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Sigma-Aldrich taps Google Apps to enable real-time collaboration

Google Enterprise Blog -

Posted by Silji Abraham, CIO, Sigma-Aldrich Corporation

Editor's note: Today’s guest blogger is Silji Abraham, CIO at Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, a life science and high technology company with more than 9,000 employees and operations in over 40 countries. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Can you tell us about Sigma-Aldrich and your decision to move to Google Apps?
Sigma-Aldrich is a leading life science and high technology company whose products are used in scientific research and disease diagnosis, and as key components in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Our customers include more than 1.4 million scientists and technologists in life science companies, university and government institutions, hospitals and industry. We have a global team of more than 9,000 employees, who produce and distribute more than 230,000 products to over 40 countries and provide excellent service worldwide.

Like many other organizations, our employees around the world create significant amounts of unstructured data in various forms to support our business and our customers. We started exploring Google Apps as a global collaboration platform to bring this unstructured content in real-time to every employee anywhere, irrespective of the device.

How does Google Apps fit into your vision to change and improve the way employees work?
Just as Sigma-Aldrich accelerates customers’ success through innovative products, customized solutions and unsurpassed service, our Information Technology group does the same for our internal customers. Our entire employee population benefits from the innovative, collaborative nature of Google Apps. At our recent sales meeting, for example, we relied on the Google Apps platform to make the week completely paperless. Key documents and up-to-date information were available and accessible to the team from their phones, tablets and laptops, and we didn’t have to waste any money printing things out or time worrying about changes to the plans along the way.

How is Google Apps changing the way you manage your IT?
Consumerization has driven significant changes in how the best businesses satisfy the collaboration needs of their employees. Now that we’re on Google Apps, we have a single platform that solves these needs across the enterprise, without the need for third-party add-ons. It’s easier to manage and provides a true consumerized experience for all our users. From an IT management perspective, we’ve simplified our collaboration platform significantly.

What role does Google Apps play in the strategy and success of your recruiting plans?
College graduates today are quite familiar with the consumerization of IT, such as Gmail and the Google Apps collaboration platform. I think this familiarity helps new employees acclimate to our business environment in a shorter period of time, increasing their efficiency and productivity.

What are you most excited about as you adopt Google Apps across the company?
I’m particularly excited about three specific things when it comes to our switch to Google Apps. First, we’re able to make all of our unstructured data available for collaboration to all employees, in real-time, on any device, supported by a full content search. Second, hundreds of disparate, custom-built small applications are naturally finding their way into Google Apps because of the power of a homogenous platform. These applications provide additional ways for real-time collaboration and a better user experience. Third, using Hangouts has already made us more productive as an organization, and we’ve only just begun. Jumping in on a video conference is no longer a siloed process. It’s seamlessly integrated with the flow of emailing a colleague or sharing a Google Doc.

Finally, let me just say that with Google Apps, I believe we’re supporting the core mission of Sigma-Aldrich internally to our employees. That is, we’re enabling our technology to improve the quality of life of employees, so they can focus their energy on developing and delivering the highest quality products and services to our customers.

Nonprofits and Instagram: The Ultimate Curated Collection of Best Practices, Examples, and Tips

Beth's Blog -

As a content curator, I’m not just on the hunt for learning the new or what’s buzzing.    But, a big part of content curation is organizing and presenting your collection.    I don’t always share links as I find them, but because I use content curation to support curriculum development for my training work, I like to share collections that organized so people can take an hour or so and get up to speed on a topic or to use if you are doing a training. Here’s the collection and annotated version is below.

Instagram Overview

Here’s the basics if you are getting the C-Suite up to speed:

Instagram is a free application for iPhone or Android that lets people take photos, apply filters to change the look of the photos and then share them. Users can share them on Instagram while also choosing to share them to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare.    It was created in 2010 and purchased by Facebook in 2012 (more history here).   As of March, 2014 Instagram has 200 million users.

Instagram has a couple of marketing benefits.    It’s a great branding tool because it can engage audiences, creative instimacy, and appeals to the emotions.   It is superb for visual storytelling about your organization, its stakeholders, and results.

Nonprofit Examples and Getting Started or Rebooting A Strategic Approach

If your nonprofit wants to get started or set up a presence it is “meh,”   the first step is to check out what other nonprofits in your space are doing on Instagram and other inspiring examples.

Ten Inspiring Nonprofits (2012) on Instagram by Mashable

Nonprofits That Get Instagram (2014) by Kerri Karvesti – an excellent Pinterest board of great examples

Also, here’s a post I wrote about how early adopter nonprofits have used Instagram for contests.

If you want to see some what some of the best corporate brands are doing in Instagram for some transferable ideas, this post from Jeff Bullas is useful.

Your first step is listening and observing to gain some insights for your strategy.  You should do some searching on key hashtags that your nonprofit uses as Instagram is big on hashtags and that’s where you’ll get the lay of the land.    Here are some other good starter steps for nonprofits that want to grow their Instagram following strategically.

How to Use Instagram

This is selective list of best practice and tips blog posts ordered in a way to help you master Instagram.

Best Practices and Tips for Nonprofits

Here several excellent recent posts written for nonprofits that want to use Instagram:

Cheat Sheets and Tutorial To Coach Your Nonprofit CEO

Instagram can be a great channel for your CEO – whether they have their own account like charity:water CEO Scott Harrison or use your organization’s branded account like Udi Ofer, CEO of NJACLU.  If you have to support your CEO in learning and using Instagram, here’s two good resources:

Tool Box

There are lots of photo editing apps that work with Instagram, management tools, and tools to measure Instagram.  Here’s selection of articles to build your toolbox.

How is your nonprofit using Instagram strategically?  What’s your best tip or tool?


Asana—Streamline the Work Behind Your Work (Nonprofit Blog Carnival)

Getting Attention! -

Guest blogger, Leili Khalessi is the Marketing and Communications Manager for RedRover, a national animal welfare organization. She’s also on the board for The Yoga Seed Collective and couldn’t help but make a few yoga-related puns below.

Thanks to Leili for contributing this stirring post  to this month’s blog carnival—The Work Behind Your Work . There’s still time for yours—Deadline Friday April 25.

As nonprofit communicators, we all know what it’s like to try to find balance in our work despite competing priorities, multiple teams and never-ending deadlines. Never have I felt so “at home” professionally than at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#14NTC), where I attended a session on “The Work Behind The Work” with Sarah Durham (founder of Big Duck), Stephanie Bowen (most recently with KaBOOM) and Nancy Schwartz. Across the room full of do-gooder marketers, it was clear that while we’d all happily bend over backward for the organizations we support, we were eager to learn from each other’s ways to zen.

I shared my favorite (free!*) tool for project management: Asana (www.asana.com). Asana is a web-based task manager designed to enable individuals and teams to plan and manage projects without email.

Yoga practitioners will recognize the word “asana” as referring to yoga postures – so it’s no surprise that this flexible app keeps RedRover’s communications work meditatively calm yet groovin’ in the flow. Here’s why we use it:

  • Project manager’s paradise: For me, lists = bliss. Asana gives me a place to lay out tactical plans with due dates and assignees for each task. The app structures the organization into teams, then projects, then tasks and subtasks. You can drag to re-order your tasks to customize your workflow by timeline or priority. As a manager, using Asana has only made it easier to communicate priorities downward, dog.
  • A process for every project: Creating our own templates in Asana enabled us to take the guesswork out of the work. Our editorial process, steps for creating an e-newsletter, and marketing campaign planners are all examples of project templates that live in Asana. Yes, live – all team members are encouraged to constantly refine and update our processes within Asana so that we’re always improving.
  • Less email: Yes, thank goodness! Project participants can leave comments on tasks, tag other team members and even attach documents from Dropbox and Google Drive. No more wading through long threads of messages – our project communications are much more direct through Asana.

*Asana is free for teams of up to 15 members, with unlimited projects and tasks. It’s worth trying out, even as an individual if you don’t want to involve other team members.

Start by putting your to-do list into Asana, or try setting up a routine project into the app to get a feel for how it works.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing tools, templates, case studies & tips delivered right to your in-box! Register here for the Getting Attention blog & e-news.

Mobility: We Cannot Afford Not to Take Advantage of It


Tomas Wojciechowski Editor in Chief Technologie.ngo.pl Use of mobile technology is exponentially increasing around the world. Are the world's nonprofits keeping up? Explore ways nonprofits can build mobile technology into their mission-based work, and discover what the organizers of the Sektor 3.0 Conference in May are planning to do to get there.

Mobile technology has revolutionized the means of communication. Today, nobody can afford not to use it. In particular, this applies to NGOs. This is why it is so important to be aware of opportunities associated with mobile technologies and promotion of good practices, such as the conference to be held in Warsaw in May, Sektor 3.0.  

Interview with NTEN's Content Manager: Steph Routh


We're so excited to welcome our new Content Manager, Steph Routh, to the NTEN team! Steph will be managing and keeping the great online community content flowing, while doubling as one of Portland's most revered bike & transportation advocates outside the office. You may have also met her at the 14NTC, where she was working with the NTEN team behind the scenes. (see photo below).

Check out this interview with Steph, follow her on Twitter @StephRouth, and drop her a message to introduce yourself! 

1. How did you first become involved with the NTEN Community? 

Good heavens, that's a tough one to pin down. I remember going to an amazing unconference led by Ash Shepherd and Amy Sample Ward a number of years ago in Portland. I've basically been (uncreepily!) stalking NTEN since: attending webinars, participating in workshops, etc. NTEN was invaluable to me when I found myself becoming an "accidental techie" at an international development organization; wisdom from the NTEN Community helped make managing our organization's contact database, maintaining the website, and coordinating our online communications possible. By the way, thanks, team!

2. What are some of the lessons you've learned as the former Executive Director of Oregon Walks that you'll be bringing to NTEN? 

The biggest lesson I've learned as a former executive director is humility in the understanding that there are a lot of talented people working to affect social change, and if I'm lucky, I get to be part of the ensemble cast. I actually wrote some other lessons learned in this FAQs of a Former Executive Director recently when the Oregon Walks executive director position was posted; I got questions from candidates and decided to answer everyone at once.

Another thing I hope to bring to NTEN is adaptability. In a nonprofit advocacy organization, priorities can pivot quickly in a political environment. The ability to adapt and to turn change into opportunity is a skill I'm still learning, but I think it's a valuable skill worth cultivating!

Being an executive director is a remarkable experience. It's a position that exposes your weaknesses to you in no uncertain terms, which is a great gift. How many jobs compel a person to either overcome a weakness or plan workarounds? I'm looking forward to growing as a professional and a person at NTEN, as well as growing with the NTEN Community.

3. If you had to name one piece of advice for nonprofits about managing and creating content on their website and channels, what would you suggest? 

The posts and press releases I've come to be most proud of have been ones I was genuinely, heart-thumpingly terrified to send. Be bold. Your mission commands nothing less. Also, be wholly and truly yourself. Beyond your affiliation and organization, you are a passionate advocate for social change. Allow yourself to inspire and be inspired. Inspiration is the fuel of social justice.

4. What are you most excited about as you transition into your new role on staff?

This is a brilliant staff. It's an important mission. Basically, I can't stop pinching myself, nor high-fiving strangers. So lucky. So so lucky!

Going Mobile: The Importance of Mobile Apps for Nonprofits


Danny Boice Co-Founder & President Speek How can you utilize mobile apps to achieve maximum benefit? Learn the most common goals from the for-profit sector, and see how it translates to nonprofit organizations.

When considering the development of a native mobile app for any of the app stores, you should start by contemplating what it is you really want to get out of it. In my experience, most for-profits are after some combination of three main goals: Direct revenue generation, user acquisition, and providing an additional feature to your users. Learn about how it applies to the nonprofit sector.

Privacy Worries Shutter Gates-Funded Education-Data Nonprofit – Philanthropy Today - Blogs - The Chronicle of Philanthropy

AFP Blog -

Privacy Worries Shutter Gates-Funded Education-Data Nonprofit – Philanthropy Today - Blogs - The Chronicle of Philanthropy: A foundation-funded nonprofit software company that collected and stored information about public-school students announced Monday that it was closing over parental concerns about privacy, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times report.

Content Curation: The Art and Science of Spotting Awesome

Beth's Blog -

Flickr Photo by Soyignatius

Content curation – the process of finding, organizing, and  sharing topical, relevant content for your audience that supports your nonprofit’s engagement or campaign goals (or your professional learning) begins with “Spotting the Awesome.”   I love that phrase coined by my friends at Upwell.   Do you or your organization have formal guidelines for “spotting the awesome”  like Upwell (see below) or is it more of  ”we know it when we see it?”

UpWell Content Curation Guidelines - The Mobilisation Lab

Effective content curation can help your nonprofit engage your audiences and help spread your organization’s content beyond current supporters because it can trigger sharing and conversation.   Content curation is not about spewing out links on Twitter or Facebook as you find them.   It is about discovering great stuff amid the noise, annotating it, organizing it, and adding your wisdom or perspective and sharing a collection of curated links in a context or time that adds value.

If you are finding yourself looking through a lot of unrelated or useless stuff or the content you are sharing is not resonating with your audience,  news discovery tools can help.   News discovery tools help you spend less time looking at a bunch of junk as master curator Robin Good points out.    Also, it lets you step away from the echo chamber and find useful and unique gems that have not been over shared all over the place.   This is what builds thought leadership and attention.

To  support your curation efforts,  you need two different tools – news discovery to help you find content and curation tools to organize and share it.  News discovery tools select and aggregate content based on keyword searches, but give a higher signal to noise ratio than general keywords searches or general news sites.   Take Crowdtangle as an example.  It is a content discovery tool that helps tune your Facebook newsfeed based on keywords.  (It is in beta now) Discovery tools help you find relevant content in your interest area.

Robin Good has assembled a curated collection of news discovery tools over at ZEEF, a curation platform.    But remember, good curation is not about the tools, but how you use them along with your curation skills.

Awesome finding is about scanning what’s happening internally and externally, what people are talking about or sharing online related to your goals (or what they should be talking about) — then decide which of those things to share and add to your curated collection.  But how do you build your  radar and hone your discovery skills?  Here’s some advice based on the content curation skills identified by Robin Good.

1.   Trusted Sources:     You will be spending half hour or more a day a personally selected circle of trusted sources in related, complementary, or similar topics.     You will need a newsreader where you organize the feeds of different blogs, websites, and resources organized by folders and topics.    You will also find sources and follow sources through social media, but be sure to keep them tuned and uncluttered and use the list features.   Depending on your niche area, you may also be following curated general news sites or a news site devoted to a specific topic area, for example business, education, technology, or more specific to your nonprofit’s program area.

It good to take the time to think thoughtfully about your sources and organize a way to follow them systematically.   It is also a good idea to take some time every few months to review and organize.     The number of feeds in your reader can grow like weeds and new sources come along that are worth following.

2.  Vet: This is the process of verifying original source for quality and integrity (by reading all of the original content) and exercising a critical role in deciding what to share or publish and what to leave out.    Part of the verification process of  reviewing similar sites or articles, reviewing expert curated lists, and using your critical thinking skills.

3.  Filter: Most of the time you spend “spotting the awesome” will be vetting and filtering out most of the incoming content stream.  That means you won’t be sharing or vetting most of the incoming stuff.    Here’s where having a formal criteria of what and why you share is important.

4.  Searches: When you spot the awesome, spend time looking for more content and context to add to it.  This can help enrich and make the original resource more valuable.  Look for additional references, quotes, reviews, citations or stories that can help complement the existing view.

5.  Scouts: Is always look for new, credible and interesting content sources.   Always looks to discover new ways, tools and networks where useful sources can be found including images, videos, or documentaries.

6.  Hacks Filters/Searches:  Use filters and specific persistent searches to help find  highly relevant and useful content to curate.

How do you spot the awesome in your content curation activities?  What content discovery tools do you use?

95% of donors cover charities' transaction costs on Blackbaud Heroix | UK Fundraising

AFP Blog -

95% of donors cover charities' transaction costs on Blackbaud Heroix | UK Fundraising: Blackbaud’s Heroix online giving platform has started inviting donors to increase their donation to cover the transaction and card fees, ensuring that charities receive 100% of each donation. Since the ‘Donor Cover’ option was introduced in Ireland, 95% of people making direct donations have chosen to cover the fees.

Heye-Tech (hi-tech): Technology Committees - Meetings can have Value

AFP Blog -

Heye-Tech (hi-tech): Technology Committees - Meetings can have Value: echnology Committees - Meetings can have Value
I have long been a fan of Technology Committees, but I don't hear a lot of others talking about it. In my role at The Cara Program, we have a fantastic Technology Steering Committee. I can't begin to state all of the benefit this group has brought. They have provided assistance, advice and insight, but have also helped us make connections, find resources and accomplish things we couldn't do alone. But before I go into a little information about our Technology Advisory Board, a few thoughts about committees.

Wiser.org Blog � Wiser.org, the social network for sustainability closes its doors and looks back

AFP Blog -

Wiser.org Blog � Wiser.org, the social network for sustainability closes its doors and looks back: The Wiser.org website closed on April 22nd 2014 – Earth Day.

We are so grateful to everyone who has been part of this incredible journey towards a more just and sustainable world.

In this final blog, we wanted to look back over the history of WiserEarth and Wiser.org, to not only share some of our achievements but also why the decision was made to close our core website Wiser.org.

Center for the Future of Museums: Khan Academy & Cultural Understanding

AFP Blog -

Center for the Future of Museums: Khan Academy & Cultural Understanding: Smarthistory at Khan Academy is used by museum visitors, independent learners, professors, teachers and their students. There are nearly 600 short-form art history videos created from conversations recorded on-site (in urban spaces, archeological sites, museums, churches and mosques), as well as hundreds of essays on art and art history. We’ve begun to partner with museums to bring their formidable expertise to a global audience (often by simply repurposing pre-existing content). And we are working with over 100 art historians with deep knowledge of content stretching from Ancient Egypt to contemporary art in sub-Saharan Africa.


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