Information Management

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Spring 2008 – Week 11

Information Management
www.parkonline.org www.managementhelp.org
http://www.nonprofitbasics.org/Technology

GOAL AND OBJECTIVES FOR WEEK
Specific objectives for the week are to: • Be able to describe and appreciate the multitudinous ways in which nonprofit management has been affected by the computer and telecommunications revolution of the past decade; • Be able to critique and appreciate the important features of a nonprofit's web site and the potential of intranet collaborations with other nonprofit organizations;

GOAL AND OBJECTIVES FOR WEEK
• Analyze and discuss the new management functions of planning and financing technology, of empowering staff to use the technology, and of maintaining and safeguarding the information management system.

Information Management
• "Regardless of how social and economic forces play out of the next few decades, the culture of the Web is likely to remain ideally suited to the purposes of the nonprofit community." Quoted from the Foreword to The Foundation Center's Guide to Grantseeking on the Web. 2003 Edition, edited by Kief Schladweiler (New York: The Foundation Center, 2003). Emphasis added.

THE ADVENT OF A NEW MANAGEMENT FUNCTION • Today there are over twenty different, widely used accounting software packages for nonprofit organizations. (See the comparative evaluations in the Jan 1, 2005 edition of The Nonprofit Times, pp 18-23) And there were more than twentyfive donor management software packages widely used

THE ADVENT OF A NEW MANAGEMENT FUNCTION • Larger nonprofits have "intranets" within their organization. Collaborative "networks" of nonprofits now share information, applications and services between one another on secure telecommunications systems that do not have to go over the Internet.

THE ADVENT OF A NEW MANAGEMENT FUNCTION
• Organizations have moved their Internet connections from dial up modums to T-l telephone lines, ADSL connections, ISDN, and cable. Speed and bandwidth are increasingly needed to accommodate large amounts of transferred information from web sites, databases and new technologies like video streaming and teleconferencing. Cell phones have been added to desk and wall phones. Computer and Internet functions are increasingly inter-related with telecommunication functions. Wireless arrangements have been added to networks.

THE ADVENT OF A NEW MANAGEMENT FUNCTION
This revolution in telecommunications technology has produced: • new ways of communicating; • new ways of storing information and accessing information; • new ways of marketing and doing commercial business, and • consequently new ways of managing information, communications, marketing and doing business.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• We started with incorporation and meeting legal requirements. The forms and directions can now be downloaded from the IRS web site. They can be completed online. Organizational designs and structuring of staff would now take into consideration the new technologies which are reshaping organizations and staffing patterns.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• We looked at the overarching role of governance performed by the board. The organization may now have a small database on board members and prospective members. Information on the board meetings, schedules, tools like by-laws and policies are now probably all in electronic form. Notices may be sent by email, even votes taken by email with the appropriate changes made in by-laws and with certain safeguards.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Parts of strategic planning, like the environmental scan, can be significantly enlarged and enhanced by informational and trend research conducted on the Internet, using various purpose search engines.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Information on possible collaborative or competitive nonprofit agencies can be researched at suites like GuideStar where annual reports on all nonprofits filing 990 tax reports are displayable. The organization may use a software application that assists the planning process, details scenarios, or lays out the process schedule.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Marketing research is supported by databases of information on current and prospective consumers, contributors and constituents. Extensive planning may go into the way these databases are integrated, segmented and customized.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Promotional information, like enewsletters, may go to one group or another. Customers may be segmented by various categories built into the database. The organization's web site becomes a critical part of its relationship with its constituency and to the general public.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Service delivery may actually occur on the Internet or be enhanced by specialized applications. Social service agencies have computerized case files and, in some cases, computerized case management systems. Educational institutions move into elearning, with virtual classrooms. Healthcare organizations have computerized patient files. Art organizations are selling tickets through ecommerce. Other other organizations are selling products through e-commerce as well.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Fundraising software is a highly competitive field, with various software application companies offering suites of service for small, medium and large organizations, specific to industries like education, healthcare or social services.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Fundraisers and grant writers access information on foundations, corporations and government agencies on the Web, through individual Web sites and specialized databases, like the Foundation Center. Funds are increasingly solicited through the Internet. Again, organizational web sites are critical. (See the "Resource" for a handbook with 3,000 annotated web sites relative to fundraising on the Internet.)

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Financial management was probably the first management area to be computerized, using small, medium or large size organizational modules, making sure that the new FASB reporting standards are incorporated into the application templates. Financial personnel may also be doing some of their banking business and making some purchases over the Internet. Budgets and forecasting is done with spreadsheet applications.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Human resources information about staff and volunteers is likely in special databases. Information about benefits and all the subsidiary reports needed on personnel are computerized. Payroll may be outsourced with electronic transfer of information.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Capital assets are now a matter for even small organizations as they build up their investments in technology, whether or not they own buildings or vehicles. They see anew the need to include depreciation of assets in their annual expenses as a way of insuring they have sufficient capital when the grants are gone and equipment needs to be updated or replaced.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations.
• Risk management takes on a new dimension, in that all this new equipment and data needs to be secure and safe. There are new procedures for frequent back-ups and new servers and firewalls to insure security. If the organization is involved with healthcare, it may be dealing with HIPPA regulations. Other organizations may have other privacy concerns, necessitating new policies and procedures.

The Management of Nonprofit Organizations
• Inter-organizational relations take on a whole new meaning as organizations begin to build "communities of practice", sharing aspects of their organizational business with others. In many cases, it is not so much a question of mergers, as of "backroom alliances" where organizations share financial, personnel and other administrative software applications and networked computer systems. They may also be sharing the same case management system and client data "up front".

PLANNING, ADMINISTERING AND STAFFING INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS and TECHNOLOGY

• How to plan for appropriate technology, how to finance and purchase needed technology, how to staff the MIS or IT system, how to train staff across the board according to their needs and the needs of the organization--these are now everyday issues for all sizes of organizations.

PLANNING, ADMINISTERING AND STAFFING INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS and TECHNOLOGY
• Despite the titles focused on "information" (e.g., MIS director, IT director), the functions are more than information management. The functions affected by the new technologies include organizational communications and ways of delivering services and doing business. Moreover, multiple persons on staffs, whose titles do not reflect technology or information management, are engaged in these areas just the same.

Pitfalls
• Relying heavily on volunteers. Organizations rely heavily on volunteers for their technology upgrades and day to day maintenance; volunteers play a crucial role, but it is important to have a staff person monitoring their work and any issues which may come up otherwise issues could be left unresolved and other things may fall through the cracks. Source: Ashima Saigal, The Nonprofit Good Practice Guide

Preferred Practices
• Respecting the privacy of your online users. Creating and enforcing a privacy policy on your Web site tells visitors that your organization is committed to keeping their personal information confidential – and earning their trust. Source: Carolyn Cross, Johnson Center for Philanthropy

Profiled Web sites
• Profiled Web sites and Links are sites chosen for their excellence and an abundance of information provided online. Basics | Community Development | Planning | Comprehensive

resources
• • • The Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, at www.nonprofitbasics.org, has a section on Technology, with brief information on resources, preferred practices, pitfalls, and trends. From among the thousands of web sites, here are a few samples of nonprofit organizations that are helping other nonprofit organizations with the new technologies. We will use these web sites in one of our Discussion topics this week.
– – – – – www.compasspoint.org, the management support center in California, with its special project, www.genie.org, information you can use. www.techsoup.org, a project of CompuMentor, another support organization specializing in the world created by computers. www.innonet.org, web site of the Innovation Network, using its web site to help organizations with planning and evaluation. www.fdncenter.org, the Foundation Center, based in New York, tracking foundations of all sizes and types, but also nonprofit sector and npo management trends. www.independentsector.org, the main organization representing nonprofits to government and bringing npo and foundations together in various conferences, projects and programs.

Resources
• A resource that may be in your closest Foundation Center satellite library or a large local library is The Foundation Center's Guide to Grantseeking on the Web. It is more than about grantseeking. It has annotated listings for over 3000 web sites--foundations, corporate and government grants, nonprofit agencies and resources for nonprofits. There are also chapters on topics like "databases on the Web", "Online Journals", "E-learning for the Nonprofit Sector", "Building Community (through) Listservs, Discussion Forums and Message Boards," the use of search engines, prospecting, and major nonprofit organizations on the Web. It has a glossary of Web terms and extensive bibliographies. (It comes in book form, on CD Rom, or both.). The book was published in 2003, 2nd edition, edited by Kief Schaldweiler, 852 pp, pbk.

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