Reporting back from the NTEN 2018 Nonprofit Technology Conference

I attended the NTEN 2018 Nonprofit Technology Conference in New Orleans recently on behalf of Namati. I’ve attended several NTC in the past, and found it to be the most useful annual event for networking and learning around technology and nonprofit work. More than 2000 people attended, including nonprofit employees, consultants, and companies providing tech services and software for the nonprofit sector. I am glad I went - #18ntc did not disappoint! #19ntc is taking place March 13-19, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. Who wants to come?

I am happy to share as best I can everything that I learned from the conference. To get started, please look at the short short version of my notes with links below. Let me know your reactions and questions, and topics that are of particular interest to you. I will gladly go deeper.

The NTC conference format has not changed much over the years, but the conference organization has improved tremendously as it has grown in size. Sessions were organized into different functional tracks and a mix of presentations, participatory workshops and small roundtable discussions. Lunch featured “birds of a feather” to bring people together around shared concerns and interests. A massive exhibition floor allowed participants to meet one on one with vendors to learn about their offerings and collect t-shirts, flash drives and other swag.

The full conference agenda is available online at where you can explore all the sessions, collaboratively shared notes, slides and resources, and twitter hashtags. Also handy for follow-up is NTEN’s own online community for members with a forum, directory and other online resources.

10 Things I Learned at 18NTC

  1. Looking at cute kittens and puppies improves concentration and increases empathy! :heart_eyes_cat:
  2. Blockchain can be used to provide legal identify for refugees
  3. Be data INFORMED, not data DRIVEN. Don’t let the data drive you. Visualize data, and use it often. Microsoft Power BI Desktop is free software for creating rich, interactive reports with visual analytics. (windows only, sadly)
  4. If you don’t have time, it’s ok to say no, or not right now. Or I’d love to, but I have another commitment (could be a nap, but they don’t know that)
  5. With colleagues, use BLUF (bottom line up front) in email. Create an email charter (example: that identifies norms and expectations.
  6. Onboard your own staff to online tools the same way you onboard your stakeholders.
  7. is a tool to run on-the-fly polls during presentations, including pretty word clouds, clickable images. Ask questions, show results, move to next question.
  8. Create a handout for staff like USAID’s “donut card” explaining where to go for knowledge sharing and learning.
  9. The Lean Startup “build, measure, learn” feedback loop adapts well to nonprofit work. Allows us to move forward quickly on an idea, identify how well it worked, and decide whether to “pivot or perservere”.
  10. Canva is a decent free alternative to InDesign



  • Tadpole - Website development and support using WordPress and CiviCRM. Based in Brooklyn, NY.

    • CiviCRM - free, open source CRM that integrates with WordPress or Drupal. Features include contact management, email marketing, case management, events, campaigns, donation processing.
  • Jason King, “Ad Grant Wrangler” - wordpress developer, expert on google ad grants for nonprofits.

  • PROVOC, “Outcome driven design, by the people, for the people” - design firm based in DC. B-Corp. I was impressed by the vision and approach of the company.

  • Advomatic specializes in multilingual websites.

  • Report Kitchen - turns boring PDF reports into interactive websites using drupal.


@tobiaseigen point #9 reminds me of this awesome article I read recently (and I’m excited to keep researching!):

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Thanks for sharing @tobiaseigen! I was especially drawn to your points #3, 4, & 10. I love Canva, it’s very easy to use and quite intuitive. I haven’t used it on any work projects, but did use it to make my own wedding invitations :grin:


I’m also planning to read this book, which is related to the Lean concept:

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Hello from the future! I know it’s been over a year since this was posted, but I wanted to call out how useful I found this debrief and link-heavy resource. I’ll definitely be referring to the notes taken from this conference and have already been inspired to think creatively about my work. Thanks!


Hello @katielam

We are very glad you find this helpful, it is exactly our hope in the network. Please feel free to share with us what some of your takeaways from this discussion are and how you plan to use it in your work


Thanks for sharing great feedback