Originally posted here, at Technicallyphilly.com.
NPower Pennsylvania is now Tech Impact, but the nonprofit’s mission to provide hands-on technology support to nonprofits remains the same, says its leadership.
By broadening its focus from local to national organizations, Tech Impact leadership is working to expand the access that America’s nonprofits have to the technologies they need while remaining loyal to its local clients. In addition to the IT services, trainings and customer service it has provided for a decade, Tech Impact is specializing in getting more nonprofits to use the cloud — getting data, email, services and more on shared servers or one hosted or managed by Tech Impact.
As the technologies have changed, so too must the work, the geography and the name.
“We’re working with organizations all across the country, so we felt our name needed to reflect that,” said Patrick Callihan, executive director of Tech Impact. “NPower PA was very centric to Pennsylvania, which is where we have our roots, and it’s still very important to us.”
Executive Director Patrick Callihan on Tech Impact said that while the organization’s client base reaches further geographically than it did before, the mission of providing technology solutions to nonprofits has remained the same.
In 2003, backed by funding from Microsoft, NPower PA spun out of the original NPower Northwest as part of a national network of similar groups focused on offering tech solutions specifically for nonprofits. By rebranding, Tech Impact is heading out on its own, which is just why broadening its client base nationally is so important.
In the past, NPower PA only served nonprofits within driving distance. Because of the expanding availability of broadband and cloud-based services, the executives at NPower PA decided in the last two years to rebrand, which would allow the organization to better meet the changing technology needs of the nonprofits it works with and to work with nonprofits outside the surrounding areas.
When NPower first started, nonprofit organizations had a server and equipment on their premises and maybe a cloud backup system at the most, said Sam Chenkin, product manager at Tech Impact. But now, nonprofits rely less on their network and more on cloud-based products and services.
“We’ve really been on the cutting edge of bringing those technologies to nonprofits and having a national and international reach helps us do that for organizations,” Chenkin said. Tech Impact has 22 staff members, most of whom work out of the 417 N. Eighth St. offices, and now serves more than 425 nonprofits.
Tech Impact has from moved from solely managing and maintaining computer systems and network services to providing hosted technology, such as phone systems, servers and desktops. This shift in products and services Tech Impact offers is changing the way its nonprofit clients do business, Callihan said.
- One such product is the Nonprofit Cloud, also known as npCloud. This is an internet-based set of technologies that help nonprofits run more efficiently through four solutions, including cloud-hosted servers and desktops, as well as phone services.
- VolunteerConnect, an application that is part of the npCloud suite of products Tech Impact offers, is a volunteer management system that was developed in partnership with several Habitat for Humanity chapters and financed by a grant from the Knight Foundation. This “database will allow you to leverage more volunteers than ever before while saving time in the process,” according to the Tech Impact website.
The rebranding has “totally changed” the way Tech Impact does business, Chenkin said. Now, Tech Impact talks to many more nonprofits but focuses on smaller projects to get them cloud-based.
“At our core, we’re a customer service organization, and we’re an organization that listens first,” Chenkin said. “We always start with having a conversation with nonprofits about their mission and the work that they’re doing and their specific needs.”
Linda Widdop is director of technical services at Tech Impact.
Barbara Kelly, director of development and communication at the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences, one of the nonprofits Tech Impact serves, said she thinks the transition is “great.”
Kelly said her nonprofit started working with NPower in May 2011 after an extensive search to find the right IT group to help them. Since the rebranding, Kelly said Tech Impact’s level of service and dedication hasn’t changed.
“They were able to work with us the way we needed to be worked with,” Kelly said, “so I think having the opportunity to spread that beyond just the local area and to be able to offer that kind of personalized care for people nationwide is wonderful.”
Recently, the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences moved to cloud-based computing. “As a heavy user of our email and documents and things like that, it’s been wonderful to be able to access that no matter where I go,” Kelly said.
The New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences is now working with Tech Impact to move to a Share Point database system, since the organization’s 14 full-time employees constantly share and edit each other’s work and need access to full versions of one another’s documents.
“We have been very pleased with the results and moved forward with our technology by leaps and bounds,” Kelly said.