By Keisha Taylor, Communications Manager, GuideStar International. This post was originally posted on the TechSoup blog.
With over 2000 attendees NTEN’s NTC conference was abuzz with lots of exhibitions displaying technology on offer as well as workshops and side events (which even included free massages provided by PICnet!). It provided a great opportunity for the American nonprofit sector to engage with the technology sector, as well as each other, to improve the use of technology for social benefit.
TechSoup Global had an exhibition at the Science Fair and many nonprofits in attendance expressed thanks for donations they received from our donor partners through TechSoup, while others asked for more information on what they needed to do to receive them.
- TechSoup’s Elliot Harmon hosted a great workshop titled The Future of the Map, which discussed the use of geographic information systems (GIS) by the sector with demonstrations by representatives of Ushahadi and Geocommons.
- TechSoup Global’s Claire Sale hosted a Community Organizers workshop to discuss NetSquared and the issues faced when community organizing.
- Susan Tenby also of TechSoup convened the Happy Hour with TechSoup and the Nonprofits in Second Life volunteers at the event.
- Additionally, The International Nonprofit Organizations session hosted by Shai Coggins of Connecting Up Australia, (the TechSoup Australian partner) was a great opportunity for international nonprofits and U.S. sector engaged in work internationally to meet and discuss their work.
However, there were also practical workshops. For instance, the We are Media Workshop that I attended provided very practical and useful tips on how to create videos, while the Popcorn and WebMadeMovies: Taking Your Videos Beyond YouTube (11NTCwebvideo) also shed light on innovative uses of video in the sector. Workshops like Technology in Times of Disaster provided some information on the technology being used to respond to relief efforts — notably by the American Red Cross and Don’t Worry be h-API examined the various application programming interfaces (APIs) being used in the nonprofit and for profit sectors.
Other interesting workshops included: What Is Cloud Computing and Is It Right for My Nonprofit Organization? (11NTCCLOUD), Mobile Invasion: Which Mobile Strategies are Really Working Today (11NTCMobileInvasion), Data Don’t Have to Be Boring: Make Your Case with Compelling Facts (11NTCData), and A Storyteller’s Toolkit – 5,000 Years in the Making (11NTCstory). Google also took the opportunity to launch their Google for Nonprofits at the event.
The sessions are too many to mention in one blog post, but some of the notes and presentations have been made available online (click here for a link to all the sessions and keep checking the NTEN website as more presentations are uploaded). The network was also overwhelmed and Internet became virtually nonexistent so there was limited opportunity to tweet or to follow more information using the #2011NTC hashtag during the session.
As someone that works for a U.S.-based technology nonprofit, but isn’t American and is based outside of the U.S. my first attendance at NTC provided some additional, unique and valuable lessons about how technology is being used by many in the U.S. nonprofit sector. It also shed light on the need for nonprofits throughout the world to use technology to interact with the vast, diverse and very mature American nonprofit sector (which includes both the large and the very small nonprofits) as well as those beyond American shores. Doing so will enable all civil society organizations to continue learning and consequently improve their service to the public.
I went back to London with renewed ideas for my work but also some practical tips, which I hope will help me be able to implement them.