Monday, April 19, 2010

My more formal notes from #10ntc

#10ntc is the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN. These are my short, more formal notes.  This in no way covers the new people that I met, old friends I connected with, vendors I discovered, laughs I had and doesnt do justice to the Awesome-Sauce that the NTEN community is.  Maybe that will be my next post.

Summary of YMCA Day - April 8

Group of about 10 YMCA staff gathered and did a round robin of sharing projects they are working on.  The range of projects was from Sharepoint and websites to underwater pool safety cameras and video conferencing.  The group was excited to share and connect with other YMCA staff responsible for technology.

My biggest learning from the YMCA day was that we need to find a better way to stay connected with what other YMCAs are working on in order to not duplicate efforts and share learnings. Also that there is some sense of wanting to share tools and resources across tech staff but they meet resistance from leadership back at their centers.

There was a lot of mentions of YMCAs growing their use of Sharepoint as an intranet, document management and communication tool. However one of the more interesting side notes about intranets and websites was a debate/conversation about who owns it (Marketing, IT, Finance, Operations or ?).  YMCAs also seem to still be facing some of the struggles of centralizing IT and mixing it with operations as they grow and add centers.

Overall NTEN conference summary - April 9-10

The conference did not have a central theme, but if I had to pick one for what I learned it would be "rethink what drives your strategy."  

Your online engagement strategy should be 90% story, 10% technology. Find your audiences and adapt to where they are. GEORGE WEINER, Do Something <@georgecaweiner>

Our social media policy in 140 characters: Be transparent. Be responsible. Be Non-Partisan. Be Trained. Be Responsive. TAMMY GORDON, AARP <@AARP>

People don’t hate change. They hate disruption. PETER CAMPBELL, Techcafeteria <@peterscampbell>

For example one of the keynotes, Andrew Sullivan, suggested that people connect with another person online, not an organization or company. So your communications and web approach should walk the line of official org messages versus messages from individuals from within the org.  So this would make you question what drives your communication strategy to leverage those personalities within your org.

Another example is more specifically in the website strategy.  In order to have a full online presence strategy you need to include a large group of people.  Like Marketing for messages, IT for tools, program staff for content, operations for process, fundraising for philanthropy, and so on. But the key here is to change what drives the meetings, spend time talking about what we want to accomplish, what we want our audiences to do and what our audiences are interested in at the big group meetings.  Then let the decision makers that have been given the authority make it happen (IT, Marketing, etc). But those roles and that web strategy planning process has the be clearly defined so that while big and inclusive it still allows room for things to move fast and well.

Another example is around how we tell our stories of impact.  Right now we simply state that an event happened, maybe tell an anecdote and some stats, but it isnt a story.  If we want to change our stories to get people to act, then we need to rethink how and why we write stories. A story needs background, a conflict with resolution, a heartfelt connection and an easy to grasp message that ends with a call to action. We dont have a culture that creates and shares full stories, we focus on the outcome and miss the struggle and end with call to action. We need to change why we write stories and provide a better structure to those who are expected to write them.

General Conference thoughts

Combined Communications strategy - Lots of talk about social media, social networking, web 2.0 and sooo many tools, but the theme this year was to have a strategy that drives it all. Stop picking a tool then a strategy for that tool, rather have a central plan for what you want to say, who you want to converse with, what you want to hear and what you want people to do.  The tools like Facebook, MySpace, etc will keep changing, so set the strategy not the tool.

More interaction with audience - stop talking to people and have conversations with them. Heard this in social media sessions, website strategy and communications areas. People dont want to be talked to from an org. They want to have a conversation with a person.

New ways to educate audience - games, mobile devices, e-learning and more ideas are coming up that arent broadcast methods, rather they are ways to interact with a purpose.

Session notes:

Create a Culture of Storytelling 
(1 set of slides at
Stories have to come from your heart before they will go to people's heads. Dont tell stories that you arent so excited about that you run home to tell friends & family about it. Storytelling is weaved throughout ALL messages, pages and sites. Stories don’t belong solely on about us area. We need a writer on staff to drive this process and culture! It is good, actually encouraged to repeat a point across stories, can take 7 plus times before somebody remembers something. Seize opportunities–when feedback is asked for on another site about your cause, push your supporters to go and give it! Social media for non profits is just as much about listening as it is about sharing your mission.  Pick the words you want to use or not use! Are they victims or survivors (as an example). 
Making it Real: Getting Project Management Right for Content Management Web Projects
A central website strategy tied to a communications plan is needed for a successful website implementation and CMS project. A clear owner of the website strategy is needed, but has to be supported by a full representation of the organization. Stressed importance of content gathering to start early in the process to enable a better site map and navigation. Group debated whether to start or end with web design. On one hand people love to see the graphics and the visuals but on the other we loose sight of the message when focusing on details of design.  The purpose of the website should drive design in the end, but people clamour to see the structure. So providing early and frequent glimpses through sitemaps and wireframes are critical so people can see what you are talking about. They walked through steps of I was hoping to get more project management tips from this session, but it went offtrack and got too simple.

Secrets of Landing Page Testing: How to Optimize PPC to Convert More Donors, Activists, and Email Subscribers 
Really focused on use of combination Google Optimizer and Analytics to test the effectiveness of your website efforts and conversions. Landing pages are becoming even more important because search results and web campaigns aren't taking you to home pages any longer. Discussed how to do some A-B testing and how to evaluate the results.
Forget the Tech, Lets Talk Mission (IT Alignment materials Click HERE)
I presented this session with John Merritt from the San Diego YMCA.  Two organizations provided us sample strategic plans and supporting information.  We did several group exercises to try to demonstrate some tactical and strategic ways to move IT from being reactive to working toward the mission. It was great to be able to talk through some of challenges and objections people face, then work through ideas to make a difference.

Social Media's Potential for Faith Based Communities
I also presented at this session. It was interesting to debate through how allowing people to connect personally to church leaders may cause challenges of separation between leaders and members. The debate really brought to light the need for a purposeful discussion around the organizations versus individual voices. We also really highlighted the opportunities in social media for education around delicate or private topics. E-learning and resources are more readily shared in today's social media structure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thanks to Microsoft and Google! Where is Apple?

Based on the title you may be jumping to a bunch of conclusions, like, oh here goes Steve bashing iPhones and iTunes again just cuz he likes his Android device, but you are wrong.

I just spent the last few days at the Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN in Atlanta. And one of the Diamond Sponsors (highest level) has been Microsoft for quite a few years, along with Blackbaud.  I applaud their involvement and support! Plus Google did have some involvement, they had a booth, ran some sessions, etc.  Plus they do have some great nonprofit programs like YouTube nonprofit channels.

So where is Apple in all of this? At the conference iPhones were everywhere, vendors were flinging around free iPads like they were candy and little bitten apples were glowing on Mac books on tables.

But again, where is Apple in all of this? No sponsorships, no involvement, no nonprofit programs? Or am I just totally missing the boat?

Friday, April 9, 2010

When Tech takes over! Beware.

I am at the nonprofit technology conference in Atlanta hosted by NTEN, it is my annual dose of information and inspiration to refill the my NPTech well. Last night I did an ignite presentation and had a lot of fun. (Ignite is 20 slides, 15 seconds each and you just have to keep up with the auto slide).

I did this mostly for fun, but ended up having one of those moments where something just becomes so clear that it shocks you a little. The point was to watch out how we talk about technology, because what we say isnt what people hear.

Stop involving and informing your stakeholders in technology, rather you should be involved and informed with them.

Dont try to get people on the side of technology. You should be on their side and have a strong enough relationship with your organization so that the technology becomes almost invisible and everyone sees the mission value of it.

Anyway,here is that video, enjoy. (sorry if the quality is weird, filmed on a flip).