Category Archives: Tools

The Evernote Help Desk

Does your society use Evernote to help organize and manage society business and projects? There’s another way Evernote can support your staff – as your association’s help desk.

A Help Desk notebook is the perfect place for:

  • user manuals for the society’s equipment and software
  • instruction sheets for routine tasks
  • standard operating procedures
  • contact information for companies providing maintenance and support.

Share the Help Desk notebook with the staff members who need access to the information. Now you and your staff can get the help you need when you need it.

Use Polls to Get Feedback From Your Members – in cooperation with Polldaddy – has made it easy to include polls on your site. Polls offer you an opportunity to get feedback on a particular topic, program or feature. It doesn’t cost you anything to create polls but you will need to create a free account with Polldaddy to do this. Visit the Settings > Polls section of your Dashboard to complete the account setup.

Here you see a sample poll. Choose your preferred option then click the Vote button. Next, click View Results to see what others think.

Because they only ask one question, polls are easier to design and build than surveys. And, because they are embedded in a post, there’s plenty of room to explain the purpose of the poll and the available answers. For example, in the sample poll the first choice has $$ after it and the second has $ after it. You could use the text of the post to provide more detailed information about those options – like how much extra members would have to pay for those publishing options.

To get started, open a new post and click the Add Poll button just above the formatting toolbar.

polls list

If you don’t already have a Polldaddy account, you’ll be directed to create an account there. It will cost you nothing. Once your account is created and linked to your blog, you’ll see a screen similar to the one above. In this example, I’ve already created one poll and it appears in my list of polls until I delete it. Note that the commands related to a specific poll are hidden until you mouse over that poll in the list.

To create a new poll, click the Add New button at the top of the panel. The Edit Pole panel appears with fields for the poll’s question and answers.

poll settings

In this example, I am only using four answers for this question. If I had more, I could add boxes for them by clicking the Add New Answer button. I can also delete unwanted answers by clicking the “x” icon to the right of the answer. The blue arrow icons to the left of each answer are used to reorder your answers. Click on the arrow icon and drag that answer to the location you want it.

The Poll Style panel provides options for the appearance of your poll on the page and the sidebar panels have options to further customize the answers, determine if visitors can vote repeatedly, set the length of time the poll will remain active and show the poll results to your visitors. When you are ready, click the Save Poll option to save your poll. Click the Embed in Post button to add the poll to your post or page.

In addition to embedding your poll in a page or post, you can also use the text widget to put it in you site’s sidebar.

poll results

From the Polls list, mouse over your poll to display the menu and click on Results. The screen you see here is displayed.

Be aware that you don’t control who can participate in the poll. If your site is open to the public, you can request that only members vote, but you can’t enforce that.

Self-hosted WordPress users can install the Polldaddy plugin to create their own polls.



Google for Nonprofits

Google offers many tools for genealogy research, but there are also a number of tools that can improve society operations and support your membership. Even better, Google offers non-profit organizations an amazing array of tools for free or at highly-discounted rates. Plus, they have an impressive support system to help you take advantage of those tools to support your organization and membership. Google for Nonprofits offers tools for fund-raising, website management, online collaboration and social media. Tools available to you as part of this program include:

  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Drive
  • Google Ad Grants
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Earth Outreach
  • YouTube Nonprofit Program
  • Google+ (including Hangouts)

You must hold current 501( c)(3) status and agree to the application’s required certifications regarding nondiscrimination and donation receipt and use to qualify for the program. For more information and to join the program, visit the Google for Nonprofits site.

Improve Security With Two-Step Authentication

Two-step authentication offers additional login security when you are accessing online resources. When two-step authentication is available, you will still log into the site with your user name and password, but that will kick off the second step which is usually a text message containing a PIN (personal identification number) sent to your mobile phone. That PIN must then be entered on the login screen to get access to the site. The PIN is only operational for a short period of time – usually less than a minute – and changes each time you log into the site.

Why is two-step authentication worth the effort? Even if a hacker is able to get your user name and password, they still can’t get into your account without the PIN – which is only sent to the mobile number you specified when you set up your account. If your phone’s charging stand is next to your computer, it’s really not that much of an inconvenience.

What accounts should be set up with two-step authentication? Obviously, financial, medical and commercial sites where you are sharing personal, financial and credit card information are priorities but so are social networks and especially email accounts. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn now support it as do Yahoo! Mail, Google/Gmail, PayPal, Dropbox and Evernote. Even blog platforms – including – support it. For society sites – especially those with multiple contributors – this is very useful.

You can learn more about tow-step verification along with a more complete list of sites supporting it at Wikipedia.

Society Evernote – Board Meetings

Evernote’s collaboration features make it a great tool to streamline a lot of board functions. By posting minutes, reports and proposals as notes then taking advantage of the new Work Chat function, board members can review, edit, ask questions and suggest changes well before the meeting begins. Then, during the meeting, all that’s needed is a quick motion/approval of the various items. The toughest part will be making the transition to the new workflow.

Every board has its own quirks and personalities so developing a workflow that best suits your board may require some experimentation and adjustments. Here are some suggestions for using Evernote in board meetings:

  • Have minutes and reports posted as notes and set a deadline for posting them which gives each board member time to review, ask questions and recommend changes before the meeting. Once the minutes/report is approved by the board, that note can then be moved from the board’s notebook to the archive notebook for safe-keeping. Print paper copies for filing, if necessary.
  • Require new proposals and requests be presented in writing as a note. These notes should include all the details about the proposals, estimated costs, etc.
  • When developing the meeting agenda, include links to the appropriate report/proposal so that board members can review them prior to the meeting. Post the agenda far enough ahead so that everyone has time to review the items before the meeting.
  • Develop procedures for posting proposals, setting the agenda and reviewing items prior to the meeting. These procedures are especially useful to help “handle” the board member who has something to say about everything.
  • As proposals and projects are approved, use the agenda note to document task assignments and proposed deadlines.
  • Copies of proposal notes, the meeting agenda and other associated notes can be attached to the meeting’s minutes note. Then, once the minutes are approved, the entire package is moved to the archive notebook.
  • When you use Evernote’s Work Chat feature to review documents and discuss proposals, those conversations are saved with the associated notes. This can offer future board and staff members a better understanding of things that happened before their time.

With a growing number of board and staff using portable devices such as tablets and smart phones, many will find it easier to use those devices to access Evernote during meetings. Encourage that whenever possible. Yes, you may still need to provide print copies to accommodate those who don’t use computers.

Making the adjustment from paper to digital workflows takes time and experimentation. Set goals and work with your staff to find workable solutions. Evernote will help make it happen.

Society Evernote – Organizing the Board

Evernote offers a number of features that can make life easier for your society’s board and staff. From streamlining board meetings to facilitating document reviews to providing an accessible information center, Evernote can help.

To get started, you will need at least one Evernote premium account ($5/month) for the board. A premium account has larger upload limits, additional sharing features and expanded search capabilities. Each member of the board and staff needing access to the content will also need an account. In most cases, a basic (free) account will work fine. Since many people are already using Evernote for their genealogical research, using their personal accounts is often easier than trying to manage multiple accounts.

Create the society account using a society email address rather a personal one (, for example). This will make it easier to pass account management on to a different manager when board changes require it. This account will manage all the society content maintained in Evernote. Board members and staff will be assigned access rights – using their personal Evernote accounts – to the notebook(s) they need to use. The manager will be responsible for building notebooks and assigning sharing rights to them.

Once the account is up and running, it’s time to build a few notebooks. Here are some basic recommendations. Future articles will look at specific projects and functions.

  • A Help Desk notebook. Use this notebook to hold PDF copies of all your equipment manuals (scanners, printers, copy machines, microfiche readers, coffee pots). If you don’t have copies handy, look at the manufacturer’s web site for a downloadable copy. This is also a good place to keep checklists and worksheets used in the society’s daily operations.
  • A General Information notebook. Here’s where the contact directory for board and staff members along with things like a copy of the tax exempt form, potential speaker list, affiliate information and other frequently used information is kept. Other possibilities include templates for documenting volunteer hours, research requests or form letters.
  • An Archive notebook. This notebook serves two purposes. It’s where completed business is kept. Yes, there will probably also be paper copies filed somewhere, but it also serves as both off-site backup and an easily-accessed location for historical information.

Each of these notebooks should set up for sharing. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes. The example below shows the share feature in the web-based version of Evernote. It can be done using both the desktop and mobile app versions too.

Open the notebook you wish to share – the Archive notebook in this example. Click the Share link to display the share panel you see here. Enter the email addresses of the people who need access in the To: field at the top of the panel. Assign the access rights and enter any message you want to include, then click the Send button.

The access rights options are: Can edit and invite, Can edit, Can view. In most cases, Can edit will be the preferable option.

Each invitee will receive an email with instructions for connecting to the shared notebook. Once the connections are made from their side, your board is ready to put Evernote to work.

There are a number of additional notebooks that will be discussed individually in future articles. Next up is using Evernote to manage board meetings.