computers & nonprofits: Benton Best Practices Toolkit update 9-98

Tom Boland (
Thu, 3 Sep 1998 13:04:30 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  CC Replies to Jillaine Smith <>

     UPDATE: 3 September 1998

Benton's "Best Practices Toolkit" <>
contains Internet and other resources aimed at helping nonprofits make
better use of information and communications technologies in their work.

If someone forwarded this message to you and you'd like to receive this
email update directly from us, just send a request, including your full
name and organizational affiliation, to <>.

New items in the Toolkit since 6/23/98 (it was summer...) include:


Benton published, over this summer, a new publication, Losing Ground Bit by
Bit: Low-Income Communities in the Digital Age
<>.  In addition to looking at
telecommunications policy issues concerning the economically disadvantaged,
the report also includes examples of technology projects in low-income
communities.  Available in HTML, PDF, and hard copy.

Philanthropy News Network (formerly Philanthropy Journal) is taking their
Nonprofits and Technology <> conferences on the
road.  This conference is designed for nonprofit and foundation staff
members eager to learn more specifics about how technology and the World
Wide Web are transforming the way the nonprofit world does business. Check
out when they'll be in a city near you.

Benton Senior Associate Jillaine Smith (that's me) spoke at the NCNA
conference in Atlanta about using new technology to deliver technical
assistance.  That talk is evolving into a What's Working: Technology
Approaches for Delivering Technical Assistance
<> page.  Feedback is appreciated.

Planning, implementation & evaluation

Alert Box: Current Issues in Web Usability <>
contains semi-monthly short and focused articles by Jakob Nielsenon on such
topics as outsourcing design, fighting linkrot, cost of user testing and
more. Update announcements are available by email.

"Impact of CTCNet Affiliates: Findings from a National Survey of Users of
Community Technology Centers," <> reports
on the extensive research about the effectiveness of CTCNet's programs.
Hard copies of this report are also available for $10. Send a check to
CTCNet Publications, 55 Chapel Street, Newton, MA 02458-1060.

As anyone who's ever started up a discussion list or online conference, if
you build it, they won't necessarily come and participate in it.  Resources
for Facilitators and Moderators of Online Discussion
( is an annotated list of articles
and other materials to help you set up, maintain, and have a successful
experience with online dialogue.

Organizing & advocacy tools

"Constituency Organizing on the Net" <>, by
Desktop Assistance's Marshall Mayer, is a case study in how a northwest
environmental movement used Ebase, a powerful organizing
database/communications software program, to campaign for environmental

The Institute for Global Communications, nonprofit Internet Service
Provider for peac and environmental organizations, has recently launched
IGC's Online Advocacy Tips <>, short
pieces of advice on using online technology for advocacy, with pointers to
examples.  You can also share your own.

Publicizing your efforts

"Under The Radar Why do some Web launches and events get online media
coverage, while others don't?" <>
Eric Ward has updated his already excellent presentation on publicizing
one's web site. Topics covered include recognizing and finding online
publicity opportunities; positioning your site content and message right;
using online PR services to contact online media outlets; and search engine

How to Develop an Email Newsletter
<> from Web Marketing Today
explains the why's and how's of creating an electronic newsletter to build
an online business.  Granted, this article is intended for a for-profit
audience, but its suggestions are easily transferrable to a nonprofit web

Technology funding for nonprofits

Microsoft Corporation's Nonprofit Technology Leadership Grants
<> program provides
*software* grants.

WebLab <>, with support from the Ford
Foundation and PBS, is a new approach to technology funding (specifically
web-site building), following a book-publishing approach  rather than a
grantmaking approach.  (Read the fine print carefully.) Round 1
participants may be reviewed to see who and how WebLab funds. A new round
of support is available; applications are due 9/13/98.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Food Systems/Rural Development program makes
technology-friendly grants through "Managing Information with Rural America
(MIRA)" <>. Its
purpose includes helping rural people use information systems and
technologies as a tool to meet current and future challenges. Each year,
through 2001,  MIRA will provide grants for clusters of community teams,
community support organizations, and policy support organizations to work
with electronic communications and information systems issues in rural

The Reuse Collaborative <> announces
version 1 of a database of reuse efforts nationally. Companies with
computers can post availability; organizations can search for what they're
looking for.

Technical assistance

The Circuit Rider Saddlebag
<> contains
resources used by technology assistance providers as they roam the
backroads of the NII, helping nonprofits use technology well.

Nonprofit-Tech <>, organized by Alnisa Algood,
is a combination web-site/newsletter with technical tips, fearless reviews
of software, and a Q&A area for posting your technical questions. This is
no-nonsense site built with the nonprofit in mind.  A recent addition
includes "Year 2000 Compliance
The Millenium Bug and How It Effects Your Nonprofit"

Web Stuff

Wonder why the color you used to design your web graphics looks so lousy on
someone else's computer? "Color On The Web" <>, by
Lynda Weinman, explains challenges behind and solutions to using color in
web design.   See also her "Photoshop For The Web"
<> -- tips for using Photoshop for designing web

Good Documents <>, by Dan Bricklin, helps
content providers write for the Web-- specifically content that will be
read on the screen.  The Techniques and Samples sections provide tips on
creating screen-readable documents.

In "Nonprofits need to examine the accessibility of Web sites"
<>, Emily Brewer points out that web
pages with special graphics and uncaptioned audio and video are
inaccessible to millions of disabled computer users. In addition to
shutting these users out, nonprofits risk violating the Americans with
Disabilities Act. See also her "Tips for making your Web site more
accessible" <>.

Nonprofit-Related Newsletters

Campaign Web Review <> is a biweekly
newsletter, available through a web site or via email, that examines the
use of the Internet by political campaigns.


What? You haven't checked out Benton's Cyber Pages lately?
<> You'll find there annotated links to a number
of resources related to communications policy and practice. Here are recent

DevMedia <> is an excellent compilation of
organizations and resources focused on progressive, public interest media

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) <http/>
is a new US Department of Education meta-site that acts as a gateway to US
government sites that can be used as teaching tools or resources. FREE is a
handy way for teachers to find quickly useful government sites that can be
put to use in the classroom.

"Ending the Siege: Introducing Technologies into the Regular Classroom"
<>, by Jamie McKenzie, looks at what
it's going to take in order for technology implementation in the classroom
to be successful.

The Well-Connected Educator <>, while not new,
contains some recent and excellent articles written by teachers for
teachers on a range of education technology topics including: What do you
do after you open the (computer) box, developing an international student
exchange program via email, and Multimedia in the foreign language classroom.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
<> is the largest nonprofit organization supporting
technology-using educators in the world. Included on their site is
"Learning and Leading With Technology," a journal of articles written by
educators for educators that emphasize practical ideas for learning about
technology and integrating its use into the K-12 curriculum.

Current Cites <http/> is a wonderful
email newsletter and web site, run by the University of California, that
covers current trends in information technology as it applies to libraries
and librarians.  Nonprofits who publish a great deal of content could
benefit from subscribing to this free service.

"Copyright in the Digital Era" by Janet Balas, is an excellent annotated
collection of sources for researching copyright issues.  Learn what the
United States Copyright Office, the American Library Association, the
Digital Future Coalition, the Creative Incentive Coalition and others have
to say about fair use and other copyright issues.

Community Networking

Over the summer, there has been a flurry of meetings, presentations, and
reports  concerning the current state of community networks and community
networking. Here's what's come out this year: (See Benton's Cyber Pages
<> for a fuller list of
community networking resources.)

Community Networking in the U.S.: At a crossroads?
<http://>, by Amy
Borgstrom, is a wonderful and current overview of where community
networking started, where it's been, and the challenges and opportunities
it faces today.

Developing Community Resources on the Internet Community Resources
Self-Sustaining Online Models
by Peter Krasilovsky for the Markle Foundation, looks at models for being
self-sustaining, public/private partnerships, and the lessons we can learn
from what's been done to date. See also a related paper by the same author,
Developing Community Resources on the Internet: Local Community
Partnerships With Community Sites
 Both papers (which have a fair amount of overlap) appear to be calling for
increased partnership between nonprofit community networks and commercial

Democracy is Online <>, by Steve
Clift, discusses the challenges to using communications technologies to
promote and enhance democracy, while pointing to examples throughout the
world where he believes it's working. People interested in these issues may
also discuss them on Steve's E-Democracy discussion lists.

Global Communication and Community Networks: How Do We Institutionalize
Democracy in the Electronic Age? <>
This piece by Doug Schuler (author of Community Networking) looks at the
role that the Internet in general, and community networking specifically,
can play in promoting democracy, as well as the challenges faced in order
to make such a role successful.

In UIC Neighborhoods and Nonprofit Network's "Lessons Learned,"
<> Albert Schorsch shares, in a
brief, annotated style, the lessons this community initiative has learned
using technology. A quick read.

Little Engines that Could: Case histories from the global telecentre
movement, <> by Richard P. Fuchs
for IDRC, evaluates the successes, challenges, lessons learned, and policy
implications of six telecentres around the world. If you don't have time to
read each of the case studies, do be sure to read the Analysis and
Conclusions <>.

"Making the Net Work -- Terry's Tour"
<> is a collection of reports and
presentations about the current state of community networking, and new
approaches to its evolution, prepared by community networker Terry Grunwald
(of NCExchange) for her summer 1998 tour in the U.K.

"Rethinking Community Networking as Networked Communities"
<> is a thought-provoking
keynote speech that Andy Carvin gave at the Community Information
Networking conference in Osage Beach, Missouri, March 1998.


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