Non-profit motive

October 22, 2009

During what I like to call my professional networking journey, I’ve been focused on finding events that will add to my arsenal of tools and my rolodex of skilled and fascinating people.

These events have been as distant and varied as SXSW, the #140Conf, CES and scooter rallies. The people have come from all professions, income strata and backgrounds. And I’m richer for the experience.


Today – using the word ‘richer’ as serious irony – I’m sitting at the keynote address at The Non-Profit Toolbox inaugural conference in Rockland, MA. Established by Reiko and Tom Beach, the NPTB is focused on delivering training and other resources for non-profit professionals in the metro-Boston area.

The event was publicized using social media and the organizers are seriously aware of how these tools can give a boost to traditional conference promotion and execution.

It’s not the first time social media was used in this way? Hardly.

You can’t watch Twitter for more than five minutes without seeing an appeal from a charity. And billboards, direct mail and other media are filled with messages asking us to empty our pockets.

There are groups like Social Media for Social Good and Social Media for Social Change already in this space. But connecting the traditional and new communities has been an ongoing challenge. NPTB seems – based on turnout – to have met this challenge with an interesting program and an unwritten promise to teach┬ápeople how to raise money and communicate more clearly and effectively.

Seems like it might work. I’m not saying this by looking at results, but by perusing the ballroom and looking at today’s agenda.

From what I’ve learned so far, there are at least 50 people in this room who were willing to get up in the inky blackness to attend a conference at a Holiday Inn. Most faces are smiling and the chatter around me is spiked with anticipation and optimism.

The agenda is similarly spiked with forward-looking sessions and what look to be useful content for this audience. Here’s a brief overview…

Keynote – The Psychology of Fundraising

Business/Finance Track – Practical Accounting & Reporting Prep; Creating Powerful Organizations; Unraveling the Mystery of Grant Writing

Marketing/Promotional Track – Planning your way to Fundraising Success; Successful Design Tips; The Web: Your Greatest Resource & Tool

What else am I seeing? Some bumps in the presentation.

Sound wasn’t perfect – but we’re not born knowing how to use wireless microphones. No Wifi – but it’s not a tweetup, it’s a business conference and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one anxious to check my mail, read blogs, and search my RSS news feeds while spending time in conference sessions.

Otherwise, there is great food, plenty of table room and enthusiastic staff. According to Reiko, upcoming NPTB conferences will remain intimate, pay attention to important non-profit topics, and provide tools that attendees can use to find success in the non-profit world.

Is the Non-Profit Toolbox the end-all when it comes to the educational options non-profit-minded people? Hardly. But it’s a start.

What events have you been to lately that bring people together to learn and actually deliver? Is social media the best way Reiko and her team can alert the world to NPTB’s mission and conferences? What would be a better way? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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