Nonprofits Online! 2.0

Nonprofits Online! 2.0

Mark Goldstein, CFRE
Communication Mark

Presented as part of the Duke University Nonprofit Management Program on 10/22/10 in conjunction with Nonprofit Pathways.

Thanks are due to the Fund for Investigative Reporting and Editing, which proposed the first Nonprofits Online! class; to the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, for funded the free presentation of the first-ever classes; to Nonprofit Pathways and to Duke University Continuing Studies / Nonprofit Management Program for offering the current class; to Mountain Xpress for encouraging the use, study and promotion of some Freedom of Information Act data to be discussed today; and the Health Assessment Resource Center for allowing me to share their data with the class. Please think fondly of these folks at any time that you think to yourself “WOW, This is SO cool”!

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.

Find a broken link? Please email me and I will fix it.


PART ONE: Search Me!

Boilerplate: History of a Victorian Era RobotA prime example of why you should always be cautious about what you learn on the Internet. It might not be true (even if it is entertaining!).

Some Browser Basics

Internet Explorer Keyboard Shortcuts
Find in page = Control + F for PC, Command + F for Mac

Mozilla Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts

Google Chrome Shortcuts
Note the different tabs on the left side for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

Apple Safari Shortcuts

Pre-Fab Start Pages

Do-It-Yourselfer Start Pages
Mark’s iGoogle

To top of contents

How to Find Anything in the World

Search Engine Features and Key Commands—What top sites do and how to use them
Choose the Best Search for Your Information NeedSpecific resource sites. What, there’s more to life than Googling? Get OUT!

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: (, 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?

More Google Tricks

Google for Nonprofits
Google Language Tools

Good Search—”What if we could raise money for our favorite charities and schools by doing something we do every day — searching the Internet?”

To top of contents

PART 2: The Government, Its Data and What to Do with It

Now, a couple of case studies.

Case Study 1: Gathering Data to Supporting the Need for Health Research in Riverside County, CA

The Spreadsheet Page
Excel Tips
Spreadsheet Jokes“Your browser is now pointed to the world’s largest collection of spreadsheet humor on the Web. It’s also pointed to the only collection of spreadsheet humor on the Web.”

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.

To top of contents

Case Study 2: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

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.

NC Public Records Law
Examples of FOIA Letters

FOIA Letter Generator
Provided by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

City of Asheville Departmental Database Reference Catalog
Asheville Police Department Database File

To top of contents

Local, State and Federal Government Sites

FedStats—The place to start when you are unsure where to look for data on any given topic.

State and Local Government on the Net
North Carolina

Capitol Impact—Similar to the above site, but includes links to media outlets and more

NC Legislature — Everything about it, including access to all state statutes. Plus — North Carolina General Assembly and Information.

Recovery Act
NC Recovery

Grants.govSearch, apply for, and receive alerts about federal grants.

Louisiana State University Federal Government Directory —All U.S. Agencies or Offices, including links to websites

To top of contents

PART 3: The Answers to All of Your Problems Are Online (most of them, at least)

General and Fundraising Resources

Board Source
Resources for and about boards—some free, some for a fee.

Independent Sector
Lobbying guidelines for nonprofits
Value of volunteer time

Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Journalist’s Toolbox
Investigative / Backgrounding

Blue Avocado
“Practical, provocative and fun food-for-thought for nonprofits.”

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.

Publications for Nonprofits

Nonprofit Times on TV!

Foundation Center’s free Fact Finder, to look up foundation information, 990s and financial trends at large foundations.

Free advanced charity search

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.”

AtoZ Grantwriting with Linda Vallejo
Newsletter and links to funding opportunities.

To top of contents


List of Blogs for Nonprofits
Penelope Burk’s Blog
Sandy Rees’ Tips to Get Fully Funded

To top of contents

Online Training

Free Microsoft Office Training Classes – This site also has a few free tutorials for other software and links to some popular online training (for-fee) providers.

iTunes U—350,000 free lectures, videos, films, recordings and other resources. Download iTunes for free on this page.

Foundation Center — Several valuable services for free and for a fee.
Free and for-fee courses and tutorials, including some that are in Spanish.

Free Online Nonprofit Organization and Management Development Program

Free Online Courses from Top Universities on Various Mediums

Stay Exempt
IRS Site with Exemption Information and Courses.

Revising Word Documents Using Track Changes and Comments

To top of contents

Focused on Western North Carolina

Nonprofit Pathways
Fundraising resources, including a list of foundations that give to WNC organizations

NC Rural Center’s Discussion Board for Small Towns

North Carolina Center for Nonprofits’ “FAQ” page — Resources on a wide variety of topics.
Member Benefits

United Way’s 2-1-1 of WNC
A community service information site and phone line that links people to health and human services in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania Counties.

Association of Fundraising Professionals, WNC Chapter
Member Directory

Community Information and Resources

To top of contents

PART 4: Using the Internet for Fame and Fortune

Practical Online Office Tools and Deep Discounts

Free Google Apps Premier Edition (or for cheap, if you have over 3,000 users) office applications

Planet PDF

Free PDF-related Software

PDF Download—Convert Web Content to PDFs, Plus Other Free Conversion Tools

Free Clip Art, Photos, Sounds and Animations

AVG—Free, downloadable anti-virus software and link scanners for Windows and Mac
Monitor a page for changes

Skype—Free domestic online calling and videoconferencing, and free or cheap calls with others worldwide.—Get a free number that you can share for conferences with peers throughout the world (only regular phone charges apply).
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.

Postal Discounts for Nonprofits

Microsoft Viewers and Converters enable anyone with a PC (and a Mac, in at least some cases) to read Microsoft files without the software.
The two above tools are a work in progress, in my opinion, but are handy for scheduling meetings with large groups—at least to the scheduler, if not others. They are likely to improve over time.

Schedulicity.comFor 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.
Shorten that link!

To top of contents

Marketing and Social Media

WordPress—Create a free blog or website.

Yola—Free website builder, free hosting, other services at low cost.

Google Sites—Yet another Google feature. This one helps you build a website.

GreatNonprofits develops tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great — and perhaps not yet great — nonprofits.

Nonprofit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits
How-tos, the basics, best apps for iPhones 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.

To top of contents

Find a broken link? Please email me and I will fix it.

Mark Goldstein, CFRE • • (828) 650-0902 • • Copyright 2010-2011, All Rights Reserved

Most Recent Page Update: June 16, 2011