Tackle is excited to present our newest service offering, Help Desk!

In a nutshell, Help Desk is perfect for those small or inconsistent CRM and online fundraising projects that pop up from time to time. For a small monthly administrative fee, you’ll gain access to our team of technology experts and only pay for the time we actively spend helping you.

We wanted to provide a service that truly helps nonprofit teams overcome technical roadblocks so they can focus on what is really important—growing your organization.

Our team has been working hard at launching this new program and we know many nonprofits will benefit from this on-call format, especially as we navigate this “new normal” we have found ourselves in.

What sparked the Help Desk idea?

We encounter a lot of organizations that often need occasional technical help, but cannot commit to a large support retainer. Often these nonprofits are on the smaller scale or have some sort of in-house technical support already.

On our side, it is challenging to write proposals for projects that only require a handful of hours. But our team has a passion to help nonprofits, no matter their project size, so we decided it was time to brainstorm a new way to serve these organizations. And thus, Help Desk was born.

With Help Desk, we set up an umbrella agreement that allows us to promptly answer questions and easily scope out work for approval via email. That allows our team to focus less on selling you something and more on helping you quickly. It truly is a win-win for both of us.

What are the top benefits of Help Desk?

Tech Team Access – You have a full CRM and fundraising technology team ready to help you on demand when you need it.

No Retainer Fees – There are no large retainer fees you have to commit to. You will be set up with a small monthly administrative fee to have access to our Help Desk platform and then you will just be billed for the work we do.

Ongoing Relationship – Over time we become very familiar with your systems and needs, so when a major project like a migration comes up, we can often skip a lot of discovery steps. This saves you time and money.

What kind of organizations are the best fit for Help Desk?

We specifically designed this for nonprofits with platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, online marketing software, and/or digital fundraising systems. We serve both smaller organizations without full time technology staff, and larger organizations with technology staff who are too busy to provide front-line user support or need occasional help with larger projects.

Universally, you want to get the most out of your technology and we want to help you achieve that.

What are examples of situations that Help Desk addresses?

Every organization has a unique set of technical or strategic circumstances and struggles. Our team can address them all, from day-to-day issues to long-term technology tactics.

Here are just a few scenarios our team is equipped to handle.

  • Major Platform Change – Our CRM or Online Fundraising platform has an upcoming change (upgrade, release, feature retirement, security warning, etc.). Will our organization be impacted? Or maybe it already happened a while ago, and you’ve been ignoring it. And it DEFINITELY impacted you. How difficult will it be to fix it now?
  • Data Detective WorkHow the heck did THIS person’s information get changed in this way?
  • Input on Technology Strategy – We’re about to launch a new campaign that uses our platforms in a somewhat different way. And we’re also interested in exploring some things in the future in a kinda-related somewhat different way. Is there anything else we should be thinking about here?

We know one of these questions has come up for you in the past. Folks at all levels of an organization have all kinds of good ideas about how to make their jobs easier and better. But without the kind of broad nonprofit tech experience Tackle brings, it can be challenging to know where to begin.

With Help Desk, you can turn to us to help you navigate any technology issues, big or small. We have experience working with all sizes of nonprofits and can help you navigate best practices and talk about red flags we might see down the road.

What does the small monthly fee cover and how many billable hours do you typically spend per client?

The monthly administrative fee covers your team setup in our online help desk system. This includes progress monitoring 24/7 and access to our team.

Help Desk’s pay-as-you-go billing provides you with flexibility to adjust your spending. Every client has different and various technology needs. We will work with you to set up boundaries for pre-approved hours per month, and will communicate with you when you are nearing that boundary. For work that will take longer than those pre-approved hours, we will work with you on getting approval to move forward so you don’t have any surprises. You also have the ability to limit how many people on your team have access to Help Desk so you have control over what is a priority for that month.

How do you sign up?

Great question! We’d love to set up a time to chat with you and take the next steps to getting your team signed up for Help Desk. Simply contact us through the website or send a note to Ryan directly.

Learn more about Help Desk here.

When deciding on a technology consultant firm for your nonprofit, there are many things to consider. One of them is whether or not the consultant firm is focused on one particular system, like Salesforce, or one that has knowledge working with multiple systems.

Being an expert in one system means the consultant has spent an extraordinary amount of time learning about all the technical features of the system and how business processes can be set up. This can be extremely beneficial if your organization needs help with that particular system, especially for a short term issue.

However, there are setbacks to this specific system expertise. This can mean the consultant has fewer tools in their toolbox for fixing problems, as the consultant most often sees problems and solutions within that one system’s lens.

At Tackle we take pride in being efficient in multiple digital systems. So why is this important?

Most organizations use multiple systems and will likely change to new systems in the future. When a consultant has experience with multiple systems, they can very effectively create solutions using the best tool available.

Similarly, you can create solutions tailored by system depending on who in an organization uses which system. That can be invaluable for minimizing learning curves.

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Tackle is excited to announce the launch of our new podcast!

In our podcast series we plan to explore all things nonprofits and technology, two topics we are very passionate about. We hope to bring insights from our years of experience from technology consulting and our backgrounds in working for nonprofits. From our favorite software recommendations to tips for working remotely, we would love to have you tune in.

For our first podcast, our team discusses working from home. This is a hot topic right now since many people have found themselves in this position the past few months, whether planned or not.

Our team at Tackle has always been remote, in fact we have employees from the east coast to the west coast and in between. And many of us have worked remotely in past positions as well. So we have a lot to say about that work from home life.

We talk about what our office space looks like, how to stay productive and how the current COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact in our work from home status.

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With news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading into even more communities, talk of the need to work from home is high on everyone’s minds.

While some offices are easily set up with the flexibility to work from home, there are many organizations that are not. Can your organization continue with “business as usual” if everyone is working from home?

In cases where closing an office altogether isn’t possible or practical, maybe consider reducing the in-office headcount. This could mean maintaining the minimal amount of in-house staff while allowing others to work from home. Or rotating work from home days or staggered 4-day work weeks. There are definitely options for reducing social contact.

Now for any organization facing the possibility of transitioning your employees to remote work, there are many things your organization should be doing NOW to prepare.

Start with a clear communication plan with your employees about what your plan is if they are not able to come into the office, and check out our guidelines below on where to get started.

Hardware & Software

What is your organization’s existing policy for staff working from home and/or using personal equipment? Start there. And note that you might have to make some updates or temporary exemptions for this situatiton.

If possible, try to avoid having your staff attempt to work using their personal equipment. Besides being a data and security risk, this is also likely to lead to support challenges for your IT team.

This means you will need to figure out how to provide the necessary hardware and needed software for your employees, especially if you do not have enough laptops for every employee. Now is the time to look into purchasing some more laptops. Or, at the very least, figure out how to help your employee set up their office desktop computer at their house. Although if that is the case, please keep in mind that not everyone is tech savvy so you will need to have a technical person on staff prepared to help with this—before the need to work from home is necessary.

It is also important to make sure the software your employees use are up-to-date and ready to go. Is Microsoft Office loaded on their laptop? What about any design programs? Email accounts?

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Did you know the Tackle team is spread out across the country? That means we do a lot of remote work, so we are basically experts at working from home.

I personally have been working from home in various roles now for over eight years, and I absolutely love it. In fact, my husband also works from home so we are like the ultimate work-from-home power couple. It took a little bit of trial and error to figure out how to productively do this, especially adding a couple kids to the mix, but I truly think it’s a great option that employers should genuinely explore (but more on that in another post).

If you find yourself new to the work from home club or struggling to get your work done at home, I thought I would share some tips on how to be as productive as possible while working from home.

Have a designated work space

Make a desk space in your house, whether it’s a small table tucked in a corner of your living room or an actual office in your basement, make sure you have a space that is designated to get stuff done.

And no, your bed doesn’t count.

I would probably also take it one step further and say to designate this space ONLY for work. When you know your desk is set aside for working time instead of say, watching movies or posting on social media, you will less likely find yourself doing those things in this space during working hours. Besides, I think only using this space for work helps with tax write offs, although I am no tax expert.

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Conferences are a great way to immerse yourself in new ideas, hear top notch speakers, and network. There are many events that focus on nonprofit technology and below we put together a list of some great conferences that are upcoming for 2020, and one that is just a couple weeks away (good news–tickets are still available!).

Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization (NIO) Summit

September 24-25, 2019 – Denver, CO

Presented by NextAfter, the NIO Summit focuses on online fundraising strategies that promotes marketing innovation to help you achieve better results with your fundraising efforts. Speakers include Ross Simmonds, Founder at Hustle & Grind, Tim Kachuriak, Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer at NextAfter, and Amy Harrison from Write With Influence. Some discussion topics are email marketing, copywriting, analytics, social media marketing, marketing automation, and testing and optimization.

Nonprofit Technology Conference (20NTC)

March 24-26, 2020 – Baltimore, MD

With a huge focus on using technology to spark change, “the 2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference is designed to help you reinvigorate your work and bring that renewed passion back to your community.” The keynote speaker is Erricka Bridgeford Director of Training, Community Mediation Maryland Co-Founder, Baltimore Ceasefire 365 who has some insights you won’t want to miss. Hosted by NTEN, some topics covered are technology management, operations, and digital communications and marketing.

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With end-of-year planning in full swing, don’t forget to add data cleaning to your checklist.

You want your technology systems to be in their best shape before your “busy” season begins, so making sure you start putting some processes into play now by practicing good data hygiene so you can guarantee your campaign will run as smoothly as possible.

Jeff Miller, our in-house data management guru, gives three recommendations for maintaining good data hygiene that you can start doing today.

1) Keep addresses up-to-date and in a consistent format.

Make use of address standardization and validation services offered as part of your CRM or online fundraising system, including CASS certification and NCOA address updates.

Consider adding a front-end address validator, like SmartyStreets, to donation forms and other web forms where addresses are collected.

2) Stop ALL bad data at the source.

It’s not just bad/incomplete addresses that can be stopped at the source. Consider all the sources of incoming data—web forms, data entry forms, system integrations, import/exports—and make sure that they’re consistent with each other and capturing the information that’s really needed.

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As someone working in a technical role at your organization, it can sometimes feel like you are a foreigner in your own country. With all the different languages, processes, and acronyms, it can quickly get confusing to someone not familiar with your world.

At Tackle, we get it. We speak “tech” every day to people who don’t live and breathe this stuff like we do. In fact, many times organizations hire us to help with this specific issue and to help bridge the gap between the tech staff and the non-tech staff.

So we put together a few tips we’ve learned along the way that we hope you find useful when navigating how to better work with non-tech staff and make it a pleasant experience for everyone.

Tip #1

Avoid the trap of assuming that everyone has a base-level understanding of what you’re talking about. It pays to set the stage, even adding an extra few words of explanation. Also, giving room for people to ask questions, by slowing down and pausing or just asking for confirmation that people are following.

Tip #2

Avoid acronyms and jargon. Try to always say the full term. It can also be helpful at the start of a meeting, to spend a few minutes defining terms/systems so everyone is on the same page.

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We’ve all been there. You jump on your website and something is broken and not working. You get an email from a colleague asking if your account has been hacked. You have a donor call and say they keep getting an error when they try to make a donation.

It’s all so… alarming.

Sometimes it’s a simple issue, like user error. But sometimes it’s more than you can handle yourself, and then the dreaded wave of anxiety starts crashing in.

So what should you do? We’ve put together some steps to help you deal with your urgent technology needs so if you find yourself in a pressing situation you can use these tools to address the issue and get on with your day (or week or month).

Don’t panic.

Easier said than done, right? But take a deep breath. Like right now. Emailing 20 people about the issue and hiding under your desk probably isn’t going to actually help the situation.

Many times these issues that seem catastrophic are pretty minor. Or maybe they are widespread, like a server outage, and many other people are experiencing similar issues. Regardless, taking a step back for a minute can help clear your mind and help you to start taking the right steps to actually fix the problem.

Troubleshoot.

You know when you call the cable company because your internet isn’t working and the first thing they ask is if you restarted the modem. It’s like that.

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There is a good chance you’ve utilized multi-factor authentication recently. When you sign into a new account and have to receive something like a code via text message to proceed. While it might seem like this extra step is an inconvenience, multi-factor authentication might actually protect you from some serious security inconveniences down the road.

Multi-factor authentication is becoming the industry norm these days, and for good reason. Our team weighs in on why we always recommend this to our clients on all of the digital systems they use.

Significantly increases security.

Generally, when you, or someone, want to sign in to your account your username and password are needed. When you add multi-factor authentication, another special code is required to be able to sign in. This code is usually sent via text message or accessed through an authentication app like Google Authenticator, and needs to be used immediately as it will quickly time out.

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