#NTCwinning: Reflecting on What Went Well at the 2012 NTC

Submitted by Anna on Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:59pm

It’s hard to believe that the 2012 NTC is a wrap. While we were busy catching up on sleep, we also spent a lot of time reflecting on the experience.

As Holly wrote in the #NTCFail blog post outlining the things that didn’t go as planned at the event, we value being open and accountable at NTEN. But we also want to share the things that were awesome, the pieces of the NTC that we feel pretty good about at the end of the day. Yes, the counter to #NTCfail is #NTCwinning.

Here are a few areas we thought were pretty successful. (It should also be noted that we always believe there is infinite opportunity to improve, even on the successes.)

#NTCwinning 1: The Community

Photo by Trav WilliamsPhoto by Trav WilliamsYou. The community showed up for the 2012 NTC. 1772 to be exact. We think it’s a major win to get that many nonprofit technologists in one place together. (These quotes and the rest found in this post are from the NTC evaluation.)

It was my first NTC...so, I think the overall magical moment was being with 1,700 intensely passionate and intelligent do-gooders!

Getting to know so many wonderful people in the non-profit sector - it simply amazes me everyone's so passionate about what they are doing!

Thanks for providing this fantastic hub for learning and sharing NTC!

It’s also a success that you see and know there are really people out there grappling with the same issues you are. We’re thrilled that the NTC is a place for you to find your people.

Learning that other non-profits were working through the same issues my organization is going through, whether it be applying technology, buy-in from stakeholders, etc.

Hearing that the issues I am going through in my own organization aren't just our quirks -- that other people have the same problems I do, and hearing some of the creative ways they have gotten through them.

#NTCwinning 2: Learning Everywhere

So much teaching and learning happens at the NTC and that makes us proud. Nearly 300 of you shared your knowledge as a speakers, not to mention the teaching and sharing that happened over meals and in-between the sessions.

As a small nonprofit we have struggled to fully engage with technology to help us fulfill our mission. The conference made me realize that we do not have to go from A to Z but instead we need to start with a well thought out plan. This was my "aha" moment. It made the goal of integrating technology more fully in what we do seem like a manageable and attainable goal! Thanks!

It felt as though I was backstage at a rock concert - everywhere I turned there were the experts I learn from and follow on Twitter or blog posts. I was a bit starstruck! It was a wonderful learning experience.

#NTCwinning 3: Napkins

Photo by Trav WilliamsPhoto by Trav WilliamsWe were sure glad that Max Ward made an extra trip to replace the napkins lost in the mail for Dan Roam’s keynote. We saw the power of stick figures on napkins and how visuals can help us make a stronger case for our nonprofit’s work. It’s a win to see how Dan’s talk spurred a lot of drawing and thinking about problems in new ways.

Draw, don't write!

Wow! Dan Roam was an unexpected value. I had no idea that I needed that presentation as much as I did. It will change the way that I move forward on a large web redesign and database integration project that I will be working on this year.

Missed Dan Roam's keynote? View the recording

#NTCwinning 4: Innovation Debate

While our panelists may have gotten their mouths washed out by soap by their mothers after the final morning plenary, the passionate language sparked a great debate about nonprofits and if and how they should be innovative. Beth Kanter, Brian Reich, Laura Andreessen, Meg Garlinghouse, and Greg Baldwin challenged each other and us to think beyond our normal day-to-day. They made us think about whether the inherent nonprofit infrastructure is a roadblock to innovation and whether or not big leaps in innovation are necessary to help us meet our missions.

Hearing the last panel on day three on "non profits and innovation" was really thought-provoking and challenged the way we have to think, reflect and conceptualize on how to move forward in terms of collaborating further between non-profit and tech sectors.

Amazing social discourse! I mean... that panel on innovation really got the brain juice flowing. As controversial as it was, it really gave a lot of fuel to some thinking we need to be doing as a community.

More conversation stemming from the Nonprofits & Innovation panel:

Did you miss the Nonprofits & Innovation panel? View the recording.

#NTCwinning 5: Internet

You didn’t notice this because it worked, allowing you to blog, tweet, storify, and post to instagram with only slight delays at peak times. We had 1750 unique devices on the network at times and peaked at 78MB at one point on Wednesday. We thank the team at Mariette Systems for making a flawless wireless network for the NTC and converting the conference internet from an #NTCfail last year to an #NTCwin this year!

#NTCwinning 6: Ignite

We're not sure exactly what it was this year but something clicked; this year’s Ignite presentations were well-attended and the presentations were amazing.

The Ignite sessions were fantastic! If you could bottle the energy in that room...

#NTCwinning 7: Musical Entertainment

Photo by Trav WilliamsPhoto by Trav WilliamsAfter the 2011 NTC, we decided that we needed to incorporate some music and local culture into the NTC. We didn’t realize quite the risk we took booking the Extra Action Marching Band to open the NTC, though.

The tone they struck was one of risk and playfulness, both attitudes we feel are important to embrace as you dive into 3 days of intense learning. During the show, we always try to have some music throughout but it’s hard because NTC attendees talk A LOT and they don’t like it when you try to play music over them. Sarah had the marvelous idea of doing Twitter song requests during breaks and meals. With#12NTCRadio, folks could make song requests and dedications that we played in the background. We were also fortunate to have the San Francsico Gay Men’s Chorus (NTEN Members all) close up the event in a very classy way.

The opening was...well, I lack words. Pretty amazing with the marching band. Really highlighted the idea of taking risk to reach an audience well.

#NTCwinning 8: Video Contest

The DoGooder Video Contest is always outstanding, as we have a chance to see some amazing work – but this year the winning videos took it to another level by pulling on our heartstrings and bringing the ballroom to tears. The likely unnoticeable #NTCwinning moment here was that aside from one accidental event reminder pop-up, all the videos played without a technical hitch.

Watching the heart warming videos during lunch - can't wait to see more. Really shows how our work is making a difference.

#NTCwinning 9: Online NTC

This year, we had 136 additional attendees joining us remotely from around the county as part of the Online NTC. It was pretty remarkable to have people at their homes and offices joining in the dialogue that was happening on myNTC and Twitter. We’re making incremental steps to integrate remote audiences into the NTC. With better infrastructure and content this year, we were pleased with the outcome of the online event.

#NTCWinning 10: Collaborative Session Notes

If you didn’t catch this amazing wealth of information sharing yet, please check out the NTC Collaborative Session Notes. A huge thank you to @lalexanderson for setting this up, allowing the NTEN community to do what it does best: collaborate to help everyone learn and connect in new ways.

We don’t mean to brag. We truly believe that our successes are yours, so thanks for reading.

You can keep learning by pursuing the NTC Session Materials. And we’ll see you at the 2013 NTC in Minneapolis, April 11-13. The countdown is already on!