As I wrote this post on the flight back from my third NTEN Conference I know I felt similar to many of the other 1,600 “NPTechies” (Nonprofit Techies) who are leaving San Francisco. Our brains our packed with ideas and inspiration for how to do our jobs better, our social networks are a little richer because of the new relationships we have forged, and our hearts are full with the comradeship of being with so many people that share our passion and perspective for the role of technology in work promoting the social good. I know work in the nonprofit sector is serious and sometimes tough business. Good feelings and Facebook friends will not solely allow an organization to fulfill its goals or balance a budget, but in a time when technology staffs are particularly stressed, the NTEN Conference allows many of us an invaluable opportunity to recharge our spirits. So, allow me this chance to glow in the softer side of nonprofit technology and share some of my favorite moments of the 2009 NTEN Conference.
This was the first year I was able to participate in the Day of Service, a pre-conference volunteer event allowing technologist from all over the country to contribute to the city that is hosting the conference by sharing their expertise with local nonprofit organizations. Some people work one-on-one with organizations consulting on anything from technology budgeting to online social media strategy. I joined a group project installing a mesh wireless network on Treasure Island, a community in San Francisco which is home to many low income families many of who were previously homeless. Cisco sponsored the project and provided the hardware for the network. The city coordinator summed it up best at the end of the project, “Because of the work we have done, kids in this community will no longer have an excuse for not being able to do their homework online.”
When the conference formally kicked off on Monday morning, attendees were treated to a fantastic pre-recorded dance performance of Beyonce’s “Put a Ring on It” by NTEN’s Executive Director, Holly Ross. This treat was our reward for meeting the fundraising goal for the NTEN Conference sponsorship which allowed dozens of people to attend who would otherwise not been able to attend. I was additionally proud of Convio’s matching gift involvement in this effort. Holly’s commitment to NTEN was fully expressed in her dancing, matched perhaps only by her passionate and emotional thank you to the community during her closing remarks on the last day of the conference. We are all lucky to have her at the helm of NTEN.
Another personal favorite moment of mine was co-presenting in the “Nonprofit Radio: How to use Podcasting to Engage Your Constituents and Build Your Brand” session with Chad Norman of the Baudcast. Presenting to an engaged, overflowing into the hallway crowd, Chad and I shared our experience and examples of how nonprofits can use and produce podcasts. As competitive as Convio and Blackbaud are in the marketplace, this session was just another example of the atmosphere of individual collaborative that permeates the NTEN Conference. If you’re curious to learn more about what we covered in this session, check out the amazing notes that Amy Sample Ward covered live and posted on her blog.
I call NTEN a summer camp for Nonprofit Techies because of how it uniquely calls people in our profession together. The only complaints I ever hear from attendees are that it ends too soon and there are just too many quality people and sessions to catch while it is occurring. We will continue our conversations online with @ Twitter replies and Facebook wall posts, in blogs, podcasts, and webinars. We will continue to innovate in our communities and organizations and we will all look forward to gathering around the campfire again next year in Atlanta, GA for NTC 2010!
Photo Credits: SteveLavo (Flickr)