My Favorite Marketing Resources from a VISTA


If you've never done a marketing plan, I can definitely point you to some great resources that you should know about right away.

A desk of my own


Yay! I have a desk. It's made a bigger difference than I expected in my productivity and excitement about coming in to work some mornings. The feel of having even a little space that's more or less my own is great... maybe I'll even put a few things on the wall in the next few weeks! In the end, it just took me realizing that it would make a difference to me, and then deciding to establish myself at this unused desk. Good stuff.

In terms of work, the excitement(?) of this past month has been learning my way around the intricacies of Salesforce, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform my organization uses to track everything and everyone they have contact with.

Creating institutional memory


Recently I've been working on improving how the CTC VISTA Project stores its files, and thus, how we maintain a memory of what we've done irrespective of who did it. For VISTAs, that's crucial because we're, by definition, here today and gone tomorrow (or a year from today).



Have you ever done something quick and dirty even though doing things "the right way" would only take a little more time? Maybe you didn't have a little more time? Of course. Haven't we all?

Here's an example. Recently, I was creating a conference registration form for a client on her Plone-based site. Ideally, the client would have created and maintained the registration form herself, since the tool we were using has a graphical form creation interface. However, the documentation for the tool we were using was out of date. I thought about updating the documentation at that time and then helping the client through it, but that would have required a lot more time than just setting up the form myself. Also, I was going to be out of town shortly (for the NTEN conference) and the client wanted to start accepting conference registrations as soon as possible. In the circumstances, it seemed a reasonable solution for me to create the form, so I did. Many form tweaks later, I think I have spent more time on updating the form than it would have taken to update the documentation, which could have helped others besides just this client.

Comment from Jessica McCoy on April 25, 2007 - 1:45pm

Yeah, we have that same issue. We're so busy just keeping up with our everyday tasks that we don't take time to create patterns that would improve our workflow. It's a tough problem. I keep thinking that things will slow down a little bit, enough that I can take time to work on long-term stuff, but then things always pop up last minute.

Sorry, I don't have any ideas either about how to solve it...I've been trying to get more volunteers and interns to help with some of the more mundane tasks here to free up time for other things, but that just means I have to spend time supervising them. So it's not perfect.

 Good Luck!

Comment from cheryl jerozal on April 26, 2007 - 3:34pm

It's good to know I am not the only one who struggles with this. Maybe working with volunteers and interns will get less time-consuming as you go along? Good luck to you too!

Nonprofit Competition & Concept Map


At this summer's CTCnet Conference the thing I most took away--or rather, repeated to the most number of people--was something said by the keynote speaker, Ami Dar, the creator of

He was asked by someone in the crowd something along the lines of "In what areas do you want to see nonprofits develop into the future?"

Ami Dar responded that an area that he saw as important was acknowledgement of nonprofit competition. His brilliant reasoning was this:

In for-profit companies, everyone accepts that competition takes place; it's a given. Businesses identify the areas in which they compete, and from this, also gain an understanding of the areas in which they don't compete. In the areas in which they don't compete, businesses can cooperate. Nonprofits, in general, are not aware of, or acknowledge that they compete (and they do), and because of this, they cannot collabrate as efficiently or as effectively as possible.