Meet Our New Intern, Michael Musatow!

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Michael, better known as Moose, is currently enrolled at VCU. He is a rising senior studying Creative Advertising and Strategic Advertising, and pursuing a certificate in Product Innovation. Moose is the newest non-profit management intern to join our ranks. He will be focusing on branding and marketing, but will also be involved in partner-agency relationships, events, and business development. When asked how a non-profit should market themselves he replied,

Every non-profit has a story to tell, whether it’s ‘I founded this organization to help my community’ or ‘I volunteer my time to assist those in need’ it’s your job to make it known. Get specific, draw upon your experiences, and use this energy to propel your mission forward. The people at IT4Causes are so motivated and they have tons of stories, now we just have to tell them.

Moose worked most recently on branding the Reach Out Center of Petersburg’s flagship program ‘Regenesis’ and with SK Consulting in helping manage client relationships and assisted in creating non-profit strategies. Moose and friends at IT4Causes are working hard to provide IT solutions that are stable, secure, and sustainable. Together we will enable other non-profit organizations to focus on their goals and serve the community even better. Welcome to the team Moose, we can’t wait to get you started!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Mindy Tanner

IT4Causes enjoys the support of great volunteers. Today’s Volunteer Spotlight is on a member of IT4Causes’ Marketing and Branding Advisory Group-Mindy Tanner.
Mindy, who started volunteering with IT4Causes in October of 2014, has a background in communications and currently works for Royall & Company. She also volunteers and takes classes at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. When asked about her volunteering experience, Mindy stated: 
 “Volunteering with IT4Causes is a great way to impact the larger Richmond community both now and in the future. IT4Causes’ unique mission not only helps nonprofits enjoy better IT at a fraction of the cost now, but also helps them increase their capacity to serve in the future through enhanced efficiency.”
Mindy has helped IT4Causes get the word out about its mission to help local small to mid-size nonprofits have safe, secure, and sustainable IT solutions by working on a variety of projects. Mindy has done everything from document review to brainstorming ideas to helping out at special events to social media strategy. You can help get the word out about IT4Causes by following us on Facebook, liking us on Twitter, and signing up for our newsletter at our website.
If YOU are interested in helping Richmond area nonprofits become more effective through better IT systems, please visit our website, IT4Causes.org or Hands On Greater Richmond to sign up.  

Partner Spotlight: Children’s Mental Health Resource Center

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IT4Causes has been working with the CMHRC to improve their case and donor management systems. We are proud to be helping them achieve their noble mission of improving the lives of families and children who are suffering from mental health problems. Currently, 1 in 5 children have mental health problems which demonstrates the need for their services. They have a great support staff that assists parents in navigating the mental health system to receive the best resources for their children as they help battle society’s stigma against mental health. Susan Thrush, a parent and family advocator for the CMHRC, was kind enough to give us a quick interview about her experience.

Thrush has experience as a parent attempting to navigate the mental health system for her child before CMHRC was founded and talked a great deal of the obstacles and frustrations she had to face. The biggest problem is the stigma attached to children’s mental health. No one talks about these issues to bring about understanding and what makes it worse is when people assume the problem with the child isn’t mental health but an issue with attitude and behavior or a problem with parenting.

                “I didn’t have anyone in my corner and was significantly judged as a parent.”

This is where the CMHRC steps in. They offer a starting point of information for the parents so they don’t have to feel all alone in this battle. They are a guiding light to help navigate through the dark obstacles of insurance policies, doctors, therapists, facilities, home life, stigma and more. Without the CMHRC, Thrush had a frustrating, time consuming experience navigating the system and could have been spared a lot of emotional trauma if they had been known about sooner. Now, she is a part of the wonderful support staff at the center to help prevent these same frustrations from happening to other families. For more information about the CMHRC and their services please visit their website and Facebook page.

Partner Spotlight: Friends of Barnabas

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One of IT4Causes partner agencies is Friends of Barnabas (FOB), a faith-based organization that improves the lives of children in the impoverished areas of Honduras by not only providing high quality sustainable medical care but by also enabling the communities to become self-sufficient through community health training. You know what they say:

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

Founded by United Methodist minister Reverend Linwood Cook, FOB has been saving lives in Honduras since 2000. It started out with small mission trips to dispense vitamin A and anti-parasite tablets. Now, it has expanded into full-time clinics offering every level of care including surgery. Medical Mission teams are comprised of medical professionals, Spanish speakers and non-medical staff with a passion to serve. Primary and preventative healthcare is provided by three main programs within the FOB: Community Health Development, Extended Care and Surgery. FOB has met a deep need in the area by providing more than 328, 819 patients with free healthcare and by performing over 1,225 lifesaving operations. In addition, FOB sells a great Honduran blend of coffee that supports their life saving mission!

IT4Causes has worked with FOB to do an initial assessment of the agency’s IT structure. For more information about FOB, its mission, coffee and more please visit the FOB website here. Help FOB make the world better…one child at a time.

 

Your Night at the RVA Creativity Awards

It was a cool, breezy night. The Bolling Haxall house stood tall and inviting against the Richmond skyline. The windows glowed with a warm atmosphere with joyous shadows passing to and fro. Upon entry, you could see the Lego building voting station and the registration table. Friendly staff hand you a name tag, lego pieces and a stamp to signify you are over 21 years old. Excitement bubbles from within as you take a quick look around. Hugged against the historic mansion’s walls are countless tables bursting with activity. Staff and volunteers stroll elegantly from room to room carrying sheets of information and mouth watering hors d’oeuvres. You grab a lobster wonton and head to the back of the mansion to find your favorite table: IT4Causes!

The table is easy to spot with its colorful spinning wheel shining brightly from two Ipads. Founder Tom Anderson and his Intern Koren Dodd smile and welcome you to the table. Nestled beside the Crossroads Art Center, the two beckon guests to the table to play a free game of chance. You start the game with no hesitation, hoping to win any of the prizes. After entering your email address which automatically puts you in the contest for a $50 VISA giftcard, you watch the colors go round and round. At first the needle almost landed on the UDIG Tumbler cup  but instead slowly teetered to the next panel: “Oh no! Zombie Apocalypse and your data wasn’t backed up in cloud.” You shake your head, no prize this time. You bid your farewell and take a wistful look at the other prize: an RVA card. You decide you will probably stroll back through to play again.

The night then flew by! You met so many amazing organizations, listened to live music, met a magician and got an outline of your face stitched into a future piece of art. You had to hold your gut from laughing so much since the ceremony was emceed by the Richmond’s Comedy Coalition. You got to see lustrous handcrafted trophies presented to the winners and had sidewalks light your way to the after party at Pasture. Want to relive the night? Take a look at pictures in our Facebook album.   So what do you say? Will we see you at our next event?

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Tech Corner: Top 10 Due Diligence Questions for Cloud Hosted Solutions

At IT4Causes, use of cloud-based solutions for common problems is a cornerstone of the strategy that we advocate with our small and midsize nonprofit partners. We’re in the process of selecting solutions for both Donor Management and Case Management, and of course we’re doing due diligence to make sure the vendor solutions pass muster. Here’s a list of the top 10 questions we’re asking about the solutions; please feel free to comment back with any other that YOU feel are truly important considerations for making sure a cloud-hosted solution is stable, secure, and sustainable:

  1. What is the SLA for uptime for the application?
  2. Is the application hosted in a public cloud such as Amazon S3 or Microsoft Azure, or is it hosted in a private cloud?
  3. Is the application hosted in a single site, or at multiple sites in different geographies?
  4. Do you have a disaster recovery plan, and when was the last time it was tested?
  5. How frequently are backups made? How long are they kept?
  6. How and when will we be notified of major upgrades and service outages?
  7. Please provide a general overview of your general approach to security. What security measures do you use to authenticate users?
  8. What level of encryption do you apply to our data, at rest and in transit?
  9. How do you ensure the privacy of our data? What about metadata generated by our usage of the application?
  10. How does your application implement role-based security?

Of course, this is just a starting point for discussion, and we ask many other question of our potential vendors. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, too, so send your comments to Thomas.anderson@it4causes.org and we’ll summarize the responses in a future blog post.

cloud computing over blue  background vector illustration

cloud computing over blue background

 

Help Us Celebrate at the RVA Creativity Awards!

This Thursday, the 21st, RVA’s most creative ideas and projects are coming together for a night of celebrations, we want you to join us! IT4Causes is a proud finalist at the 2015 RVA Creativity Awards. Everyone is welcome to come have some fun, vote for a project (hint, hint) and enjoy some refreshments. The event is taking place at 5:30pm at the Bolling Haxall House. Tickets are $35 but can you really put a price on a night packed with so much fun and creativity?
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In attendance are 20 finalists who were selected out of 80 applicants for the title of the most creative project in RVA. Come see what these projects have to offer and enjoy some prizes and entertainment. Stop by IT4Causes’ station to play an informative game of chance and maybe win a great prize (or at least grab some sweet swag), and, of course, to vote for us in the People’s Choice award. A musical performance will be provided by Church Hill Music Co and the night will be hilariously emceed by the Richmond Comedy Coalition. It gets better! If all of that wasn’t enough, food and drink is available from Richmond’s own Underground Kitchen, James River Cellars Winery and Center of the Universe Brewing Co.
So what are you waiting for? Buy your tickets now!

 

Meet our new intern Koren Dodd!

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A recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Koren studied Religious Studies with a certification in Community Development. Koren will be helping out as a nonprofit management intern, working on things like marketing and branding, events, business development and partner agency management. Koren and the other staff here at IT4Causes work hard to provide stable, secure, and sustainable information technology solutions that enable other nonprofit organizations to focus on their missions and serve their clients better, with lower total cost to their organization and the community.

“I’m super excited to be working with all the amazing people here at IT4Causes. I know this is a great opportunity to learn a conglomeration of skills and to learn more about nonprofits. I’m lucky to have gotten a position in a sector full of such passionate people. I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring!”

With over 600 volunteer hours, Koren has been giving back to the community for years but it wasn’t until she joined the ASPiRE program at VCU that she was inspired to work in the nonprofit sector. Congratulations on graduating and welcome to the staff, Koren!

Calling All Office 365, MailChimp and Laptop/Desktop Gurus

We need volunteers! We have several volunteer opportunities that we’ll need to fill in the coming weeks. We are currently looking for Microsoft Office 365 experts / administrators to install new occurrences of Office 365 in addition to troubleshooting existing installations. We’re also seeking volunteers who have experience with installing Mailchimp as well as conducting a successful Mailchimp campaign. And we need volunteers who are “laptop gurus” to assist in setting up laptops for use in our not-for-profit agencies. If any of these opportunities strike your fancy, please contact Bill Flowers, Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator, at bill.flowers@it4causes.org. For more information and details on each opportunity, please visit the IT4Causes page at Hands On Greater Richmond.