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From time to time, we like to shine the spotlight on nonprofit techies who go above and beyond to help out other organizations with their technology conundrums. In this case, that'd be Margaux Pagan doing great things in Orlando, Florida. She's our volunteer Netsquared organizer there.
NetSquared is TechSoup's volunteer-driven, global network of nonprofit technology workshops and networking events. Our dream is to have peer-led, in-person tech support for nonprofits in every community, and Margaux knows how it's done.
In addition to organizing NetSquared events on topics such as how to get going with website tools like WordPress and Google Analytics, and creating a Salesforce database, Margaux helped organize Orlando Gives, in which six local nonprofit organizations got together to create a culture of giving in their city. They did this as a demonstration project by publicizing last year's #GivingTuesday together. This coming year, they plan to organize more days of giving and service.
Here's what she told us about how she helps out charities in central Florida.
Here is my childhood utopian vision: I believe that technology is the greatest component that will help us create, learn, …and experiment towards our collaborative missions.
I am literally a nonprofit fan! If there was a fan club, I would sign up for it in a heartbeat. I want to see folks learn and grow and continue to do what they are driven to do and pass the torch so others can do that too.
I am one of the crazies of my era who, while in college, chose to work in the nonprofit sector. I grew up as a semi-military brat (my father is an engineer and we moved a lot … emphasis on the brat). So, we lived in Dallas; St. Louis; Huntsville, Alabama; and Orlando. After college, my daughter and I took our bags to the big windy city, Chicago, where the nonprofit tech space was absolutely shaping into this magnet of energy and do-goodness. My daughter is now 17 and the best thing since Play-Doh.
In Chicago, I received a random email from Netsquared organizer, Eli van der Giessen, who apparently found my Twitter rants on nonprofit life good enough to offer a role as a NetSquared organizer. I had been doing work in the nonprofit tech space for a few years by then and jumped right on the opportunity. I love the education factor of it all. "You don't know what you don't know." How can we use what others do know to help more organizations improve the everyday functions of supporting missions?
Since being back in Orlando, I've had an interesting time for reflections, observations, and especially comparisons. I started to notice how people in the nonprofit sector interacted, the beliefs of how people give, and the disparity of how it works well in other cities.
During a Tech4Good meeting, some other crazy thinkers like myself cooked up the idea behind Orlando Gives. We wanted to create a culture of giving in central Florida. We began meeting weekly, with emails daily, action items, and then a launch event on #GivingTuesday on December 1, 2015.
Others saw what we saw … a community splintered between the old and new ways of doing good or giving back. We wanted Orlando Gives to encourage donors to choose how and what they want to give to nonprofits, whether time, resources, or cash money. The idea is ... if someone is giving by nature, that giving will expand over time and with time.
Even in its first year, Orlando Gives had some impact. The Orlando Gives Ambassador program made it easy for donors to involve family, friends, and professional networks, using our Expect Referrals Campaign. The project proved its concept by raising money for the six original pilot partners in 2015. Next year, all central Florida nonprofits are encouraged to join the growing Orlando Gives movement.
I would say that human services organizations are my passion. These are the organizations who really need to expert the hell out of data analysis, database customizations, web integrations, etc. I feel like in many cases, they don't provide the public and funders with the power of their work.
They present diluted versions of the total picture. If we really want to get to solving some of the issues, then these organizations will need to step up and invest in the most critical asset they have — their data.
I fully enjoy all aspects of organizing the Tech4Good community. I talk a lot with folks from all different types of organizations and educational institutions. I want to see our nonprofit community learn and grow into something that helps change the landscape for charities in this region.
A couple weeks ago I actually attended a speaker session on the State of Philanthropy in Central Florida. The speaker was Mark Brewer with the Central Florida Foundation. He is an incredibly brilliant person and essentially told everyone in the room, "If you are an organization that is not creating new markets for yourself, you will fall behind."
It spoke volumes to how philanthropy in general is perceived in the area. Bring in nonprofit technology and we have just blown people's minds. I would classify the state of nonprofit tech as mousy; meaning folks are into it, but really aren't talking about it, aren't yearning for the learning about it, and aren't using it in innovative ways. We will get there for sure!
I currently spend my daylight hours working as the development director at the Center for Independent Living in Central Florida, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for disability inclusion. After seven months, I have helped implement a new CRM (Salesforce for Nonprofits) and am working to redevelop the website.
It's all very exciting. Outside of work, I can usually be found snuggling with my herd of animals — two cats and one dog. My next pet on the list is a pygmy goat, but I'm not sure how that will go over with everyone.
Image 1: skeeze / CC0 / text added
Image 2: Margaux Pagan