database development

Website Development and Online Community Management

VISTA Name: 
Morgan Sully
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Our Technology Infrastructure and Content Development project will focus on the next phase of developing our online suite of tools to help our members. We have begun to put the Plan in place by building a new “Mapping the Field” database; preparing for 2007

For the 2007 Technology Infrastructure/Content Development Project we ask the VISTA volunteer to:

1. Manage and contribute to NAMAC’s 2007 technology planning project which will help our membership connect and work with each other more fully across the field.

2. Develop NAMAC’s website, with special attention to building it out with Web 2.0 platforms.

3. Assist program staff in creating a variety of new content and participatory areas of the web site.

4. Contribute to helping the national media arts community to build capacity through online participatory technologies.

5. Work with program staff to upgrade our website with a new “look and feel.”

6. Work with programming staff to build out the online historical “media arts movement” timeline.

Project Outcome: 

Morgan’s primary focus has been on the complete redesign of the NAMAC website – from complex technical programming to taxonomization of data and content to social networking and blogging. It launched in the end of August and is becoming the nervous system of the NAMAC offerings. We are very happy with the results and look forward to our next phase of community building online, educating our membership in social networking through the site, and extending its reach to other nonprofits, communities and the public. Morgan has been a kind, reponsive and patient staff member throughout this process, always thinking strategically about how our online offerings can benefit new members, communities and organizations.

Morgan wrote an article about the website-building process for our member newsletter and produced a short video on how to use the site to its maximum capability. Now he is transitioning into the role of online community manager. He is managing our website content, troubleshooting any technical problems, and most importantly creating an online community of dedicated users from the NAMAC membership and other nonprofits, to the public at-large.

It was a hard challenge to solve a lot of the technical problems that the transistion to a Drupal environment posed. But we were very pleased to see that not only was Morgan a problem solver, but he was a solution seeker, reaching out continuously to the technical community and his network of programmers to find ways to deal with the small to large issues that would arise.

Impact Quote: 

The work accomplished by Morgan Sully will have a long lasting effect on the organization, and by extension to the field of media arts and public media. He has transformed our online presence into an interactive Web 2.0 environment. He is becoming an online “community manager” developing networks of users and supporters that will have great impact in the future of the organization and how we offer services and programs to our membership and beyond.”
- Helen DeMichiel, supervisor

CBO Web Development Strategist

Davis Community Network
VISTA Name: 
Rian Graves
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The “NPO Digital Literacy Toolkit and Virtual Volunteer Initiative” project is a combination of community networking, technology assistance to nonprofits, and digital media. We believe that with the advent of new web tools, we have an opportunity to reach populations we have not reached before, and provide them access to a more accessible and empowering internet.

Over the year, our Vista will be involved in the following activities:

- help identify representative segments of our community and assess their communications needs
- become familiar with and adept at using DCN’s existing toolkit
- explore and test next generation digital tools and open source applications provided by various national and international organizations
- help coordinate the development and testing of prototype toolkits which use next generation tools
- help develop and implement a train-the-trainers curriculum
- create recommended volunteer procedures and systems that could be generalized to other community organizations, an online guide for volunteer management for use by local nonprofits, the template for an online volunteer handbook
- develop DCN’s procedures and systems (and a draft online guide) for volunteer management, test the NPO Digital Literacy Toolkit’s use for DCN’s purposes to recruit and manage volunteers, and develop a draft online volunteer handbook for DCN
- work with DCN to promote development and hosting of local rich media content,
such as blogs and vlogs, podcasts, digital storytelling, etc and explore opportunities to develop this type of content for hosting on the DCN website

Project Outcome: 

Working independently, Rian collected examples of Web 2.0 tools, resources related to them, case studies, and effective practices. She designed and developed a website to share this information broadly. She assisted in the development of several slide presentations on subjects ranging from electronic newsletters to databases and effective practices in the use of these technologies. Rian also developed recommendations for DCN’s volunteer management program, including a volunteer manual, and created on-line resources for other nonprofits to use in developing their own volunteer management programs.

Once the resources were collected into an invaluable website by Rian, a small team of technical liaisons were able to use them in supporting five pilot organizations, including the Food Bank of Yolo County, Yolo Community Foundation, Short-Term Emergency Action Committee, TREEDavis, and Davis Community Network itself. These technical liaisons are volunteers, and it made their jobs much easier to conduct strategic communications planning with the nonprofits, identify their target audiences for the pilot period, messages they wanted to use the Internet to deliver, what they wanted their audiences to do, and finally, what Internet tools (from the collection of resources on the website), would help them to carry out their strategic communications plan. Without of all Rian’s up-front work, these volunteers could not have been immediately helpful to the organizations, to help them set up their websites in a sustainable way (so that they are not dependent on DCN’s volunteers to maintain them), to develop online webforms for simple contact management, electronic newsletters, and community calendars. In addition, Rian led a team to evaluate more sophisticated collaborative, communication, and contact management tools for DCN to use, to model potential future uses of tools such as Google Apps and Salesforce, when local nonprofits (with our help), become more sophisticated in their use of the Internet.

The major challenge for Rian was that DCN did not have an executive director during most of the term of her assignment, which meant that she was supervised, first by a team of volunteers, and then by a single volunteer. While she was able to carry out assignments once they were framed, and she worked well independently, she (and the organization) would have benefited from supervision by a staff person.

Impact Quote: 

Rian was invaluable in providing resources to help our organization become a better model, in identifying new technologies (Web 2.0) to evaluate and test with our pilot organizations, and suggesting sustainable approaches to maintaining these resources.”
- Vicki Suter, supervisor

Transmission Project