Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Protecting Your Data

Perhaps more worrisome than security breaches, which occur relatively infrequently outside the university arena, consider industry statistics for data loss, compiled by online back-up firms Data Deposit Box and Protect Data:

  • A hard drive crashes every 15 seconds;
  • 2,000 laptops are stolen or lost daily;
  • One in five computers suffer a fatal hard-drive crash during their lifetime; and,
  • 40 persent of small- to medium-size businesses don't back up their data at all.

If this is what's occurring in Corporate America, tradition holds that the nonprofit sector is much further behind.

Experts in the area of risk management, including AH&R Insurance's Mel Whiteley, Laura S. Quinn of Idealware, EarthJustice IT director Peter Campbell, and the staff at mindSHIRTTechnologies, managed services provide to Seeds of Peace, provided the following recommendations for protecting data:

  • Risk management is number one. No matter how much insurance you have, you will never totally recover your loss. Make sure that employees are using reasonable passwords (mix of numeric and apha, six and seven characters) to access their own computers. Educate employees against phishing, and have a reasonable back-up plan.
  • Evaluate your current back-up plan. Consider the newer back-up technologies such as virtualization - which allows you to run multiple servers on one computer, moving to disk rather than magnetic tape; utilizing "snapshots," which makes restoring data quicker and easier; and synchronizing one disk to another disk 24/7 using continuous data protection.
  • Develop and implement a system. Don't just leave it to the wind; designate somebody with the absolute resposibilty of implementing the risk management system.
  • Anticipate your likely loss. Recognize that trouble can come from different places. Also, recognize security breaches can occur no matter the level of your firewalls.
  • Have the appropriate insurance that deals with what's likely and probable to happen. Also, consider your media exposure - basically, your cyber exposure - as a seperate and unique exposure.
  • Try to get your host to undemnify you. It doesn't hurt to ask your software provider if they will provide coverage.

-Marla E. Nobles

Monday, January 7, 2008


As nonprofit leaders navigate the ever-changing world of high technology, they find themselves encountering terms that can be arcane or confusing.

At a recent national conference on nonprofit technology, several words and terms were explained for the benefit of those unfamiliar with them.

Among the words:

  • RSS. A format for storing online information in a way that makes that information readable on different kinds of software.
  • Aggregation. Gathering information from multiple Web sites, typically via RSS.
  • Blog. Originally short for “weblog,” a Web page that contains entries in reverse chronological order. An easy way for people to maintain a constantly updated Web presence.
  • Blogroll. A list of recommended sites that appears in the sidebar of a blog.
  • Mashup. A Web service or software tool that combines two or more tools to create a whole new service.
  • Moblogging. Short for “mobile blogging,” refers to posting blog updates from remote or mobile equipment, such as a cell phone or camera phone.
  • Newsreader. A device that gathers the news from multiple blogs or news sites via RSS, allowing readers to access all their news from a single Web site or program.
  • RSS feeds. A constantly updated version of the site’s latest content, in a form that be read by a newsreader or aggregator.

Fundraising ... 10 ideas for making the ask

Ten is such a nice, round number. It's everywhere: The 10 Commandments. David Letterman's nightly Top 10 lists. How many fingers? Toes? And how high does volume go? That's right, 10.

In her book, "The Ask: How to Ask Anyone for Any Amount for any Purpose," Laura Fredricks presents "The 10 Guiding Principles For Any Ask."
Using the guiding principles as a "road map" for all your asks, she wrote, will make you "ready, focused, and energized to ask for gifts in your own winning style."

The 10 Guiding Principles For Any Ask:

  • The more personal and sincere you are with the people you are cultivating, the quicker you will be able to make the ask.
  • Every prospect must be treated separately and distinctly.
  • Anyone asking for a gift must first make his or her own gift.
  • Ask for a specific amount for a specific purpose.
  • Consistent givers can and will make larger gifts.
  • Always use we instead of I in any ask because that connotes that the ask is being done with all the strength and backing of the organization.
  • Any organization's planned giving program must be coordinated with all other fundraising programs.
  • Every campaign prospect must be asked for as specific amount, with guidelines on how to fund the gift and with a proposed time frame.
  • At the initial ask, stay committed to the ask amount.
  • The ask without the follow-through will result in no gift.