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NTEN 'Unleashes Technology' in New York City

April 13, 2010

Virtual_networking Over the last decade, the annual Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) conference has attracted tech-savvy folks from around the country to schmooze and talk about "transforming technology into social change in [our] work and communities." But this year, while the actual conference was held in Atlanta, techies in select cities were able to participate virtually with a little assistance and support from CauseCast and ReadyTalk.

Here in New York City, I connected with fourteen other participants on Friday at the NPower office in Brooklyn. A few minor tech issues notwithstanding, all of us were grateful for the opportunity to "attend" the event for a fraction of what it would've cost to fly to and stay a few nights in Atlanta.

First up was a keynote by uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan, who entertainingly discussed, among other things, what it takes to be a successful blogger (intense focus, the ability to go without food or sleep for long periods of time) and what distinguishes blogging from more traditional forms of media. After Sullivan spoke, some of us joined a discussion about Client Relationship Management (CRM) and how it can support development work, while others opted to learn how to create a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Web site designer. Over lunch, we networked between bites of our sandwiches and salads, followed by concurrent discussions of the pros and cons of mobile fundraising and the use of technology to advance social and economic development.

The most popular session of the day (judging from the chatter on Twitter), however, was a program facilitated by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, co-authors of the soon-to-be-published Networked Nonprofit: Connecting With Social Media to Drive Change. If you didn't track the session on Twitter or watch the live stream, be sure to check out Kanter's recap of the event here and Fine's take here.

Although NTEN plans to post videos of the recorded sessions at its site over the coming weeks, I encourage you to check out the coverage in the nonprofit blogosophere, starting with these posts:

As Jane Meseck of Microsoft noted during her session, nonprofits need to be involved in the technology conversation. And the key to that, said Meseck (and others), is to:

  • Increase not reduce your IT budgets;
  • Leverage the talents of your young staffers, most of whom are familiar and comfortable with new technologies, having used them in college;
  • "Focus on what you do best and network the rest." For example, if you have a cadre of fans on Facebook, ask them for help with your social media initiatives. Andrew Sullivan shared a great example of how he leveraged his network to create a new blog feature, "The View From Your Window," which invites readers of his Daily Dish blog to submit photos of what their world looks like.

In short, we managed to hear and swap a lot of great ideas in just eight hours, which made for a great day and a successful experiment. What about you? Did you attend the conference in Atlanta or one of the remote sessions in another location? What were your takeaways?

-- Regina Mahone

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