IHStech Capacity-Building Solutions

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Institute for Human Services, Inc.
City & State:
New York
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Institute for Human Services is a non-profit management support organization founded in 1984. The Institute provides management support, information and referral, organizational development, research and technology services to planners, funders and providers serving the Southern Tier of New York State. Our mission is to improve the quality of life in the Southern Tier by increasing our member agencies' capacities for success.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Summary: IHStech Capacity-Building Solutions

The use of Microsoft products obtained through Tech Soup has helped a nonprofit management support organization in rural, western New York Transform to Maximize Impact (#3) and to:

* Increased its range of 50 member agencies

* Enable new services in technology administration for nonprofit members

Background: Because populations in rural areas are scattered and resources are limited, the public relies on nonprofits to form the principal “safety net” for those in need.

But those agencies themselves have needs. How can they run their services most efficiently? Who can give them sound management advice? How can they let people in the community know about their services, or the changes in their services? How can they use technology to build services?

The Institute for Human Services is a nonprofit membership organization formed in 1984. Its first work established a toll-free information and referral system, called Helpline. Helpline quickly became the first point of contact for the public to call, describe their personal problem, and receive information about an agency in the neighborhood that could best resolve it. Recently, Helpline has become the area’s sole provider of 211 services, through the national movement to have the numbers 2-1-1 for the public to call for information on human service programs, just as we dial 4-1-1 for directory information and 9-1-1 for emergencies. 211-Helpline continues to grow, serving more and more counties in the rural Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region of New York State.

In the nineties, the Institute also assumed the role of a management support agency. Already, it was helping other agencies by informing the public about their services through 211-Helpline. Yet grassroots organizations and bare-bones nonprofits had other needs for management support and capacity-building services that would allow them to grow to meet the public’s needs, while weathering tough times and uncertain funding futures. The Institute helped provide that. It started collaborative grant writing help, strategic planning, management education and consulting, and technology services and support.

Overview of Technology Application to Services and Service Enhancements: What is the Institute’s own infrastructure? What makes it possible for the Institute to provide the services it does to its nonprofit members? Simple: Microsoft technology, assisted by Tech Soup and managed by knowledgeable staff.

* 2-1-1 HELPLINE Information and Referral: The Institute’s comprehensive toll-free service receives over 15,000 calls per year from those in search of services that will meet their needs. This system relies on the Refer Resource Database, a comprehensive computer database outlining community resources and producing detailed data on local service providers, including key information such as addresses, phone and fax numbers, website and e-mail information, descriptions of programs, fees, eligibility, service areas, and hours of service. Staff update this daily.

To manage the service, we feature Terminal Server 2008: A complete, comprehensive, and up-to-date database, using Refer 7 database software on a Microsoft® Server 2008-equipped machine. Because this system has to accommodate multiple users in different sites (including the call provider that the Institute uses at night and over holidays), this system incorporates:

o TS Gateway: Provides the ability for Institute employees to connect to internal resources on our network including RemoteApp, Remote Desktop, and Terminal Server through offsite internet connections.

o Terminal Server RemoteApp: We host our call center’s database application (REFER). This allows us to have only one installation, instead of the costly application of the program on multiple computers, and provides usage to offsite users to the database application.

o Terminal Server: used by sponsored programs to connect to their statewide database to enter information offsite. By giving workers the ability to enter information, check e-mails, and perform scheduling while offsite, these tech services provide a virtual office to social work services, who can remain in the field with the families they serve.

* Systems Administration and Technical Support Services: Nonprofits often cannot afford their own technology department. Contracts with technology service providers are also costly, and the staff are too often unfamiliar with the ins and outs of how technology can best support the day-to-day social service and human serve practices.

Planning, Management, and Support features technology assessments , purchasing assistance and planning , ongoing maintenance, and phone, email, and IM support .

Network Design, Setup, and Maintenance includes optimal design planning , wiring or wireless installation, and establishing Internet and intranet connectivity.

Once connected, nonprofits use our Server Analysis and Management service, which allows for Windows Server 2003/2008 management (remotely), Exchange 2007 email server setup , server backups (using built in Windows Backup solutions) , and perform network wide updates using Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). This allows our administrators to manage updates for computers that are part of our network, and gives us the ability to monitor computers that have had problems with updates.

The rest of our IHStech services include supports such as:

Team Communication and Sharing

* Shared contacts, calendars, and files through Outlook 2007 and Exchange 2007

* Microsoft Office 2007 collaborative suite

* Microsoft SharePoint and Outlook integration

Staff Training

* Mobile computer lab for Windows XP/Vista training, Office 2003/2007 training, or other organizational training, as needed

* Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and Access seminars to improve staff proficiency

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact
Project Image