Altus Dynamics Blog

Nicola Dickinson

Nicola Dickinson is a Founding Partner at Sparkrock. She formed Sparkrock with a vision and mandate to deliver award-winning, meaningful and affordable technology solutions exclusively for the non-profit and public sector. With a passion for assisting non-profit and public sector, she provides true value by being an active member of the non-profit community.
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Recent Posts

Need new technology? Here's how to build the business case.

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Oct 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

For many Human Services organizations, the ROI of technology is indisputable. Yet some organizations have been stung by very memorable IT project failures, and these failures stick in the minds of the people who write the checks. As a result, the level of trust in software can be low, and this lack of trust (combined with growing economic pressures and scrutiny from boards) has caused business leaders to become highly skeptical when it comes to spending big bucks on IT projects (“the last time we gave you money, you blew it!”).

Topics: Finance Read More

Top Five Features of our K12 ERP 2016 Solution

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on May 16, 2016 10:23:15 AM

You want to provide the best learning environment you can for your students. There’s no question there. We believe to do this your administrative staff need to be able to remove the manual barriers to getting their work done and that starts with their ERP solution. Our latest release, Altus Dynamics ERP 2016 is better than ever for K12 organizations. Together with Microsoft, Altus has made major investments in our ERP platform giving school boards advancements in procurement processes, funder reporting, fixed assets, HR, and Payroll. Here are the top features we deliver to school boards:

Two Key Benefits of Investing in a Nonprofit Social Enterprise

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Apr 22, 2016 1:00:00 PM

Nonprofits can raise funding in a variety of ways – from donations to grants to loans to issuing community bonds. However, there can come a time in a nonprofit’s growth where these sources alone are not sufficient or sustainable enough to fuel their programs.

When this happens, there aren’t too many other options for the nonprofit to consider. Unlike for-profit organizations, they do not have the choice of planning to increase sales revenue to fund growth. Or do they?

How to Protect Your Nonprofit from Fraud

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Feb 11, 2016 10:00:00 AM


Fraud. Just the very word can send chills down the spines of any nonprofit owner. It is a terrifying prospect that you hope will never happen to you. One of the scariest things about fraud is the many different faces it can wear. Ten years ago it was much more difficult for an individual to pull the wool over the eyes of an entire organization. But now with the increased prevalence of the internet and the seemingly endless imagination of those willing to commit fraud, it is a prospect that is all too real for nonprofits.

5 Ways to Avoid a Cash Flow Crisis

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Jan 27, 2016 10:04:45 AM

Earlier this month, 450 Toronto-area Goodwill workers were locked out due to a "cash flow crisis" that led to a shutdown of the long-standing charitable organization, delivering a devastating blow both to staff and those who rely most on the non-profit organization.

The question is: why did this venerable Nonprofit, which earned $28.1 million - including more than $4 million from the province of Ontario - in 2014, collapse so suddenly? So far, Goodwill CEO Keiko Nakamura has not provided clear answers, so we can only wonder what may have caused some of these issues.

Since we work with many Nonprofits - helping them leverage the latest in technology to manage their finances effectively - we've decided to pull together 5 ways that your Nonprofit can make sure you don't experience a "cash flow crises" of your own:

5 Ways to Improve Employee Attendance in K12 schools.

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Jan 18, 2016 3:45:41 PM

According to an October 2008 study from the Center for American Progress, the average teacher misses nine or 10 days per year, and on any given school day in the United States, about 5 percent of teachers aren't at work.

Excessive teacher absences can have serious repercussions for K12 education. The cost of hiring substitutes goes up, and in some districts, qualified substitutes are scarce. Worse, student progress and test scores suffer when teachers aren't around to present lessons, answer questions and facilitate classroom discussions.

How to Build a Mentorship Program for New K12 Teachers

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Dec 17, 2015 9:00:00 AM

 As the baby boomers start to retire, you lose the most experienced teachers in your school board. How do you engage in succession planning to ensure that student achievement stays high when younger, less experienced practitioners come to replace them? Many schools have found the answer to these questions in mentorship programs that encourage teachers to share their experience and knowledge.

Though mentorship programs can take on a number of forms, their goal is always to promote student learning in K12 education. Evidence suggests that mentorships encouraged by the administration produce gains in student achievement and expand opportunities for distributed leadership in schools. The programs also enhance the quality of discourse among educators, increase the focus on evidence-based practice, contribute to conflict management, and motivate teachers who often find genuine satisfaction in a mutually shared learning environment.

If you have been considering building a teacher mentorship program at your school board, here are some ideas to get you started:

The Current Teacher Supply and Demand in Canada

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Dec 10, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Canada first experienced a surplus of primary and secondary school teachers in 2005; although this process was reflected across the country, the situation was illustrated most clearly in Ontario. Between 1998 and 2002, Ontario witnessed a record number of retiring teachers, which created a dramatic increase in new teachers when many young people flocked to fill the newly empty positions.

Will the internet replace the K12 classroom?

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Dec 3, 2015 12:15:53 PM

There's been a lot of discussion among educators about what the K12 classroom will look like 20 years from now. If current trends are any indication, it's safe to say that the use of technology within the classroom will increase significantly over the next two decades. How much influence will technology have inside the classroom and what impact will it have on the teacher’s role and on students' performance?

[VIDEO] Save Time and Improve Your K12 Board's Procurement Process

Posted by Nicola Dickinson on Nov 27, 2015 9:26:00 AM

Procurement is a key operational activity for every K12 school board. Your board manages the purchase requests, purchase orders, and invoices of your many schools. And where does this administrative burden land? Directly on the backs of your finance department. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Using a robust, yet easy-to-use financial solution, you can help ease your board’s “purchasing pain” and give your schools purchasing power.

Want to see more about how you can save time and improve your procurement process? Check out the video below.

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