Apply for a free website for your community group!

Call out to all community groups: Commun-IT will select 2 community groups to receive free websites this summer!

As part of Commun-IT’s mandate of rendering IT services more accessible to those in need, we are offering to build 1 website each for 2 lucky community organizations in need. We know that many groups are coping with broken, slow, or badly out-of-date websites and that many other groups don’t even have a website at all.  If your group needs a new website but doesn’t have the financial capacity to pay someone to build one then apply now! The deadline for applications is April 24th .

UPDATE: The deadline has now been extended to April 28th!

The 2 groups selected will receive a free WordPress website as well as a free photo shoot package.  One of our Commun-IT coordinators will come to your event, action, or office to get some great professional shots that we can use for your new website!

All you need to do is answer a few short questions about why you need a free website. Note that to be eligible you must be a not-for-profit community group, organization or association and you must be based in Quebec.

Apply for a free Commun-IT Website

  • The 2 community groups that have the greatest need for a free website will be selected from this information. Please include at least 300 words so that we get a good sense of your needs as well as: History of past or current websites (if any); How the website would help advance the work of your community group; Details about functionality and content related to your website needs; Any other pertinent information.
  • For example: What is your annual budget? Do you have an ICT budget, and if so, how much? Do you have any paid staff capacity? The 2 community groups that have the greatest need for a free website will be selected from this information.
    We will use this information to see if there are other free services that we can offer to your group, or to see if there are other grants that we could help you apply to.

Get Ready for Tech Works 2015!

Our Commun-IT team just finished our 2015 workplan.  One of the highlights of the plan was organizing another Tech Works event like the one in 2013 that brought together over 75 community leaders and 25 communications and technology professionals.  Stay tuned for more info about Tech Works 2015 in the new year!

Cloud Computing Workshop Report Back

Commun-IT staffers facilitated a second bilingual Cloud Computing workshop on November 10th in Montreal, in partnership with Innoweave and the Centre for Community Organizations.
Held at the Centre St-Pierre, the workshop was led by Gabriel Bergevin-Estable & Parker Mah in English, and by Marc Ouimet (of in French. Nearly two dozen participants from a number of Montreal-based community groups attended the workshop, which was designed to help guide non-profit organizations in planning and assessing how to better manage information and communications through cloud computing tools.
Cloud computing essentially refers to the practice of using a remote network of computers (the “cloud”) to store and access digital services, programs or resources.   Before the advent of cloud computing, such information was usually stored on a locally-run server, or physically on each computer’s hard drive, which presented disadvantages in terms of ease of control and access, document tracking, real-time collaboration, software updates, syncing files between office and home computers, etc. all of which are becoming increasingly sought-after features in a modern office environment.
Cloud computing addresses some of these problems by centralizing the storage of data while offering a variety of services, ranging from project management to newsletter creation. Because less technological infrastructure is needed internally, and because of the convenience factor, cloud computing can be an attractive option for many non-profits. However, as with any organizational process, careful planning is needed to make sure that the potential benefits outweigh the pitfalls.
Our training session aimed to:
  • Clarify the goals and requirements of their information technology systems
  • Analyze the benefits and risks of moving some or all of their organization’s technology infrastructure to cloud cloud computing;
  • Apply a proven methodology for identifying challenge areas, surfacing ideas on how to address them, and evaluating technology solutions against the selection criteria that they develop;
  • Estimate the total cost of ownership for implementing a cloud-based or hybrid technology approach and conduct a zero-based budgeting exercise to distinguish between essential and nonessential activities supported by the IT budget; and
  • Design a technology strategy that aligns with their organization’s mission, culture, and available resources.
Innoweave grant deadlines fall on January 1st and July 1st. You can apply for an Innoweave Implementation Grant for Cloud Computing to work with COCo’s Commun-IT Coordinators and Cloud Computing Coaches, Spencer, Gabriel or Parker in bringing Cloud Computing to your organization.
To learn more about Innoweave Implementation Grants, click here.

NetSquared Montréal November 2014

Last Month’s NetSquared Montréal presentation was offered by one of Commun-IT’s Coordinators, Gabriel Bergevin-Estable.
The event’s topic was “Keeping Tidy Data” (Les Données Bien Rangées).

Around 7 People attended the event, held at the BanQ on November 11th. Gabriel gave a presentation on his interest for tidy data, some case studies which show its importance, and some guidelines for how to maintaint tidy data. The presentation was followed by a Q&A, then informal discussion and networking for the rest of the alloted time.

Here was the presentation starter:

“Our organizations develop collective intelligence and memory that manifests itself digitally by the accumulation of data. Many groups must collect information for accounting, reporting to funders and members, for research or evaluation, and constantly accumulate more of it. This data can be maintained in different formats, obtained and archived using various processes and software which leave them more or less organized. The presentation will take a look at some of the principles of keeping tidy data which will encourage better archiving practices for later use, and will present services which groups can benefit from to this end.”

Gabriel presented common errors with data and data sets:

  1. not keeping the data but rather just the report,
  2. keeping the data but in an unusable format such as an image scan or a pdf,
  3. not keeping track of how the data was acquired (methodology),
  4. not knowing what the data represents because we did not keep questionnaires,
  5. not collecting the data in the first place,
  6. and not using it at all.

This was followed by a series of recommendations:

  1. saving files in proper formats (csv, xls, xml etc.)
  2. one column, one information type (variable)
  3. one row, one entry or entity (observations)
  4. keeping full questionnaires
  5. keeping full lists of mail-outs (snail or electronic) to know what your sample and population ratios are
  6. keeping a code sheet for any abbreviations used

And finished off with recommendations of services that can help to accumulate or analyze data:

  • Get training from Open North, or work with them to develop a platform, visualise data, etc.
  • Ask Data for Good volunteer data scientists to analyse or visualise your data
  • Ask COCo about CDAR resources to do your own research
  • Ask for a grant from Innoweave to get the cloud computing software solutions you may need to help collect your data, and other cloud computing solutions you may need
  • Consider some of the sources of Data you have from your online activities: Mailing lists, google analytics or other website analytics, social media analytics, etc.
  • Consult a list of open data that you can use to compare your data with.
  • Consult Data science blogs:,
  • Consult accessible databases:
  • Use some proper tools for collecting data: Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Lime Survey, CRMs, Social Media Statistics, Website Usage Statistics

What is Netsquared?

Netsquared, styled Net2 and sometimes called Net Tuesdays, is an initiative by Techsoup to organize events for people interested in the use of technology for social good to get together, get presentations from experts on the latest topics, have an occasion to discuss the information amongst themselves, and network between nonprofit workers and technology specialists. In its own words:

“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.”

Gabriel volunteers some of his time to help organize Netsquared Montreal events, an initiative which occasionally gets additional support from Commun-IT.

Netsquared Montréal is constantly looking for:

  • Venues to hold presentations and events
  • Volunteer organizers
  • Volunteer speakers
  • Attendees

If you’re in Montreal, interested in the use of technology for Social Good, you could very well want to get in touch with them.

For more information about Netsquared: