Pinckney New Tech High School: Bringing Alternative Energy to the Community

Exciting things are happening at New Tech High (NTH) in Pinckney, Michigan this year. From now until May 2011, the installation of a Great Lakes Energy Service Inc. (GLES) Energy System is taking place above their heads. The school is receiving a 1.35 kW Solar PV system and a 1.o kW Wind Swift Turbine system to be placed on the roof, valued at an estimated $27,000. Early this year, NTH teacher Joel Craig applied for the system, hoping to expose the students and the community to its educational benefits. “It’s essential now more than ever for these students to not only understand but also obtain the skills associated with alternative energy systems,” said Craig.

New Tech High is a technology supported high school within Pinckney Community High School. Their method of learning is team-based through small student group projects, where students work on solving real-life problems with regular standard curriculum. With the addition of the GLES Energy System, the students will be able to learn how alternative energy is useful in their lives and provide service to their community by educating them on their findings.

Big plans are already being made for Earth Day 2012. NTH students will be designing and facilitating a community Earth Day Expo that focuses on alternative and renewable energy. Multiple stations will be set-up for family fun, including the GLES Mobile Renewable Energy Classroom, which will include hands-on learning about solar, wind, lighting, and other areas of energy efficiency. The main exhibit of the day will be the demonstration of the GLES Solar and Wind System. Sophomore Ellaina Beauchamp, who has enrolled in the class that will be using the energy system next year, says, “I’m really excited for the class, I think it’s going to be good for the school to know how to use this form of energy saving technology.” It is safe to say that both NTH students and staff are looking forward to, and embracing, this new addition to their school.

Look for future updates on this project @ http://pnt.pinckneyschools.org

Submitted by Gabby Abrego, AmeriCorps Vista for The LEAGUE Michigan

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SuperConference 2011, Not Your Ordinary Workshops

This year the SuperConference planning committee has hand selected presenters for the 30+ workshops that will be taking place at SuperConference on May 10th and 11th. Presenters include speakers from our plenary sessions as well as speakers from across the U.S. Not only that, workshops are divided into six topic-based tracks that appeal to those at both an intermediate and advanced level.

Below, is a sneak peek at some of the workshops and presenters from each track that are being featured this year.

Planned Giving Strategies to Meet Donor Expectations and Current Funding Goals
Advanced Fund Development Course
Facilitated By: Christopher L. Kelly, Vice President/Senior Philanthropic Advisor – Comerica Charitable Services Group

“Opportunities and Options” are the requirement of today’s donor. Our donors would like to see multiple ways to meet current gifting goals for their beloved organization, as well as paths toward leaving a lasting legacy. In this workshop we will discuss various planned giving vehicles; how they function traditionally, but more importantly, how they can function to meet the challenges presented by today’s sophisticated donor base. The result will provide opportunities for donors to gift from their accumulated wealth, rather than their disposable income, which translates into potentially larger and concrete financial commitments, and the opportunity to generate new relationships with the next generations of your current donor base.

The Game Plan
Intermediate Public Policy and Advocacy Course
Facilitated By: Abby Levine, Legal Director of Advocacy Programs – Alliance for Justice.

This interactive session helps organizations strategize how best to employ the advocacy tools at their disposal. It includes a discussion of advocacy fundamentals that help participants define their goals and objectives, appropriate targets, and effective advocacy tools, as well as assessing advocacy capacity and evaluating advocacy activities and planning for future campaigns.

Communications & Collaborations
Cross Track Communication Course
Facilitated By: David Stillman and Debra (Fiterman) Arbit, BridgeWorks

Join our Keynote Speakers, David & Debra, as they take you on a deeper dive of working through generational issues to keep your organization relevant in today’s changing world!

Five Crazy Habits
Intermediate Governance/Professional Development Course
Facilitated By: Robin Lynn Grinnell, Program Officer – Cook Family Foundation

Is your board agenda chock full of lengthy (ugh) program reports? Are you stuck in a perpetual cycle of fundraising events that are “just fine”? Do you sometimes sit at your desk and wonder if your board and/or staff will ever really get it together? If you answered ‘yes’ to any (or all) of these questions, don’t dismay… Many nonprofits have adopted Five Crazy Habits that simply trip us up. None of them are blatantly obvious and they’re certainly not illegal – they just make our work harder. Join us for a fast-paced session in which we’ll laugh (and groan) at our collective goofs and we’ll share some simple fixes that – with a little dedication – will get you back on the right path!

Google Grant & Apps!
Cross Track Planning Course
Facilitated By: Elyse Guilfoyle, AdWords Account Strategist – Google, Mary Elizabeth Ulliman, AdWords Account Manager – Google, and Jon Fraiser, Google

You are changing the world, and we want to help! Google employees from the Ann Arbor office will introduce you to Google’s free product offerings for nonprofits. They will touch on a wide variety of products that can help you: Reach and engage your supporters, improve your organization’s operations, Raise awareness for your cause .This session will focus specifically on the Google Grants program and Google Apps for Nonprofits. The Google Grants program empowers select nonprofit organizations to achieve their goals by helping them promote their websites via advertising on Google.com. As a Google Grants recipient, your organization can solicit donations, recruit volunteers, promote events and programs, and much more through Google Grants ads.

Catch the Spirit of Service
Intermediate Civic Engagement Course
Facilitated By: Jeanine Yard, Program Officer – Michigan Community Service Commission and Evan Albert, State Program Director – Corporation for National & Community Service

Is your organization interested in making connections with National Service programs such as AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve? Do you wonder what a strong national service program looks like and how you might become that strong program effectively utilizing national service members. Join us for this interactive workshop and get answers to all your National Service questions. Learn how to ready your organization to apply for a grant or to host a member, identify opportunities for collaboration with other service programs, and find out how national service can add value to your organization.

For more information on SuperConference 2011, the workshops, keynote speakers, and other conference features, visit www.MNAonline.org/superconference.aspx .

Submitted by Ashley Branoff, Communications Coordinator for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Is a Home Server for your nonprofit?

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to install several Microsoft Home Servers for small to medium nonprofit organizations. For groups with 10 systems or less, these units provide secured file sharing, seamless security linked to the workgroup login, phenomenal automated backups and remote access. Even better, these “off the shelf” servers range in performance and price from $250 to $800 or so. That’s way less than the cost of a “full blown” server averaging from $3000 to $5000 just for the hardware!

Unlike traditional Servers that often require expensive “care and feeding,” Microsoft Home Server is designed around simplicity and ease of use so most anyone can become proficient in its maintenance. Inexpensive fee-based subscription “Add-ons” can provide Home Server Antivirus and even offsite server backups. Larger “off the shelf” units can handle up to 4 internal hard drives. Today that means up to 6 terabytes (4x 1.5Tb). That’s a lot of room; particularly for smaller to medium sized organizations.

I purchased an HP Mediasmart Home Server for my home some time ago because I got tired of inconsistent and infrequent backups. Now our Home Server does automated “image” backups for all 8 systems in our home. These “images” allow me to completely rebuild any system to a particular backup date in less than 30 minutes. If I want, I can also restore individual files from the same images.

Highway T has had a lot of success installing NAS (Network Access Storage) devices which work great when the 10 system Home Server limitation is a problem or where the cost of a Home Server is more than the organization can afford. NAS units are also capable of “mirrored” RAID where Home Server only “duplicates” data across multiple drives for redundancy.

If your organization requires a traditional server domain for an internal database, or to run Microsoft Exchange, then Home Server will come up short. But with the trend today to push these applications into cloud based hosted solutions, Home Server seems to fill the gap for what’s left (backup, file shares, etc.) and at a substantially lower cost.

Submitted by Mark Shaw, Highway T Consulting Services Manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Email Service Provider Comparison

While researching a couple of email marketing options for an organization I was working with recently, I came upon a new report produced by the nonprofit consulting firm Groundwire (formerly ONE/Northwest) that did an excellent job breaking down ten email service providers.

These ten providers represent the top options for nonprofits when considering an email communication service. The report breaks down each provider by features, integration with other platforms (such as Salesforce), and pricing. After you have mapped out your email marketing requirements (email volume, frequency, budget, integration needs, scheduled delivery, etc.) the report makes it wicked easy to narrow down your options. Some of the service providers profiled in the report are MailChimp, VerticalResponse, and CampaignMonitor.

The full report can be downloaded for free at: http://groundwire.org/support/articles/email-service-provider-comparison-report-2010

Submitted by Adam King, consultant with Highway T for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Resource Friday: Website Welcome Mat for Journalist

Journalist contact MNA on a regular basis, not only to learn more about our organization, but to learn more about the nonprofit sector and what nonprofits in Michigan are experiencing. Since you can never predict when the media will reach out to your organization as a resource and expert for a story, it’s important you make it easy for a journalist to find your organization, who to contact and how best your organization can serve their needs.

Flickr member: miggslives

As I read Hannah Brazee Gregory’s recent article with the Philanthropy Journal, I was reminded how something as simple as providing a press room on your organization’s website can save journalist time when researching for a story. Consider it your website welcome mat.

You can check out Hannah’s article, Is your nonprofit’s website media friendly? here. Review her check list and make a plan of how and when to accomplish each.

Here are some great examples of press rooms from nonprofits in Michigan:
+Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)
+Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM)
+Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp
+Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit

Questions about what to share in your organization’s online press room? Drop me an email at lsommer@mnaonline.org or call 517-492-2412.

Lisa SommerSubmitted by Lisa Sommer, Public Relations Manager for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Technology Curbside Consulting at Nonprofit SuperConference

At next week’s Michigan Nonprofit SuperConference, my colleagues and I from the Highway T team will making ourselves available for free, one hour individual technology consulting sessions to conference participants. We call it technology curbside consulting because it’s quick but informative. Just pull up with any and all technology questions you might have. We can provide advice for almost anything including computers, printers, software, networking, backup, security, file sharing, email, databases, websites, social media, and more. We’ll have our laptops and an Internet connection; you just bring your questions!

Conference participants will have the opportunity to sign up for one hour time sessions on the 18th or 19th. Even if you have one, quick question, we encourage you to sign up for session. We can also review best practices and ask questions about your technology to help you understand what you have and what you might be able to improve. There will be a sign up form at the conference registration table for both days. See you there!

Submitted by Adam King, Technical Manager for Highway T.

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Resource Friday: Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual

New MNA Nonprofit Management Manual Now Available

The 5th edition of the Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual builds on the informative chapters found in previous editions, with many new features and updates, including: a new chapter on Risk Management, alignment with MNA’s Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Michigan, updates on laws, regulations and filing requirements, expanded chapters on the use of technology, connections to other resources with many website references and a revised format to help locate information quickly. MNA members can take advantage of the reduced member price of $75.00. The non-member price is $95.00. Order your copy today at MNA’s online bookstore: www.mnaonline.org/bookstore.asp.

Submitted by Kelley Kuhn, Director of Management Support and Capacity Building Services for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Computer Maintenance for the New Year

With a fresh start to the New Year, why not have a fresh start with your computer? Here are a couple of tips and tools to help keep your Windows computers running smoothly.

Flickr user: john_a_ward

12 Tips to Tune Your Windows XP Machines and Increase System Performance.

1. Scan for viruses
If possible run your own scan but make sure to run a Live Update first. Running the scan in Safe Mode with Networking is also a good idea. If you can’t, do a complete system scan for viruses using http://housecall.trendmicro.com/. NOTE: Never run two Antivirus Applications at the same time.

2. Scan for spyware
Modern Antivirus app’s like Norton AV 2009 includes spyware protection but additional apps like Spybot, or Windows Defender might be helpful as well. Download and install Windows Defender, which is free anti-spyware software from Microsoft: www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/defender/default.mspx.

3. Change the background to a solid color
Start menu > Control Panel > Display. Click on the “Desktop” tab. Choose “None” and then choose a color from the drop-down menu on the right. Click “Ok”.

4. Turn off system indexing
Start menu > My Computer. Right click on your hard drive and choose “Properties” from the menu. Make sure that “Allow indexing service to index this disk for fast file searching” is NOT checked.

5. Reduce Recycle Bin space
Right-click on the Recycle Bin. Click on ‘Empty Recycle Bin.’ Right-click on the Recycle Bin. Move the slider to 3% of drive space.

6. Modify Display Features for Performance
Start menu > Control Panel > System. Click on the “Advanced” tab. Under “Performance,” click on “Settings.” Click on the “Adjust for Best Performance,” then click “Ok,” and click “Ok” again.

7. Clean your desktop
Move as many files as possible off of your desktop and into your “My Documents” folder. Leave ONLY the Recycle Bin, “My Computer” and links to network drives on your desktop.

8. Remove unwanted software
(a) Go to Start menu > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. Review the list of installed software. Uninstall any software you do not regularly use.
(b) Download and install the PC Decrapifier: www.pcdecrapifier.com/download. Run this program and remove any software you do not regularly use.

9. Update Microsoft Windows and Office applications
Go to http://update.microsoft.com/. (You may need to permit the Active X component to run in your browser.) Click on “Express” to find updates. Install all updates found. Reboot if recommended. Repeat this process until the site reports “no updates” are found.

10. Update other applications
Go to http://secunia.com/software_inspector/. Click “Start Now.” The site will scan and find updates for many applications. Follow the recommendations to upgrade/update software where possible.

11. Disk cleanup
Download, install and run, “CCleaner” from ccleaner.com website. This tool includes a very nice Registry Cleaner, Software Uninstall tool, and Start editor similar to the “msconfig” command only better.
An alternate method to cleanup would be to use: Start menu > All programs > Accessories > System tools > Disk Cleanup. The program may take several minutes to start. Make sure the following are NOT checked: “Office Setup Files,” “Compress Old Files,” and “Catalog files for the content indexer.” All other boxes may be checked. Click “Ok,” then click “Yes.”

12. Defragment your hard drive
Download and install Auslogics’ Disk Defrag program from http://tinyurl.com/2renjo. Use this to defragment your hard drive. The program typically completes defragmenting your files much more quickly than Microsoft’s built-in defragmentation software. For VISTA, Auslogics Defrag (or other 3rd party disk defrag tool) is a must. The XP defrag tool is good but the Auslogics is faster.

Submitted by Mark Shaw, NPower Consulting Manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Generational Differences

This fall we shared a blog introducing MNA’s office book club, which has been a great opportunity for staff to come together and discuss everything from trends in the nonprofit sector to work styles among colleagues. So far we’ve read Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, Generations: The Challenge of Lifetime for Your Nonprofit by Peter Brinckerhoff, and Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age by Allison Fine.

I wanted to share my thoughts on Generations since MNA has been focusing on diversity in the nonprofit sector. We’ve polled our members, examined our own board and staff and looked at a variety of issues including race, gender, geography, background and of course, age. Until recently I thought the last point, when you were born, was just a matter of time and relative maturity. That was until I read Generations. Among Peter’s many revelations is the blazing fact that we have to realize our generational categories, focus on the perspectives of the various generations, and have a game plan for both dealing with the growing number of Boomers retiring and the near equal number of Gen@’s coming into the leadership of our workforce.

For a “tween” generation like myself (someone born in 1964, just past the end of the Boomers and at the beginning of the GenX), I find myself to be a product of television and the personal computer. Yet, I still don’t really get full value of Facebook and Twitter, but yet still haven’t found a new technology that I wouldn’t want to own. In my work life, I am suppose to have the desire for informality (GenX), but the optimism and career focus of the Boomer Generation. As I am sure is the case with many others, I don’t fit in one nice category. On the other hand, the framework of Generations gives everyone a way of examining diversity in the workplace in a very different way.

Brinkerhoff’s “Six Big Actions” provide a work plan for organizations to use as they seek to not only diversify their talent pool, but also deal with the demographic forces we all will be faced with as we look to both retain and attract talent for our staff and boards. For my own organization, we’ve been wrestling with the challenge of internal work styles, communicating with our members, mentoring new leaders to the sector, and managing board diversity in recent years. I have been struggling with how to deal with the overall issue of talent in very crude terms (race, gender, age) and I should be looking much deeper—looking at generational issues, communication styles in a wired age, marketing to audiences in the ways they take in information, accommodating technology preferences (what Brinkerhoff calls, “Techspectations”).

Sample page - Technology and Generations

Sample page - Technology and Generations


Diversity is a sensitive and complicated issue. It’s made even more complicated by the generational issues identified by Brinckerhoff. Fortunately, Generations provides a framework to have the conversation that is non-threatening and far-reaching. I encourage every nonprofit leader to check it out, and check out the various assessment tools to see how you and your organization can engage the various generations at their levels. It will change your thinking.

Next up for the book club: Good to Great by Jim Collins and Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta.

Kyle CaldwellSubmitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Advantages of YouTube for Nonprofits

If you’re a nonprofit producing videos on a regular basis and you’re not already utilizing the YouTube Nonprofit Program…it’s time you start. The program is currently only available for nonprofit in the United States and United Kingdom and does have specific requirements (learn about the program here).

If your organization successfully applies for the Nonprofit Program and is accepted, your organization can take advantage of features like:
* Premium branding capabilities and increased uploading capacity
* The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button
* Listing on the Nonprofit channels and the Nonprofit videos pages
* Ability to add a Call-to-action overlay on your videos to drive campaigns using the overlay advertising feature
* Posting a video opportunity on the YouTube Video Volunteers platform to find a skilled YouTube user to create a video for your cause.

But the biggest addition to the YouTube Nonprofit Program came this fall. Organizations can now link to external sites from the annotation features. Not quite sure what this means? Check out this blog from See3 Communication on “How to Use New YouTube Annotations for Nonprofits.”

Charity: water raised $10,000 in one day utilizing the Call-to-Action overlay. Check out the video here.

Did your organization successfully apply for the YouTube Nonprofit program? How was the experience? Any tips to share with other nonprofits hoping to apply?

Submitted by Lisa Sommer, public relations manager for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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