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WHAT NEXT?

Having defined the problem, WAJF turned to tcn for assistance. WAJF knew of tcn's 15 year-history analyzing the communication needs of thousands of nonprofit organizations. They trusted that tcn's experience and insight would translate into solutions for the LEV-ZEV community's communications problem. It didn't take long for WAJF to get tcn up to speed on the communication shortfalls among LEV-ZEV advocates. In fact, the story was all too familiar, a typical scenario encountered by tcn time and again. tcn maintained that the root of the LEV-ZEV problem was not a lack of communications technology, but a lack of knowledge and expertise. Over the years tcn found that many nonprofits had the resources at their fingertips, they just didn't know how to maximize their use. Simply put, they either didn't know how to use the technology, or apply it, or both. The reason? Often senior nonprofit managers view information and communication technology as "back room"—equipment much like air conditioning and heating. They don't acknowledge technology's potential for enhancing mission-critical programs and service delivery. At best, they get it backwards. Techies are brought in too late to support already outdated programs and services. The full capabilities of existing telephone, fax and computer systems go untapped.

THE NEED WAS ESTABLISHED

"Circuit Rider. One dedicated person who would travel to participating LEV-ZEV organizations with a communications tool bag and provide hands-on assistance."

And WAJF was eager to be an integral part of the solution. But how? How could they help the LEV-ZEV advocates maximize their communication potential? How could they help create a strong network of advocates who shared information and communicated more effectively? The answer? WAJF and tcn concluded that the LEV-ZEV advocates needed a Circuit Rider. One dedicated person who would travel to participating LEV-ZEV organizations with a communications tool bag and provide hands-on assistance. He'd assess their communication technology needs. Educate them on their options. And assist with implementing new technology when necessary. The communications tools he used would vary depending on the organization's needs: from toll free 800 numbers and conference calling, to fax-broadcasting and the Internet. Low tech to high tech and everything in-between. But most importantly, he'd stress use of the Internet, and encourage advocates to use e-mail to create their network. For it was clear that the Internet would play a critical role in the success of information sharing.

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