This year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington DC was by far the biggest event we’ve ever had with over 2,000 attendees, plus many others who participated through the Online NTC. In addition to the many opportunities for learning, I particularly enjoyed connecting with many nonprofit colleagues from around the country, some which I had only previously met through email or phone.
These are some sessions I found especially rewarding (with Twitter hashtags):
- Opening Plenary, featuring Dan Heath, co-author of Switch (#11NTCSwitch) – I’ve always been fascinated with how change affects our lives; Dan clearly demonstrated how we can learn to welcome change rather than to fear it. His advice that we analyze our successes instead of our problems and ‘do more of what is working’ is also consistent with my life philosophy of looking for the good. This is particularly relevant at our nonprofit organizations, which are almost always changing.
- E-mail Design Workshop – Don’t Let Bad E-mail Code Ruin Your Day or Your Results (#11NTCemail) Shana Masterson and Sean Powell provided an eye opening look at how we can prepare emails that will look good on whatever device or browser our constituents use to view them. Sadly, Shana recommended that we give up working in WYSIWYG, as many email programs provide, and stay with HTML for the best results. Emailonacid was mentioned as a good way to preview emails and test deliverability. Unfortunately, email design is very different from web design and can’t fully utilize common web technologies such as CSS (cascading style sheets).
- Secrets of the Engagement Pyramid (#11NTCeng) presented by Karen Uffelman and Eric Magnuson, featured an interesting approach to evaluating the engagement level of our constituents, and how we can move them to higher levels to commitment. As many nonprofits are learning, social media followers may or may not become more involved with our organizations. But those who take advocacy actions are strong donor prospects (and vice versa).
- Not convinced that segmentation yields better results? In Scientist in Your Communications Department: Segmenting Messages, Customizing Content, and Delivering Results. (#11NTCsegmt). Jeff Schuck used the success of sites such as Amazon and Netflix to provide customized recommendations based on its knowledge of user preferences. The simplest way to get started? Separate your donors from non-donors, and prepare different content for each. I asked why so many nonprofits struggle with targeting groups of constituents; Jeff replied that many organizations keep data in too many places. Another point: it’s much easier to get a donor to increase their gift than to get someone to donate for the first time.
- Marketing gurus Kivi Leroux Miller and Nancy Schwartz led the session on Weaving Your Marketing Loose Ends into a Strong, Tight, Powerful Plan (#11NTCweave), which demonstrated the importance of developing a marketing plan template as well as doing a communications audit to insure that your communications are consistent across channels. Nonprofit marketers Tara Collins and Karen Secular also shared their experiences in managing the sometimes difficult balance between development and communications, showing why it’s so critical that these departments work together to build relationships with constituents
- In The Social Website: Integrating Social Media into Website Design and Function (#11NTCSocsite), Debra Askanase and Seth Giammanco discussed many websites which use a variety of techniques to engage visitors using social media links – view the slides for details. They then challenged us to develop ideas for a fictional nonprofit which wanted to do the same.
Notes from these and other sessions are all publicly available, as are recordings of several of the presentations. Also download these newly released reports,: e2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study (#11NTCbenchmarks) and the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report (#11NTCBench), which I will analyze further in my next blog post.
Kudos to Holly Ross who, together with her Nten staff, put together such a wonderful event. Kudos also to my friend Peter Campbell who received special recognition, those who won the NTENny awards (which I helped to present) and to those nonprofits who produced winning videos. If you couldn’t join us in DC, hope to see you in San Francisco next year.