Geeking Out about the 2013 Nonprofit Technology Conference

Geek out with us at the 1023 Nonprofit Technology ConferenceTo “geek out”:

To become enthralled by a subject that is considered by many to be geek-favorable. This includes comics, books, technology, etc. ~ Urban Dictionary

To temporarily enter techno-nerd mode while in a non-hackish context, or example at parties held near computer equipment. ~ The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing

I don’t know about you, but for us, a couple thousand nonprofit professionals passionate about creating change through technology gathering in one place for three days to learn, share knowledge and schmooze sounds like a seriously good time.

In one short month a few of us from VolunteerMatch will be heading to the 2013 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), hosted by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). And how appropriate that this year’s event is being held in Minneapolis, Minn., which just happens to hold the distinction of the highest volunteering rate in the country – for the past two years straight.

At this year’s conference we’re looking forward to talking with folks just like you from all over the country to hear about technology needs, the challenges and triumphs of running a nonprofit in today’s multi-platform, multi-technical world, and how volunteers can make an impact both internally and externally when it comes to nonprofit technology.

We’ll also be speaking at a few sessions. Check them out below:

Will you be at the NTC this year? Let us know, and we’ll grab coffee!

Sometimes time and budget just don’t allow for these types of events – we get it, and so does NTEN. If you can’t make it to the NTC this year, you should definitely check out the Online NTC, a great way to follow along with all the action from the comfort of your office or home.

Either way, come geek out with us!

Help Us Represent You at SXSW and NTC

Vote for volunteering at this year's conferencesWouldn’t it be awesome if volunteering and volunteer engagement were on the lips – and in the Powerpoint slides – of folks at two of the biggest social change conferences in the country?

Help us make this vision a reality! We’ve submitted session proposals to South by Southwest (SXSW) and the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC). Both are premier events bringing together technology leaders and innovators in the social good space.

Here’s where you come in: You can help us by simply voting for the sessions below. It’s fast and easy (for SXSW you’ll need to create a quick free login,) so it will take you less than five minutes to make a real impact on the volunteer engagement field. Vote for these sessions now!


Social Good Smackdown: Online vs. Offline Impact

What’s better: 10,000 Facebook Likes or a group of dedicated volunteers? Join VolunteerMatch and Network for Good for a American Idol-style smackdown!

Under the Social Good Hood: Staying Power to Last

It’s easy to start a “social good” platform, right? Sure – anyone can do it! But how many “markets for good” like VolunteerMatch have lasted? Why not? Hear from a panel with Network for Good, VolunteerMatch, GlobalGiving, and TechSoup Global.

Back to the Future: Why Old CSR Trends are Hot Now

Here’s a dirty little secret: The latest craze of involving employees in your company’s social good efforts is something smart companies have done for years – and technology continues to make it easier and more effective. VolunteerMatch and Discovery Communications (producers of Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, etc.) will share the journey toward effective employee engagement.


How Many Rungs? Social Change and the Expanding Engagement Ladder

Slacktivism versus real engagement is a false dichotomy – it’s all “good”. But if new technologies are adding more rungs to a ladder of engagement in the form of sharing, viral promotions, microvolunteering and micro-giving, is there a clear way to make sense of it all?

nptech FAIL: How to crash and burn and turn it into a win

We’ve all been there, dealing with the frustration, embarrassment and worry that come with a failed program. As #nptech leaders, however, it’s important to see these failures for what they really are: opportunities. Join VolunteerMatch, Points of Light and Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Online Communities as a Recruitment Tool: The New Phase of Volunteer Engagement

Last year VolunteerMatch adopted Get Satisfaction to provide online help for users… and to build community. 2,068 users later, hear from community managers what lessons other organizations can learn about using online support platforms to find and connect with new volunteer audiences and spread awareness in new ways. Vote for these sessions now!

Social Media and the 3 Rs: Content Strategy Basics for Engaging Volunteers

It’s hard to find guidance on using social media to succeed within the “3 Rs” of involving volunteers. In this session, we’ll tackle social media and volunteer engagement as a content challenge, exploring the building blocks of using social content to find, recruit and re-engage the time and talent of volunteers.

Secrets of the Content Marketing Sorcerers

Done well, content marketing has the magical power to pull new supporters toward you, change conversations, deliver services to your audiences, and generate lasting brand awareness for your organization. In this session you’ll discover the powerful alchemy of social media and content marketing.

Help us represent you at the biggest conferences of the year by voting for these sessions!

VolunteerMatch Welcomes Premal Shah to Our Board of Directors

This article also appears on Volunteering is CSR.

VolunteerMatch is a lot of things, all at once. We’re a social enterprise, a web service, a volunteer engagement network, and a nonprofit. With so many facets to our organization, having a great board of directors is a hugely important way for us to stay focused on our mission.

This month we’re pleased to announce the addition of an exceptional leader in nonprofit technology to our board: Premal Shah.

Premal ShahAs President of Kiva, the award-winning nonprofit lending platform, Premal brings deep experience in nonprofit management, leadership and governance to our team, as well as outstanding perspective on using emerging technology to make a difference.

Premal started working on the idea while working at PayPal in late 2004, and eventually quit his job at PayPal to help bring the Kiva concept to life. For his work in micro-finance Premal was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and selected to FORTUNE magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” list.

Premal’s arrival actually completes a trifecta of terrific recent additions to the VolunteerMatch board, including Holly Ross and Meg Garlinghouse:

Holly RossHolly Ross is well known in the nonprofit sector as the Executive Director at NTEN, the leading membership organization for nonprofit professionals and technology. Holly has been recognized four times by the Nonprofit Times Power and Influence Top 50 list, including most recently in 2012, and she is a leading voice for awareness and adoption of technology to make the world a better place.

Holly is equally ubiquitous at NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference, where thousands of nonprofit professionals gather each year to learn about technology trends, as in print, where Holly has written influential books and articles that have helped shape our understanding of technology for social good.

Meg GarlinghouseMeg Garlinghouse is Head of Social Impact at Linkedin, and a twenty-year veteran at the intersection of causes and corporations. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Meg spent more than nine years in a senior role overseeing Yahoo! for Good, the internet company’s community involvement and social good initiative.

Today Meg is a passionate advocate for nonprofits and volunteering at the world’s leading social network for professionals, and a frequent public speaker on trends in CSR, employee volunteer engagement, and professional development. In addition to her new role at VolunteerMatch, Meg is also a board member for Network For Good.

Welcome, Premal – and thank you, all three, for your support of our work!

7 Thoughtful Take-Aways from My #12NTC

An event like the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference is a big deal for an organization like VolunteerMatch. Despite the large audiences we serve, we’re still a pretty small office, and the number of us on the team who are lucky enough to get out and actually meet the nonprofits we help is smaller still.

With #12NTC held in our own backyard this year, we were fortunate to bring six of us out to the Union Square Hilton, and thank goodness. The math of three days of nonprofits, technology and 1,800 attendees meant a pretty pooped set of VolunteerMatchers by the end of the conference. And of course, our regular chores didn’t exactly disappear while we were out. (I’m still following up on emails that stacked up during #12NTC. So if I owe you a note or a call, bear with me!)

But once again, this is a conference that’s worth it. In terms of sharing, learning, making new friends and reconnecting with the spirit of our work, #12NTC hit the spot.

Here are a few things I learned at 12NTC:

1. Viz is the biz.

Helped along by the inspired placement of Dan Roam’s awesome Blah Blah Blah book in the conference tote bag, no topic at #12NTC was hotter than visualization. Call it the Pinterest effect, but everyone was talking about tools and trends for storytelling and reporting via images. Curation, sharing, pinning, and even digital rights were all the rage, and it’s clear that the smart money is on a future where constituents aren’t expected to do much long form reading.

Viz popularity is also a big reason why NTC Ignite sessions are so popular.

2. We all have a role to play.

#12NTC isn’t produced by slick brands with big budgets. While our friends at the organizer NTEN do a great job bringing everyone together, being inclusive and providing a framework for a great couple of days, they can’t do it all. As NTC grows each year, it’s even more important that side-line events, sponsors, planners, volunteers and note takers all get actively involved.

For our part, we threw a party on the eve of the conference’s first night. With 250 folks coming in, clearly there was a need for an organized event on the front-end of #12NTC. We were glad to step up, along with our co-sponsors.

3. We’re getting better with our tech – because we have no choice.

Nonprofit tech used to be a backwater… not anymore. Today, every effective nonprofit is also proficient with technology. It’s the only way we can reach our audiences, engage and inspire supporters, and deliver services.

In my field, communications, the number of tools we have to juggle is crazy. According to a Communicopia report, [PDF] the typical smaller nonprofit digital team manages an average of 12 web properties (a website, a blog, accounts at Flickr, Facebook, Linkedin, wikis, etc.)

4. Email isn’t going anywhere.

Social media may be exploding, but the chorus of expert voices warning nonprofits not to abandon email as the main engagement channel for volunteers and donors is just getting louder. Organizations need to learn how to use it effectively at nearly every step towards success.

5. The volunteer-fundraising divide is still a broad chasm.

Giving time, giving money. In both cases supporters are giving resources to a nonprofit. Once again at NTC, I saw no deeply integrated systems or ideas for recruiting and managing supporters in both areas, and I met lots of development staff and volunteer coordinators who are worlds apart in their approaches and budgets.

Some of the online social fundraising platforms like Fundly, Razoo and Causes are helping the field to close that gap — to think of social fundraising as a kind of volunteering — but this is still a work in progress.

6. The shadow conference only grows.

Each year, it seems like more and more of NTC takes place outside of the sessions. This year, the hotel lobby seemed to be rocking with nonprofit technology industry insiders meeting and greeting, but generally ignoring the good stuff going on inside.

To an outsider, it may appear as if these folks already know what’s going on in the Nonprofit Technology world. Sadly, this group is missing the great stuff that’s going on inside, while the tech revolution continues to evolve and change under their very noses. It’s easy to miss change when it happens.

7. The debate about innovation is raging.

Our CEO, Greg Baldwin, joined Meg Garlinghouse, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, and Brian Reich in conversation with Beth Kanter about innovaton at nonprofits. While Reich argued that few NPOs are doing truly innovative things — otherwise, wouldn’t more problems be getting solved? — a big chunk of the tweeting audience in the room called double standard on the critique. Others said it was a good reminder whether we should be pursuing innovation at all at the expense of incremental gain in efficiency and scale.

A week later, TechSoup’s Co-CEO Daniel Ben Horin published this interesting article about the debate.

These are just my thoughts… I’ve pulled together a fun list of other folks’ recasts on the conference to give you a clearer picture:

We’re Super Excited for the Nonprofit Technology Conference

And we just can't hide it!

And we just can't hide it!

It’s T-11 days until the year’s most important event in the #nptech world: The Nonprofit Technology Conference.

The “NTC,” as it’s called, is hosted by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) and brings together nonprofit professionals from around the world to talk about how technology can be utilized by organizations working to change the world. This year it will take place April 3-5 in our hometown of San Francisco.

For the team at VolunteerMatch, it’s an exciting opportunity for us to share what we know with, and learn from, the nonprofits we serve throughout the year. Whether you recruit volunteers using our online tools, increase your knowledge using our free webinars, or connect with other members of the community on our Community Powered Support page, technology plays a role in your relationship with us. And we want to make sure that relationship is a great one.

There are several ways you can run into us at the NTC this year. Check out the awesome events below, and make sure that you add them to your schedule so we can geek out over technology and volunteer engagement together:

#NTCSFParty, hosted by VolunteerMatch

Join us the night before the conference (4/2) at a party we are throwing to welcome you to the Bay Area. Network with other nonprofits, including our friends Causes, CivicActions, Social Media for Nonprofits and LinkedIn for Good. Check out award-winning co-working facility The Hub SOMA, eat and drink treats from the Bay Area, soundtrack provided by a talented VolunteerMatch staff DJ. Click here to RSVP before it fills up!

NTC Day of Service

This year we worked with NTEN to make the Day of Service an impactful dive into the San Francisco social good scene. In fact, it’s no longer just one day – this year, the opportunities to volunteer extend throughout the conference. So check out the available listings and sign up to make a difference at the NTC this year.

It’s Alive! Tools to Piece Together Your Volunteer Engagement Frankenstein (#12NTCfrank)

There is a dizzying array of tools out there that you could use for volunteer engagement. How do you decide which technologies are right for your program? This session, led by yours truly, will provide an overview of the what’s out there, present concrete examples of how organizations are using technology for volunteer engagement, and have you walking away with ideas for what to do tomorrow to implement some best practices. Sign up now!

Prepping Your Program for the Pro Bono Tech Volunteer (#12NTCprobono)

Wish you had some great pro bono tech help? There are plenty of techies and companies out there looking to volunteer for nonprofits. This panel, led by VolunteerMatch VP of Communications & Marketing Robert Rosenthal will outline how you can be a great pro bono partner for techies, agencies and companies. Sign up now!

Become a Recruiting Wizard: Find Volunteers Online with VolunteerMatch! (#12NTCWiz)

Nonprofits are often cash- and people-strapped, and volunteers can be the answer to both. VolunteerMatch recently launched a new Listing Wizard to help you identify and communicate the skills you need to effectively involve volunteers in your mission. Learn about the new, easier process, and come away with best practices for successfully integrating skilled volunteering into your volunteer engagement strategy. Sign up now!

Not able to make it to the NTC this year? You can follow along with most of it by registering for the Online NTC.

Are you going to the NTC this year? Let us know and we’ll meet up!