Center). HARC provides comprehensive health data on the population of eastern Riverside County, CA. Because the county is home to communities that are wealthy (Palm Springs) and impoverished (Coachella Valley, home to many migrants), and because only the eastern part of the very populous county is served, a simple data report from the US Census or its American FactFinder page would not suffice.
First, we needed to determine definable borders for eastern Riverside County. This was not as simple as drawing a line around a few cities and towns, because much of the county is unincorporated. We needed to consult maps. We were able to consider Reference Maps and determine that we could use zip codes (such as 92225 at 185 mi. view) to designate the area served. We could get the zip codes to show up by changing Boundaries and Features, and selecting 2000 Census maps / 5-digit zip codes—more recent Census projections lacked this level of detail. Another option would be to download PDFs of County Block Maps and consider Census Tracts. That would involve navigating to the correct county maps, downloading the master map, then looking at each area of that map that we would need.
Once we had the list of zip codes that we needed, we could search for data available for those zip codes. The foundations we wanted to approach wanted to know whether the area we served was diverse. One of the foundations had its own measure of “low income”—the percentage of the population at or below 80% of the service area’s median household income. To get all of this, we would need to consult detailed tables of Census 2000 data (since we needed data at the zip code level). So, we returned to American FactFinder page to get Decennial Census data. Once we got there, we needed to select Census 2000 Summary File 3, then Detailed Tables, to get income data for small areas.
On the Detailed Tables, we could have chosen a few different geography types (e.g., nation or state) in order to draw comparisons between those areas and eastern Riverside, but that wasn’t really necessary as part of this project. So, we simply chose the 5-digit zip codes for the Geography. We perused the Tables and found that P6, P7 and P8 had what we needed to get information on basic demographics for the service area, including data on population, age, gender, race and ethnicity. For figuring income, we selected P1, P52 and P53.
Now, we could download the results. We chose to transpose some of the results so that the rows and columns were switched, since there were so many zip codes. It’s a good thing that the Census allows downloads of Excel and .csv (comma-separated values) and not .txt files!
Finally, the moment of truth…we analyzed the data and began to make our calculations—easy to do in Excel. Would it give us any ammunition for our proposal? Here is what we found regarding the demographics and income.
During the past two years, substantial statistics such as these have helped us as we have worked with this small nonprofit organization to raise over $800,000 toward county health research.
Several years ago, I decided to do a FOIA request to access the database lists and form fields for all databases belonging to the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, in order to test their reaction to the requests, their readiness to provide the information and to explore the content of the information. This experiment generated a lot of interest from several local reporters, some of whom decided to download property records and other data, which came in handy for numerous stories. The data and associated training helped reporters obtain unlisted information needed for crime stories and other reporting, and one even located his stolen van using public record searches.
Blue Avocado “Practical, provocative and fun food-for-thought for nonprofits.”
CharityChannel I’ll see you at the forum! This site is no longer free, but the cost is very reasonable. Answers, and a supportive community of your peers, are just an email and perhaps an hour away.
The Bridgespan Group Founded in 2000, the Bridgespan Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps nonprofit and philanthropic leaders in the hard work of developing strategies and building organizations that inspire and accelerate social change. A sample article…The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle — the cost of skimping on overhead.
Law for Change—”This site combines in one place a broad menu of legal information prepared by leading law firms and lawyers specifically tailored to the needs of social entrepreneurs and innovators, social enterprises, charities, community organizations, philanthropies, faith-based organizations and all manner of nonprofit organizations.”
Skype—Free domestic online calling and videoconferencing, and free or cheap calls with others worldwide.
FreeConferenceCall.com—Get a free number that you can share for conferences with peers throughout the world (only regular phone charges apply).
Techsoup.org Over 500 donated and discounted products — typically at only 4% to 20% of the product’s retail price. For example: Office Standard 2010 for $31, as compared to about $280 retail for similar Office suite. Links to all sorts of how-to articles on tech topics, including many on more sophisticated questions about networking, hardware planning and budgeting, etc.
Schedulicity.com—For scheduling appointments with clients. Free trial available for this nifty for-fee scheduler. As of October 2010, only $19 per month or $39 (for 2-20 users) to schedule all appointments. No charge to users.
Survey Monkey—Free and low-cost online surveys, automatically tabulated and beautifully presented
Adobe Downloads You can download Adobe Acrobat for free to read files ending with “.pdf”. For free Adobe Reader and free commonly needed Adobe plug-ins for the Internet (see “Readers and Players”).
Over 23,000 (!) calculators and spreadsheets, for measuring and converting everything you can possibly think of, including numbers, currency, travel, moving costs, weight loss and much more.
Foursquare—Localized social media. Helps you to know if friends are nearby and keep up with local trends.
Snopes—Before you forward it or post it on Facebook—true story or hoax? Are blondes really going extinct???That is just one of many burning questions answered on this site. If you remember past hoaxes, like the one telling people to delete a file that was really a necessary component of Windows, you will understand why this site is so helpful.