Today was the April 501 Tech Club brown bag lunch event and we focused on some of the best parts of NTEN’s NTC which took place last month.

It was a great chance to talk between conference goers about highlights and questions and even more exciting to have folks who hadn’t been to the conference ask questions to start conversations. Some of the areas that we touched on include:

  • Leadership: Technology staff have a great opportunity for developing leadership skills and helping navigate the organization, with technology-related issues as well as non-technology-related issues. It strengthens the organization to have technology staff a part of the leadership team. Likewise, it is incredibly important for execitve directors to gain technology knowledge so that when new, shiny, tools/toys come out (which seems to happen every day!), there is an understanding of what the organization can and can’t adopt and how.
  • ROI (Return on Investment): Specifically that of Social ROI, for social media, is a growing body of thought and practice with lots of conversations about different ways to measure social media work that doesn’t relate specifically to fundraising dollars. The most prominent component of social media is the community building and conversational nature of the tools, so the development of ways to measure and evaluate your organization’s use of these tools is integral.
  • Social Media Adoption: I was part of or overheard many conversations reinforcing the idea that organization’s can’t, and don’t have the staff/time/support/money, to adopt every tool that comes out. Instead, campaigns and projects need to be designed around the organization’s missions and then appropriate technology can be used when it is appropriate.
  • Communities of Practice: It was interesting to see puddles of people form because of common job functions and experiences that transcended session tracks or table topics. Groups like IT directors, peer-to-peer fundraisers, and non-technical staff that manage or work with online tools in their campaigns. It was great seeing the offline communities form with people who only knew each other online or through other friends. It is very important for people to build their support community because so many of us work in situations where we are the only IT staff person and it can be a lonely position.
  • Vendors: Many people enjoyed the opportunity to meet with and talk to vendor company representatives IN PERSON. Shaking the hand of someone from PayPal or Salesforce really changed the faceless, distant organization to companies with human employees that nonprofits can connect with.
  • Mobiles: A constantly growing field in the nonprofit technology world is that of mobile technology and the changing opportunities for nonprofits leveraging the power mobiles hold for reaching out to communities in need and in crisis. It is a great field to watch, and if you are interested in learning more about mobile technology, Mobile Active is an awesome organization to check out.

If you are interested in attending the next 501 Tech Club meeting in Portland, it is May 28th from 1-2:30 at the NW Health Foundation. We will focus on ‘Storytelling in Crises’ with a presentation from Roger Burks of Mercy Corps. You can find out more and join the community online at http://groups.nten.org.

501 Tech Club – Conversations from the NTC
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