I knew this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference(NTC 2012) was going to be a good one when I heard the music start to trickle in from the hallway, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the whirlwind of fun, networking, and learning I was about to be immersed in.
I was expecting to open up Twitter and browse while I sat through a boring keynote speaker to start the conference, but the NTEN organizers had another idea. They had hired the Extra Action Marching Band to really kick things off in proper San Francisco style, and the crowd was loving it. I was glad we had taken a front row seat as the band paraded down the aisle, blasting brass instruments, banging drums, and waving flags. Was I in the right place? This was my first NTC, and I was the only one within eyesight wearing a tie.
I thought for a minute I might be at the ad:tech happening down the street, but I was sure even they weren’t have this much fun.
After the refreshing marching band wake up, I was off to my first session. On a whim I decided to jump into the room for the communications track, where a bustling crowd was gathering to discuss social strategy and execution. Needless to say, my first session proved also not to be your typical conference format because the speaker was a no show! Fortunately the fearless Alison from the Ashely Goforth of the Food Bank for New York City showed remarkable initiative and stepped into facilitate a great discussion which had consultants, non-profits, PR folks and some data nerds all raising their hands to participate. There was great input from Aaron Muszalaski of Upswell and Wikipedia, Madeline Littrellfrom Stratmark, Brenna Holmes from Chapman Cubine Adams + Hussey and many others. Before the session was over the audience had self-assembled a Facebook group that popped up on the Twitter hashtag for the session. Go #12ntcbirds !
Laura Quinn from Idealware lead the next session I attended, which again was a popular one. Overflowing with attendees all interested in the tools available for mobile web and SMS development, I had the pleasure of sharing HiDef’s experience with SMS and mobile delivery to a clearly captivated and motivated audience. If you’re a nonprofit and you haven’t yet used Idealware’s resources, you’re missing out. They do a bang-up job of providing objective and up-to-date analysis of technology available to non-profits. Laura did an excellent job leading the session without the assistance of a mic. We hope to contribute some insight in an upcoming white paper form Idealware on crowdsourcing, one of our favorite new emerging technology topics in the nonprofit world.
Another highlight was the Gaming for Good session which had a stacked panel, and was where I learned about a cool new product called Help Attack. This new tool helps nonprofits organize campaigns around hashtags, Facebook posts, and even Youtube comments in a way that raises funding for your organization with every tweet or status update. A great tool for great causes, and Ehrin Foss, their CEO, chimed in with some outstanding comments about intrinsic motivation and social economic behavior. I even won a nifty Zynga backpack for my excessive tweeting during the session (#12ntcgaming).
The conference ended on a musical note as well, with an outstanding performance of the San Francisco Gay Mens Choir, another reminder of the celebrated diversity San Francisco proudly wears on its sleeve.