I was born and raised in the Northeast, where the joke is there are four seasons—almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction. Like any good New Englander, I curse winter for about eight straight months and wonder why in the world I even live here. And now, during one of the few days of the year when I’m not plagued with seasonal affective disorder, why am I excitedly planning for next March? Session voting for the 2016 Nonprofit Technology Conference is open, of course! 

If you share NTEN’s philosophy of using technology to fulfill nonprofit organizations’ missions, then this is the conference for you! As a conference both for and by the nonprofit technology community, community members submit session proposals and then vote on them to help shape the agenda.

Reading through 400+ session proposals made my brain hurt, but at the same time pumped me up. I was struck by pride in my profession and am already looking forward to the conference, regardless of which of the many, many solid sessions make up the agenda.

Trying to identify the ones that most caught my eye was like trying to pick my favorite Breaking Bad episodes. Nearly impossible. I had to whittle this list down quite a bit to arrive at 15, so I don’t envy the job of the conference organizers one bit. Here goes!


Great Stories Grant Wishes: Using Audience Personas to Update Make-A-Wish’s Messaging: Learn how to identify your target audience based on learnings from Make-A-Wish’s audience persona development. Develop concrete strategies for creating content that connects with these personas.

Getting Beyond Susan, the Affluent Boomer: What You Can REALLY Do with Personas:  Join the Sierra Club for this session on how they combined communications and IT prowess into a persona-based marketing automation approach for their digital program.

Tell Better Stories With Your Data:  You’ll learn how to interview your data to find compelling storylines. See real-life examples that will help you better understand how to tell your own stories through data buried in all of those rows and columns.

Evil Pop-Ups for the Greater Good:  Get ready to turn into a pop-up believer and see your email list grow! You’ll walk away with a gallery of nonprofit pop-ups and a list of free and paid tools you can use on your website, plus how to use analytics to measure your (awesome) results.

The Design Blitz: Hacking the Creative Process:  The process of creating a design can be mysterious and seem drag on until you’ve forgotten what your goals were in the first place. Attend this session and walk away with success stories and hands-on techniques that will change how you think about the creative process.

Social Media

Beyond The Like: Building Community in Digital Communications: It’s not the nonprofit with the most donors that wins the long game…it’s the one with the best relationships with their donors. We’ll review easy-to-implement tactics to help better manage constituent relationships, understand them better, and engage them in more meaningful ways. 

Don’t Panic! How to Embrace Emerging Social Media with Infinite Majesty and Calm: Learn how to decide if social media channels deserve to be part of your organization’s already crowded communications and marketing efforts. This session will reset your mindset and get you excited to experiment bravely on social media.


Shiny Objects and Magic Wands: Avoiding the Seduction of Quick Fixes and Easy Answers: The greatest technology in the world can’t save an organization from bad decisions. This interactive session will explore how to evaluate when your organization has a people problem, not a technology problem, and what to do about it.

Mastering the Art of Responsive Email: This session will walk through some of the common pitfalls organizations face when building responsive emails and how to code them.

Campaign Case Studies

Epic Fundraising Examples That Inspire: Learn how a blue pig created a culture of philanthropy and how an appeal letter from a hummingbird got one donor writing his favorite charity. Be inspired, delighted and thoroughly entertained with unforgettable eye candy examples.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket: The Story of an Integrated HSUS Campaign: HSUS launched an advocacy campaign to get Costco to go cage-free. We’ll break down how we did it, what technology we used, what the strategy was, and what results we achieved.

P2P and Crowndfunding

The Secret to Turning Donors into Fundraisers:  Learn how to leverage technology and smart marketing to launch a successful peer fundraising campaign that will attract new donors, engage current supporters, and raise more money.

Analyze This: Using Data to Improve the Effectiveness of Your Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns: Learn how to gather and analyze data from your past campaigns to uncover trends and find new opportunities to improve your fundraising results.

The Hijacking of Fundraising: According to the 2015 CF Industry Report, crowdfunding could exceed $100 billion annually by 2017. With this societal shift in thinking, nonprofits have to fight to re-own the word fundraising.

Walk, Run, or Bike to a Great User Experience:  Charity Dynamics will present its new Event Registration Benchmark detailing event registration configuration choices that drive greater registration conversion.

According to NTEN, only 80-100 sessions will be selected and voting ends on 12 a.m. ET on July 31.  Get excited for the NTC and vote today!

Check out Shana’s #16NTC submissions, as well as others from Blackbaud superstars:

Is Crowdfunding Changing Fundraising As We Know it?
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: An Unfiltered Conversation About Culture, Leadership, and Change
Planes, Trains & Winning Online Appeals
The Usual Suspects: Engaging Your Audience with the Right Call to Action
Diversity in Giving: Examining the Changing Landscape of Philanthropy


Shana Masterson has been a fundraiser since 2001. In 2014, she joined Blackbaud as a senior consultant. Her unique skill set as both a peer to peer fundraiser and a technologist allows her to focus on maximizing peer to peer campaign revenue through success planning, road mapping, communication calendaring, configuration recommendations and more.

Prior to joining Blackbaud, Shana led the American Diabetes Association’s online fundraising and communication strategy for the national special events team. She also worked for the National Brain Tumor Society, the American Cancer Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Connect with Shana on Twitter or Linkedin.

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