So, I spent most of last week in Austin at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology Conference (also known as #15NTC). I’d been working with NTEN (the host organization) for a while on their Editorial Committee, and I was very grateful for the invitation to link up with the community live and in person.
— Doug Phillips (@dougphi) March 2, 2015
Here are a few of my observations and take-aways:
- Change means Investing in People
- Change > Marketing > Technology
- Self-care is the First Duty of the Changemaker
Change means Investing in People
— @NonprofitOrgs (@nonprofitorgs) March 6, 2015
Ivan Boothe‘s Ignite talk on the Technology of Social Change (link to slides) hit a nerve with me on Friday morning, arguing passionately about how we need to complement our communications and advocacy work with community organizing strategies in order to have lasting impact.
Molly Brooksbank and Mary Nicol from the Sierra Club and Greenpeace US followed this up with a brilliant session titled Giving the People What They Want from Online Activism (link to session notes). I loved hearing about the strategies and approaches behind the new AddUp.org and Greenwire to connect volunteers, and I’ll need to follow up by reading Hahrie Han’s How Organizations Develop Activists.
— Holly Wagg (@HollyWagg) March 6, 2015
Change > Marketing > Technology
#15NTC, the Nonprofit Technology Conference, was more about marketing than technology.
— Jon Lebkowsky (@jonl) March 7, 2015
Even though NTC started as a very tech-oriented conference, the topics have since widened. I went to sessions on storytelling, community building and organizational development. My final workshop – an open space session for content creators, co-organized with Lacy Baugher – started off with the frustration of needing to implement someone else’s badly conceived communications plan, explored how we can make change by linking our community’s needs with our own purpose and philosophized why this work is so important, quoting Guy Debord: “Boredom is always counter revolutionary. Always.”
— Lacy Baugher (@LacyMB) March 6, 2015
And apparently my gestures are epic when I talk about things I’m passionate about.
Self-care is the First Duty of the Changemaker
How can we thrive in life and at work? According to Kerala Taylor, Kivi Leroux Miller, Leili Khalessi, Stephanie Bowen, we need to:
- Learn how to say no
- Ask for what we need
- Own our schedule
- Assess our strengths
Check out the excellent session notes for their conversation on Paradox but Possible: Hardcore on Work AND Life.
— James Nickerson (@NickInSFO) March 5, 2015
After too much powerpoint, Beth Kanter’s and Ritu Sharma’s session Walking is Work: Don’t Call It a Break was a great reminder to get off our butts and keep moving. I came out of it (and the subsequent networking walk) with a bunch of new contacts and the firm resolution to a) incorporate regular walks into my day, b) hack myself a standing desk and c) invest in a headset that doesn’t tie me to my desk. Check out the resources on Beth’s Wiki.
— Beth Kanter (@kanter) March 5, 2015
For me, #15NTC was all about pathways to change. Yes, this included a few walks in the Texas sunshine, but also the reminder to look up from whatever tool or tactic we’re currently using and consider a) what is the change we’re looking for and b) who do we want to connect with – not just in the short run. Organizing, building capacity and empowering future leaders and changemakers is essential so that we can build a world in which our current nonprofit organizations are no longer necessary.