All Sarah wants this holiday season is Stable IT

sarah

Meet Sarah Mullens, co-founder of UnBoundRVA, an IT4Causes pilot customer.  One of our heroes, Sarah is a young educator and business professional who has dedicated herself to building a better Richmond, one small business at a time. Together with her co-founder Richard Luck, Sarah is helping a group of low-income, high-potential people with challenging backgrounds learn the skills they need to succeed as entrepreneurs, including deveolping strong business plans and getting access to the funding they need to create their own jobs.

I asked Sarah what’s on her wishlist this holiday season, and here’s what I got:

  • A nice small printer, so Richard doesn’t have to drive 40 minutes one way each time they have to produce a key presentation,
  • A donor management system, so they can more effectively raise the dollars they need to complete their mission,
  • A learning-management system, so their students can track their progress in their curriculum, and
  • Better PCs to enable their fledgling business owners with technology to support their new enterprises.

IT4Causes has got Sarah’s back and is working on solving these IT problems for her, so she and Richard can focus on what they do best. So, before you settle in for dreams of sugarplums, take a second to think of Sarah and all the good she is doing, and help her get her job done by supporting IT4Causes this holiday season!

IT4Causes Wins VCU’s Next Big Idea Challenge!

On December 8, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Innovation Gateway announced that IT4Causes was the top prize winner in their second annual Next Big Idea Challenge (NBIC). The competition’s judges selected IT4Causes to receive the Next Big Idea Award for the nonprofit agency’s business strategy, which provides information technology services to other small and midsized nonprofits using a Fractional CIO model and a common IT solution set.

According to VCU, “The NBIC is an online competition where anyone within the VCU community can submit an idea for a new company, product or service. Ideas submitted range from medical technologies and phone apps to community co-working businesses. The NBIC’s purpose is to showcase the innovative ideas cultured within VCU.” Over 40 entries were submitted to the contest, which ran from Oct. 28-Nov. 28.

IT4Causes founder and CEO Tom Anderson is studying Nonprofit Management as a graduate student at VCU’s Wilder School for Public Administration, and he has utilized VCU resources extensively to help refine the IT4Causes business model. “The sequence of Nonprofit Management courses provided a fantastic roadmap as I developed IT4Causes, and the feedback I collected from Wilder professors and Innovation Gateway partners was a great help, too,” said Anderson. “We’re very excited about this award as an endorsement of our strategy, especially given the level of competition this year, and we hope this recognition will motivate our supporters to make or increase donations and pledges to propel our growth past our pilot agencies.”

The $1,000 prize that comes with the award will be applied towards IT4Causes’ $65,000 4th quarter fundraising goal. The agency will use those funds to hire a project manager and leverage skilled IT volunteers to deploy their common set of solutions to more partner nonprofits, who will be able to provide their services more effectively and efficiently as a result.

Next Big Idea VCU Innovation Gateway translogo3

 

In-Kind Supporter – Impact Makers

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IT4Causes is extremely fortunate to have the support of Impact Makers, who graciously allow us to share office space with their team.  This in-kind support has been very valuable to us.  The beautiful office, meeting, and event space help us project a very professional image with all of our stakeholders.  The proximity to many of our current and target nonprofit partners, and the availability to schedule meeting rooms, teleconference phones, and projectors has made the team more productive.  And the atmosphere of IT professionalism and camaraderie in the office space makes it a great place to go and just get work done!  The in-kind support also saves us thousands of dollars a year in rent and other office expenses.

So, a huge THANK YOU! to Impact Makers for the on-going support of IT4Causes!

About Impact Makers

Impact Makers was founded by IT4Causes board member Michael Pirron in 2006.  Per their website, “Impact Makers is driven to create meaningful change for our clients, our community partners, and ourselves. We will utilize our innovative business model to transform the business value of our work into social value for the community through partnerships with local non-profits that include financial contributions as well as pro-bono engagements.”

Cyber Monday is so 2005; #GivingTuesday is where it’s at today!

For many, the true meaning of the holidays rests not in what we receive in presents, but in what we give to others, especially those in need. #GivingTuesday was started in 2012, and is one way the nonprofit and online communities have worked together to promote charitable giving during the holiday season.

At IT4Causes, we encourage everyone to think about their favorite causes, and to consider donating to them during the holidays. Obviously, we’d like you to think about donating or pledging to us so that we can magnify your impact with:

  • Matching dollars from Flashpoint Fund ($6300 in matches remaining),
  • Leveraging with 5-6 hours of skilled IT volunteer efforts with the Project Management time purchased with a $50 donation, and
  • Lasting benefits to our partner agencies, where better IT means leaders and staff have more time to spend on their core mission.

You can also commit to helping us by completing a volunteer form.

Other great causes include these great agencies:

UnBoundRVA: http://www.UnBoundRVA.org/.
The Daily Planet: https://DailyPlanetVA.org
Habitat of Greater Richmond: http://www.richmondhabitat.org/get-involved/donate/
Autism Society of Central Virginia: http://ascv.org/membership/donate/
Beacon Tree Foundation: http://www.beacontree.org/donate/

 

Whatever causes you choose to support, crank up your holiday spirit by supporting others this #GivingTuesday!

Preventing Blackout Friday

It’s Black Friday; do you know where your data is? Because if it’s not accessible remotely, backed up, and properly secured, there’s a risk that an event could cause it to become Blackout Friday.

We’ve seen many small and midsized nonprofits that have some form of on-premise file server. Some of these were server-grade equipment in data closets with at least some form of backup, but many have been desktop-grade equipment repurposed to provide shared file access. We’ve also seen situations where a backup program was being used, but when a failure occurred, it was not possible to actually restore the backups from the media. We’ve also seen where the main backup media is stored in the same location as the server, so if an event like a fire or other disaster destroyed the building or disrupted access to it, the backup would not be available either.. And of course, the equipment is constantly aging, so unless there is a strategy to maintain and upgrade it regularly, an agency can get a sudden surprise with a big expense when there’s a failure or capacity is exhausted.

At IT4Causes, our strategy for data sharing and backup focuses on using Cloud technologies to mitigate the risk of on-premise servers. By using services like OneDrive that’s part of Microsoft’s Office 365 donation to nonprofits, data can be shared across authorized users in the organization, whether they are in the office or working remotely. The data is replicated in large, geographically dispersed data centers with extremely tight physical security and backup power, so it’s seamlessly available to those users after incidents as small as a disk failure to major storms that shutdown whole cities and states. The equipment in the datacenters is constantly upgraded to provide the required processing horsepower and raw storage capacity to support any agency’s needs. The backup protocols are constantly tested to ensure archived data can be accessed when required. And security precautions have been designed, built, tested, audited, and monitored to ensure the ability to comply with important standards like HIPAA and PCI DSS.

Cloud-based solutions can help your organization prevent Blackout Friday. Contact IT4Causes to learn more.

Volunteer Spotlight: Eric Mull

In this week of Thanksgiving, IT4Causes would like to give a huge “THANKS!” to all of the volunteers who have helped move the organization from concept to pilot in a few short months. We literally would not be here today without your dedication and commitment.

One shining example of volunteerism in support of IT4Causes is Eric Mull. Eric is a program manager with both IT and nonprofit experience gained at Capital One and ChildFund, and he has given selflessly of time and expertise to help our team build out capabilities to deliver stable and secure IT solutions to our nonprofit clients. He was also very engaged in the recent RVA Career Expo that was cosponsored by the Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and two local networking groups, Career Prospectors and JAM. 

Eric joined IT4Causes in late August, and dove right in. He helped set up the Trello boards that we’ve been using to manage our projects, and has taken on many individual tasks in the Marketing and Branding team, including many parts of our very successful Getting To Know IT4Causes event (including the all-important bartender role) as well as helping us launch our Fall Campaign. Once Eric picks up a task, you can count on him to deliver! Eric recently returned to Capital One, but has remained engaged with our team even as his workload has increased.

So, THANKS, Eric, you are a great asset to the IT4Causes team!

If YOU are interested in helping lots of different agencies with a wide range of missions become more effective through better IT systems, you can take the first step by clicking the “Volunteer” button over to the right!

IT4Causes IS the Next Big Idea. Please VOTE!

Don’t forget to vote for IT4Causes as the Next Big Idea in VCU’s Innovation Gateway contest.  Go to http://vcunextbigidea.com/pins/20 and vote for us now!  The deadline is Nov. 28, and you get one vote per email address.  Thanks in advance!

The Fall Campaign is Live!

We’re excited to officially kick off our fall fundraising campaign!  Our goal of $65,000 will allow us to hire a full-time IT project manager for the first half of the year, as well as support our basic infrastructure such as shared office space, lab equipment, insurance, legal costs, promotional materials, food and beverages for events, general supplies, and a host of smaller miscellaneous costs.  We’re also very happy to let you know that, because of Leadership gifts, in-kind donations, and $3550 of match from the Flashpoint Fund grant, we are currently at 26% of our goal!  We also still have $6450 in matching funds left, so your contribution can be effectively doubled if you contribute now to support great IT services for deserving small to midsized nonprofits!  So go to our Donate Now page and make a donation or pledge!  Thanks so much for your support!

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Flashpoint Fund

Press Release: IT4Causes Receives Donation From Flashpoint Fund

For Immediate Release

November 18, 2014

 

IT4Causes Receives Donation From Flashpoint Fund

First Grant Will Help Deliver Sustainable, Cost-Effective IT Solutions to Non-Profits

RICHMOND, Va. – Nov. 18, 2014 –The startup nonprofit IT4Causes today announced that it has received a $10,000 commitment from Flashpoint Fund, a Richmond-based private foundation. The donation will help IT4Causes in its mission of providing stable, secure, and sustainable information technology solutions to small and midsize nonprofits. The contribution from the Flashpoint Fund is the first major outside funding and will be used as matching funds for IT4Causes’ upcoming inaugural fund drive.

IT4Causes’ strategy is based on the premise that most small to midsize nonprofits have very similar Information Technology needs, which the organization assesses and monitors through a “fractional Chief Information Officer” service. IT needs of all customers are then grouped into a common list, which is prioritized based on the likely return on investment to the entire community. Pro bono IT experts select best-in-class solutions from the general market to meet the highest priority needs, with a special emphasis on low total cost of ownership. Other volunteers are then recruited to help implement the selected solutions at agencies across the region.

“Our pilot projects with UnBoundRVA and Children’s Mental Health Resource Center have proven our model,” said IT4Causes founder and CEO Tom Anderson. “The combined effect of Flashpoint’s commitment and the generosity it will inspire in other donors will enable us to move into growth mode in the first part of 2015.”

“By engineering a solution once and using it across different agencies, IT4Causes has the potential to build capacity in many organizations by freeing up valuable staff and leadership time, while also lowering support costs,” said Rick Schofield, founder of Flashpoint Fund. “Our investment in IT4Causes will further Flashpoint’s mission to help nonprofits improve their performance and better serve the Richmond community.”

IT4Causes was founded in 2014, to help small and midsize nonprofits become more effective and efficient through better IT solutions.

Flashpoint Fund was officially established in 2013 and is dedicated in memory of Schofield’s mother, Betsy Harris Schofield.

 

Contacts:

IT4Causes

Tom Anderson, CEO

Thomas.Anderson@IT4Causes.org

804.241.2555.

 

Flashpoint Fund

Rick Schofield, CEO

contact@FlashpointFund.org.

Flashpoint Fund

Flashpoint Fund has provided $10,000 in matching funds for our Fall ’14 campaign!