Friday, March 15, 2013

Non-Profit Roundtable Explores New Technologies

New Technologies that Strengthen Organizations was the focus of the February Non-Profit Roundtable meeting. The session opened with the creation of a list of current technologies that some organizations use and others identified as available, both old and new, such as apps, blogs, DropBox, e-newsletters, Facebook (Linked In, MeetUp, and other social media), Mailchimp/EventBrite, Pivotal Tracker, Popcorn/CD burner XP, Salesforce (and other service softwares), Trello, YouTube, Websites and Zoho.

Oakland Chamber’s Ambassador of the Month (January) Fred Schott of 2CP Merchant Processing ( shared the many avenues that organizations have of processing credit and debit card transactions. Among many offerings, 2CP Merchant Processing provides wireless credit card terminals, cell phone processing and other online services. In an culture in which more and more individuals and companies are utilizing credit and debit cards (rather than checks and cash), these transaction tools are becoming more essential for community benefits organizations (i.e. non-profits) to remain competitive and conduct business.

Following Schott’s presentation, Jerry Metzker, Co-Chair of the Roundtable, shared information about the quickly expanding usage of smartphones (such as iPhones, Droids and other brands that include computer connectivity with standard phone options). Some quick facts, courtesy of Mobile Commons:

  • 99% of text messages are viewed
  • 83% of all people open their text messages within 15 minutes of receiving them
  • 95% of 18-29-year-olds text
  • There are over 300 million mobile subscribers
  • Over 6 billion text messages are sent every day in the United States alone
  • Individuals under the age of 60 send more text messages than make phone calls

Armed with these figures, Metzker shared two mobile companies that are at the forefront of smartphone connectivity – One Call Now ( and Mobile Commons ( One Call Now is specifically a mass communications service – to send one message (via text or phone) to multiple people simultaneously. Possible uses for this kind of service include invitations to activities or meetings, sharing a video or web-site link and even in a case of emergency. Metzker noted how this form of communication makes the Phone Tree cumbersome and obsolete. Mobile Commons provides a communications and fundraising-by-text service that includes immediately donating via mobile phone, sending quick thank yous to constituents or even notifying persons that an email has been sent to them. Mobile Commons noted that in a test, a text message reminding individuals to go to a request email was far more successful than just asking people to donate via email.

Âna-Marie Jones, our Roundtable Co-Chair, added how important these mass notification services can be for emergency and disaster readiness. The ability to immediately reach out to staff and volunteers via these services, or simply by text messages, is important for day-to-day effectiveness, but can save lives in times of crisis.

The number one rule for mobile communications, according to Michael Sabat of Mobile Commons, is to make the texts actionable, with messages that include “check out” or “go to.” He also noted that only individuals that have given permission to be texted should be.

Sara Batterby of Ethix Merchant Services ( and Ipsheeta Furtado of FTW Group ( spoke briefly on their partnership in providing business credit and debit card transactions in which a portion of the income goes to a community benefits organization that partners with the business.

The meeting concluded with a quick facilitation on the Law of Innovation scale led by Âna-Marie Jones. Attendees placed themselves on the scale (divided into five sections: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards) and reviewed the benefits and challenges nonprofit organization face being at each of the levels.

The use of technology, particularly with smartphones and tablets, is currently being examined throughout the CBO community, as noted in Nicole Wallace’s recent article, “Nonprofits Race to Get Ahead of the Explosion in Small Screens” in The Chronicle of Philanthropy (

* * * * *

The next Oakland Chamber Non-Profit Roundtable meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, from 2:30-4:30pm in the Chamber Boardroom. It’s Health Care Month at the Chamber, so our conversation and presentations will revolve around how you can care for the health and well-being of your staff and volunteers! Please come prepared to share about one thing you do at your agency to help keep people healthy or ways that you are helping your team to become healthier. All Chamber members and non-profit organizations interested in networking are welcome.

Co-Chair Âna-Marie Jones, Executive Director of CARD (
Co-Chair Jerry Metzker, Development & Marketing Manager of Biotech Partners (

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