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We are so excited to welcome Tom Vance to the Tackle team! Tom recently joined our team as an Associate Consultant and he is already helping make our client’s technology shine.

Tom comes to Tackle with a solid background working on staff at nonprofits. He brings a high level of understanding of the challenges nonprofits face, especially with their technology. His first-hand knowledge of development, fundraising, programming, culture, and communications puts him in a unique position when working with our clients to achieve their technology goals. We are confident you will be in great hands with Tom when working on your next project at Tackle.

Check out what Tom had to say in this Q&A below.

Tell us about yourself.

As a white, queer, lo-fi femme millenial – I approach the world understanding that parts of the world were made for me and other parts were not. Therefore social change work is core to who I am.

In my short life so far, has entailed serving on a capital campaign to raise $15 million for a new homeless shelter; developed and implemented a grasstops organizing strategy to get more funding to LGBTQ+ community organizations; and most recently, built an advancement team to help a Black serving nonprofit survive the COVID-19 endemic.

Through all this time, I’ve been using technology to manage donor relationships and program outcomes to continue securing funding for mission critical work. Helping organizations embrace technology can reduce paperwork, create 360 customer views and help break organizational silos leading to more innovation to solve the world’s leading challenges.

What do you value most when working with clients?

Being a consultant lets you touch the work of multiple missions and the lives of extremely passionate people trying to make a difference in our world. I’m reminded of a quote from Lila Watson, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” To build the future we want, we have to work together.

What excites you most about helping nonprofits with their technology?

How technology can be used to achieve an organization’s mission. And the easier the technology is to use, the bigger return on investment the organization can get. If I can get organizations out of spreadsheets and disconnected systems, they can scale their work and get closer to fulfilling their mission.

How would your work help Tackle move in the forward direction?

My intercultural development background will support Tackle navigate the challenges of having a growing team of consultants. The more people you have the more intentional about organization culture you have to be.

I’m a bit of a nerd about this because this is how you find out whether your org culture supports diversity and inclusion or not. Many social change advocates use the intercultural development continuum to unpack where a culture is and what work needs to happen to create a more inclusive environment. **Spoiler Alert** self-awareness is one of the critical activities!


Have any other questions for Tom regarding his role at Tackle? I know he would love to hear from you or connect on LinkedIn.

We know Tom will truly benefit our team and our clients, and we can’t wait for you to work with him on your next project with Tackle.

Everyone on our team is excited to welcome Bria Harris to Tackle! Bria joined our team last month as our Marketing Intern. She has already been such an amazing addition to our marketing and sales team and we are thrilled she came on board.

While Bria is still early in her career, she still brings some solid writing experience, marketing and engagement ideas, and social media management. We know her perspective will positively help us connect our clients to the technology they need.

Learn a little more about Bria in this Q&A below.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Michigan native who comes from a deep blue collar background. A recent graduate from the University of Toledo where I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing with a minor in Information Systems. I also have an MBA in Finance from the University of Toledo. I like to make every opportunity a learning experience. Experiencing different industries such as higher education and financial services has given me the ability to transition well into a new environment, especially since I’m early in my career.

When I’m not working, I like to establish content for my personal finance brand, spend time with family and friends, read books, travel, and live out my foodie dreams. I am a lover of new experiences and with that comes being able to have a great imagination.

What unique experiences do you bring to our team at Tackle?

My background consists of generating content that people from all walks of life can relate to. I began to develop my digital marketing skills through a series of school project work, previous marketing job experiences, and creating a brand out as a side project.

Marketing is the voice of the organization. It combines business acumen with creative processes of connecting people. As a marketer, the job comes with being able to wear many hats and the ability to multitask effectively. For me, it’s a role I am passionate about so to be here at Tackle, I can give the team a fresh perspective that’ll help us grow the organization.

What interests you in working with nonprofits?

At the heart of nonprofit work is community support. I consider myself a community-first type of person because I’m always willing to be a team player and help others succeed. When I first started to look into the nonprofit sector, I noticed a great need for people with business skills. In the nonprofit world, it’s important to have business intelligence since you cannot just run an organization on community alone. Knowing how to operate strategically is how you keep a nonprofit running. Being able to bridge a gap between community development and making good business decisions is what I’ll bring the more I spend working with nonprofits.

What are you most excited to learn in this role?

What excites me most about working here is that I get a chance to sharpen my skills as a marketer. Marketing is the first point of contact in getting clients to work with us. To use marketing skills to make an impact is always an exciting thing to do. The ability to create content that supports our company efforts is what I look forward to.


Have any other questions for Bria regarding her role at Tackle? I know she would love to hear from you or connect on LinkedIn.

We are pumped to have Bria on our team! Keep an eye out for her posts on Tackle’s blog and social media and be sure to give them some likes and shares.

You just wrapped up your big end-of-year campaign and after many curse words and much hair pulling, you have decided you are done with your current software. It sucks, it’s not working like you need it to, your staff complains about the platform on a regular basis.

You are officially ready to move on to a new technology system.

Making a software change can be a huge endeavor. While some platforms are easy to use right out of the box, there is still the getting started process, system integration setups, training your staff on the new systems, and the dreaded unforeseen complications.

So before you dive into a system switch, make sure you are accurately setting your expectations by asking yourself these two questions.

1. Why are you looking to make a change?

Every organization brings its own backgrounds and challenges as to why they are ready for a software switch. Generally it comes down to the fact that you are not able to accomplish your goals with the software you are currently using.

From our experience, the reasons you want a change generally fall into one or more of the following categories.

You have outgrown your current software. When your team got started with your current platform(s), your needs were much more narrow. But now you have way more donors or a new website or your services have changed (or maybe even all three) and it is just not working for you anymore. The good news is many digital systems are constantly expanding and updating, but if you found you maxed out all of their offerings that definitely could be a convincing reason you need to move on.

Staff changes. Maybe the person who set up the software has left your organization and it is a good time to reassess how you use your software. Or maybe you hired a new staff person with experience using another system that they absolutely love and think your organization would benefit from it. Regardless, staff transitions are a common, and, honestly, an excellent time to consider new technology.

It is overwhelming to use. This is a common issue with systems with a vast feature offering. Salesforce is a great example of this. There are many features and options and if your system was not set up well in the first place, it can make using it one big headache. Lack of training can also put a hindrance on using your technology to its full potential.

Your systems don’t work together. You have one platform for your email, another for your CRM, an online donation processing system and none of them actually work together. You have set up lots of work arounds and manual inputs, but if they could just automatically update between systems it would make your job so much easier. So you are considering a new more diverse technology option or possibly some better system integration options.

The bottom line is there are many reasons why you might not be happy with your current technology systems. A new platform is appealing, but there is one more question to consider before you actually make that jump.

2. Is a new system worth it?

Sure, implementing new technology sounds like it would magically solve all of your problems like a digital fairy godmother. And while it very well could, you have to think through the process to get there, because unfortunately it’s not as easy as waving a wand.

Budget

Obviously, price is probably your top factor when considering a switch. It is usually the first thing I look at when exploring new software and it is probably your first stop as well.

There is the cost of the actual software, but are there extra start up costs or will you need to hire someone to help you implement this new software? Is it a monthly cost or is it just a standard one-time flat rate? What about training? Will your staff need extra help getting started and is that included in the cost?

All of these things go into making sure this new technology fits into your budget. But you should also examine the extra income this new system has the potential to bring in that could offset costs. Also will this new platform reduce the time your staff has to manage the software? I am guessing their time, and thus hourly rate, would probably be more beneficial spent on something else besides cursing at managing a software system.

Time

You know that saying, “time is money?” Yeah, this definitely applies here.

How long will this take to get started? How much staff time will need to be dedicated to implementing this? What about training?

While some systems are easy to use from the start, systems like CRMs can take from a few days for a very small organization to over a year for larger nonprofits to get your new database in working order. Can you put some things on hold to make this work? Is this something your team can manage?

Staff Involvement

It only takes one person to derail your team’s journey with your new software. That is why it is especially important to make sure everyone is on board before you onboard.

Reviewing the software with anyone who might use the technology (think marketing, development, finance teams and others) before you hit the sign up button will go a long way. Considering your co-worker’s input will go even further. This is where a consultant can go a long way in vetting your technology options and making sure it will actually work for your team(s).

Also, having a point person to lead the technology project is important as well. That person should also keep in mind that they should stay on top of the latest updates and feature releases your new software has to offer after it is implemented. Is there someone on your team that is willing to take this on?

Training

So you got the green light and your new system is set up, in fact, you even hired a consultant to customize it to fit your needs. It is perfect. But now no one on your team actually knows how to use it.

The effort and time it takes to train your employees on your new software, well, depends on your employees. Are they tech savvy? Good with details? Eager to learn this new system?

Training is a necessary part of implementing a new technology system. Make sure you have a willing staff and the time set aside for learning and troubleshooting.

Inconvenience

All of the factors above can work together to make a perfectly inconvenient storm. Is this something you can power through?

The money, time, and effort new software requires can put projects on hold, affect your fundraising, and can make things like reporting especially challenging in the interim.

Before you jump ship on your technology, it is important to examine your current software a little closer. Maybe there are new features you are not aware of, maybe your business processes need to adjust, maybe you just need to do some system integrations with a tool like Zapier? Or maybe your staff just needs a little bit of training or say in what their needs are? This is where I hands down recommend starting.

And after all that you still answer, “Yes! Switching to a new system is 100% worth the inconvenience,” then I would probably say you are ready to make a technology change.

Need a little help selecting a new system that will be a good fit for your team, helping implement a new platform, or any training or troubleshooting? The Tackle team is standing by to jump in and give you a hand, just reach out to us today.

Tackle is excited to announce our latest addition to our team, Kim Martinez! Kim is joining our team as the Services + Project Operations Manager and we know her previous experience will be a huge benefit to our team and to our clients.

Kim has over 20 years of combined experience in operations and services management for nonprofits and for-profit entities. Leveraging the tools of technology and project management, she’s worked with organizations to build community programs, research service models, and manage fundraising and advocacy initiatives. Kim is personable and creative, and we know our clients can rely on her to advance their technology and see their organizations grow.

We thought we would hand it over to Kim to share her insights into stepping into this new role at Tackle.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a native Austinite and I grew up in the restaurant business. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Concordia University with a minor in Sociology. In the workplace, I love developing processes and workflows to establish a consistent but personalized experience for clients. Outside of work, I spend time with my aging parents, my partner, and my furry children (Kipper and Weasley). I’m a caregiver at heart. I also love to sneak away with my partner to enjoy a good hike in a national or state park, a day adventure of zip-lining or visiting a wildlife sanctuary, and I hope to one day see the Aurora Borealis!

Why are you passionate about supporting nonprofits?

Nonprofits fill a role for so many people across this planet—research, direct services, advocacy, representation, ongoing support, and connection. I believe we all want to find a place where we can effect change, receive the support we need, impact the potential and success of others, and ultimately belong.

What unique experiences do you bring to our team at Tackle?

My background has consistently been to deliver services through project and program management. My focus is to listen and help generate creative solutions, establish best practices, identify risk factors, and ensure good communication with all stakeholders.

Project management is key for most any initiative. Primary variables include scope, time, and cost—and each is constrained by the other. My understanding of how to manage these variables, pivot when needed, assessing risks (positive or negative), and adjusting expectations will be key to keeping the balance so that we can deliver services on time and within budget.

What do you value when working with clients?

I most value honesty and the willingness of clients to embrace and solve for the challenges of technology. For me, it’s all about working at an organic level with organizations—human to human—to wield the power of technology for a greater good.


Have any other questions for Kim regarding her role at Tackle? I know she would love to hear from you or connect on LinkedIn.

We truly are so thrilled to have Kim join us at Tackle, and we can’t wait for you to work with her on your next project with Tackle.

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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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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