On this episode of Bloomerang TV, Lynn Perez-Hewitt joins us to chat about nonprofit technology documentation, reputation management and disaster recovery. You can watch the full episode below:
Steven: All right, hello. Welcome. Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode of Bloomerang TV. My name is Steven Shattuck and I’m the VP of Marketing here are Bloomerang, and I’m really excited to introduce today’s guest. She is Lynn Perez-Hewitt. She is a fundraising and non-profit consultant and one of my new buddies on LinkedIn. Hey there, Lynn. Thanks for joining us!
Lynn: Hey Steven, good to see you.
Steven: Yeah. For people who aren’t familiar with the work you do, maybe you could tell us a little bit about what you’re into and what you do on a day-to-day basis.
Lynn: Oh, sure. Well, I started out in the Midwest kind of where you are in Northern Illinois, working in healthcare, and then. . .You know, the winters were pretty harsh, and I discovered what Colorado knows what to do with snow as well and that they have a lot more fun. Then it was even more fun. So I’ve been west for many, many decades. . .well, three. And I’d been working in non-profit primarily in marketing public relations. And of course, what that involves, because over the years, technology has just become a foundation for so much communication work that we
Steven: Absolutely. And those are topics that I write a lot about. I blog about those things. And I posted a blog about documentation on a non-profit LinkedIn group and that’s how we got talking and how we met. Documentation, really important to non-profits, right? With all the technologies that we’re using nowadays, how important is it?
Lynn: It’s huge. It’s just huge. Well, and then thing about it, I think is, technology scares a lot of people so they don’t want to document because they’re getting more and more involved. That’s never the best way to go. Documentation will save you. The more you know about what you have and who has access to it, the more control you have.
Steven: Right. So what are some things that you think non-profit should be documenting that maybe they aren’t or maybe aren’t thinking about keeping track of?
Lynn: I think the scary thing is people think that somebody else always knows it. But the somebody else also thinks that somebody else always knows it. So what we need to write down are simple things like the domain name, where is it registered, when does it expire? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had clients who’s domain name had expired and then somebody else got it. And then they had to go through changing their domain name. So domain name, registration, expiration, maybe even how was it paid for. Did somebody use a personal credit card? Not a good plan. Then what about hosting? When does that all expire? How much are you paying for it? And oh gee, if you’ve got a website, who built the website for you and what platform did they use? Did they use a language, which you can’t even access anymore? These are things that. . .When you build a house, you know your contractor, you know the materials, you get your permits. It’s the same kind of thing!
Steven: So, you kind of touched on this, but what are the dangers of not documenting things? And I know, from experience, volunteering with non-profits, and being married to a fundraiser that, you know, it comes time to renew your website, or maybe redo it, and that web designer needs that stuff. What are the actual repercussions of not having that stuff on hand or losing it afterwards?
Lynn: Oh gosh. It’s costly both in dollars, in time, and in reputation because if you don’t know some of these things you spend time tracking them down, and sometimes, what you find is really alarming and even more costly. An extreme case is a non-profit civic organization that I know of, and the gentleman who had done a lot of this work committed suicide.
Steven: Oh no.
Lynn: I know. And so it was desperately sad, but extremely frustrating. So everyone had mixed emotions. They were upset with what he had done, but then they were angry because they had left them self in this position of not knowing and so it just makes everything better for everyone if you track all of this information that has direct ramifications for your reputation.
Steven: Do you think that people are maybe worried that, oh, if we put this stuff down on paper then maybe it’s somewhat not secure that someone could get hold of it and maybe use it again or hack you? Do you think that’s a concern? Maybe you could talk a little bit about the security implications of documenting things.
Lynn: Yeah. Well, I think you’re less secure if you’re not writing it down. And I think there should be a management level list of people who have access to, if not a written, certainly the access to Cloud-based security, and I trust the Cloud. I trust the Cloud because so often, we have had power outages locally. We have equipment breakdown locally, but if you can get yourself to a Starbucks, or a WiFi source, or a library, you can get to the Cloud. So I think you need staff, your CEO, your CFO, and maybe the board president needs to have the highest level access to this source of this documentation.
Steven: That’s interesting. I didn’t think about asking who you should give it to, and you mentioned people who are maybe not necessarily employees but still connected to the organization. So who should have access to it besides those people? Is there anyone else in your mind?
Lynn: Well, certainly, if you’ve got a Chief Technology Officer, but if you don’t, who serves as your Chief Technology Officer. Is it your Public Relations or Community Relations Director? Is it your HR Director? It’s not a volunteer. On the one hand, volunteers are fabulous. They make the world run, but volunteers are volunteers. So if you’re running a professional organization, it makes sense to have professional level information accessible to professionals.
Steven: So have it ready, but don’t give it to your volunteers, have it ready for them. That makes sense.
Lynn: Or in the case of a WordPress, something like that, they can have permissions at a certain level.
Steven: So username and passwords, your vendors. What about people who are responsible for those things? It seems like putting a responsible party name for maybe Twitter or for the website is really important, too. Maybe, you could talk a little bit about that and how that kind of will help people kick into action when something goes wrong, or something is needed.
Lynn: Well, one of the things to really be aware of is if somebody creates your Twitter account or creates your Facebook page, it can be interpreted that they own that. So you’ve got to be very careful about ownership. So I think your highest level administration always needs to be a top-level staffer so that if that other person leaves your organization. Whether they leave on good footing or bad, you always maintain control. And the other thing is, you create a consistent voice then or a persona. And speak in that persona.
Steven: That makes a lot of sense. And these kind of things, this is all sort of geared towards this idea of reputation management. You know, during a crisis, you need to be able to react right away. Maybe you could talk a little bit about that piece and how to manage your reputation through this.
Lynn: One of the things you need to do is not let your technology be the crisis. So by having all of this information collected, stored, and known by a reliable core of people, then that doesn’t become your crisis. But then, yeah, if there is a crisis, you know who’s got access. So let’s say you’re on vacation and something happens then you know who’s got access and you can call them with confidence knowing they can get the highest level access to the distribution channels that you have.
Steven: They can log in right away and take care of it.
Lynn: They can log in right away. I remember, I don’t know if you do. It was a few years back. Remember Congresswoman Gabby Giffords when she was shot? Well, that was a Saturday morning and news was distributed falsely that she had been killed. And the University of Arizona Communications Director had access to the Twitter account. Saturday morning, he was on Twitter, and he immediately began correcting the information.
Steven: That’s perfect. So kick right into action, mitigate any problems, I love it. Well, this is great advice, and we’re just about running out of time and I want to keep this short, but this is great advice. And luckily, Lynn, you’ve put together something for folks, a little document that people can actually keep track of all this stuff. Do you want to talk about that?
Lynn: Absolutely. I know the advice is always, you know, number the questions or number your points. You know, David Letterman has 10. This is 23. This a lot. But it really prompts you to be aware of all the aspects of your web presence, the aspects of your social medias, and then if you are Cloud Based, what tools are you using on the Cloud. And it’s just a starter.
Steven: It’s great. We’ll post a link to that document. It’s a really great resource. All of you, if you’re watching this, you should download that right away and keep track of all of your stuff. So Lynn, thanks for joining us. This was really helpful. I hope people got a lot of value out of it. Great advice. How can people learn more about you? How can they get in touch with you online?
Lynn: Gosh. I would love to tell you I have a website but I’m too busy helping other people, but I do have email. Steven, do you want to have it on your website or you want me to share it now?
Steven: Yeah, we’ll share a link to your LinkedIn profile if that’s okay.
Lynn: Yeah. That’s correct, yeah.
Steven: All right. Well, Lynn this was great. Thanks for joining us and thanks for everyone for hanging out with us for 10 minutes or so on this episode of Bloomerang TV. We will catch you next week. Talk to you then.