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Andrea Berry is a well-known name in the world of nonprofit technology. As the Director of Partnerships and Learning, Berry oversees Idealware's online seminars and live presentations. She's also the co-author of both the Idealware Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide and the Consumer's Guide to Donor Management Systems. In honor of Idealware's On Demand Tactical Technology Planning product coming to TechSoup, I interviewed Andrea Berry to learn more about her background, the importance of technology planning, and more.
Berry wasn't always a nonprofit tech expert. She actually got her degree in archeology and worked as a middle school teacher for a few years. She started volunteering for museums and eventually moved into the world of fundraising. In one of the organizations she worked at, she became the database person.
Her first introduction to Idealware came when her organization started transitioning to a new donor management system. She used Idealware's donor management reports to help with research. She then "serendipitously" fell into working at Idealware – first as a consultant and then as a part-time fundraiser. Eventually, Berry started running the training program, developing content, and translating the research Idealware does.
"It's a great place to be," said Berry. "As a nonprofit tech professional, you make so much change."
To stay on top of the latest in technology and nonprofit tech trends, Berry says she reads "a million blogs." From Beth Kanter's Blog to Mashable to Copyblogger, Berry tries to read as many different blogs as possible.
"For me, there's no one resource," she said. "It's a culmination or collaboration of those different resources — they help me make good decisions."
The idea for Tactical Technology Planning stemmed from what Idealware thought to be a hole in general technology training for nonprofits. Over and over, Idealware's staff kept hearing nonprofits say that they needed a strategic plan for their technology acquisitions. But planning aspirations are a big leap from actually sitting down and writing out a technology plan.
"Organizations felt like it was out of reach for them, " said Berry. We spent a lot of time figuring out how we can fill that gap."
Berry and Idealware staff realized that nonprofits needed more of a triage plan so that they could tackle technology step by step. They came up with an e-learning module called the technology pyramid to help nonprofits build out their tech plan. The pyramid approach helps nonprofits identify which technology needs are most important (Idealware recommends addressing infrastructure first).
Online training seemed like the best format for teaching technology planning. Many nonprofit employees don't have time to sit through a day-long class. Online training allows participants to pace themselves. You can listen to a lesson while commuting to work or in bed before you go to sleep. The format also allows for activities to be inserted between lessons.
"When training is done well online, you get the same quality you get in the in-person interactive workshops," said Berry. "You can listen, take action, and then keep listening."
For nonprofits just embarking on Idealware's Tactical Technology Planning, Berry recommends setting reasonable goals for how much time you want to spend on the course and the related activities. She recommends giving yourself deadlines but also thinking about how you like to learn. How can you make it the very best class for you and your staff?
We love all things broth-based here at TechSoup, so we like to conclude our nonprofit expert interviews with a request for a favorite soup.
"I make a really mean shrimp and corn chowder," said Berry.
Got any tech planning questions? Or have you taken Idealware's Tactical Technology Planning? Please log in and share with us in the comments!
Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.