What Has Technology Done For You Lately?

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By: Raji Mohanam, Knowledge Management Specialist, MHTF

I recently attended the NTEN Annual Conference (April 8-10) in Atlanta, Georgia. NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) is an organization that helps nonprofits navigate the high-speed, constantly-changing landscape that defines the world of technology today.

I was among 1400 participants comprised of both tech gurus as well as the tech-challenged. However, the mind-boggling array of workshops and sessions ensured everyone learned something new.

The big take-away for me was the simple fact that there are just so many wonderful tech tools and applications out there, especially for social media, that can truly make a difference in our work. However, many of us in the nonprofit sector—with our limited time and resources—often miss the chance to effectively apply these technologies. So, I am going to do my little part for those of us working tirelessly toward MDG 5 and shed some light on a few nifty tools and tricks. I’ll be sharing these tidbits with you over the course of the next few months in a series of posts entitled “What has technology done for you lately?”. Here are a few to kick things off:
• By now, most of us use Google Analytics to track metrics on our websites, right? We also all have a Facebook Fan Page set up. But Google Analytics for Facebook Fan Pages? Wow! Learn how you can track metrics on your FB page here!
• Many of us have realized the impact and power of using maps/GIS on our websites. There is nothing more appealing to your audience than a visual representation of your program activities on a map, especially the interactive kind. Yet, depending on what needs to be mapped it can be tedious and expensive depending on software and staff time required—even when using open-source tools (take it from me!). So, some of you might want to consider using this cool site. PolicyMap is highly rated by nonprofits and have paid and free versions of their GIS tools. They can also create maps for you when you provide them with raw data. Talk about a time-saver!
• Does your program strategy have a mobile phone component? If it does, you are definitely headed in the right direction. For the rest of us, let’s get on board! With cell phone subscriptions expected to reach and surpass 5 billion this year, it is no wonder that global health programs are increasingly using the medium to deliver their messages. It is a relatively economical investment, easy to implement, and fast. If you have done your research and think you are ready to start a mobile campaign (even on a trial basis), here is one resource to help you begin.

We’ll definitely be exploring some of these things here at the MHTF this year and hope that you will too. If you do, please give us your feedback. We would also love to hear your top technology tips as well. What makes your organization innovative?