16NTC Session Proposal Guidelines

Thank you for your interest speaking at the annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), which will be held March 23-25, 2016 in San Jose, CA!

The breakout session proposal process will begin on May 18, 2015.

Here are some tips and deadlines.

Who comes to the NTC, and what do they want from the experience?
What conference tracks are offered at the NTC?
When can I submit a proposal?
Who can submit a proposal? What kind of session will I lead I if my proposal is accepted?
Can I propose a keynote address or an Ignite talk?
Can I propose a session if I don’t want to lead it?
What are the guidelines for breakout proposals?
What are the guidelines and notification timeline?
What happens next?
I’m ready! Where do I submit my proposal?

Who comes to the NTC, and what do they want from the experience?

Here are some takeaways from a survey we conducted after the 2014 conference:

  • 58% of respondents identified as nonprofit managers or directors, 17% coordinator/associate level, 17% as executives, and 8% as other.
  • More than 63% describe their level of tech adoption in relation to other colleagues as journey level (knowledgeable and experienced in a few areas), 34% as apprentice (have some knowledge/experience in a specific area), and about 3% as novices (new to it all).
  • What topics did they hope to learn about? 52% identified communications as being a core interest area and 42% named IT as their priority, followed by leadership (34%) and fundraising (30%).
  • 59% mentioned a preference for sessions featuring technical how-tos, 52% wanted to focus on programmatic uses of technology, and 40% requested content about management strategy.

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What conference tracks are offered at the NTC?

Based on feedback from past attendees, we don’t organize the conference by track. But we do try to create a programming lineup that represents a healthy balance of sessions touching on the following themes:

  • Communications and Digital Strategy: These sessions focus on ideas and examples to help spread the word about your work and build and strengthen relationships with your community. In these sessions, participants should have a chance to learn about successful (and failed) efforts to integrate new communications technologies and tactics while also receiving tangible guidance and inspiration for their own communications programs.
  • Fundraising: These sessions are designed to help attendees learn about such topics as: Which fundraising technologies are working (and not working); how to evaluate and select fundraising tools and CRM systems; best practices in using and supporting fundraising tools and systems; and new ideas and trends
  • IT Staff: These sessions are for staff and consultants who manage and support technology infrastructure. This is a resource-sharing track for all nonprofit techies, so no matter how they arrived at their roles, participants are looking to share success stories and challenges, voice concerns, and glean wisdom from one another.
  • Leadership: What role does technology play in our organizations? How can NTC attendees help their organizations reach that vision? What frameworks will help them make smart tech decisions and manage change? Participants in these sessions should have a chance to grapple with these questions and more.
  • Program: These sessions are designed for individuals on the front lines, serving their communities. Introduce them to some of today’s cutting edge applications or methodologies—from location-based services to effective strategies for tracking and using data for organizational impact—and help them better understand how technology can increase not only their efficiency, but also their effectiveness.

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When can I submit a proposal?

Session proposals will be accepted from May 18- June 26, 2015. NTEN will notify all session leads of acceptance or nonacceptance by September 28, 2015, via email.
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Who can submit a proposal? What kind of session will I lead if my proposal is accepted?

Everyone is encouraged to submit a proposal. You can even submit an idea for a session that you don’t personally want or feel qualified to lead. (Please see “Can I propose a session I don’t want to lead?” below.) If accepted, your session will be one of our 90 minute NTC breakout sessions, which make up the bulk of the conference. We look for a range of session formats that provide all different types of opportunities for participants to learn about strategies, tactics, tools, research, and fundamentals in nonprofit technology. These sessions are noncommercial and must meet either educational or professional development needs of NTC attendees.
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Can I propose a keynote address or an Ignite talk?

Thanks for your interest! Our plenary sessions—the daily keynotes which are scheduled without conflicting breakouts—are by invitation only. If you’re interested in submitting an Ignite talk proposal for the opening plenary, please stay tuned to the conference site for more details.
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Can I propose a session if I don’t want to lead it?

Absolutely. We want to select topics that will be relevant to all attendees, and we can’t do that without your suggestions! Simply submit a proposal and indicate that you don’t want to present the session yourself.
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What are the guidelines for breakout proposals?

Speaker proposals
Individuals will not be selected to speak on more than two panels during any given year.

  • Do not submit a proposal unless you can present your session any time during the Nonprofit Technology Conference. Sessions will be scheduled throughout the three days at NTEN’s discretion depending on space logistics and themes represented. We make exceptions for religious considerations if they are communicated in writing along with your session proposal or at least three months prior to the first day of the NTC.
  • Unless you make a very strong case for an exception, all sessions are limited to a total of three presenters (or three presenters plus a moderator, in the case of a panel discussion). Please be aware that all presenters must register and pay the speaker rate of $429 to attend the NTC.
  • You may submit a proposal without co-presenter(s) in mind, in which case NTEN and our Steering Committee may work with you to match you with appropriate co-presenters.

Speaker registration

  • All presenters must pay a discounted conference registration fee of $429 and have a registration badge. (We do have some scholarships and volunteer opportunities available but these are not guaranteed to speakers.)
  • With the exception of invited keynote speakers, NTEN cannot pay an honorarium or expenses for anyone presenting at the conference.
  • In unique circumstances we are able to off a free “session-only” registration for speakers who are only participating in thier session and no other aspects of the conference.

Session descriptions and guidelines

  • You may submit up to four proposals per organization.
  • In order to showcase the diversity in our sector, NTEN only allows each individual speaker and/or organization to appear on two sessions max.
  • NTEN reserves the right to edit session titles and descriptions as well as presenter bios.
  • As you fill out the form, think about the kind of description that would lure you to attend a session.
    • Avoid abbreviations, acronyms, and quotations, and write in complete sentences.
    • Describe specific presentation techniques that you plan to use, such as interactive, lecture, or multimedia.
    • Explain what you would do in the session and what the participants can expect to leave with. Will you distribute handouts, for example? Provide templates? Nothing extra is required; it’s just helpful to know.
  • Be aware of the A/V equipment we can provide, and whether you will require and cover the cost of additional A/V equipment. The standard room set includes LCD projector, computer table, two wired mics, a screen, and a patch to house sound if available. Additional A/V, including white boards, flip charts, or markers, is optional and available for rental through the venue only at speaker’s expense, or you may bring your own.
  • If your presentation serves a bilingual community, please provide us with a translation. Presentations can be delivered bilingually or in English.
  • By submitting a session, you agree to be responsible for meeting deadlines set by NTEN staff as well as recommending a replacement should you develop a scheduling conflict. Cancellation of sessions may occur if deadlines are not respected.


  • Unless you indicate otherwise, we will fulfill noncommercial requests for your name and contact information from attendees/community members who wish to reach you.
  • Persons presenting at NTEN conferences or related programs are expected to use material and language that do not discriminate against anyone, including on the basis of gender identity and/or expression, race, color, age, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, family status, sexual orientation, location, or language.

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What are the review guidelines and notification timeline?

  • NTEN does not accept attachments or additional documentation to support the submission provided.
  • You must submit a proposal via this form by the deadline to be considered. No email or phone submissions will be accepted.

What the selection committee is looking for
All proposals for breakout sessions submitted for our Nonprofit Technology Conference are reviewed and rated by the members of the Nonprofit Technology Conference Steering Committee. Questions reviewers will ask when evaluating proposals include:

  • Is proposal content of current interest or an emerging topic?
  • Has proposal content been implemented?
  • Is the proposal an innovative solution, or does it offer a fresh treatment?
  • Does the proposal address or support solving significant problems in nonprofit technology?
  • Is the outcome or takeaway clearly defined so that the audience clearly knows what they’re leaving with?
  • Does the session designer/speaker have expertise in this topic?

Timeline for proposal review and notifications
Please keep in mind that we receive more than 600 proposals for the NTC last year and accept around 100-130.

  • May 18, 2015: Submission proposal system opens
  • June 26, 2015: Submission proposal system closes
  • June 27-July 7, 2015: NTEN prepares and populates the community voting platform
  • July 8-July 31, 2015: Community voting
  • August 3-August 21, 2015: Steering Committee & staff review
  • August 24-September 25, 2015: Conference agenda development
  • September 28, 2015: All notifications are sent to to submission authors. You will receive this notification via the email address you provide when you submit your proposal.

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What happens next?

Starting on September 28, 2015 you will have received notification about the status of your proposal. If not, please contact the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference staff. Once you determine your status, here’s what happens next:

If your proposal is accepted:
You’re now officially a presenter. Congrats! Start booking your travel to San Jose if you aren’t local, and bookmark our Speaker Resources.

If your proposal is not accepted:
The staff, community, and Steering Committee always face a difficult task in deciding which proposals are accepted and which are not, and the process is extremely competitive. We really appreciate your time and effort, and hope you will still join us at the NTC for three terrific days of learning and networking.

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I’m ready! Where do I submit my proposal?

You can submit your proposal by visiting the our proposal platform here.