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 https://www.nten.org/ntc/program/agenda/ 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
- Looking at cute kittens and puppies improves concentration and increases empathy!
- Blockchain can be used to provide legal identify for refugees
- 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)
- 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)
- With colleagues, use BLUF (bottom line up front) in email. Create an email charter (example: emailcharter.org) that identifies norms and expectations.
- Onboard your own staff to online tools the same way you onboard your stakeholders.
- Polleverywhere.com 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.
- Create a handout for staff like USAID’s “donut card” explaining where to go for knowledge sharing and learning.
- 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”.
- Canva is a decent free alternative to InDesign
#18NTCkeynote - Keynote with Luvvie Ajayi, blogger and author of I’M JUDGING YOU: The Do-Better Manual, a collection of essays that critiques our fame-obsessed, social media-centric lives, while encouraging us to do better.
- Highly recommended: Print out and have everyone in your team take the collaborative overload quiz. Reflect together on how to improve. Explore tips/resources on page 2.
- Larry Glickman of Union for Reform Judaism, is director of network engagement and collaboration. Wrote: I’ve learned that when we, as moderators of online platforms, keep the Jewish teaching of TzimTzum in mind, our networks will succeed due to the space we have created. TzimTzum teaches us to contract to make space for others. When we make that space, light comes in, life is created and activity flourishes. Blog article: Yammer, and the lessons of TzimTzum
- Also: “go where people are” conventional wisdom does not work for communities. Better to bring stakeholders to your own platform, empower them to help improve it. URJ uses large yammer network successfully both for staff and community.
- Be data INFORMED, not data DRIVEN. Don’t let the data drive you.
- remember, there are people behind the numbers. use them to understand how people are affected, both internally and externally. embrace conflict and be open about handling it.
- embrace that not everything can be evidenced with data.
- try to use data to find out who is not being served, or could be served better.
- identify the early adopters in your organization and use data to make them look good, to help them. start small, and build on that together with them. (better to start at the bottom rather than at the top of your organization)
- Read “The Lean Startup” - http://theleanstartup.com/
- harder than you might think. try to keep it simple, understand options, figure out objectives ahead of time. consider both current and possible future objectives.
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