Then & Now, Old & New

I was pleased to get out of the office on Wednesday and spend it at the 2016 Nonprofit Technology & Communications conference sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits in Minneapolis. The theme was ‘Then & Now,’ which is particularly fitting in the world of technology. Things change and grow so rapidly – it’s hard to keep up! And with so many specialty and sub-specialty areas, it’s difficult to decide what to focus on, what to store, and what to leave for later.mcn tech & comm conference

There was a very interesting session that focused on moving your entire nonprofit organization to the cloud and, judging by the size of the audience, this appears to be something that nonprofits are definitely interested in. One Minnesota organization shared the details of the journey they recently completed, using a consultant to help them transition from a network of local workstations and servers to a one that exists entirely on the internet. Their conclusion was that it was a very positive and eco-friendly decision that will save considerable costs in the long run.

Another session focused on the challenges of databases in general, and the need to ‘Avoid Software Mess.’ Not surprisingly, this was a crowded session with lots of questions and some great discussion. It seems that having piles of Excel spreadsheets - each with a different purpose, designer, and audience - is a pretty common thing in the nonprofit world. In addition to some great suggestions, I think there was a bit of a support-group-type benefit to those attending this session. Many attendees found that being in this situation puts them in good company with quite a few others.

Not surprisingly, there were many sessions that dealt with critical topics like security, safety, cost-effectiveness, and a number that highlighted new things coming. And like any conference, it was a great chance to connect with others who share the same interests and challenges.

For me, it was great to be able to meet a few of our customers in person and put faces to names. And hopefully, in the process, we met a few customers-to-be as well. Thanks to the 2016 Nonprofit Technology & Communications Conference Planning Committee for putting on a great, one-day conference and for the chance to meet friends, old and new!