Non-Profit Technology Conference: A Review
by Zadra Rose Ibañez, Director of Operations
The Institute for Educational Advancement was honored to be awarded a grant from the Annenberg Foundation to participate in the 2019 cohort of Alchemy Tech, a pilot program developed in partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN,) that is focused exclusively on technology capacity building for nonprofits in Los Angeles County. The kickoff to the program began with attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) hosted by NTEN.
LOCATION AND VENUE
Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center, March 13-15, 2019
Having never been to Portland, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the downtown area is. The transit system makes getting around very easy, and almost everything I needed was within walking distance. There is no shortage of places to eat; from fine-dining to quick on-the-go meals, downtown Portland has something for everyone. (BlueStar donuts, anyone?)
The conference ran for three days, and each day there were at least three sessions. There were over 130 topics to choose from, grouped by categories: IT, Fundraising, Leadership, Marketing/Communications, and Program, in addition to the keynotes and vendor presentations. In the main hall, there were over 100 vendors and suppliers ready to answer questions about various platforms and services. I definitely experienced information overload, but every session I attended gave me new insights and ideas into how to apply technology to our Pasadena-based organization.
The conference is centered around technology, so it would stand to reason that technology would play a huge part in the delivery of information. An app allowed you to see the complete schedule of events, and by marking your favorites, create a mini vetted itinerary for yourself. In addition, either through the app or through a web browser, attendees were able to view notes provided for each session and contribute note-taking to the collaborative platform. After the conference concluded, speakers’ slide decks were also made available through the portal.
Unfortunately, as many offerings as there were, one could only choose one topic per time slot to participate in. Perhaps future technology will allow for time-travel, cloning, or parallel-universe existence, but I did not have access to those this year.
Instead, I tried to attend sessions in various categories, sort of a “survey / 101” approach. As IEA is migrating to a new database this year, I learned key concepts around migrating data and keeping it clean, best-practices for implementing those changes, and specific questions to ask the team about goals and focus areas. I learned about various integrative delivery methods for deep content, such as the report on the Poll Results on Gifted Education going live this month. I attended sessions on succession-planning; mapping digital ecosystems; how to have effective project management from a staff resources, as well as,
a platform and reporting structure viewpoint; how to reach target audiences through crowdfunding and peer to peer networking; and even tools and tricks for creating an efficient and user-friendly financial dashboard that key stakeholders (board members, staff, foundations) can utilize with minimal time requirements.
In addition to the actual conference, attendees arranged for various get-togethers and tours around the city each day. The conference hosted a party at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Thursday night, and key sponsors of the event (Microsoft and EveryAction) hosted mixers at the Convention Center.
Finally, the conference provided excellent networking opportunities with fellow cohort members of the Annenberg Alchemy Tech program, NTEN employees, speakers and vendors, and fellow attendees who found each other through the “Birds of a Feather” lunch tables coordinated by the event.
The experience was eye-opening and incredibly valuable, and our team is already implementing strategies and projects inspired by the event. Look for announcements from IEA in the coming months regarding new platforms and technology, as we grow into the next phase of our development!
The 2020 NTC will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD, March 24 -26.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
https://annenberg.org/what-we-do/alchemy/alchemy-tech/ https://www.nten.org/ntc/program/agenda/?page=day-2 https://www.oregoncc.org/ https://omsi.edu/