There is no conference quite like the NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference). Despite its growing size (setting a new non-DC record of 1900+ attendees this year) it remains close knit and communal. Perhaps it was the venue (Austin Convention Center) or the weather (highs in the 30s), but this year’s conference felt more laid back and subdued than usual.
At the same time, NTEN put deliberate effort into curating the sessions. By limiting speakers to 2 sessions at most, and replacing 2 morning keynotes (Wed and Fri) with a collection of 5-10 min Ignite talks, more community members had their voices heard than ever before. This approach resulted in a conference that was fresh, diverse and thought provoking.
With this conference NTC has moved past some of the platitudes or inevitable (but cliched) conclusions that have been common previous years. Yes, senior leadership needs to be on board. Yes, you need to work out business goals before embarking on a technology project. Yes, you should be following good PM and planning guidelines. These are now all givens, allowing more time for engaging topics such as usability, data analysis, diversity, power dynamics and the overall direction of the sector.
Two years into her tenure as CEO of NTEN, Amy Sample Ward continues to grow as a strong leader of both NTEN and the NTC. It is a great sign for the NTC community that new leadership and voices continue to emerge to not only carry the torch, but carry it to ever higher levels. I was quite heartened by what I experienced and learned at 15NTC this year and look forward to next year’s meeting in San Jose.
My personal highlights were Yesenia Sotelo’s masterful tutorial on Google Analytics, and Ivan Boothe’s Ignite on using community organizing principles to upend traditional IT and organizational power dynamics.
If you attended the 15NTC I’d love to hear your impressions – just leave a comment.