The NTEN (National Technology Network) annual conference wound up earlier this spring in Washington DC, and the focus was on building relations through and beyond social media. The NTEN website offers access to videos of the conference keynote addresses, and a number of from the participants.
Because no one formula for building a network of contributors and actors exists, a nonprofit must be ready to draw from a number of sources and to build a model that meets its own needs. Conferences like the one hosted by NTEN (and to be held in San Francisco next April 3-5) provide a wealth of tools, blueprints, and – most importantly – people. We want to share a couple of highlights that we garnered from the materials covered.
Two presentations caught our eyes because they seemed rather counter intuitive to the mission of the NTEN conference. First, Judi Sohn, an independent consultant, discussed the making of a bucket list for your organization. My first thought, given the economic climate of the last 2-plus years, was ‘What your organization should do if facing bankruptcy’.
Instead, she defined her list this way: “I have a list, updated and refined every year, of those people and companies that I want to work with at least once before I die. I mean ‘do something else with my career.’ No timeline. No pressure. When the time is right, the stars will align. But you won’t know that the opportunity is in front of you unless you declare the intention, even if it’s just to yourself or your closest colleagues.”
That bucket list becomes the frame for the action: Who do you want to meet at said company or philanthropy? How will you gain that person’s attention? What project do you want to be a part of and how will you attach your organization to it? And action is what is required for any list.
Then there was Aaron Pava’s ‘‘ talk enticingly entitled “NonProfit Technology Is Not Good Technology.” Ignite talks at NTEN allow presenters 5 minutes to talk to an audience with a presentation of 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. I am pointing out the features of the format because Aaron’s presentation gives us a two-fer: we hear an interesting talk about how much of the technology nonprofits think they need is not good technology – and we get to see an effective slide presentation that avoids bullet points yet keeps the audience focused on the essentials.
Aaron posted his talk online and we are happy to embed it here.
Both presentations remind us that technology is a means, not an end. How might your organization trim its technology while boosting the effectiveness of what it continues to use?