Holly and the rest of the NTEN team (including all the volunteers) did an incredible job inspiring of over 1800 people for three days. The conference was amazing!
Now that I’ve had a bit to get my brain together I thought I’d share a few key takeaways (for me) from the conference. Hopefully they’ll spark your thinking and motivate you to try a few new things.
6 Takeaways from #12NTC
1) Email is Hot
Now day’s every conference you go to has a HUGE social media focus. For better or worse.
#12NTC wasn’t void of sessions and discussion on the topic, but they made sure fundamental things like email were covered because of a rather large group of people (Eh? Everyone!) who still need to run effective email marketing and communications programs.
Rachel Weidinger and Lara Franklin, Senior Marketing Manager at TechSoup Global did a session that took a deep dive into getting the most out of your email communications by looking at how Tech Soup has been doing effective email communications for years. There was also a session on creating email campaigns that increase donations and optimizing emails for mobile phones, which leads into the next takeaway.
Key Takeaway: Email should be a critical part of every nonprofits communication strategy. Just like direct mail, email isn’t going away just because some new thing called social media came along.
2) Mobile (as expected) is On the Rise
NPTech folks are keenly aware of the rise of mobile phone adoption and the need to evolve their online strategies so NTEN made sure the topic was covered by offerings sessions on strategies for going mobile, HTML5, and optimizing emails for mobile phones.
The Director of Idealware Laura Quinn delivered a popular session titled Affordable Program Delivery Through Mobile Phones. To get a full write up on the session head over to the TechSoup blog and read Mobile Tips from 12NTC.
Key Takeaway: From websites, to email, to apps to social media, having a mobile strategy that’s executed across all your online channels is a key part of future growth.
3) Websites Still Matter (A lot)
You could learn how to create a better nonprofit websites with 52 tweaks, figure out if it was time to redesign your website (a standing room only, people hanging out the door session done by Farra Trompeter, VP at Big Duck), determine if you need a content strategy, and dig into creating a testing plan with no traffic, time, or budget.
Based on the number of website focused sessions and overall attendance it’s clear that nonprofits are always looking to improve their websites.
Key Takeaway: Your website is your property and the way a lot of the world will learn about your organization. Don’t let it go to pot because of all your focus on social media or mobile. Keep it nice, effective and evolving.
4) Strategy, Not Tools (Duh!)
Carla Schlemminger and JD Lesica led a 90-minute session titled You Need a Strategy, Dammit, Not a Twitter Account that focused on how to create a social media strategy for your nonprofit instead of starting with tool or tactics. Check out the slides here.
From sessions like JD’s, hallway conversations and an overall focus on more strategic thinking you could tell that nonprofit pro’s are in search of strategic thinking. Not simple tools and tactics.
Key Takeaway: Strategy first. Everything else will follow.
5) Data Visualization is the Next Big Thing
Beyond simply creating neat graphics, nonprofits are starting to seriously think about ways to use the data they have to visually show their work, impact and results.
The area of data visualization, although not technically new (Edward Tufte has some experience here), is very new to a lot of folks in our industry which is why the one session on Data Visualization Techniques for Social Change by Beth Kanter, Brian Kennedy and Johanna Morariuon was well attended by a very interactive and engaged audience. Check out the slides.
Another way to tell data visualization was a hot topic … everyone there knew the word “infographic”. J
Key Takeaway: People starting to put more thought into the area of data visualization, but in order to pull it off nonprofits need to have folks on staff that have journalistic, data analysis and graphic design skills. If they don’t, consider outsourcing the work.
6) Gaming for Good
Although not a big part of the nonprofit tech conversation there’s clearly a group of folks interested in utilizing gaming and game mechanics for fundraising, community building and program delivery.
There was a great discussion about boosting fundraising and engagement that included Ken Weber from Zynga.org, Patty Hubber from Groupon, Ehren Foss from HelpAttack, Steve Kehrli from PETA and Frank Barry (me) from Blackbaud. The panel explored the impact that gaming and gamification is having on the nonprofits.
Key Takeaway: Producing real games for good can be costly and requires a very unique set of skills. Applying game mechanics to existing programs and fundraising initiatives can add a very engaging new layer to otherwise unchanged element of your nonprofits work. In either case, make sure to do your homework and count the cost before you jump in.
One Killer Find, More Roundups and Visual Notes
While we were there, Blackbaud, NTEN and Common Knowledge released the 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report. Obviously I’m biased on the killer find, but I think you’ll enjoy the report. Make sure to download the complete version. > http://bit.ly/npsocial
A few more roundups and tidbits for you …
- 12NTC: A Love Letter by Holly Ross
- Highlights from the Nonprofit Technology Conference by JD Lesica
- Nonprofit Technology Conference Withdrawal by Beth Kanter
- Reflections from NTC Plenary Panel on Innovation by Beth Kanter
- NTEN 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference by TechSoup
- Storytelling Tips from the Pros at @12NTC by Debra Askanase
Check out the large versions of each image over on the rally.org blog. I tried to get them to cover my gaming for good session, but no luck this year. Maybe we’ll wow them enough to have them cover us next time J
If you attended NTC in person or virtually what did you learn? What was you one takeaway?