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.