Lessons from the Nonprofit Technology Conference
The Nonprofit Technology Conference, which I was lucky to attend (and present at) again this year, is focused on how nonprofits and other leaders of social change can use technology to make our world a better place. Here's a quick round-up of the conference sessions I attended.
An "Ignite Presentation" lasts five minutes. Only 20 slides are allowed, and they advance automatically every 15 seconds—no stopping, stalling, or starting over allowed. The presenters shared some enlightening, hilarious stories on this year’s theme: “My ______ Fail Story.”
The winner of this year’s “Most Animated GIFs Used in 5 Minutes Award" went to Mark Fisher from the American Heart Association, who had me in stitches telling a story about an eight-hour interview that went all kinds of wrong.
Proving ROI: Quantitative and Qualitative Measures of a Successful Digital Campaign
Because nonprofits measure by impact on their mission—and not by product sales—analyzing ROI can be a challenge.
In my first session of the conference, Leah (ForumOne) and Devon (CARTO) talked about how nonprofits can use the "theory of change" to measure their ROI. This means starting with the impact you want to have on the world and then working backward to track the inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes that lead to that impact.
To illustrate their point, Leah and Devon illustrated a campaign for She Should Run, a nonprofit focused on getting more women to run for public office. We saw how they used conversion rates and other metrics to understand that the campaign was, indeed, successful.
How Nonprofits Can be Part of the Podcasting Renaissance
I’m a podcast devotee. And when our CEO and I were invited to speak on a podcast recently, I totally bought into the idea that I could produce one. Admittedly, I have no idea how to actually do that, so I was thrilled to find this session waiting for me in the NTC agenda.
Will (Acquifer Media), Juanita (PatiPesimista podcast), and Lauren (NPR’s The Big Listen) schooled us on the practicalities and details involved in creating your own podcast. They walked us through the proper equipment, captioning tools, and editing resources necessary. They made it clear what a big undertaking it could become. And despite all that, this presentation got me so fired up for the possibilities of podcasting that I’m determined to make this happen by the time NTC rolls around next year!
Side note: Presenter Will Coley mentioned that he lost his father in a commercial plane crash when he was a boy. I found his podcast about it, and it is wonderful.
Your Website: When to Iterate and When to Overhaul
Full disclosure: I did not actually attend this session. But I’ve seen this question arise with our own clients enough to know that this is an important and compelling topic. Oh, and a bunch of people that attended NTC this year have mentioned this session, so there’s that.
If you’re managing your website correctly, you should be iterating on it constantly—even with tiny updates. But what if it’s such a mess that you aren’t able to do that? Or what if it’s not mobile-responsive?
This session broke down how to know when to iterate on an existing site and when it’s time to completely overhaul. And remember, even if you overhaul your website, do it so you can then iterate on it immediately.
The Donors of Tomorrow: Effective Ways to Engage Young Audiences
Okay, so I may have been one of the speakers for this session, along with Ashley from Livestrong.
But y’all, it was pretty good.
In our work with nonprofits, we talk often about how to better engage audiences to increase donations, but we don’t often talk about how to better engage young audiences like millennials and Gen Z. Nonprofits tend to focus on older generations that are more likely to bring in bigger dollars, but they also need to engage younger generations so that they can ensure long-term sustainability for their org.
One of the highlights on the presentation were the millennials in the audience and the voice they added to our topic—including Zach, who told us his generation "simply isn’t worth it."
Hope to see you next year!