Bagels & Bytes on a Boat Meeting Notes – June 2014

Bagels & Bytes attendees waving from the deck of the Explorer.We had perfect weather for our summer outing, Bagels & Bytes on a Boat!  A big thank you to RiverQuest and to the riverboat staff who made this meeting possible!

As usual, the Bayer Center gave away prizes during the meeting, including a one-year individual NTEN membership, a NetSquared mug and a bunch of NetSquared stickers!  (Thanks, Eli!!)

Note that B&B-Allegheny goes on hiatus for July and will return the first Wednesday of August at the usual time.  We’ll be meeting at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside.

Bagels & Bytes attendees waving from the deck of the Explorer (close-up photo).

Here are the notes from the meeting:

Generational Differences and Tech

  • The younger generation knows tech, the older generation knows business need.
  • Both generations can learn from each other.

QuickBooks Online

  • Doesn’t work well with Windows XP.
  • QuickBooks support, however, is really good.  They will help you with workarounds if needed.

Local Tech Vendors

Other Tech Vendors / Websites

The Cloud

  • If your org is mostly or wholly cloud-based, you need excellent Internet speed.
  • The cloud isn’t for everyone.  You have to be okay with being heavily reliant on your Internet connection and on the third party software or hardware providers.
  • Important to find reliable cloud-provider companies.

Funding the Cloud

  • Capital vs. operating expense
  • Tech-wise, nonprofits aren’t much difference from small businesses.  Where they differ the most is that businesses tend to be better about having a tech plan and about budgeting for tech.
  • More difficult to get grant funding for operating expenses like cloud hardware or software.  Foundations tend to look at those expenditures as the cost of doing business.

Other Topics and Ideas

  • BoardBookit – board collaboration and management software (cloud-based)
  • Tech Committees are a good practice for all orgs.  It’s important to put together a diverse group of people across organizational functions and with varied skill sets.
  • Office 365 – the migration is reported to be pretty smooth.  Cost is ~$4.50 per user per month and can be purchased at TechSoup.  Rollouts go best when staff is prepped in advance and provided with training post-migration.
  • Lantek – provides informational sessions on Office 365 periodically.
  • Re-Use Technology Collaborative
  • GTECH
  • Office 2013 – slight difference in menus (saving files, etc.)
  • There is an MS SharePoint group that meets monthly in the Microsoft building on the North Shore.
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Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – May 2014

Haller House on the Frick campus

Haller House at the Frick Art & Historical Center.

This month was our final meeting at the Frick Art & Historical Center this year.  Thank you once again to Linda and the Frick staff for hosting us! Join us next month for Bagels & Bytes on a Boat, located on the RiverQuest boat Explorer near the Carnegie Science Center!

Here are the meeting notes for May:

For the Reading List

Social Media

  • What is the shelf-life of a social media channel?
  • As long as the company is making money, will probably stick around.
  • Look at what teens are using to see what’s up-and-coming

Zero Day Vulnerability

  • Discussion about which orgs have applied the IE patch to date.
  • Most are communicating instructions to staff via email.
  • Also need to deal with the Windows XP security patch, which we suspect many orgs are still using, including government entities.
  • Can probably keep using XP machines if stay unconnected from the Internet.
  • Several people reported having good experiences with upgrading older PCs from XP to 7.

Hosted Raiser’s Edge

  • Costs extra for this version, but is nice to have Blackbaud worry about data backups, security, etc.
  • It is good to have a redundant Internet connection (multiple ISPs), particularly if using a lot of apps in the cloud.

Phone Service/ISP Providers

If you could tell your board anything about technology at nonprofit, what would you say?

  • Even though technology isn’t splashy (doesn’t get your org’s name in the paper), it’s still important and it needs to be funded, even if it’s not causing problems.
  • Need to make the investment in infrastructure.
  • Tech touches every piece of what every staff member is doing – it’s critical.
  • You can’t assume it’s working well just because it appears to be working.
  • Tech isn’t like a utility – you can’t flip a switch and it magically works.
  • Technology evolves. An org has to stay on top of it, keep evolving with it and investing in it.
  • The board shouldn’t micromanage the tech function.
  • The board should/could look at technology investing as part of its legacy to the org.
  • Board members can be champions for technology – advocating for it.
  • Techies push the wave, need to be the board thinking about tech.
  • Organizations should have a technology committee.
  • Have to find balance between budget oversight and over-scrutiny.
  • Reporting tech-related outcomes to the board at least once per year might be beneficial.
  • Sometimes tech staff sees something that could be done with existing tech, but needs backup / tech plan / support from the E.D. and board.
  • Tech should be given a seat at the table, not be housed under the CFO or finance department.
  • An organization can have the grandest program ideas in the world but still need tech infrastructure to make anything work.
  • An org can never sit still with technology – it evolves too quickly. Orgs constantly have to be scanning and looking ahead.
  • Best to chip away a little each year at tech needs and projects, rather than let them pile up and overwhelm the org and its budget.
  • Never assume that your org is “done” with tech.
  • IT has to be allowed to take risks in order to move the organization forward.  Failures can sometimes happen and boards can be risk-averse, but risk is part and parcel of IT otherwise stagnation can result.
  • An org should never do tech for its own sake.  Always look at the business needs first.

Bagels & Bytes on a Boat – June 2012

On June 13, we had our annual summer outing, Bagels & Bytes on a Boat!  The perfect weather and great bunch of attendees made for a fun and informative event!  Check out this great-looking bunch:

Bagels and Bytes attendees sitting around a table smiling

Notes/discussion from the meeting:

  • Social media strategy and management
    • You have to “hook” people with the story.
    • Having a consistent voice is a big challenge.
    • Have to figure out social media goals first and foremost.
    • Some orgs have the community in place and have to figure out the story, while others have the story down pat but must work to engage the community.
    • How much time to spend?  Who will do it?  (Who can/will appropriately represent the voice of the organization?)
    • Sometimes there’s a fear of the message getting out of hand.
    • Monitoring helps – if you make time to do it.  It can be dangerous if you don’t watch social media messaging constantly.
    • Social media can be reaffirming for your dedicated supporters.
    • People want to connect with people, not brands or orgs.  (Article “New Research: Americans Hate Social Media Promotions“)
    • How do you make it personal enough?  (Goes back to the idea of storytelling.)
    • What’s the ROI?  Need for measuring this.
    • Staff wasting time on social media is a HR/performance issue to be addressed with policy and education.
    • Facebook search can be more effective than Google search – includes extended and more personalized search results.
    • Book (was door prize):  “101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: A Field Guide
  • Email
    • We are load shifting our messaging from one type to another.
    • How to best manage email load?
    • Everyone has to make a decision on how you want to be communicated with and “train” others to that style

Reminder: we have no July B&B meeting. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, August 1, at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside from 8:30-10 am.  See you there!

View the 2012 Bagels & Bytes Calendar.

Bagels & Bytes on a Boat – June 2011

We held our third annual Bagels & Bytes on a Boat on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.  RiverQuest graciously permitted us to use their beautiful boat Explorer for our meeting.  We had a great turnout and a great time!

Here are resources from the meeting (photos will be uploaded in a separate post on this blog shortly):

We have no B&B meeting in July, but will be back on Wednesday, August 3, at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside.  Have a great summer!

Allegheny B&B – May 2011 Meeting

This month we met for the last time this year at UCP/CLASS on Centre Avenue in Oakland.  Thank you once again to Michelle Hines and her crew for having us!

Here are notes and resources from the meeting:

Equipment Sourcing

RiverQuest Explorer boatOther Topics

On Wednesday, June 8 (8:30-10 am), we’ll have our annual “Bagels & Bytes on a Boat” meeting on RiverQuest’s docked boat ExplorerKeep an eye on your email in the next few weeks for more information. 


Get 2011 B&B meeting info and location/directions here.

Allegheny B&B – June 2010 Meeting Notes

RiverQuest ExplorerOn June 9, 2010, we held our annual “Bagels & Bytes on a Boat” event!  We once again held our usual meeting, but on the lovely RiverQuest boat, Explorer.  I’d like to thank everyone who came to the meeting and to offer our group’s collective thanks to RiverQuest for the use of their glorious boat.

We had an interesting exploratory discussion on the pros and cons of forming a central group for nonprofits in our region to gain purchasing power for technology assets.

Bagels and Bytes on a Boat 2010

In addition, here are the resources and links shared during the meeting:

  • Computer Recycling:
    • Construction Junction
    • Best Buy
    • Originally Goodwill was mentioned, but I heard a rumor they had stopped accepting computing equipment for recycling – can anyone verify or disprove this fact?
    • http://www.agreenspan.org (Rose said she used them a few years ago and was pleased with the service and comfortable with the environmental aspect.  They pick up for a fee.)
    • Eloop – partners with Construction Junction
  • Grants Management
    • MicroEdge has a Internet-based grants application manager

Norm Mast of Lutheran Service SocietyNorm Mast of Lutheran Service Society won the door prize this year – some Bayer Center swag for cold and hot beverages – congrats, Norm!

Bagels & Bytes on a Boat – June 2009 Meeting

Ahoy! We had a great time this month at Bagels & Bytes on a Boat!  RiverQuest’s new boat Explorer is everything we hoped it would be.

Talkin' Tech at B&B on a Boat

Talkin' Tech at B&B on a Boat

A big “thank you” to the RiverQuest staff and crew who were so helpful and gracious before and during our meeting.

We held a drawing for two tech-related books at our meeting.  Rose McKee from the Benedum Foundation won “Momentum” by Allison Fine and Mike Papas from Three Rivers Youth won “Wired for Good” by Joni Podolsky.

Speaking of the book “Wired for Good” – I can get this for $10 per copy, but have to order at least five at a time.  Please email me at leonard@rmu.edu if you are interested in being added to a list.

Regardless of the setting, you can’t stop NP techies from talking about tech!  Here are some of the resources discussed during our meeting:

One last tidbit from the meeting…Sandy S. brought her little tech guy-to-be along for us to meet.  This little dude attended Bagels & Bytes in utero all last year and we finally got to meet him!

Bagels & Bytes Baby

Our Bagels & Bytes Baby!


Next Bagels & Bytes Meetings

Note:  There are no B&B meetings in July.

  • Allegheny group – Wednesday, August 5 at Easter Seals in the Strip District, 8 am – 9:30 am.
  • Downtown group – Thursday, August 6 at the Bayer Center office in the Regional Enterprise Tower, 8 am – 9:30 am.

I know we discussed changing the meeting start times to 8:30 am.  Since the Bayer Center calendar and course catalog have been published and widely distributed through August, let’s keep the original start time through that month.  I’ll change it in our fall course catalog and we’ll give an 8:30 am start time a try for a few months.

2009 Bagels & Bytes Calendar is here