Davis Community Network
Davis Community Network is a nonprofit organization that provides internet-related services and support to local nonprofit organizations, public agencies, schools and individuals. We’re putting the power of the internet in the hands of people and organizations to connect, engage, and build a stronger community.
DCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit education and community service organization, founded in 1993. DCN is dedicated to helping local people take advantage of and benefit from the new information and communication technologies and services associated with the Internet and media convergence.
CBO Web Development Strategist
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
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.
“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