Development Research

Intranet Basics For Fundraisers
APRA 10th International Conference, August 1997
presented by
Paul R. Kirchgraber,  Director of Research


A1. "Intranet" defined

In' tra net - n. 1) a network connecting an affiliated set of clients using standard internet protocols, esp. TCP/IP and HTTP. 2) an IP-based network of nodes behind a firewall, or behind several firewalls connected by secure, possibly virtual, networks.

A2. Intranet: itís not a typo

In general an intranet might be defined as an unstructured client/server network that uses HTTP as its transaction protocol. The World Wide Web comprises all HTTP nodes on the public Internet. An internal web comprises all HTTP nodes on a private network, such as a corporate LAN or WAN. Note that internal webs, a.k.a intranets, are only logically "internal" to an organization. Physically they can span the globe, as long as access is limited to a defined community of interest.

A3. So what is an Intranet? What do we mean by Intranet technology?

An Intranet is built entirely on Internet technologies. The document formats are the same on the Intranet as on the Internet: HyperText Markup Language (HTML), HyperText Transfer Protocols (HTTP) and Portable Document Format (PDF)are used for making information available to people across different computer platforms such as PC and Mac's.

The benefit of building an Intranet is that youíre using standards-based technologies which give you--the designer, purchaser, and implementer of the network--more flexibility and less dependence on any single vendor. You donít NEED a connection to the Internet to get these benefits.

A4. How large or small can an intranet be?

The size of your intranet is dictated by the size of your community of interest. Scale is an important factor in web implementation, but it has no bearing on the logical association of clients that make up an intranet. For example, a workgroup with one web server, a company with several hundred web servers, and a professional organization with ten thousand web servers can each be considered an intranet.

While nothing constrains these webs to be "inside" or bounded in any physical sense, size is a significant from a network design perspective. Intranet Design Magazine calls expansive private webs wide-area intranets to connote that WAN economics and technologies apply. We call smaller, in-house webs local-area intranets.

A5. How can intranets relate to an organization's fundraising services?

The idea of building Intranets has certainly generated a lot of hype, perhaps culminating in capturing the cover of Business Week at the end of February Ď97 .

The needs in business computing are being met by the biggest trend in computing: the Internet and its related technologies. Why not then - non profit organizations? What the business community has figured out SHOULD be of importance to us.

89% of large businesses are putting in place a an internal Internet-technology-based architecture.

70% of CIOs predict that Web Browsers will become the Universal graphical interface. Source: Business Research Group/Information Week 3/18/96.

This seminar is going to be less focused on the hype, and more on the practical issues of building an intranet server for an organizationís communications. In that light, letís take a step away from the hype and consider the internet not as cool technology or mere billboards for information. Today they are turning into live information systems.[next]

A6. Trends in the Internet

The explosive growth in the internet is largely a result of the easy-to-use 'front ends' which are better known as HTML/HTTP compatible "browsers" with names such as - Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft Explorer.

The growth in the Web and the other Internet technologies created an interest in applying the Internet technologies to the internal business and organizational networks.

Right now these same data are indicative of what is going on in many companies internal networks--an Intranet Phenomena!

A7. The Alumni or "Constituency" Communication Challenge - External

The Internet, which has been the hot technology for over three years now, addresses a universityís or non profit organization's communication challenge on how to effectively and economically communicate with itís alumni, donors and supporters about a variety of topics - especially when they are addressing a "global community".

A8. Fundraising Services Communications Challenges - Internal

The internal development communications problem is very similar to the external communications problem.

However, the solutions have been much different--it has been evolutionary, and as technology has improved, so have the solutions.

In the 1950ís and 1960ís, companies deployed main frames and terminals, and eventually mini computers or what are today called midrange systems.

In the 1980ís as IBM, Apple and other companies spawned the personal computer revolution, many terminals were replaced with PCs and terminal emulators. USC 's gift processing system is still using 1980's technology to run it's University Relation System (URS) information management system.

This growth of computing power on the desktop led to the development of Local Area Networks, or LANs, and the connection of computer to server led to the growth of client server solutions and more recently groupware solutions.

The latest developments in solving this problem focus on Internet technologies applied to the Intranet. [next]

A9. What are the essential components of a fundraising intranet?

How do you integrate your database to display the information over the Web without learning C/C++, AppleScript, Frontier or Perl or without adding complex calculations and HTML to your database?

A basic database-driven intranet includes the following:

oA community of users with PC's or Mac's installed with a WWW browser such as Netscape or Explorer.

oA dedicated computer with web server software. Check out Netscape or Internet Magazine for more information.

oYour data.

oA SQL database which stores this information.

o"Middle-ware" CGI software which links your web server to your database. Check out Tango and Cold Fusion.

oFirewall software.

An Intranet refers to that portion of an organizationís network that exists inside the firewall.

oA firewall is usually a computer or router or combination of the two that allows only certain people or computers to access the internal network from the Internet.

oThe goal of the firewall is to allow internal computer users access to the Internet, while denying access to the internal network by hackers.

A10. Intranet Demo

For on-site conference participants only.