Archive for the 'nptech' Category

5 steps for hosting a successful online event

Last week my colleague Colleen and I supported  a groundbreaking, education summit in New Mexico: “Unleashing Knowledge and Innovation for the Next Generation of Learning”, convened by the Stupski Foundation, West Wind Education Policy, and the Knowledge Alliance.  Besides making silly videos in our off-time, I had a bit of time to reflect about what makes an online component to a conference successful.  I came up with the following 5 steps, which I elaborated on over at Forum One’s “Influence” blog. I’d love to know what you think makes online events successful. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

1. Know your audience
This seems like a no-brainer, but oftentimes people omit this step and move straight to the technology.  Knowing your audience: what they want to get out of the online portion of the event, what you hope they do online during the event, and what their relative technical expertise is are critical pieces to this puzzle and all should ultimately inform your event web strategy.

2. Use media to your advantage
There are lots of great social media tools that can enhance an in-person event, but you don’t have to do everything! (And you shouldn’t try to!) Pick a few tools and use them well.

3. Be creative AND flexible
Don’t be afraid to try something different - there is no set recipe for success. Plan ahead and try out new techniques for online engagement, but don’t be afraid to switch direction mid-stream. You never know what you’ll find on-the-ground at a conference site and you may need to change your strategy depending on people’s access to the Internet, their comfort with the tools, etc.

4. Empower people, let them own the technology and the messages
You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t! Part of the fun of using online tools during an event is the way in which technology decentralizes communication and conversation across participants and presenters.

5. Have fun!
Just because an event is a professional activity doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Using online tools to explore the conference culture, the side conversations, the jokes, and the social experience is a great way to break up more dense content.

Fundraising and outreach in a changing economy

This past week I had the chance to attend the Convio ‘08 Summit with my colleague Andrew at Forum One. The conference was held in Austin, Texas and provided a few days to meet-up with other NP Techers (so great to see all of you!), catch up on some of the latest trends in the industry, and of course, eat GREAT food :o).

Since I spent most of the time during the conference chatting with non profits and standing at our organization’s booth in the exhibit hall, I didn’t have a lot of time to attend panels. When I did have the opportunity, most of the discussions were fairly similar to those I participated in at NTC ‘08. The one discussion that did feel new was the keynote by Tony Elischer, Managing Director of UK-based consulting firm THINK.

Elischer broke the stigma barriers and actually talked about non profit technology through the lens of the recession. While I think a lot of us were hoping that this economy stuff is really just a bad dream that we’ll wake up from in a few weeks, I think it was good to acknowledge the situation and actually talk about realistic expectations and tactics.

I wrote up my impressions from his Tony’s presentation on the Forum One Influence blog, and hope it can be of some inspiration (and comfort) to organizations who are nervous and vigilant during these changing times.

Pressure to blog - an awesome webchat from today’s NTEN office hours!

Inspired by a great blog post from Johanna on this very topic, I decided to focus today’s office hours on the pressures of blogging professionally when your life is already very very full!

Tweeting and Flickring, the non profit way

This past week was one full of lots of social media goodness. Monday I was interviewed by Kami Griffiths of TechSoup, for a non profit webinar on Twitter and Flickr. The recording of the event is located here, in case you weren’t able to attend, and there is a nice round-up here (thanks Philanthropy Potluck!).

On Tuesday, TechSoup followed up the event with an online forum discussing Twitter, which I co-hosted with Marshall Kirkpatrick.

To top it all off, I held my first office hours for NTEN, which incidentally will re-occur every Tuesday from 3-4 pm EST here, if you’re interested in stopping by! In case you have other questions I might not cover, definitely check out the office hours schedule, there are some great folks volunteering their time!

Big thanks to everyone who participated in some or all of these events this week. It was great to have some friendly faces stop by, and awesome to make some new connections with folks dedicated to using social media for good. I am particularly amazed and inspired by organizations who are using both Twitter and Flickr for so many diverse things. I’ve even found my own self reevaluating my thoughts and strategies for these tools based on some of the great topics that were discussed.

In case you missed the Twitter forum, where the bulk of discussion took place, we chatted about:

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Girls with Macs conference wrap-up: what have the past few weeks taught?

After attending all of these big tech conferences lately - SXSW, NTC, and Women Who Tech - the trend I’ve taken closest to heart has nothing to do with technology at all. It actually involves doing the opposite of what this fast-paced industry has been pushing for years: slowing down.

OK, we’ve all equally enjoyed puttering around on Facebook, uploading images to Flickr and seeing how many comments we’d get, putting together photo books on Blurb, and building our own social networks in Ning, but now the initial “woah” has worn off (or there’s just too much damn stuff to keep track of) and it’s a good reminder to return to the business practices communications folks have been practicing for years: planning, frameworks, and process.

Web 2.0 applications don’t happen in a vacuum. They’re fun, definitely addictive, and continuously challenge us to look at what we do in new ways, but there is one thing they also consume of us - our time. We all know in the back of our heads that using these pieces of technology *should* have a purpose. Granted, I’m sure we’ve all thrown together a blog because the boss said so, or set up a Facebook presence because the folks at *that* campaign did it. The point is, getting the basics together upfront will pay off dearly in spades later on.

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Flickr learning and sharing @ TechSoup

Qatari Skater

A few days ago TechSoup and Flickr sponsored an asynchronous chat discussion about the use of Flickr and photography in non profit organizations. Being an avid Flickrite myself, I popped on over there throughout the day and got involved in a lot of different discussions - from how to choose a camera to uploading photos and color profile integrity. I found that more often than not I had answers to questions instead of ones I wanted to ask.

In the process it occurred to me how I’ve developed a Flickr strategy over the past couple of years - much of which I can attribute to my photo obsession when I was living overseas. After Beth and a few others pointed out that the strategy behind my Flickr behavior could be beneficial to others in non-profits, it seemed only obvious that I mention some of my learnings in a blog post, so here goes:

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NTC ‘08 big takeaways [for me]

Michaela in New Orleans

On the trolley with Rose, Amy, and Laura

I’m still behind on my personal wrap-up of NTC ‘08, but work keeps getting in the way and I’m trying to make sure I don’t forget the big lessons I learned with all you awesome folks down in NOLA. The personal impressions and friendships aren’t going to fade anytime soon, and will be waiting when I have a breath of fresh air.

The following is a summary of my favorite takeaways. The list may seem long, and some items may seem more elementary than others, but I think all have significant value in the success of an organization’s online strategy.

Google Analytics, Know your website, one hour a day

  • Never let your data be lonely. Pair up your data with other data.
  • Industry benchmarks - when you choose to share your data with the rest of the world, you get to see their data too.
  • Goal Conversion tab - segmentation. How well does direct traffic do with “goals” we’ve set.
  • Bounce isn’t always bad. If you’re a blog, they read 10 posts and leave. If bounce rate is 100%, you have to take it in context.
  • Setup Google Analytics filters to follow the analytics of paths you want your users to take.

For more summaries of Google Adwords, SEO, the new paradigm of marketing, and the joy of CMS, please keep reading :).

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08NTC Day of Service photos

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

I plan to do a full round-up of the entire first day of 08NTC (long overdue), but in the meantime, please enjoy some of the images I’ve posted on Flickr from the Day of Service.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the day of service, and thank you New Orleans for giving us an opportunity to learn a little bit of your story and provide support in your rebuilding efforts!

08NTC: Day 3, The Joy of CMS

Implementing Sustainable Content Management Systems
Norman Reiss: nreiss [at], Jeff Herron (Beaconfire), Andrew Cohen (Forum One Communications), Nathan Gasser (Rock River Star)

The success of content management isn’t based on what product you use, but how you implement it.

What is CMS?
Something you use to update a website. Useful because it aloows you to give non technical people the ability to more easily update content. It should be decentralized.

Does my organization need a CMS?
Not always, but when you have a lot of content and have a desire to spread responsibility, it makes sense.

What product features does a CMS provide? What features does it not include?
Good to know beforehand what you plan to do with it beforehand.

Implementation options

  • Hosted, ASP model, lease
  • Installed, commercial product (buy)
  • Installed, open source (buy) - open source are particularly strong in CMS. This does not mean free. You’ll have to pay for customization and support. Implementation partners are just as important as software choice.

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08NTC: Day 3, morning plenary

Dr. Melissa Flourney (LANO), Deborah Cotton (, and Patricia Jones (NENA)

“If it takes a village to raise a child, what’s it going to take to raise a village?”

Renaissance in New Orleans. 25 feet of water in 23 minutes. Imagine that? Like Dorothy’s home in the Wizard of Oz.

Amazing resurgence where people are bringing their passions to the forefront for the first time in years. YURPES - young urban rebuilding professionals. Imagine this renaissance will feed up as volunteers return to their communities and churches after they get back. No profits are working out of the trunks of their cars.

People don’t say the word “Katrina” anymore. They talk about it as the “storm” or the “thing”.

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