Every year a crowd of #NPTechies (Twitter speak for Nonprofit Technology Professionals) gather at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) to learn about the greatest technological advances available to help nonprofits become better at delivering on their mission.
This year’s conference, #16NTC, was held in San Jose and had an attendance of nearly 2,000. Here are four of the greatest takeaways:
- Sharing. While much of the nonprofit sector gets criticized for working in silos and being resistant to collaboration, that’s definitely not the case here. This group, more so than any other professional association that I’ve been involved with, or reported on, welcomes collaboration and the opportunity to share their wins, obstacles, and observations. There is a genuine attitude that when one gains an understanding of a particular tech tool, there is a responsibility for that person to help others understand how they can use it for good.
- Data plays a very important role in an organization’s ability to advance. Gone are the days when your nonprofit could send an email newsletter to your entire database of donors. Donors expect more. If your organization wants to keep individuals donating and truly connect, a generic e-blast is not going to accomplish your mission. It may even do more harm than good.Savvy organizations are collecting data on website visitors, donors, social media, and more to better direct communications. Creating “persona” profiles can help better segment your donors and guide you in writing.
- Technology is important, but it’s not everything. Even at a technology conference, the message was clear that technology, alone, is not going to do the job. It’s about leveraging the right technology, in the right manner, that will help us better engage constituents. Technology shouldn’t become a distraction from mission, but tailored to specific needs. Case in point: my exhibit booth neighbored a company called Frakture. Frakture is a company that organizes the information you are getting from all of the other services you are using. After all, if you have all of the data but no way to extrapolate meaningful information, then you really haven’t learned much.
- Healthy organizations win. By “healthy”, I am referring to physical, sociological, and mental conditions that create an organizational culture. A healthy culture includes, collaborates, and encourages creative solutions. It also allows for failure.
Unlike any other conference that I’ve attended—and I’ve attended more than my share—NTC makes a point of being inclusive. Meals include vegetarian and gluten-free options. Coffee and tea are accompanied by almond and soy milk in addition to cream. Inclusivity is obvious in the survey of attendees, where the question “what is your gender identity?” offered 8 multiple choice answers. It’s evident in the programming too. The educational sessions include physical activities like Beth Kanter’s “ The Healthy Nonprofit: Changing Organizational Culture One Sneaker at a Time.” You can check out her blog which includes ways to incorporate healthy activities and be productive.
Finally, in the spirit of sharing, here is a podcast of an interview with George Weiner, CEO of Whole Whale, and former CTO of DoSomething.org. George is a leader in using social and technology for good, and provides some quick, easy tips for how and why to use Bit.ly and Canva.
Want to experience NTC first-hand? #17NTC will be held in Washington, DC, March 23-25, 2017. I hope to see you there!
Amy DeVita is a publisher, entrepreneur, mother, wife, social media enthusiast and fan and avid supporter of the nonprofit/ for-impact sector. She has written for Top Nonprofits and Third Sector Today; she has been quoted on pieces about social media and social impact on The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast. She was named to the Leading Women Entrepreneurs in NJ Monthly and she is a member of Social Media for Nonprofits’ Leadership Council. In her spare time she enjoys kayaking, yoga, hiking, traveling, and playing Scrabble. Amy lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and two dogs. In 1984 she earned the “Most Improved Average” honor on her bowling league.