Nonprofits

Sun 26 June 2016

I created my first blog post on January 18, 2009 soon after I began using Linux as my primary operating system. Since that time, I have contributed to open source projects, volunteered my time with the Boy Scouts of America and advised the Perinton Historical Society on a major technological initiative. Though I have always derived a great sense of satisfaction from helping others, these recent activities revealed how valuable my technical experience is to nonprofit organizations. For this reason, I decided to reboot my blogging to focus on providing guidance to nonprofits interested in using information technology to solve business problems.

Two years ago I was asked to consult with the technology management committee of the Perinton Historical Society on a project that would enable them to broadcast a presentation from a downstairs room to an upstairs room. The museum wanted to do this to make the presentations more accessible to the community and provide additional capacity for more popular events. The museum applied for a $25,000 grant and worked with a local audio visual company to develop a plan. I was asked to consult with the museum to review the proposal they received from the audio visual company. The proposal came in at a total of $25,000. After a careful evaluation I advised the museum that the it would be possible to design a solution for no more than $8,000 dollars. I was given the authorization to develop a proposal and present it to the board of trustees. In the end I came up with a proposal with a total cost of $6,200 that met all the needs the museum had specified and a few they had not imagined. In the end, the museum was awarded a grant of $12,500 and chose the proposal I presented to them.

I am currently working on a project to develop a fun and challenging curriculum for the Programming and Digital Technology merit badges to be used by the Seneca Waterways Council. The plan is to leverage Raspberry Pi 3 devices to provide a programming and digital technology platform for scouts. The Curriculum will combine both merit badges into a single over-night event. The total cost for getting this merit badge event off the ground will be between $3,000 and $4,000 dollars. If traditional computers had been utilized with commercial software, that cost would have been $11,600. Each event will be able to accommodate 20 scouts and the conservative estimate is that the event will run twice a year for five years before the equipment needs to be replaced. That will place the long term cost per scout at $20.

When I reflected on the $18,800 savings for the museum and the $7.600 in potential savings for the Boy Scouts of America, I realized that sharing my experience and knowledge with a wider audience would benefit other nonprofit organizations looking to solve similar problems. Future posts will detail the projects I work on that use technology to solve problems.

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