Event Coverage – NTC & AFP International

Event Coverage – NTC & AFP International

Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)

This year, Laisie had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) hosted by NTEN in San Francisco, California. For the fourth year in a row, it was a sold out conference! The folks behind NTC truly embraced technology by integrating it into every aspect of the event from QR codes, customized hashtags for each session, collaborative notes, all the way to livestreaming sessions for online conference participants. It was really just an amazing experience. What really stood out at this conference were hot topics such as mobile strategy and data measurement and data visualization (which may or may not involve drawing on napkins) to solve complex problems!

Some of the key takeaways:

  1. Mobile is not going away. Your website data will help you decide whether or not you need a mobile version of your site and there are free tools that will allow you to create a basic mobile site (i.e. sites.google.com/mobilize)
  2. When going mobile, there are two options to choose from: (1) a mobile site and (2) building a customized app. The greatest benefit of an app is the ability to access content offline so think about the costs associated with each. Sometimes creating a simple basic site will serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Always keep in mind the users’ desire to receive the content you’re providing versus the time it takes to download the app. Is it worth it?
  3. When it comes to data, measure what matters. Data collection is relatively easy, what’s challenging is building a data culture into any organization to allow time for reflection and the ability to talk about failure. Only then can we begin to make changes, innovate and make leaps forward.
  4. Dan Roam’s opening plenary really challenged and encourage the audience to pick up a pen (and a napkin!). Forget words, let’s start drawing! “Whoever best describes the problem is the one most likely to solve it. Whoever draws the best picture gets the funding.” By drawing and putting your ideas on paper, your brain will automatically form new connections that will challenge you to think in new ways. This is the first step to helping us solve the complex problems we face everyday.

All in all, it was a great conference and we’re glad that we were able to be there again this year. The good news is that whether or not you were there, you can still follow the discussion online at #12NTC. We can’t wait for the next one which takes place April 11-13, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN so mark your calendars!

AFP International

With Laisie in sunny San Francisco, Matt and Mike made the trip out to the west coast for the Association of Fundraising Professional’s 49th annual international conference in mainly overcast yet absolutely stunning Vancouver. It was certainly a spectacular backdrop for the 3 day conference at the beautifully designed Vancouver Centre.

Although not a conference specifically for tech-folk (I’ll coin that, if it’s not taken?), AFP did a marvellous job at ensuring that the buzz was online as well as offline at the conference. A conference hashtag, #AFPmeet, kept us all up to date with the technology-driven Buzz sessions downstairs in the AFP Marketplace as well as with the exciting developments in the main conference sessions. A further twitter hashtag, #AFPeeps, kept us all in touch with conference twitter superstars like Harvey McKinnon (HMA Associates), Leah Eustace (Good Works), Tania Little (Second Harvest) and Nathan Hand (School on Wheels). It was a great idea for this year’s conference as the chance to meet and share ideas in person with others was made much easier.

Some key takeaways:

  1. Close the loop – connect supporters to their impact as best as you possibly can! It was repeated, as it always is, many a time throughout the conference. Scott Harrison from Charity Water could not have provided a better case study of how best to provide that key info back to an organization’s donors. In fact, it seemed to be the cornerstone of Charity Water’s existence.
  2. That little thing we like to call integration – We talk about this all the time; when creating a campaign or working with an offline channel, how are you going to best integrate with online and new technology? It was great to see that, not only was this a recurrent theme from all those you would expect to hear it from Mike Johnston, Harvey McKinnon and Stephen Pidgeon, yet it came up time and time again on twitter and therefore throughout many other sessions during the conference.
  3. Spend time meeting those tech vendors! A big takeaway for me was the immense amount of new information coupled with catching up with existing technology partner contacts at the Marketplace area where all the vendors were hanging out. It’s perhaps the case that many conference goers find this part of the conference the least palatable, however, it was worth the time to scope out the innovations amongst the incredible array of technology providers.

It was a great conference to be a part of and always has been and who better to close proceedings in Canada than The Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, who offered us his insights of fundraising for the Wayne Gretzky Foundation as well as interesting facts that he was actually supposed to be a Major League Baseball star rather than the greatest National Hockey League player there ever was!

We’re already looking forward to AFP International’s 50th conference April 7-9 in San Diego in 2013. Hope to see some of you there!

posted on Apr 20

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