Bringing the Hope

I’ve been to the Nonprofit Technology Conference (people usually call it the NTC) twice and both times it was a kaleidoscope of familiar names, new faces, and intriguing ideas.

This year I heard fail stories, project management tips, ideas for better integrating communications teams, data visualization principles, advice from podcast and radio pros, and a lot more—but one statement crystallized for me why conferences like the NTC are so important.

Jazmyn Henry, a panelist for the session Love and Happiness: Building Community with Smart Communications, said to a room full of communications professionals: “It is your responsibility to bring the hope because without that what’s the point of fighting?”

She was making a very specific point about communications content—you have to show success stories and make the connection between donor support and real solutions—but to me the statement feels bigger than that. A lot of different kinds of people (and not just this year) have felt on the verge of despair over the state of the world. For many on the right and left it feels as though the world is falling apart.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But it’s hard to see clearly when so much of what we see on TV and social media only reinforces this feeling of dissolution and decay.

This week I met a lot of problem solvers, people who are putting forward real solutions to big and small challenges. I was quite literally surrounded by people who are making the world a better place. I wish I could have introduced all of them to the cynics and mopers, the people who think of some idealized past as “great” while failing to see and participate in the greatness that’s happening right now, all around us.

Most nonprofits already broadcast positive messages to donors because those kinds of messages have been proven to bring in donations, but the need for efficiency has also helped nonprofits become walls of the echo chambers many of us now live within. What’s good for donations might not be what’s best. A few doses of hope—based on real outcomes—might do us all good

For me, 17NTC brought the hope and today I’m hopeful that the energy of last week will carry us all forward for the next year. And I’m excited to share more stories of nonprofits finding success through technology.

This month’s top #nptech stories are a mix of the hopeful and the helpful. Check them out and let us know in the comments what stories caught your attention.

Thanks, Dan

Best of the Web: March 2017


A little secret for anyone who didn’t make it to NTC… notes from every session are available online. It’s not the same as being there, but if you want to know what people are talking about or are giving yourself a tech crash course on the cheap, this is an incredibly valuable resource.

Data Visualization (Alberto Cairo at the NTC)

Friday’s keynote at the NTC offered core principles for good data visualization. You can view the slides here.

Nonprofit Technology Celebrates International Women’s Day (TechSoup) 

We celebrated national women’s day this month. Thanks to TechSoup for putting together this list of women who are doing excellent work in nonprofit technology and beyond.

24 Must-Read Fundraising and Social Media Reports for Nonprofits (Nonprofit Tech for Good)

Need the latest data on fundraising or social media? The excellent Nonprofit Tech for Good has put together a list of recent reports that you should have on your radar.

Lawsuit Alleges That PayPal Diverted Donations To Different Charities (NPR) 

A major breach of trust was revealed last month. PayPal’s Giving Fund is accused of misdirecting tens of thousands of donations, leaving many organizations and their donors feeling ripped off.

Google Is Fighting with Symantec Over Encrypting the Internet (TechCrunch) 

We think of the internet as the cyber equivalent of the wild west, but there are a few structures in place that are critical to the security of websites and web users. Two of them are encryption and SSL certificates. Essentially, these certificates tell your browser that the page you’re trying to access is OK and they encrypt the data that moves to and from the server. Google’s fight with Symantec comes down to this: Google isn’t comfortable with Symantec’s policies for issuing certificates. The good news is that they seem to have worked it all out and certificate strength remains high.

Make Sure Your Nonprofit’s Communications Are Safe and Secure! (TechSoup) 

This article from TechSoup is full of information and links, making it a kind of crash course in security techniques and tools for nonprofits. 

American Fundraisers Lag Behind In Texting (The Nonprofit Times)

Text messaging is very popular in Africa and Asia, but in North America only 3 percent of NGOs regularly send text messages to supporters and donors. Why the gap and how can more nonprofits take advantage of this method of outreach?

Grants Management Software is a Dinosaur. Bring on the Jetpacks. (LinkedIn)

What if you could choose the best software tool for every function and the data could all be stored centrally and swapped as needed? Sam Caplan believes that service oriented architecture is on its way and will make integration a whole lot easier.

Logistics for Hands-On Training (Idealware)

Birgit Pauli-Haack runs a great training series in Florida through Tech4Good Southwest Florida. A few weeks ago Karen interviewed her to learn what makes her such an effective trainer.

Who Can You Trust Online? (JSTOR Daily)

What do we put at risk? What does trust really mean in most online contexts? It still seems to matter whether or not we’re face-to-face with each other. Alexandra Samuel says: “Online trust is not only less tangible than offline trust, it’s also less durable. We invest ourselves in a particular community or conversation—perhaps engaging in a high degree of disclosure —and then move onto the next.”