Cheap or free trainings this fall, from diversity to data


What webinars are on your calendar this fall? Leave a comment to let us know. (Photo: Mark Hillary, Flickr/Creative Commons)

Need professional development, but don’t have a budget for travel or tuition? Here’s a roundup of some free or relatively affordable trainings I’ve spotted recently – ones you can join from the comfort of your own desk or couch.

Deepen your storytelling skills

When: October 5, 3:00-4:00pm EST/12:00-1:00pm PST

What: Craigslist Foundation will host a “campfire conversation” conference call with Joe Lambert, founder and director of the Center for Digital Storytelling. It’s free for Craigslist Boot Camp participants and $5 for others.

More info and RSVP:

Use data to drive your decisions

When: October 6, 1:00-2:30pm EST/10:00-11:30am PST

Guidestar will host a free webinar on The Seven Steps for Data-Driven Decision Making with Sacha Litman, founder and principal consultant of Measuring Success. It’s free.

More info and RSVP: click here.

Working in study abroad or intercultural communication

Small Planet Studio recently tweeted about several upcoming trainings for people who want to work in international education, intercultural training, or consulting. Explore their menu of offerings here.

Volunteer management, social media, online donations, diversity, and more…

The folks at Idealware have a range of offerings this fall, from $40 trainings on how to choose donor and volunteer management systems to free eLearning sessions on Facebook, Twitter, and the “technology pyramid.” Explore the options at

And of course there’s always NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network. In October alone, they’re hosting a dozen events ranging from Diversifying Your Office Culture to Beyond Apps: Mobile for Nonprofits. Prices vary, and it helps if your organization has an NTEN membership. Read more at

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Hey "accidental techies," Idealware has free trainings for you.


The friendly team at Idealware.

Idealware‘s tagline is “helping nonprofits make smart software decisions.” They make good on that promise through books, webinars, and other resources. And starting next week, they’ll offer a free monthly training, too!

The first webinar in their monthly series will cover Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines. When people search sites like Google with keywords that relate to your work, does your organization’s name come up on the first page of results?

There are lots of techniques you can use to make this happen, and Idealware’s Executive Director, Laura Quinn, will break them down in this free training. Learn more and sign up here.

Other free eLearning courses include The Technology Pyramid (“Does your organization have its technology priorities in the right order?”) and Facebook vs. Twitter (see also: The Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide).

And you may remember that last year we reviewed Idealware’s Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits. Now they’ve released a 2011 edition, packed with new insight about topics from productivity and collaboration to constituent management, fundraising, and outreach.

Go forth and make informed software decisions, nonprofit techies!

Note: despite the similarity in our names, Idealware and Idealist are two separate entities. We like Idealware, and we like to promote free and cheap resources that can help you do your work better! Let us know if there are other organizations or resources we might want to share here.

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Book Review: The Idealware Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits

The Idealware Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits is a compact, 80-page introduction to the sometimes confusing world of software programs and web tools that nonprofits often leverage to maximize their impact. The Field Guide provides a basic overview of key terms and products, and would be most useful for novice or “accidental” techies who are hoping to familiarize themselves with the landscape. Anyone who is feeling a little lost after suddenly being charged with producing their organization’s new podcast series or developing a “search engine optimization” strategy will benefit from flipping through the pages of this small, accessible book. More experienced technology professionals will find the book is too basic, though they might learn about a few software programs they hadn’t been aware of.

The Guide is broken into three sections, and the structure allows the reader to quickly find what they’re looking for. The first section describes five functional areas of particular interest to nonprofits, and what categories of technology can be useful in each area: raising money, constituent outreach, event management, supporter engagement, and “listening and measuring,” along with a few pages on fundamental tools that are critical for all organizations. The second section is a set of fictional case studies, ranging from a small start-up with a $100,000 budget to an established $3.5 million organization with a sophisticated technology strategy. The final section provides a high level overview of specific software programs in each broad category, though it does not provide detailed analyses or reviews. For that, readers might want to visit the Idealware website which features in-depth research and product reviews. The website is an incredibly useful resource for both accidental techies and experienced IT professionals alike.

Individual copies of the Field Guide are available for $19.95 on Lulu. Additionally, organizations can purchase licenses to distribute larger quantities of the book to their networks. In this case, the Guide can be co-branded with your organization’s logo, a custom introduction page, information about your organization, and a customized set of resources for more information. For an additional fee, the Field Guide can be tailored specifically to your network. The content can be edited to speak directly to your organization’s typical processes and software needs, and can feature additional case studies and software ideas.

More book reviews:

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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