University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 3/1996
Nonprofits coordinate services via

     Delaware's nonprofit and community-based organizations
now have a state-of-the-art on-ramp to the Internet, allowing
them to communicate electronically with each other and government
agencies through electronic bulletin board system.
     Using seed money from the Delaware Community Foundation, the
University's Center for Community Development purchased the
hardware and software for the system's server and is the host
organization for the network.
     Delaware is the first state to offer such a program and,
since its introduction last February, news of is
spreading, according to administrator Jason Alexander, Delaware
'96M. New clients are being added daily; other states are
considering similar systems; and the program has attracted
attention from the federal government, including the Department
of Health and Human Services. is "absolutely the best system available for the
nonprofit sector," Alexander says. "We chose a bulletin board
format because the system doesn't concentrate just on information
going out. It also allows users to put in information."
     All anyone needs to gain access to, Alexander
says, is a computer and a modem. will work on "the
oldest and slowest computer in the world" and can use MAC,
Windows or DOS. "The system supports them all."
     It takes 5 to 10 minutes to install and is accessible from
all points in the state, using a toll-free 800 number.
     Specifically, allows registered users to
exchange information via electronic mail, file transfer, local
newsgroups and on-line conferencing, while also connecting users
to Internet e-mail.
     The "virtual community" provides a forum for the free
exchange of ideas, thoughts and data to assist agencies
throughout the state in developing new and dynamic strategies for
     With the click of a mouse button, organizations can
coordinate service delivery between agencies and automate client
referrals; collaborate and plan with other agencies; advertise
events and available services; pursue fund-raising and advocacy
activities; and conduct on-line discussions with other agencies
on relevant and timely topics.
     An example of use is ACCESS Delaware, a data
base of all government and community services available to state
residents. Using, individuals in need of services can
scan the data by type, location or agency name to determine those
services for which they may be eligible.
     The Delaware Food Bank uses to post an updated
inventory of its food supplies. Previously, agencies wanting
supplies from the Food Bank had to have an inventory list mailed
to them or had to send someone to the bank to fill out an order.
Now, agencies can dial in, check the inventory list and make
requests. This represents "a vast improvement in service
delivery," Alexander says.
     Still another use is an on-line career center provided by
DANA, the Delaware Association of Nonprofit Agencies, where job
seekers can have their resumes scanned into the system, making
them available to prospective employers.
     The Parent Education Partnership Network, a group of
approximately 40 agencies dealing with parent education issues,
uses to exchange information and avoid hard-to-
schedule and time-consuming meetings.
     "It's a simple, efficient and cost-effective way for
agencies to communicate with each other," Steve Peuquet,
associate policy scientist at center, says. He and Alexander set
up the network.
     The five areas within include:
       Mailbox, which allows members to communicate with each
 other or the entire group through e-mail;
       The Commons, serving as a town square where people can
 talk about whatever they want, divided into several topical
 areas such as housing, health issues and environmental
       Main Street, which has "offices" for individual agencies
 to post public information or where they can establish private
 offices with limited access for such items as minutes of
 meetings, tentative agendas or preliminary reports. This
 section of has a minimal fee, based on an agency's
 administrative budget;
       Resources, including a catalog of all documents on, funding opportunities, a statewide calendar of
 training classes and conferences, job opportunities and more;
       System News & Help, which provides information and
 instructions on the system itself.
     Because is available 24 hours a day, many who
use the system are able to access it in the evenings or on
weekends from their homes.
     "I have at the office, on a laptop and at home
and I do work a lot, which upsets my fiancee a little," Alexander
says. "But, for right now, it's so new, it's like having a new
     For information, contact Alexander by e-mail at or call (302) 831-3467.