News

Here you will find information about the organizations in our network, the nonprofit industry, and important events happening in the world around us:

 
Crisis Action -how to respond:

Syrian Relief

Hurricanes Maria, Harvey, and Irma, the Mexican Earthquakes, Rohingya in Mynamar Crisis, Flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, BC Wildfires, and 2017 East African Famine.

 

September 25, 2017 Five Steps to Organized Information

September 12, 2017 Back to School for Nonprofit Professionals

July 25, 2017 Optimizing Search Engines with Information Management Principles

July 10, 2017 What We’re Up To: A new website for CARUWE

June 27, 2017 Great Software Solution for Creating Graphics

June 12, 2017 The Cost of Employee Transition

May 29, 2017 Be a Curator of Information

May 15, 2017 How Do You Evaluate?

November 28, 2016 GivingTuesday 2016

September 10, 2015 Coming Soon: The Service Search & Review

September 3, 2015 How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

July 14, 2015 Newsletter: July
June 25, 2015 Dropbox’s Policies: 8 essential must-knows

Five Steps to Organized Information

Cluttered Desk

Organizing your information will help avoid over-retention and clutter, save time, and prevent duplication.

 

When I am very busy, I tackle work by cleaning up my desk, and then making a list of what I must get done. Starting by organizing allows me to clear clutter; not just physically, but mentally as well. It becomes much easier to see work and priorities clearly. This is the basic principle behind information management. When information is organized, it can be presented in a way that facilitates learning, comprehension, and decision making. When information is saved haphazardly, either in hard or soft copy, it doesn’t get used. Disorganized documents cause work to be duplicated and time to be wasted.
 

Adopting an easy to use information management system will help avoid over-retention, clutter, and  prevent duplication and time spent searching for information.
 

Here are 5 steps to get started:

  1. Scraps of paper with notes are little bits of your organization’s knowledge. Do not lose them if they contain valuable information. Capture it in way that makes sense for you.
  2. Your inbox and desktop are the digital versions of your physical desk. An inbox with hundreds (or dare I say, thousands) of emails is like a desk with a massive stack of paper. It will take so much time to get any information out of that stack. Delete or store the messages and documents accordingly.
  3. We all save documents, like interesting articles, to read at a later time. If you never read them, stop saving them. If you really want to start reading them, set aside time each week just for this purpose.
  4. Give documents a title that describes what they are and why you are saving them. Each name should not duplicate the sub-folder preceding it.
  5. Find out what your legal obligations are: Depending on how your organization is registered, there may be regulations regarding records management that you must adhere to. Find out what must (and what must not) be kept and whether there are any regulations regarding storage and retrieval.

Back to School for Nonprofit Professionals

Stack of resourceful books

A great way to get the training you need, as you complete work projects.

 
There are so many resources to help nonprofit professionals learn a new skill.
 
The Center for Sustainable Development is one such organization. What’s unique about their approach is they teach learners using their own work projects. For example, if you need to learn how to build an AdWords campaign for your organization, the online course at CSDi will teach and guide you step-by-step to build your organization’s AdWord campaign. So in the end, you will have a certificate for the online course and have completed your project.
 

CSDi offers many great online courses. Visit their website for the full list, <http://nonprofit.csd-i.org/>.

Optimizing Search Engines with Information Management Principles

Newspaper plane

 

Is SEO just information management? Well, maybe not quite, but it sure helps!

 
For the past few months I have been working on a lengthy search engine optimization (SEO) project and as an information guru, it has been truly fascinating!
 
The job of a search engine is to respond to a user’s query with a list of best and most appropriate websites. Search engines evaluate websites based on certain criteria such as content, URLs, headings, site speed, responsiveness, and history. For a website to be viewed favourably by a search engine, its data needs to be kept clean, tidy, and well organized. Each page, post, or image must be categorized and labelled properly. Anything stale, outdated, or unused must be removed. An SEO checklist for website is enormous, but it reflects the best practices for managing information.
 
Here are a few tips to both manage your websites information and optimize search engines:

  • Each web-page should be relevant, useful, and fresh, and have appropriate titles and tags.
  • Irrelevant, out of date, or incorrect information should be deleted.
  • All links must work. All external links should be checked periodically to ensure they are still appropriate.
  • All images should provide informative metadata.
  • Use categories and tags correctly.
  • Know your organization’s keywords and ensure your website supports them.

 
SEO, like information management, is an ongoing process, they both require regular maintenance, and nothing should be categorized as ‘miscellaneous’.
 
If you are interested in learning more about SEO or managing information, contact me and I will send you some great resources!

What We’re Up To

A New Website for CARUWE, an organization run by women in Uganda and the DR Congo


Recently we were contacted by Community Action For Rural Women’s Empowerment (CARUWE), an organization founded by women, run by women, to support women in Uganda and the DR Congo. A new website wasCommunity Action for Rural Women's Empowerment Logo a the top of their wish list. They had out grown their previous one and wanted a refreshing, sophisticated website that would reflect their organization. And voilà, www.caruwe.wordpress.com!
 
I created this website so CARUWE can tell their story, share their work, and connect with their community and supporters; which was easy to do, given just how innovative, well organized, and responsive CARUWE’s team is!
 
If you have not heard of CARUWE before, check out their website, they do incredible work. We hope you like it, CARUWE!!
 
If your nonprofit also has problems that need solving, contact me. Services in Action’s work is to help you help others, for free.

Great Software Solution for Creating Graphics

Great software for creating graphics -pencil crayons

A great, useful image-creating solution for communicators

One of my favourite aspects of being a nonprofit professional is how uncomplicated some things can be to accomplish. If I have an idea, and the desire to see the idea to fruition, it can be done. It is not necessary for meetings, belabouring bureaucractic processes, and permission from numerous departments. For example, I don’t need a marketing expert to communicate with stakeholders. However, sometimes it would be great to have a marketing expert to communicate with stakeholders.
 
If you need to execute a task professionally, which is outside of your skill set, having the right software solution can be your best colleague.
 
So, for nonprofit professionals who need to communicate well, allow me introduce you to Canva, < https://www.canva.com/ >. It is a web-based software solution that allows users to create professional looking graphics, with ease. Canva can be used to create an image, alter an existing image, or give a bit of spice to otherwise plain text. My favourite feature of Canva is the pre-formatted sizes. It is not necessary for you to know the exact size of the graphic you want to make; you can simply select what it’s for -documents, digital marketing material, or social media headers and posts. And best of all, it’s free!

The Cost of Employee Transition

I read an article last week about someone, describing herself as “typical millennial,” has had seven jobs Information Managementin seven years. If this much transition is typical, imagine how much time and information gets lost between employees? With each new employee, organizations spend time, (and therefore money) getting them up to speed; and as each former employee leaves, with them goes organizational information that is captured nowhere else but in their head. For many small organizations this is a huge hurdle, and to go through it constantly can be a significant expenditure. By managing your organization’s information you can mitigate the loss of time, money, and information.
 
Here’s a great article to help you get started: Six Steps To Managing Your Organization’s Information
 
Just imagine, a work system that allows all of its users to find and access what they need easily and quickly, no matter how long they have been employed with you!

Be a Curator of Information

Newspaper plane

How do you stay informed?

 
If you are responsible for being an expert about a specific topic it is very important to stay informed on that topic. How do you do that? You can curate information using Google Alerts. By using this feature you will receive a message when content you have tagged as important is published online.
 
Catch all important updates using Google Alerts. Use your existing Google account or sign up for a new one, (you can learn about their policies here). Go to www.google.ca/alerts <https://www.google.ca/alerts>.
 
Create an alert using any relevant words including names of people. You can use Boolean operators as well. For example, if you want to receive an alert for the word “information”, “inform”, “informed”, or “informing” you can enter “inform*” the asterisk captures all words that start with those letters.
 
Settings wheel:

Set delivery time: This is a handy way to manage the emails. Rather than getting a message whenever content is published, you can have one message sent with a list of each piece of content. You can also set the time you want to receive the content.

Digest: Receive all alerts in a single email. (This will abbreviate the list, you may miss content)

Flag as irrelevant: If you need to search a word like “senior” you will receive alerts for a number of different uses for that word, for example both elderly people and people in their last year of US high school. Use the flag as irrelevant option to customize your alert.

How do you evaluate?

Newspaper plane

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently. They ask if they could tell me honestly what they thought about a project I’d poured myself into for the better part of a year. I said yes because I (want to believe) am open to criticism. The feedback was not too kind, but very thoughtful. I very much appreciated all they had to say. I wrote down all of their critiques and feel I honestly considered each point.

 

Evaluation is so important to success. It has to be critical and analyze the merits and faults of the work or project. How do you analyze, edit, or critique your work?

 

Here are some great resources to guide critical evaluation:

Giving Tuesday 2016

Giving Tuesday

The holiday season inspires so many reasons to give and get involved in charitable deeds. This is part of the motivation behind GivingTuesday. “Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season” the organizers of this Christmas campaign explain. Most people want to give, but don’t do so until they are asked. So, the goal of GivingTuesday is to help charities garner support, and help individuals connect with a cause and get involved.

Again this year Services in Action has partnered with GivingTuesday because we too want to make connections between people who want to give, be it time or money, and organizations looking for support. Each December we run a campaign called All We Want For Christmas. This campaign highlights the wishes of our community partners.

“Services in Action works with a lot of people around the world who are driven to make lasting changes in their communities. All year long we hear inspiring stories of passion and determination. We want to share the drive of our partners and their stories during the season of giving to let possible donors know how their gift can make a lasting impact,” said Tiffany Nyklickova, Project Specialist with Services in Action. The goal of the All We Want for Christmas campaign is to provide a platform for our community partners to say what they need and to let donors know about the work of different charities.

Services in Action is making gift giving easy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily wishes.

Consider this your holiday giving guide!

Happy Giving!

An Accessible Website in 12 Steps

Accessible Websites mouse with accessibility icon

Information is being put online at a dramatic pace. According to IBM, 90% of the data in the world has been added in just the past two year alone! People who could not previously access information now can. And because of this, each person’s ability to learn, communicate, and share information has been drastically changed. Barriers no longer exist where they previously did. In 2011, the United Nations declared the internet a human right. It is a human right because it enables other human rights. The internet allows people to access information about work, education, healthcare, housing, and other social services and necessities. It facilitates abilities.
 
A disability is any experience that puts a barrier between what a person wants to do and what a person can do. It is possible to be disabled in one situation and not another. The online world presents opportunities to tear down barriers. As creators of online content we are responsible to ensure web-based barriers are mitigated.
 
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that works as a leader for web discourse. The W3C is committed to ensuring and advancing web accessibility. To do so, the W3C established the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines are divided into three areas, designing, writing, and developing. By following their guidelines your website participates in an online community committed to benefiting everyone regardless of their physical, mental, or social ability.
 
If you think people with disabilities don’t visit your website reconsider what you think a disability is, who it affects, and what kind of benefits we’d all gain if everyone could fully participate in our online community. Web accessibility is not just about seeing content and moving a mouse. It also involves understanding and interacting with content, knowing and responding to web based jargon, searching and browsing, and moving through the architecture of websites.
 
Here’s a list of 12 items for designing an accessible website:
 

  1. Provide sufficient contrast between the foreground and background.
    A white background with black text allows for the greatest contrast.
  2. Don’t use color alone to convey information.
    Don’t use just colour to indicate a required field for a form. For example, use another indicator such as an asterisk as well. Underline hyperlinks and use a different colour for the text.
  3. Ensure that interactive elements are easy to identify and manipulate.
    Buttons should be easy to click on with a mouse, they shouldn’t be too small.
    Make hyperlinked text descriptive of what it link does. Do not link the word “click here” or “read more,” instead include the hyperlink on an article’s title.
  4. Provide clear and consistent navigation options.
    Have you ever noticed how stores have distinct sections and aisles? This allows shoppers to find what they need (and sometimes stumble upon things they don’t). Websites should provide the same experience. One handy feature is breadcrumbs on each page, this allows the user to know where they are in the website –for example: the household goods store > bedding > pillow cases. This provides for easy navigation through the website and helps users find information.
  5. Ensure that form elements include clearly associated labels.
    Form elements may include a login or contact us forms. Be clear about what you are asking the user to do and provide feedback in more than one way. For example, use an asterisk.
    This is a good place to consider Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart or CAPTCHAs. This is the little quiz at the end of a form to tell if you are a robot. They can be very difficult for some people to respond to. (I have difficulty deciphering them every time!) If it really is necessary for your website to have one, there are a few options that facilitate accessibility more than reading an encrypted word. Some options include images rather than words or a tick box for “I am not a robot.” But in the same way CAPTCHAs block spam, they also block accessibility. Before installing a CAPTCHA feature consider if it is really necessary or the concern of your website’s visitors to reduce the amount of spam you receive.
  6. Provide easily identifiable feedback and instruction.
    When visitors interact with your website they should be able to know what they need to do and get good feedback, especially when they’ve made an error. If an error is made when filling out a form, for example, clearly indicate where the error was made. If users need to provide information such as a telephone number or create a password, provide an example of how the number should be entered or the character requirements for a password.
  7. Use headings and spacing to group related content and convey meaning.
    It is easy to get overwhelmed with web pages that are full of clutter. It is hard to read text and retrieve information from websites that aren’t clean and clear. So, use white space and proximity to separate different content and use style headings to group content. Reduce clutter on the page and make images relevant to the topic. This will make the webpage easier to scan and understand. Also, make the content easy to read.
  8. Provide informative, unique pages titles.
    Page titles provide an introduction to the content below. It allows users to scan and anticipate the information. Each section of your website should be distinct from other sections.
  9. Create designs for different viewport sizes.
    Websites need to be responsive. Always check how your website appears on different web browsers, devices, and in print.
  10. Provide alternative text for images.
    All of the tips included here not only make your website more accessible, they also make it better. This is especially true for alternative text. Alternative text is the metadata included in each picture. When a picture is uploaded there is an opportunity to enter a few specific points of data –the title, description, and caption. Input the metadata in each image. This allows screen readers to read what the picture is. It also allows Google’s search feature to read what the picture is, which is a very good way to boost a website’s search optimization. So that being said, ensure the information you enter is accurate and descriptive.
  11. Provide controls for content that starts automatically.
    This includes slider images that present content on a rotation. Really, evaluate anything that moves on a webpage and decide if the movement is necessary. Content that moves can be distracting.
  12. Provide alternative ways to receive information.
    Include captions on videos, transcripts for audio content, and ensure pages can be easily printed or converted to pdf.
     
    This list in not exhaustive. Excluded from this list are more specific guidelines for developing a website. To read the complete list of tips check out the WCAG requirements Tips for Getting Started with Web Accessibility [https://www.w3.org/WAI/gettingstarted/tips/

    IBM What is big data. Retrieved: June 2016. https://www-01.ibm.com/software/data/bigdata/what-is-big-data.html.

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