1) Skim this handbook.
2) Spend some time getting more familiar with NTEN. Go through the NTEN website and sign-up for an upcoming member orientation.
3) If you are building a club from scratch, start at the new club section. If you’re joining a club that’s been around for awhile, start at the established club section.
1.1.About the Program
NTEN’s Nonprofit Tech Clubs (also known “Tech Clubs” for short, and formally known as “501 Tech Clubs”) provide free, friendly events for nonprofit staffers to learn about technology.
The Tech Club program is a sister to NTEN’s online community program.
Organizers must perform their duties as an NTEN volunteer in accordance with NTEN’s Values, Equity Commitment, and Code of Conduct. Organizers should strive to protect, develop, and enhance the reputation and values of NTEN.
Resume / LinkedIn
Show off the work you’ve done for your community: Think about adding this experience to your resume and LinkedIn. (If adding to LinkedIn, we recommend using the Experience section over the Volunteer section as the latter doesn’t allow recommendations—we want to be able to brag about your work!)
Here’s a sample blurb to help you get started:
NTEN’s Nonprofit Tech Clubs are a networking and lecture series for the nonprofit community. I volunteer with my local chapter, [Nonprofit Tech Club name]. [Tell your story about how you plan engaging events and create space for nonprofit professionals to come together and spark change with technology]
1.3.Communication and Community
NTEN Main Contact
NTEN’s community manager is Tristan Penn. Tristan is the main point of contact for all things related to NTEN’s community programs.
You can contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-272-8761
Feel free to call or send a Google Hangout chat message or Slack direct message with quick questions. (Note: Tristan typically works Monday-Friday 9am-5pm PT.)
NTEN’s community manager will send out NTEN and program-related announcements a few times a month. As an organizer, it is your responsibility to keep up with these messages.
All online organizers are added to the email@example.com announcement mailing list. NTEN’s community manager will send out NTEN and program-related announcements a few times a month. Please be sure to stay on top of these messages.
NTEN sends out a monthly newsletter to better connect volunteer organizers with NTEN HQ, unify NTEN’s Nonprofit Tech Club and online community organizers, elevate resources from within the organizer community, and ultimately build the capacity of our community volunteers—that’s you! Each month we’ll curate a few announcements from NTEN and the organizer community and share resources and tips to help you do your work even better.
Connect with your fellow NTEN community volunteers across the US, Canada, and Europe. NTEN has nearly 100 community volunteers—you never need to go at it alone. Ask each other questions, share wins and fails, and do a little bragging. The more connected you are to your peers, the more sustainable your group is likely to be.
Join the NTEN community volunteer Slack team. Chat publicly with other local and online organizers or in private channels with your teammates. (Contact NTEN’s community manager if you haven’t been added yet.)
Check out our Slack user guide to see how we use Slack together as a team.
Every quarter we try to get the organizer community together for group conference calls. These calls give organizers the opportunity to connect with NTEN and their peers.
See the organizer training schedule for upcoming calls.
Review notes from previous calls or add to the upcoming agenda via collaborative documents for Tech Club organizers.
1.4.Stepping Down and Termination
Organizers sign-up to serve for one-year terms, however we understand that volunteers sometimes need to step down before term end. We ask that organizers try to give their team and NTEN as much notice as possible. Before leaving, an organizer should make sure to:
- Fill out an exit interview
- Hand over accounts to NTEN and co-organizers
- Make introductions to help co-organizers maintain important club-related relationships
- Document club-related information or processes in the group’s Google Drive folder.
NTEN reserves the right to terminate organizer status at anytime. Reasons to do so include violating any of the terms laid out in the organizer agreement as well as repeatedly failing to respond to communications from NTEN’s community manager.
1.5.Getting Started with a Brand New Club
Note: Ignore this section if you’re not getting started with a brand new club or reviving an existing club after a long hiatus.
Work through Steps 1-5 to help you get your new club off the ground. The goal is to work slowly and thoughtfully and have your first event within six months. There are several checkpoints along the way, however, please contact NTEN’s community manager at anytime with questions or concerns.
🚦🚦🚦 Step 1: Check in with NTEN 🚦🚦🚦
Once you’ve taken the time to learn more about NTEN, the Nonprofit Tech Club program, and the organizer community, send an email to NTEN’s community manager to check in. Checking in let’s us know you’re still invested and gives you the opportunity to ask questions. This also cues NTEN’s community manager to add your club to the NTEN website, and give you a Google Drive folder.
Step 2: Build Your Team and Research Your Community
Build Your Organizing Team
Focus on building the long-term organizing team and perhaps gather some short-term volunteers while you’re at it. Look for 1-2 other team members at first. Just don’t go at it alone.
1) Revisit the handbook section about Nonprofit Tech Club organizing teams.
2) Introduce potential co-organizers to NTEN’s community manager and have them fill out the volunteer application.
3) Once approved by NTEN, add them to the organizers and volunteers document in your Google Drive folder.
Research and Survey Your Community
Record your findings in the research document in your Google Drive folder.
1) Partners: Start looking for local organizations and groups that might help you promote or that might have potential co-organizers or presenters. Review the partners section of the handbook.
2) Venues: Where might you be able to hold events? What resources might they provide? Review the venue section of the handbook.
3) Topics: What might your community need and want? Review the topics section of the handbook.
4) Presenters: Who might be a good presenter? Who has volunteered to present? Review the presenters section of the handbook.
5) Survey: In addition to your independent research, ask your community what they want. Review the handbook section about surveying your community for more information.
🚦🚦🚦 Step 3: Check in with NTEN 🚦🚦🚦
Check in with NTEN’s community manager before planning and holding your first event. This will give you the opportunity to talk through questions and work out any potential issues and make sure you and the community has the best experience possible. Do not pass Go without checking in.
Step 4: Plan and Hold Kick-Off Event
Evaluate Survey Results
Record useful information in your research documents. Build trust and supporters by following up with anyone who indicated that they might be interested in volunteering or presenting, etc. Even if it’s to say “thanks, we’ll be in touch soon.” You do not want to ask your community to do something and then make them feel like you’re not listening. Know that you can and will collect additional feedback at every event.
Start Planning a Kick-off Event
We recommend that you organize something like a group planning session where you invite community members to join co-organizers and volunteers to plan the next couple events. This is a great way to get additional feedback, as well as create greater buy-in from your community. Even if you are already very connected with the community or you are reviving a group that already has a strong following, we suggest that starting slow is the best way to go. Build community and trust first, then start hosting more complicated events. Read more about group planning events in the topics section of the handbook.
- Start slow
- Don’t do it alone
- Give yourself at least one month to plan
- Post the event on NTEN’s event calendar
- Promote early and often, involve your community in promotion
Create Event RSVP Page
Use something free to get started. Eventbrite is a great option. Ask NTEN’s Community Manager to create an account for you. Look to the handbook for examples of what to include on your RSVP page.
Note: NTEN is in the process of selecting and testing a new community platform which will eventually house our online groups as well as the Nonprofit Tech Clubs. Through the platform, clubs should be able to build their lists, email list members, create events and track RSVPs, and share blog posts, etc. Ideally clubs will be able to phase out many of their external tools and have everything they need with this platform. The goal is to move over by Fall 2017 at the latest.
We recommend that update your accounts Google Drive document with any accounts you create as you go. Get into the habit of this. It will help make sure information doesn’t get lost as organizers come and go.
Request an Event Starter Pack
Fill out the materials request form to receive materials like name tags, markers, signs, NTEN stickers and literature, and more. (Clubs in the US should give at least two weeks’ notice. Clubs outside of the US should try to give three weeks’ notice.) This should help you with your first event. Use the event report to submit a request for reimbursement for any additional approved event-related expenses.
Hold First Event
Have fun! Know this is a learning experience and the first event is always the most difficult. Fill out the event report to let NTEN know how it went.
🚦🚦🚦 Step 5: Check in with NTEN 🚦🚦🚦
It should be about 3-6 months since you’ve first signed up to start a new club. Before working on additional events, reach out to NTEN’s community manager to schedule a check-in call. This your opportunity to ask questions, get feedback, and decide if moving forward is the right thing for you.
1.6.Getting Started with an Established Club
Work through the points below to help you better understand NTEN, the Nonprofit Tech Club program, the organizer community, the history of your club, and how you fit in your new team. Contact NTEN’s community manager at anytime with questions or concerns.
1) Read through any club-related documents to help you understand better understand the history of your group.
2) Get to know your new team. Perhaps go out for coffee or meet for a quick drink or meal after an event. The more familiar you are with your teammates, the more likely you are to work well together.
3) Figure out how you fit into the team. Talk to your co-organizers about things like:
- What do they enjoy about working with the community?
- How are decisions made amongst the group?
- What are some of the pain points?
- What are some tasks you can take on now?
NTEN does not allow clubs to be co-branded. The Nonprofit Tech Club logo/identity/name may not be connected to the name of another organization, nonprofit, corporation or other, or presented as being organized by such entities. (Exceptions will be made for established clubs with existing co-branding.)
Unless agreed upon otherwise, all new clubs should follow the same naming convention. Club names begin with “Nonprofit Tech Club,” followed by a location-based descriptor such as the name of a city, neighborhood, street, etc. (e.g. Nonprofit Tech Club Columbus, Nonprofit Tech Club Willamette Valley).
Clubs are required to include NTEN branding on all Tech Club-related spaces and materials.
Help your community better understand what “NTEN” stands for by spelling out our name the first time you mention it, i.e. “NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network.”
When possible, add the NTEN logo.
Copy and paste the following blurb onto larger spaces like RSVP pages, Facebook, websites, and emails:
[TECH CLUB NAME] is a program of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. NTEN provides nonprofit professionals with technology trainings, research, and a vibrant and supportive community. Learn more at nten.org.
Use the following on business cards or other small spaces:
[TECH CLUB NAME] is a program of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. Learn more at nten.org.
If your club has a Twitter account, please include the following in the bio:
A program of @NTENorg.
Building Your Team
Build teams with members of diverse race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and ability as well as from all different backgrounds, organizations, sectors, and job types.
“We think having a large group of diverse organizers who pitch in as they’re able can be better than a small, homogenous group of organizers, even if the smaller group is more devoted and hard-working. That’s because diverse organizers can help attract more diverse speakers and attendees, which leads to livelier discussions at our events and more cross-pollination of ideas. Plus, it’s easier for a small group of devoted, hard-working people to burn out. We’re pretty flexible about the level of time commitment, which makes it easy for organizers to contribute when they’re able to and avoid guilt when they’re not.” – S.J.T, Tech Club Organizer
Introduce potential co-organizers to NTEN’s community manager and have them fill out the volunteer application. Once approved by NTEN, add them to the organizers and volunteers document in your Google Drive folder.
Working as an all-volunteer team can be difficult. We recommend getting together regularly to chat about how events are going, check-in on everyone’s volunteer capacity and commitment levels, and ultimately get to know teammates better.
Don’t assume that a volunteer wants to do the same thing in their free time as they do during their day job. Figure out what team members really want to do and assign tasks accordingly. Once you know what skills or interests are missing, you can more easily recruit an additional organizer or volunteer to fill those specific gaps.
Some teams take turns serving as the lead event creator (i.e. that person decides the topic, recruits the presenter, secures the venue, etc.) while the rest of the team helps with promotion or event-day logistics. Other groups choose to assign a set of responsibilities so the same person. Regardless of how you structure your team, make sure everyone knows who is responsible for each task. This will make it easier to support each other should someone need to step back for a bit.
Teams may want to gather for a more focused retreat every few months. Nonprofit Tech Club – Portland’s Sara R. described such an event:
“Last December we did a low-key planning retreat for [our Tech Club] at my place—pizza, snacks, warm apple cider, and glühwein! It really helped guide the year for when things got unexpectedly busy. We opened with a big-picture review of the year, and I shared a quick analysis of attendee feedback. Then we brain-dumped things we’d like to do more of and things we’d like to do differently into a spreadsheet. Lastly we started to nail down themes and a ‘lead’ for each month along with potential speaker ideas. From there, each lead fleshed out their month’s speaker and other planning details. Then we documented everything in Trello.”
An important part of being an organizer for a Nonprofit Tech Club is holding regular events. Proper organization, planning, and coordination amongst your team as well as within your network of partners and sponsors is key to holding a successful event.
Partnering with other organizations and groups gives you the opportunity to reach wider networks (as well as share the burden of putting together a stellar event). Research your local community to see what organizations are out there to help you spread the word, recruit speakers, provide venue space, etc.
Here are some examples of local organizations to seek out:
- United Way
- Colleges and universities with Nonprofit Management programs
- Local chapters of groups like Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), American Marketing Association (AMA)
- Nonprofit state associations
- Medium/large nonprofits
- Community centers
- Co-working spaces
- Tech incubators
- Tech companies, especially those that work with nonprofits
“Partnering with like-minded organizations to co-sponsor is a great way to get members of both organizations talking to each other and sharing ideas. The women in tech panel we hosted with the Victoria chapter of Ladies Learning Code was one of our most popular events. We also help organize an annual event called NGO Ho Ho where small nonprofit groups can celebrate the holidays together at a much bigger and more festive bash than they could throw individually.” – Susan J.T., NetSquared Victoria
We highly recommend that organizers find venues that are free of charge. Most clubs find that organizations are eager to host Tech Club events.
See what venues that other local groups use. (Check out local community event calendars—you’ll want to use these for promotion later anyway!) Attend other groups’ events to scope out their venues, as well as connect with the organizers and venue hosts. (This is also a great way to promote your group!) Ask your community for venue suggestions.
NTEN has put together venue sponsorship package to help groups secure long-term, complimentary space.
Once you have a potential venue host, use the Info for Venue Hosts template to provide the host with more information about your group, expectations, and benefits.
- United Way
- Colleges and universities with Nonprofit Management programs
- Nonprofit associations
- Medium/large nonprofits
- Community centers
- Co-working spaces
- Tech incubators
- Tech companies, especially those that work with nonprofits
- Restaurants with offset rooms or quiet spaces
- If the venue serves alcohol, be sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic options
- Ensure that your venue is easily accessible by public transportation
- Look for wheelchair and service animal accessibility
- Check the audio/visual set-up: Is there a computer, projector, PA system?
- Ask if Wi-Fi will be available to attendees
- When possible, try to find venues where the host might add value to the attendee experience (i.e. something nonprofit or tech-related)
Moving vs. Staying
Notes on staying at the same location for each meeting and moving to different locations:
- Staying at the same location:
- Pro: Help lessen the administrative burden on organizers
- Pro: Community can get more accustomed to the location
- Pro: Organizers can build a deeper relationship with the venue hosts to help keep agreement sustainable
- Con: Some community members may never be able to get to this part of town
- Moving to different locations:
- Pro: Opportunity to reach different community members
- Pro: Ability to connect attendees to different services and resources provided by different venue host
- Con: More work for organizers to secure locations
We want everyone to feel welcome at Nonprofit Tech Club events. Part of your job as an organizer is to find venues that are as accessible as possible.
- Mobility access: Is the venue wheelchair accessible? Is there a ramp? About how many steps might someone have to climb? Is there accessible parking onsite?
- Hearing access: Will presenters use microphones?
- Sight access: Will you use a projector? Can you provide an advance copy of the presentation notes or slides for someone that might need it?
Note the venue’s general accessibility on the RSVP page. Use the Info for Venue Hosts template to help you remember what questions to ask when selecting a venue. Use the RSVP Page Template to help convey the details to the public.
Note: NTEN can potentially cover the costs for special accomdations such as real-time captioning services. Contact NTEN’s community manager to discuss.
Topics should be relevant to nonprofit professionals (and be about ideas, rather than specific products or services). Organizers are free to pick the topics that will be most beneficial to their communities.
Tech Clubs not meant to serve as user groups or provide pro bono service. Seventy-five percent of a club’s yearly events must have an educational component.
We recommend that organizers plan events several months in advance. Many organizers even like to get together in January and work out the whole year. You don’t need to immediately know the topic scope or the presenters, but when you have the general topic (and the date), you can more easily narrow down the specifics and plug in presenters later.
It’s typically much simpler to reach out to potential presenters when you can give them a topic and date. Also, it looks much more inviting to potential attendees to see all the dates and topics on your calendar in advance.
We recommend that new or re-emerging groups have at least one community planning event. Typically this is a kick-off event, however many groups like to have them once a year. Invite community members to join the organizing team in planning a few upcoming events. This is a great way to get additional feedback, as well as create greater buy-in from your community. Bring some snacks, butcher paper, sticky notes, and markers. Ask attendees to talk about what they want. Match potential topics with potential presenters. Fill out your theme calendar.
Pair with Events from the Larger Nonprofit Community
Tie an event to national day of service or holiday such as National Volunteer Week, National Internet Security Day, or Global Accessibility Day.
Ask someone from a local nonprofit to talk about a recent tech project. See if they can bring the staff or consultant who helped implement it.
Attendees sign-up online in advance or at the door and talk about X topic for 5 minutes. The topic could be as broad as projects, tools, and tips on anything nonprofit technology-related or you could focus on a specific theme such as favorite tools, conference recaps, etc.
Social Media Surgery
Social media surgeries are a great hands-on, participation-focused event. If you don’t have the space to hold a surgery in the typical format (pairing nonprofits [patients] with experts [surgeons]), perhaps recruit a couple nonprofit patients and then lead the audience through a group critique. While you might want to make sure you have a few experts seeded in the room, you’re likely to find that everyone will love to give advice. Be sure to prep everyone with rules on how to critique kindly.
Perhaps hold a happy hour at a bar or restaurant. Maybe buy a few appetizers to share, but let attendees manage their own drinks and meals. Or, perhaps hold a social event at an organization that the community might like to learn more about or at a space they might like to see. Have the host give a short presentation or tour, then spend the rest of the time socializing.
Whatever you choose, be sure to bring name tags and markers. (If you head to a bar or restaurant, bring a table sign to help people find you.) Work the room to welcome your attendees and help them connect and network.
Reminder: Tech Clubs should not hold more than one or two informal, social events per year.
Everyone has something to contribute. Make sure that the majority of your presenters are from the nonprofit sector.
How to Find Presenters
The easiest way to find presenters is to ask! Use your community survey and event evaluation to ask attendees to find presenters. Reach out to organizations doing interesting things in your community. Go to other local events to scope out potential presenters from other communities.
Work to bring in presenters of diverse race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and ability as well as from all different backgrounds, organizations, sectors, and job types.
“In planning our events, we try not to focus too much on speakers from one type of organization or topics that overlap too many months in a row. By inviting presenters with varied experiences, it helps us bring in varied attendees. Often, our event speakers share or retweet our event announcements, too, so it’s also a chance to engage with their communities.” – Susan Johnson Taylor, NetSquared Victoria
Adapt the presenter prep template to help presenters understand expectations, have a good experience, and create a great learning experience for attendees.
Perhaps adapt and share this sample blurb with confirmed presenters:
Thank you so much for committing to present for [Nonprofit Tech Club name]! We’re so excited to learn from your experiences with [topic]!
I’m confirming that your event is scheduled for [date]. Arrive at [venue] by [time].
1) Please review our presenter prep sheet so we’re all on the same page: [URL].
2) Send us the following information by [date]:
- Event title
- Event description (200 words or less)
- Bio (100 words or less)
- Room set-up or technology requests
3) We’ll follow-up with the event page soon after we get the information above. Please be prepared to help us share it with your networks.
4) Please develop around [amount] minutes of content so there’s plenty of time for Q&A.
We can’t wait to attend your event! Let us know if you have any questions in the meantime.
3.5.Who is Your Audience and What Do They Want
You never need wonder what your community wants—just ask! We recommend that you survey your community every year or so to get more info about who your audience is and what they want. Use the sample survey in your Google Drive folder to get started.
Send your survey to NTEN’s community manager so we can help share it on your behalf. Send it to potential partners, presenters, or venue hosts—perhaps ask them to share via newsletter or social media. Have the organizing team share with their networks. Share widely and often in order to get good results.
Here’s a sample blurb to help give the survey context:
We’re teaming up with NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network (nten.org) to create a Nonprofit Tech Club in [CITY NAME]. We hope to start holding free nonprofit technology events in the next few months and want your input.
NTEN’s Nonprofit Tech Clubs are a volunteer-run networking and lecture series for the nonprofit community. Events will offer tips, tricks, how-tos, how-not-tos, and higher level conversations to help nonprofit professionals spark change with technology and do their jobs better. All will be welcome.
There are nearly 20 Nonprofit Tech Clubs across the US and Canada—let’s get one started here at home! Give your feedback here: [SURVEY URL]. (Deadline: [SURVEY CLOSE DATE].)
3.6.Promotion and Engagement
Promote early and often. Involve NTEN, community partners, co-organizers, and attendees. Give your community the tools to help you promote and engage before, during, and after your event.
Organizers are required to add their events to NTEN’s event calendar. NTEN’s community manager will review and publish events at least once a week. (Note: You must be logged into your NTEN account to use this form.)
Sample Sharing Text
Make it easy for your community to help you promote by giving them some sample sharing text that they can adapt and share. Pro tip: Make sure you are sharing this text as well.
In the example below, Michelle Regal, an organizer from the Women in Nonprofit Tech online group, included a request for promotional help in a personalized bulk message. A simple “Help Us Promote: The #nptechwomen call w @tiffani is gonna rock! Join us on 1/21 @ 10am PT: http://ow.ly/WId6H” resulted in numerous community tweets throughout the day.
Social Media Platforms
First and foremost, the best social media platforms are the ones you will actually use. Many groups make the mistake of creating accounts on numerous platforms that the group ultimately can’t sustain. Tumbleweeds do not inspire the community to get involved.
When you’re first starting out, we recommend that you only a hashtag. It can be used across platforms and you’ll have one less thing to worry about. Instead, use your personal accounts to engage and share. As you become more settled and the group has proven itself to be sustainable–and if you really think you need it—slowly add a in a platform. Survey your community to see what platform they use the most and use that one.
But, whatever you choose, make sure to consistently use it.
Do your research to find relevant local hashtags you can piggyback onto and potentially reach new audiences. For example in Portland, Oregon a popular hashtag is #PDXtech.
Nonprofit Tech Club Victoria’s S.J.T said, “In promoting our events, we use other hashtags to indicate geography, such as #YYJ (the airport code for Victoria) or #YYJevents, so that those following the hashtag know about the events even if they don’t know our organization yet.”
Engage with Your Community
The more you engage, the more likely your community will start sharing and helping each other without a lot of prodding. If you promote a hashtag or social accounts, the organizers need to use them too. If you ask your community to live-tweet or otherwise engage socially, engage with them–re-share, like, and respond.
Keep this in mind when assigning co-organizer and volunteer duties. Good examples of tasks for event-specific, short-term volunteers are live-tweeting and taking pictures for future use on social media.
Above all, regardless of whether it’s before, during or after an event, do not let a community member’s question or contribution go unnoticed.
Nonprofit Tech Club Victoria’s S.J.T says, “We live-tweet our events using the hashtag #Net2Vic and retweet other attendees using the same hashtag. After each each event, we also compile highlights using Storify so that others can see the main takeaways or attendees can recap the key points… Posting event photos on social media (we give attendees the chance to opt out of photos if they prefer) are also a great way to re-engage attendees after the fact when they tag or share photos.”
Nonprofit Tech Club NYC organizer J.B. gives a good reminder about involving presenters in social engagement during events:
“Capturing tweets and photos with our #501TechNYC tag and making a Storify can be really valuable if speakers are properly prepared to share their content in tweetable bites or have lots of media to share (photos, videos, links, etc.). We’ve even had a few speakers time their presentations and create content to auto-tweet around the appropriate time. It’s helped keep our live audience engaged and also involve more [nonprofit techies] on the Twitterverse.”
Nonprofit Tech Club events must be free to attend. Organizers may solicit small donations at the door to help cover event-related expenses, however there should be no barrier to entry. Any funds received must go directly back into the club or to NTEN.
NTEN will reimburse organizers for event-related purchases such snacks, office supplies, and printing costs, up to $100/month. Checks will be made in US dollars. Contact NTEN’s community manager to talk about reimbursement via other methods or currencies. Use the event report to request reimbursement.
NTEN offers several cash and venue sponsorships for supporting individual clubs or the program as a whole. Organizers should introduce potential sponsors to NTEN’s community manager. Development staff will then work with the sponsor to develop a final package and provide an MOU and invoice. (Organizers will also need to sign the MOU.) Payment will be made directly to NTEN. Organizers can request sponsorship funds via the regular reimbursement process.
We’ve found that consistency is key to establishing and growing a successful Tech Club.
Clubs are expected to host an event at least once a quarter. Many clubs meet on the same day every month, such as the third Thursday. Most meet after work around 6pm.
We recommend that you pick dates and times well in advance and give the community several months notice. Set a placeholder if even you don’t know the exact details.
Every Tech Club is different, however this is a typical agenda for a group that meets in the evening:
- 5:15pm/5:30pm Organizers arrive and set-up
- 5:45pm-6pm Presenters arrive and set-up
- 6pm-8pm Event
- 6pm-6:30pm Networking and snacks
- 6:30pm-6:40pm Intro presentations by Tech Club organizers and venue host
- 6:40pm-7:45pm Speaker presentation and Q&A
- 7:45pm-8pm Continued networking and snacks
- 8pm-8:15pm Organizers clean-up and leave
Some clubs invite everyone to go to a nearby restaurant or pub to continue conversations after the formal event.
We recommend that you provide the following event details on your RSVP pages (ex. Meetup.com, Eventbrite, etc.). Use the RSVP Page Template to help you get started.
- Event description
- Short presenter bio
- Social sharing info
- Logistics (include how to get into building, parking, nearby bus information, etc.)
- Venue and presentation accessibility
- Organizer contact info
- NTEN branding
3.11.RSVPs vs. Attendees
Free events generally receive many more RSVPs than actual attendees. Clubs should plan for 50-60% of their RSVP list to attend.
Check out the email that organizer D.P. sent to their event’s RVSP list as a way to try to get more accurate numbers. They’ve done a great job of asking community members to be thoughtful their RSVP response and why, plus they encourage folks to follow along via Twitter should they not be able to make it in-person.
Subject: Please confirm your RSVP for Nonprofit Tech Club – Victoria: Branding As a Non-Profit: Putting Your Brand to Work for You
Thanks for RSVPing to “Branding As a Non-Profit: Putting Your Brand to Work for You”. We’re expecting a big crowd tomorrow.
To be sure that we set everything up right, if you can’t make it, can you change your RSVP to a NO?
We’ll be sad to miss you, but it will help us better prepare. As always, you can follow along at home on Twitter with the hashtag #Net2Vic.
If you can still make it, there’s nothing you need to do other than show up and learn how to put your brand to work for you!
See you Thursday!
3.12.Event Day Essentials
- Set-up crew
- Presenter wrangler (make sure they have what they need and know what to do)
- Greeter (welcome attendees, give them logistic info [start time, what to do until presentation starts, snack and bathroom locations, etc.])
- Connecter/mingler (help connect attendees and feel welcome)
- Clean-up crew
- NTEN literature, stickers, etc.
- Introduction slides or notes
- About the group
- About the sponsors
- NTEN monthly news
- Group hashtag
- Upcoming group events
- Venue logistics, such as restroom location
- Post-event survey
- Community announcements
- Name tags
- Blank paper for last-minute signs, etc.
- Sign-in sheets
- Time countdown signs for presenter
- AV equipment
- Projector and screen (or blank wall)
- PA system
Most organizers serve refreshments during their events, however you do not need to provide attendees with full meals. If you do plan to offer snacks, note it on the event RSVP page but let attendees take care of additional needs on their own. Even if your event is during the lunch hour, you can encourage attendees to bring their own lunch.
If you anticipate 20 or fewer attendees, we suggest that you purchase something like: no more than two 12-packs of cans of sparkling water and a container each of food items such as veggies, hummus, salsa, and tortilla chips. This amount should be a sufficient snack. These types of items are typically accessible to community members with special diets.
Many groups provide alcohol at their events or hold events at venues where alcohol is served. This is acceptable to NTEN, and organizers may use their $50 reimbursement to help pay for it.
It’s extremely important to us, however, that there are plenty of non-alcoholic options at events where alcohol is served. Make sure that non-alcoholic beverages are thoughtfully selected and are as accessible as any alcoholic options.
Know that NTEN does not extend any licensing or insurance to Tech Clubs. Unless an event is held at a venue with a licensed bartender, venue hosts (and potentially the organizers) assume the risk should an incident occur.
We have heard that many US hosts don’t mind if alcohol is available at their events, as long as attendees are serving themselves and are not being charged for it.
Note that laws are different in every country. Canada’s Nonprofit Tech Club Ottawa’s S. M. found:
“Essentially, as we’re not an incorporated organization, the group itself cannot be insured. It would fall to each of the steering committee members personally (often personal liability insurance is included in home insurance or contents insurance).
The permitting and restrictions around public events and alcohol are pretty strict here in Ontario. When we’re hosting an event ourselves, and it’s not being held at a bar (under their liquor license), we obtain a Special Occasion Permit (details: http://www.agco.on.ca/en/services/permit_special_gpb.aspx). There has also been a recommendation to obtain Party & Alcohol Liability insurance for these events as well, which we will do going forward. Further details can be found here: www.palcanada.com. It’s about $150 for each event, which we are now building into our budget.”
Do not stress about AV equipment when you’re just getting started. Your first few events can be casual–you may not need anything other than butcher paper and sticky notes. A computer and projector are likely necessary only once you want to start having more formal presentations. Things like a PA system are helpful as attendance grows (or if the venue space is especially noisy), but they aren’t a have-to-have right away.
Unless you are using the venue’s computer and projector, connecting the presenter’s laptop to the other AV equipment is likely to be a regular wild card. Be sure to ask your presenters and venue hosts what equipment they have. Then ask the presenters or co-organizers or your community to bring the correct dongle to make sure the computer will connect to the projector.
Organizers should try to find venues that will supply any necessary equipment. However if it’s just not possible that month, perhaps you can check it out from a library or borrow from another nonprofit. Maybe ask your community for a volunteer to come early with a loaner from their office. Check to see if your town has an organization like Free Geek which may donate tech to your group.
Get regular feedback from your attendees with a post-event evaluation. NTEN created short and sweet evaluations for all Nonprofit Tech Clubs.
Make sure your attendees are familiar with the evaluation URL. Once your community understands that event evaluation is a norm, you should start getting a good amount of feedback each time.
- Use link shortener to create a consistent short link just for your club
- Note the importance of attendee feedback in your introduction
- Put the link in your welcome slides
- Tweet the link out during/after the event
- Include the link in any post-event messaging
NTEN’s community manager will send organizers results once a month.
3.14.After the Event
Your event is complete. Huzzah! There’s a few more tasks you need to do before moving on to the next one:
- Collect pictures, tweets, and other media to create a story of your event via a tool like Storify
- Send a post-event email to your attendees and/or post an event recap to your RSVP page or social media
- Make sure your community knows when the next event will take place
- Read over attendee event evaluations and talk over what worked and didn’t work with your co-organizers
- Fill out the Event Report for NTEN
- Add the next month’s event on the NTEN calendar
Recommended Community Resources
- A Case for Personally Welcoming Your Newbies
- FeverBee: Community building articles and discussion forum
- CMX: Community management articles and Facebook group
- The Community Roundtable
- CommBuild: NTEN’s community building online group
- Higher Logic Users Group: Resources and discussion forums via the company that makes our community platform
- 4 Ways to Save Live Video Broadcasts
- To Engage Your Community, Be Helpful, Be Grateful
- Learning from Example: Innovative methods to engage your online community
- 8 Best Practice Steps for Every Community
- 5 Things Your Online Community Should be Doing
- 6 Tips to Engage and Empower Your Community All-Stars
From NTEN’s Organizer Community
- Collaborative notes, video, and pictures from 16NTC Organizer Day
- 5 Ways to Draw the Community Into Your Events: From NetSquared Victoria organizer, Susan Johnson Taylor
- Recap: Community Organizing Tools from the Experts: Tips from several Nonprofit Tech Club and NTEN online community organizers
- Community is even better when it’s face-to-face: Check out your local NTEN 501 Tech Club!: News/tips from various Tech Club organizers
- A Brief History of Tech Clubs in Poland: Dawid Szarański on Poland’s TechKlubby
- On Building the #TechKlub Network: Jean Ekwa on Poland’s TechKlubby
Checklist for Starting a New Club
Make sure you’re completing all the steps to build a strong foundation for your club. Use this checklist as you work through the handbook.
Use this slide deck to help give context about the club and NTEN. Share logistical information about the venue and how attendees can participate, etc.
These templates create eight 2-1/3″ x 3-3/8″ badges and work with Avery product numbers 15395, 25395, 42395, 45395, 48395, 5395, 8395, 88395, and 85395 (example).
We recommend that organizers plan events several months in advance. Many organizers even like to get together in January and work out the whole year. You don’t need to immediately know the topic scope or the presenters, but when you have the general topic (and the date), you can more easily narrow down the specifics and plug in presenters later. It’s typically much simpler to reach out to potential presenters when you can give them a topic and date. Also, it looks much more inviting to potential attendees to see all the dates and topics on your calendar in advance.
Presenter Prep Sheet
Use this document to help presenters understand their expectations, have a good experience, and create a great learning opportunity for attendees.
Venue Prep Sheet
Once you have a potential venue host, use the new document to share more information about your Tech Club, expectations, and benefits.
RSVP Page Template
Make sure you’re giving potential attendees the best information about your event. Use this document to create a reusable template for your RSVP pages. (Adapted from resources created by the great Portland and Vancouver organizers.)
Attendee Sign-in Sheet
Use this document to help keep track of your attendees. Send a scan or picture to NTEN’s community manager and we’ll make sure those that opt-in for NTEN emails get added to our database. (We absolutely will not add anyone from the list who has not opted-in.) This helps NTEN connect your community to useful nonprofit tech resources + helps us have a larger list of folks to send your event promo emails to. (Note: We need their zip/post code in order to be able to target your community members with promo for you.)
Help your presenters stay on track by showing them how much time they have left.
Survey your community to find out what they want from the club. (Look in your Google Drive folder for your file or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request one.)
Invite your community to help you make your events the best they can be. (Look in your Google Drive folder for your file or send an email to email@example.com to request one.)
Organizers & Volunteers Tracking
Help the organizers who come after you by maintaining an archive of you has been involved with your club.
Partner, Venue, Topic, Presenter, Sponsor Research Tracking
Help the organizers who come after you by maintaining an archive of your research and ideas. Make a copy of this file and add it to your club’s Google Drive.
5.2.Events & Activities
Connect & Collaborate
Help your attendees meet and work together through this informal connection activity. Attendees can use this resource to find collaborators for their next tech project, recruit volunteers for an upcoming event, or simply connect with someone to go to coffee with. (This resource is based on the CreativeMornings Toronto’s Collaboration Station.)
From organizer S.M. (Ottawa, ON): “It’s not quite as formal as an Annual Report, but it includes a recaps of the events we held and thanks our sponsors. We thought it would be a good way to thank our sponsors (and potentially get some new ones), speakers and the people who have become part of our [Nonprofit Tech Club] community.”
Example from Denver, CO team.
Check out tips for how the Naples, FL group welcomes new group members.