Okay, so who are these people, exactly?

Hi there. I'm Spencer Brooks, the founder of Brooks Digital. My job is to help your nonprofit make an explosive impact in the world through the smart use of online technology.

As a nonprofit professional, you really are a unicorn. And chances are, you got into the world of do-gooding because you care about making the world a better place, not because you love spending every waking hour figuring out how to use technology.

You know the endless list of things that pile up on your plate. Like how in the world you're supposed to use Drupal, or segment visitors by their cohort whats-it-called while you run that report that needs to be ready for the board meeting tomorrow.

Not that you aren't capable of figuring it out, but it isn't where you thrive. And when you're not in your sweet spot - that place where you're driving after a vision that gets you so excited you work all night - you're missing your full potential and so is your organization.

That's why I founded Brooks Digital: to give you the training, support, and technology that allows your nonprofit organization to reach its full potential through the power of data and the reach of the internet.

Are you - and your organization - ready to thrive?

So what makes you different from everyone else?

 

Let's start with an important idea: there's more to a nonprofit-focused firm than just understanding how to customize a particular piece of software to the needs of the nonprofit market, or having experience with how nonprofits use data.

Whoa, slow down. Can you explain?

Yes, it's important to have experience with open source tools, data, and how nonprofits use them. But then again, would you work with someone who didn't? It's just the cost of entry.

A nonprofit-focused firm holds a particular set of beliefs unique to working with mission-driven organizations. We're not talking about values like "being an expert" or "treating people well." Those are admirable (essential, really) traits for a professional services firm. But they are not special to nonprofits nor do they describe anything beyond what's necessary for a functioning business relationship.

We're talking about a set of beliefs that apply uniquely to the challenges you face as a nonprofit. Here's what they look like:

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Translate for the non-techies

You need someone who, in plain English, can explain to you and your staff what you need to know from a technology perspective so you can make informed decisions. But translating technical ideas into non-technical jargon is not on the services list of most firms. However, it's critical to your success.

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Document for the next person

Uncomfortable truth: in 4-5 years, most of your staff will be gone. As sad as that is, it means your communications guru, Sally, will be taking all her hard-earned knowledge with her when she goes.

When you pair that with a complicated, highly-customized website, you have a serious risk. And considering many details of your site are locked away in your vendor's head or shared ad-hoc via email, you need to get that information onto paper so it's available both right now and for years to come.

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Don't just build the tech, teach it

It's one thing to build a beautifully engineered open source site. It's quite another to hand it off to the people who will actually use it. And if no one uses your project, it's a failure. You need someone who can take their knowledge and invest it back into your organization so you can use your site to its fullest potential.

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Be around for the long haul

What do all these beliefs mean, ultimately? That in a world of constantly-evolving technology and shifting personnel, you need a constant. Not just a quick-fix project, a 6-month relationship, but someone who is committed to investing in your organization week-in, week-out for years.

True, lasting change comes through relationships. And the best relationships require commitment, patience, and a win-win approach so they can not just stand the test of time, but thrive.

 

Can you tell me more about your team?

We're a small, location-independent group loosely headquartered in Portland, OR. Here's who we are:

 
 

Spencer Brooks, Founder & Principal

Spencer grew up in the Pacific Northwest volunteering for his local church and participating in outreach programs to places like Latvia and Mexico. His background is in open source web development - particularly the Drupal content management system, which he has specialized in for over 8 years.

At Brooks Digital, Spencer spends much of his time sharing his knowledge through his writing and training, as well managing ongoing client projects. He dives into site architecture and development work (his first love) as time permits.

For 2017, Spencer is exploring Europe with his wife, Hannah, and his son, Weston. When they're not traveling, they make their home in Portland, Oregon.

 

Veronica Duckett, Visual Designer

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Lee Mason, Drupal Developer

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Taylor osborn, User experience & Front-end Developer

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Nice. But what do other organizations say about you?

We understand - word-of-mouth and referrals are a big deal. Here's what people are saying:

I’ve been working with a Drupal site for 4+ years and have had a number of website consultants. Each was technically good at his job, but neither responded to my inquiries in a timely manner or managed our workflow effectively. When I first talked with Spencer I was impressed by his excellent communication skills and project management structure, but I wasn’t sure I could afford to allocate the hours he felt were necessary to keep our website not just above water but up-to-date. It was a bit of an investment, and I had to wait for a new budget year, but I am pleased with the results. Rather than just putting out fires, Spencer looks for ways to improve the site. We keep a list of projects in a shared online location and meet monthly so we’re on the same page with setting our priorities. I would recommend Spencer to the small organization who appreciates clear communication and efficient organization.
— Cynthia Ryan, Executive Director, Vestibular Disorders Association
It has been an amazing experience working with Spencer and the Brooks Digital team. Spencer’s depth and breadth of knowledge on web development has proven incredibly valuable for our diverse IT needs, which ranges from web app development to graphic design to metrics tracking. He is always thinking one step ahead on our projects, considers all of the details involved, and handles our unpredictability extremely well, always ready with a solution-oriented mindset and positive attitude. In addition, Spencer is a great communicator when it comes to explaining complex concepts to individuals who have very little IT experience and we often feel comfortable having him speak directly with our clients. Highly recommend!
— Melissa An, CTO, Close Concerns
Spencer is an extremely well rounded individual both technically and communicatively. He possesses several unique skill sets that enable him to participate in all phases of any design and
technical project put in front of him.
— Tony Garcia, Webmaster, Idaho Transportation Department

Great, so how long have you been around?

 

Excellent question. As an experienced nonprofit professional, you know that consultants and vendors can disappear on you overnight, leaving you stranded. It's important to vet a company's history to get an idea of their stability and how long they've been in business.

Here are the key points you should know (we'll save you the 100-page autobiography):

  • Our longest client has been with us for over 6 years.
  • While the name "Brooks Digital" has existed since 2015, the work we've done can be dated back to 2008 when Spencer was a solo consultant.
  • We work with a limited number of long-term clients. As a result, our history of work generally reflects an exclusive number of organizations with whom we have invested years of work.
  • While we aren't opposed to undertaking certain one-time projects, 90% of our larger projects (e.g. redesigns, Drupal version upgrades, etc) are completed within the context of a long-term support relationship.

As a nonprofit, this should be good news to you. A data-driven approach favors continuous experimentation and improvement, which can only happen when you have a technology partner that actually sticks around.