- Created on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 15:35
The Technology Handbook is aimed at voluntary and community sector technology staff who have responsibility for supporting, developing, managing and securing ICT systems.
LASA have just updated the handbook and you can download it for free from their website:
If you would like help putting together a handbook for your organisation please get in touch. Thanks to funding from the Northern Rock Foundation we can provide advice and support to voluntary organisations in the North East at no charge.
Call us on 07958 482 509 to arrange a meeting.
- Created on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:21
Google is no longer offering a free version of its online application suite.
Google Apps is an online suite of software that includes email, calendar, online file storage and web-based office applications. Google had previously offered a free version for up to ten users that was an ideal solution for small voluntary organisations. Last week it announced that it would no longer offer new accounts for the free edition of Google Apps. However, existing users can continue to use Google Apps for free.
Unfortunately, although Google does offer a free version for non-profits, this is currently limited to US organisations only.
What should you do?
If you are an existing user of the free version of Google Apps you can continue to use it for free (though Google may well start charging in future). If you were thinking of moving to Google Apps but hadn’t signed up yet then I’m afraid you are too late to get the free version, but there are other options.
You can still use Gmail for free. This gives you an individual account with most of the same functionality (email, calendar, file storage, web-based office applications etc.). However, it won’t be on your own domain.
Pay for Google Apps
You can of course pay to use Google Apps for Business - this is currently £3.30 per user per month.
Check out the competition
This article gives more options: What Should I Do Now that Google Apps Accounts Are No Longer Free?
Talk to us
If you are unsure what is best for your organisation we would be happy to discuss your needs in more detail. Thanks to funding from the Northern Rock Foundation, we can offer this advice at no cost to your organisation (as long as you are based in the North East of England).
Call us on 07958 482 509 to arrange a meeting.
- Created on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 11:49
Caring Hands provide a wide range of services to help older and disabled people live independently and improve their quality of life.
The charity’s previous website had served them well, but was starting to show its age after seven years. Caring Hands approached CITA to update and modernise their website. We built a new site using a content management system that allows staff to easily manage and update the website without having to understand complex code.
The site incorporates an attractive slideshow on the home page and highlights the range of services Caring Hands offer. Each of the services incorporates a feedback form that allow visitors to rate the service and leave comments. There is a custom form for individuals to apply to become a volunteer and another for organisations wishing to register for the popular DBS check service (formerly CRB check). These forms reduce administration and allow Caring Hands to reduce costs and provide a more efficient service.
Dawn Henderson, Manager of Caring Hands said:
"The help we've received from CITA has been excellent, they have guided us through the new system and taken time to explain how to change, modify and update the website. We are more than happy with the service CITA provided and would recommend their services to other organisations."
Visit the site yourself at: Caring Hands
If you would like to discuss updating your organisation's website, give us a call on 07958 482 509.
Read more about our Web Design Services.
- Created on Thursday, 29 November 2012 15:38
Web-based database helps monitor support programme for voluntary organisations.
VODA, the voluntary sector support body in North Tyneside, was recently successful in securing Transforming Local Infrastructure funding from the Office for Civil Society. They are working in partnership with Locality, Skillsbridge and SES to provide the full range of advice and support to voluntary and community groups in North Tyneside.
To monitor this programme VODA commissioned CITA to develop an easy to use system to record the support provided. We developed a web-based tracking system to meet their requirements with the following features:
- intuitive and easy for staff to use
- ability to record contact details and history for around 400 organisations
- separate logins for each of the delivery partners with different levels of access
- easy to create monitoring reports for management and funders
- no requirement for expensive hosting or ongoing licensing fees.
Talking about the database development, Phil Bagnall, Operations Manager of VODA said:
"CITA delivered within schedule and below budget - because we did not need any training. The database is just so easy to use! It looks clean and uncluttered, everything is clearly labelled, it's simple to navigate and gives us all the reports we need. CITA have done a fantastic job."
If your organisation needs an easy to use system to record and report client data please call us on 07958 482 509 and we would be happy to help. We have experience of creating both desktop and web-based systems to meet a wide variety of needs.
- Created on Thursday, 29 November 2012 12:20
Voluntary and community organisations share their daily work on Twitter.
At around 3.15pm each day, voluntary and community sector workers send a tweet that includes the #1515vcs hashtag. The tweet simply shares what the person is (or was) doing at 3.15pm (no matter how mundane). It offers a snapshot of work in our sector. The tweets are collected into a blog using Storify, so even if you don't use Twitter you can take a look at what is happening in other organisations across the country. You may even be able to make some useful connections with other people doing similar work.
#1515vcs was started in October 2011 by Stephanie Cole, supporting and developing manager at Newcastle CVS, along with a few others.
To find out more visit: #1515vcs blog
For more help with social media why not come along to one of the popular Social Media Surgeries in Newcastle and elsewhere?
- Created on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 16:03
Microsoft’s latest operating system was launched last month and we've been giving it a test drive.
To make the most of Windows 8 you need a touch screen or tablet. Many of the applications are aimed at being permanently online, even Office can be accessed via the browser instead of a traditionally installed software package. It also has a completely different user interface - the start menu has gone and has been replaced with a start screen. Although Windows 8 does incorporate a traditional desktop like Windows 7, your staff may still find it a steep learning curve to get used to the new user interface. We definitely recommend trying it out before you take the plunge.
To showcase the new capabilities of Windows 8, Microsoft has launched a touch screen device. The ‘Surface’ tablet is Microsoft’s take on the iPad and Android tablets. Reviews for the Surface have been mixed. While some users may find the ability to use Microsoft Office an advantage, the Windows app store is much more limited than the Apple and Android equivalent.
We can’t see any compelling reasons to upgrade your existing computers to Windows 8 at present. As with any new operating system release we would recommend waiting a while until initial bugs have been ironed out before upgrading. However, if you are considering it have a look at this guide from TechSoup:
Eligible organisations can obtain the relevant licenses at low cost from CTX: Microsoft Windows at CTX
Still using Windows XP?
Despite this talk of new operating systems, we know that many voluntary organisations are still using Windows XP. If this is the case for you, you should note that it will reach its end of life in April 2014. We recommend that you upgrade (or replace) these machines before this date. (If you aren't ready for Windows 8 yet you could always upgrade to Windows 7 instead.)
If you would like to review your current IT set up please give us a call on 07958 482 509 to arrange a free IT health check.
- Created on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 14:44
Online Compass shows you what you need to do to make the use of technology safer for your group. The simple tool was built by online safety experts and simplifies a difficult task. It maps where you are, charts your progress and navigates a course to a safer online environment.
The tool allows you to do the following:
- review online safety in your group or organisation
- improve your group's online safety using expert advice
- celebrate your provision through a series of awards.
Access it online at: Online Compass
- Created on Monday, 26 November 2012 15:33
Organisations across the region can benefit from high quality IT advice and support thanks to funding from the Northern Rock Foundation.
Our popular "Circuit Rider" programme helps voluntary and community organisations reduce their administrative costs and work more effectively. The programme has helped over 275 organisations with their IT since 2007 through practical help, consultancy and advice. We are very pleased that the Northern Rock Foundation have agreed to fund this programme for an additional two years.
Recent examples of support through this programme include:
- help writing a funding bid to purchase new IT equipment
- finding suitable cloud computing options to replace an old server and save money
- best practice regarding data protection and the use of encryption to protect client data
- improving an organisation's online presence – including website and social media
- research and advice on alternatives to a legacy database system
Whatever the size and needs of your organisation we aim to leave you stronger and better able to manage your IT. We can help you do more for less and ensure that you comply with current legislation.
This programme is fully-funded by the Northern Rock Foundation so you don't need to pay a penny for the support you receive.
If your organisation could benefit from this programme please give us a call on 07958 482 509.
Read more: Northern Rock Foundation Circuit Riders
- Created on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 17:27
Informal drop in provides support for social media in voluntary organisations.
- Do you want to find out about new ways to tell your organisation's story to people in Newcastle?
- Do you want to learn how to use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, free websites and other social media tools?
- Do you want to learn how to share you photos and videos?
The Newcastle Social Media Surgery is a free session for voluntary and community groups, charities and active citizens. One of the participants from the first surgery in May said it was 'one of the best training sessions I've ever been to', so don't miss out. Places are limited so booking a place is essential.
The next surgery is on Tuesday 4 December, 5.00pm to 6.30pm at Pink Lane Coffee.
To find out more and to book a place visit: Newcastle Social Media Surgery
- Created on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 10:57
In this increasingly digital world, no matter how large or small your organisation is, it is important to have a web presence. A website lets people know what your organisation does and how they can find you. It can help you raise funds, deliver services and keep in touch with your supporters and clients.
For smaller organisations looking for a low cost solution we recommend using WordPress.com. This easy-to-use content management system powers thousands of websites around the world. The basic package is completely free and for a small annual fee (currently from £12 per year) you can have your own domain. Perfect for a small charity or campaign.
CITA provide a package of training and support to get you started with WordPress. Our staff will help you get your new website up and running quickly and easily. Following our expert training we provide ongoing email and telephone support to answer your questions and help you with any technical issues such as domain transfer.
We recently helped the S.Y.Killingley Memorial Trust set up a new website. Following the training, trustee, Dermot Killingley said:
"I am very pleased with the help I received from CITA. ... As a result, I have been able to build a new site that does what we want. I am no longer embarrassed at being our webmaster."
Call us on 07958 482 509 for more information.
For more details visit: Starter Websites