ellohay! West Michigan

Your hard-earned dollars

Posted in discovery stages, donations, feedback, fundraising, support, Uncategorized by forgr on April 28, 2008

When you make donations to nonprofit organizations, what is the straw that breaks the camel’s back? What messages, promises, stories do they communicate that makes you want to give your hard-earned dollars to nonprofit organizations? Or, do you give without being asked?

Here’s another question for you, what would make you want to give to this particular project? What would we need to accomplish, for you as a citizen, to want to contribute your hard-earned dollars?

Why do I ask? About a month ago, I posted a fundable.com link asking readers of this blog to contribute a small amount of money to help with startup costs. Nobody gave.

I’m genuinely curious why you did not contribute. I’m not asking you to contribute now, no, this is not a tactic to guilt you into that… This is just a request to know what you thought when I posted that link.

Did you visit the link and change your mind once you saw nobody else giving their money?

Do you not trust the project’s intentions, or think that it has value?

Are you not able to give money at this time?

Would you feel more confident if we were an established 501 (c3)?

Did you not trust fundable.com?

Did it just turn you off?

Is this just not a cause that you want to give money to?

Did you just not see the post and request?

Would you rather give time rather than money?

Do you make contributions to other organizations instead?

Was it because it was not tax deductible?

Was it because you wanted to give to a specific program rather than a general start up fund?

… Or was it something else?

For your reference:

Nonprofit ((501 (c3)) organizations that I personally contribute my money and time to:

My Money: Heifer International, Michigan Public Radio, Goodwill, Changing the Present
My Time: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, The American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids, Blandford Nature Center/Mixed Greens, The Race for the Cure, WMEAC

Serving organizations

Posted in discovery stages, mission statement, organization, planning, support by forgr on March 8, 2008

Should we serve entire organizations? For-profit business groups and not-for-profit groups?

The Philadelphia Wireless group offers bundles, $600 each for organizations. That covers the machine, the education, the support, and the discounted rate on internet access. That bundle provides tools to help serve their community… and it’s good.

If yes, we should serve them, what’s that right model for serving organizations? They need help too. In a perfect world, Executive Directors would be able to negotiate tools, resources and opportunities for each other. They should be able to help each other help people.

Is is scope creep on our mission statement? Weigh in… with a “yes” or a “no”.

A Conversation with Lee Weber

Posted in conversations, discovery stages, donations, meetings, organization, planning, projects, wifi by forgr on February 29, 2008

I met with Lee for lunch on Tuesday. We talked for quite a while about the wireless project here in the city, the infrastructure, the troubles, and the future.

The more meetings and conversations I have with people in my community, the more wildly apparent it becomes that there IS a need for something like this in this area. There’s a need for a program that provides potable technology, includes tools, offers education, and is dedicated to support.

I think the most inspiring thing about our meeting was that she believed in this project and the concept. She seemed like a supporter and wanted to stay in the conversation too.

Past the initial business plan, the pilot program may be the next goal. She suggested that we piggyback with an existing non-profit organization so that all donations are tax deductible for their donors (that was one of our largest barriers for a pilot program). They would also lend major credibility to our effort as well.

To get the pilot off the ground, that leaves:

• a venue for the event
• recipients
• volunteers, lots of smart volunteers
• a venue
• tracking, note-taking tools
• a fearless leader
• a fearless planning committee
• time

She gave me some new contacts as well, my list now is 40 people long. I thought it was shorter… phew! But I’ve made contact and had valuable conversations with 15 individuals… so 25 more right? At least.

Thank you Lee. I hope to talk to you again sometime soon.

A Conversation with Wireless Philadelphia

Posted in benchmarks, conversations, discovery stages, meetings, organization, planning, projects, research, wifi by forgr on February 26, 2008

Conversation with Thomas Kim, Operations Manager Wireless Philadelphia
(I called Wireless Philadelphia’s office today as a concerned citizen in Grand Rapids, MI. a man named Thomas answered the phone, I later learned that it was Thomas Kim, Operations Manager of the program. Notes are below in short statements… I’ll summarize at the end)

Their project is divided into three parts, all cooperating together 1. Wireless Philadelphia, 2. City of Phily, and 3. Earthlink
Wireless Philadelphia is a non-profit runs independently, no tax dollars went into it at all
RPF sent out from Wireless Philadelphia
EarthLink was chosen
They offered to pay build out themselves, operate it and maintain it
Concessions were made, generate revenue from subscribers
Main objective, was to make sure that there was digital inclusion, help brdge that gap
Subsidized accounts were created with EarthLink, $9.95
They are currently in a holding pattern, waiting to see what happens now that Earthlink is being purchased. Sucks. Read the snappy article on Philebritiy here.

Mayor was the incorporated, Interin COO
CIO put together an executive committee
City Government was part of that committee

(Thomas mentioned that Clearwire will most likely do Advertising, municipality)
Governance of organization: Board has four appointments, Mayor, 3 by council, 2 by board, CIO serves on board by default.

Marketing, website was part of operation, was from grants to Wireless Phildelphia Digital Inclusion program:
Group: Purchase bundles, $600 internet for one year, a laptop, classes, support resources
Individuals: sign up locations to earn a laptop, support, classes

They reached out to EARN, employment resources, network, welfare to work. Incentivized benchmarks, state funded.

They reached out to OIC programs, vocational institutions community based, life skill enhancement or building, city departments, ex-offenders, senior citizens based organizations, undeserved.

Brief time line: ’05 Business Plan, RFP. Summer of ’06 CEO was put in place, Fall of ’06 started finally, contracts

Not very well communicated in the beginning stages.

Is the program successful? When had full backing of vendor, okay
Biggest pain? service is the problem now

Wireless Philadelphia has largest Wifi coverage, 75%
Huston, 600 square miles
Portland, comparable

(WiMax will have same problems, Radio Frequency changes)

Any resources that your organization can offer to other cities, a kit, a how to? Nope.

About section on the website has more information, historic documents pdfs, RFP, network agreement, defines relationship

In short
Do it, and get as many community resources involved, write a complete business plan. He said we could call anytime.

NTEN research, case studies

Posted in wifi by forgr on February 21, 2008

So far this is the best one I’ve found “No Strings Attached: Wireless Internet’s Potential for Nonprofits” nten_wireless_casestudies_0207.pdf

“The second part of the No Strings Attached report provides a description of several nonprofit programs that are already effectively using municipal wireless to improve their work and expand their services.”

Link to it, read more and explore here. (I’m still working on a similar case study/story that I’ve experienced first hand with the Red Cross…)

No Strings Attached: Wireless Internet’s Potential for Nonprofits

Posted in wifi by forgr on February 4, 2008

Check out the great case studies here…

http://www.nten.org/research
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