One of the reoccurring ideas in our Featured Topics has been using technology to innovate new ways of running your ventures. Whether we were using technology to rethink financing by giving you the resources to successfully crowd-fund for startup capital, or using communication technology to talk with mentors or team-members, it is evident that when used the right way technology gives your social venture a key advantage. This month we are excited to give a more holistic view of how you can use technology to help your venture reach its full potential.
Big Ideas Summary
When running your social ventures, creating a technology plan can be a daunting but necessary task. Whether it be through social media, productivity apps, choosing devices, educational tools, or picking the right crowd-funding platform, using the right and most effective technology is instrumental to your venture’s efficiency and the overall impression you make on your stakeholders. This month’s Featured Topic brings you the most useful technology for social entrepreneurs, to effectively manage venture operations and reach your key supporters.
This featured topic will give you the tools necessary to be productive when running your ventures. As young social entrepreneurs in the startup stages of your ventures, it is important to make use of cost-effective and useful technology to keep your team connected and productive. Software such as SkyDrive, Office 365, and Skype can help facilitate your team's interactions so that your venture can thrive. Also using Microsoft Office Apps is a great way to professionally create finances, documents, and presentations.
Online educational technology is also a great tool to keep your team current and informed while building a strong academic background for young entrepreneurs. Microsoft YouthSpark resources like DreamSpark will give you access to Microsoft professional developer tools or you can head over to Microsoft Virtual Academy to learn about programming, app development, server infrastructure, and more. Also online learning resources like edX allow you take free classes from world leading universities such as Harvard and MIT.
Below you will find articles, videos, and many resources that will help you design an effective technology plan for your social ventures.
Wired for Good is a guide to strategic technology planning for nonprofit organizations--no matter how large or small. This book leads nonprofits through a planning process that will help them align their technology use with their mission and strategic goals, determine what the appropriate technology tools are to meet those goals, and how the technology will be implemented and supported over time. This essential guide also shows how to win support for a strategic technology plan within an organization, evaluate a plan's effectiveness, and help staff and other stakeholders adapt to the changes new technology will bring about. Wired for Good shows nonprofit professionals how to get their organization ready for the strategic technology planning process.
Managing Technology to Meet your Mission is a practical resource that will help nonprofit professionals make smart, strategic decisions about technology. The book shows how to effectively manage technology and offers practical advice for decision makers and staff alike who often have little or no experience with technology. With contributions from the top experts in the nonprofit technology field, this must-have guide addresses technology planning. It includes the tools you need to get the work done, and the knowledge that will help you communicate better, evaluate technology investments, raise money, and more. Written in plain non-technical language the book covers a broad spectrum of topics.
Office: Office 365 offers cloud-based apps for on-the-go productivity for your ventures. Office 365 allows you and your team to access your office applications and communication tools such as email, conferencing, and more, wherever you are. Here are some video tutorials of Office 365.
SkyDrive: To increase your venture's productivity and to make collaboration easier among your team, you can use Microsoft SkyDrive to view and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote files online for free. A really helpful feature for your social ventures is that any member from your project can work on the same file, at the same time. You can download SkyDrive here or learn more here
Skype: A free tool to make communication and collaboration easy. Whether you need to host a video conference with your team, or make a conference call to a potential partner, Skype's free services are a very valuable tool. Here is a link that will show you how to get the most out of Skype for your venture.
Prezi - If you want to add more of an artistic taste to your presentations, check out Prezi. This free software allows you to transform your ideas into a dynamic and engaging presentation. But remember Internet access will be required and unlike MS Office there are not templates to work with.
Youth Spark and Other Learning Resources
The Microsoft YouthSpark Hub has practical and free learning resources to educate you and your team on how to use and develop cutting edge Microsoft technology, as well as learn other valuable and necessary skills in technology and entrepreneurship. For the full list of these resources you can visit the link above, however we will go into depth on a few of our favorite YouthSpark resources.
DreamSpark: get access to professional developer tools from Microsoft, for free.
Microsoft Virtual Academy: Free online training courses covering most of Microsoft Technologies, including cutting-edge areas such as cloud computing, app development, C# / XAML etc.
Khan Academy is a library of 4000+ videos to give you insights on topics valuable to running your ventures including economics, computer science, and finance.
Other online learning resources:
Edx: Do you want to learn to program or build a website? Take a class covering global poverty? Take courses from world class universities, including Harvard and MIT, on these topics and many others giving you and your team the academic background to run your ventures. Other great educational MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) sites include https://www.coursera.org and https://www.udacity.com, and http://redhoop.com.
Twitter Accounts to Follow
Using Social Media is a great way to connect with your supporters and keep them updated with your ventures progress. Using social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to reach your audience is key, however other sites like LinkedIn can be a great tool to network with key stakeholders. Effectively making use of social media can be a very inexpensive way of reaching a large audience and garnering new support for your venture while nurturing relationships with long time supporters.
If crowd-funding is a key part of your venture's financing plan, then it is really important to carefully plan out a crowd-funding strategy and to pick the right platform such as Global Giving or Causevox. For more information on this topic you can check out our previous featured topic Crowdsourcing for Social Ventures.
Socialnomics Video This video explains the scale of social media impact. Gives a great perspective of how, if used correctly, you can leverage social media to greatly impact your venture.