I am really looking forward to contributing to TECHdotMN as the Social Correspondent. At first, I was surprised to be approached by the individuals behind this new and exciting venture, namely: Jeff Pesek, Mike Bollinger, Peter Fleck, Zach Robins and Paul Godfread. Yet, considering the rapidly increasing application of tech/IT as a means to solve societal challenges, it makes perfect sense. Interestingly, Minneapolis-St.Paul hold the number one spot for “rate of volunteerism” amongst all major large US cities; Minnesota, on the whole, is ranked #3 on the list. We are a hotbed of Social Enterprise, Non-Profits, and civic engagement.
I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for the past 8+ years, serving both as an AmeriCorps volunteer and a full-time employee. I’m currently under contract with Hands On Twin Cities as the Youth Engagement Manager where my goal is to increase the level of volunteerism among youth in the local community. I’m also involved with the Twin Cities chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), serving on the Board of Directors and Co-Chairing the Programming Committee.
I’ve always had a unique interest in technology – and more specifically – how it can help nonprofit organizations achieve their goals more effectively. As a result, I quickly fell into the role of “accidental techie” at the organizations for which I’ve worked. Wearing my “whatever/wherever” IT hat has led to roles encompassing: troubleshooting hardware/network, researching and developing an organizational technology plan, creating an online community and social media strategy. IT plays a critical role for so many nonprofit organizations, especially those smaller ones without the resources to hire or contract with a professional. Experiences like these have allowed me to sprinkle some technology flavoring into the sometimes bland and difficult work of social service professionals.
As we move forward, I hope to provide interesting content, ideas, thoughts and resources for you. I encourage you to email me, to leave comments and to share your experiences. Don’t be afraid to let me know if you think “I’m full of duck soup” (as Dad would say).
In the meantime, visit NetSquared Twin Cities. According to the website, it is where “Social changemakers and technological forerunners come together at Net Tuesday events to mix, swap stories and ideas, build new relationships, and reinforce the online NetSquared Community.” They have a meeting on Tuesday, January 12th at 6pm at the offices of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits near University Ave. and Highway 280 in St. Paul. The topic? “Co-working – What It Means for Nonprofits & Nonprofiteers.” with special guests Don Ball and Amy Bryant from the just opened CoCo Collaborative. If you attend, be sure to introduce yourself to me.
PS – Have you you’ve ever been told that you are “full of duck soup” or did my Father just make that up?
-Tom Basquill, TECHdotMN Social Correspondent