Free Love: Photoshop Express

A sadly underfunded client of mine who can’t get money for a full-blown version of Photoshop told me about Adobe Photoshop Express.

Express is the latest of of SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings. SaaS boils down to online versions of the kinds of software you’re used to buying as a package you install on your computer. Like, say, Photoshop. But instead of paying $700 for the mega version, you pay nothing for this online version.

And what a lovely, free, online version it is. It’s smooth, easy and intuitive. Plus, it works with a host of other services, such as Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa.

Makes photo editing on a budget a pleasure.

Watch out Picnik!

It’s Not All Online

A client called the other day wondering why more people weren’t using their brand spanking new synagogue website. It was a nice site, all the bells and whistles, and there wasn’t a very good reason I could see that no one was using it. But it didn’t take long to figure out what the problem was.”Well, do the people in your congregation know about the site?”

“We sent an e-mail when it launched.”

“Do you mention it in your monthly bulletin?”

“No.”

“Do you have the URL on your business cards?”

“No.”

“Do you tell people during services that they can find more information on the site?”

“No.”

“Do you have a message on your voice mail about the website?”

“No.”

And that’s the problem with many websites – synagogue or otherwise. Just building it isn’t enough. Just mentioning it once isn’t enough. The marketing begins with other channels – and you undoubtedly have many available. Think about all the ways you touch your community, and make sure you use them to mention your website and its benefits.

Eventually they’ll come, and if you do it right, they’ll keep coming back.

Best Firefox Add-ons for Nonprofits

Visitors to the Talance website are split 50-50 between Internet Explorer users and Firefox users. I wonder how many of the Firefox users are really using the Web browser to their full potential.

The true benefit of Firefox is the add-on. An add-on is a feature or tool that you can download to work in conjunction with your Firefox web browser. Here’s a nice article from the Boston Globe about how Firefox works.

Here at Talance HQ, we have a million of these installed, but two that we like for nonprofits or any user are:

  • Effortless Good, which donates a bit of your Amazon purchases to needy causes
  • Adblock Plus to suppress annoying web ads
  • Since you’ve supressed annoying commercial ads, you might replace them with openhanded, which replaces standard Gmail ads with charitable ones
  • InFormEnter, which makes web forms easy to fill out

To find more, check out the always interesting and useful ResourceShelf blog has a list of the most useful add-ons to use with Firefox.

And Lifehacker is always running articles on useful Firefox extensions.

Let me know which ones you like best.

Free AdWords for Nonprofits

Here’s another good reason for you nonprofits to set up your own websites: Google Grants. If you have 501(c)(3) status, you can apply to receive free AdWords advertising on Google – this is worth it! As cited on the Google site:

Google Grant recipients use their award of free AdWords advertising on Google.com to raise awareness and increase traffic. Three of our award recipients have achieved these results:

* Room to Read, which educates children in Vietnam, Nepal, India and Cambodia, attracted a sponsor who clicked on its AdWords ad. He has donated funds to support the education of 25 girls for the next 10 years.
* The US Fund for UNICEF’s e-commerce site, Shop UNICEF, has experienced a 43 percent increase in sales over the previous year.
* CoachArt, supporting children with life-threatening illnesses through art and athletics programs, has seen a 60 to 70 percent increase in volunteers.

Check out program details to see if you qualify. Google Grants recipients are selected every quarter, and they say you’ll know within six months whether or not you receive one.

Good luck!

Meet me online

Now’s your chance to introduce yourself: two events are coming up where I’ll be making presentations online.

One is a show and tell event about our online learning services, which you can catch on the Nonprofit Technology Network (N-TEN), a good network you should get to know anyway.

The other is a web primer on what a CMS (content management system) is, why it matters and how to budget for a new one:

Both are free and open to the public, so sign up, pass the word and say hi.

What is a CMS, anyway?

If you’ve heard the words “Drupal” and “Joomla” but think they may be ancient tribes, have I got the online seminar for you. Since one of the most common questions I hear from a potential client is “What is a CMS, anyway?” we’ve put together a webinar to answer just this question.

Sign up on our website (for free), and you can learn:

  • What a CMS (content management system) is and what it does (hint: it’s a great way for you to manage your website)
  • Why it’s important for nonprofits
  • Advice on how to budget for a CMS project
  • And more!

Hope to connect with you May 20 at 2 p.m. Eastern.

http://www.talance.com/event-registration

Tips for Creating a Tech Dream Team

Which would be the smarter way to run a project:

  1. Leave all decisions-making power and creative control to a single person with a genius IQ, or
  2. Share decisions and idea-making among a team of interested people?

There may be some power-hungry geniuses who could effectively argue the first choice, but my money is on a shared responsibility. No matter how well I know something, I can’t honestly believe I’ll think of every angle, and that’s why it’s important to gather feedback.

Yet many organizations – very often nonprofits with limited staffs – will leave construction and maintenance of a website to a single person. What a mistake!

When we work through projects with clients, we encourage them to discuss ideas together before coming to us. They’re usually surprised at how much their ideas about the site differ. This is one of the key reasons why you should assemble a reliable tech team to guide your organization through the process. I believe this is doubly true if your nonprofit is a church or synagogue or otherwise serves a large community.

Why build a tech team?

  • It helps solicit feedback from your audience/congregation in an organized way
  • Helps draw out other’s talents to achieve organizational goals
  • It works!

When creating your tech team, make sure you have all areas of your organization represented, and make sure you know who’s in charge. Everyone has to have a voice, but it’s imperative for successful projects to have one person who can give the nod on development, and then have one person who can give the nod on an ongoing basis.

Once you’ve got your prospects for a tech team, run this checklist by yourself:

  • Does your tech team adequately represent everyone in your audience/congregation?
  • Is there a single person in charge who’s good at leadership?
  • Have you decided who’s in charge on an ongoing basis?

Now you’ve got your dream team, you can put them to work on discovering what should go into your site. Best place to start? A needs assessment.