Those of you who know me, know that I get really excited about TechNow, our annual nonprofit technology conference.  TechNow energizes me in a way that only one other event in the year really does (and that would be NTEN’s tech conference).

Hence and therefore, please don’t be shocked if I’m spouting TechNow from here until October.  When I get excited about something, I tell people.  This is no exception.  🙂

So….mark your calendar, tell your fellow techies, co-workers, and friends!  TechNow, the annual conference devoted exclusively to nonprofit technology, will be held on Thursday, October 29, 2009.

Ami DarThis year, we have another fabulous and relevant keynote speaker for you!  We will be joined by Mr. Ami Dar, the founder and executive director of  Built in 1996 with $3,500, Idealist has become one of the most popular nonprofit resources on the web, with information provided by 90,000 organizations around the world, 70,000 visitors every day, and a staff of 60 in New York, Buenos Aires, and Portland.  Ami plans to speak about how nonprofits can successfully collaborate, accomplishing more with fewer resources.

This year, we are delighted to be hosted by Robert Morris University at its very own Sewall Center, located on RMU’s Moon Township campus.  The Moon Township campus is near the Pittsburgh International Airport and is easily reached via car or Port Authority bus.

If you would like to be notified when TechNow conference registration opens on the Bayer Center’s website, email me at  Look for more TechNow updates in the upcoming months, including a re-vamped conference website!

Hooray for Technovians everywhere!


I have decided.  I want a Fail Whale of my very own.

When Twitter experiences an outage, users see the following image and an error message “Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again.”

Instead of making excuses or blaming others, Twitter accepts its failures gracefully and with a sense of humor.  Hence, my idea of having my own personal Fail Whale.  I love this image – the birds representing support and someone kindly lifting up the whale after his failure.  The whale looks relieved, doesn’t he?

Too often, we are so rigid with ourselves and so afraid of failing that we never try anything new.  The “what if’s” start eating at us and before you know it, we’re sticking to things that are safe and familiar.

Clay Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody” and one of the keynote speakers at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in April, addressed our (as in nonprofits) fear of failure in his speech.  Some quotes from that keynote:

  • “We spend more time figuring out whether something is a good idea than we would have just trying it.”
  • “Fail informatively – Fail like crazy.”

I recall him saying that it’s better to have five good ideas then one great idea…and even better to have 20 okay ideas than one great idea or five good ideas.  That we nonprofits tend to over-analyze and over-plan instead of just jumping in and giving new ideas a try.  Sound familiar?

Why do we spend so much time in the analysis and planning phase?  I think it’s because it puts off the implementation phase…the phase where you actually have to do something rather than just thinking about doing something.  See, when you are simply thinking about doing something, that’s failure-free.  (If you daydream about failing, please call me and I’ll Google a therapist in your area.  That’s just not normal.)  It’s when we take action that the possibility of failing becomes a reality.

This is not to say that failing should go unnoticed or unaddressed.  We just need to be less harsh with ourselves when we fail.

Ever beaten yourself up about anything?  I have…loads and loads of times, for days and days, even.  Sample mental self-talk:  “You are such an idiot.  Why did you do that?  Why did you say that?  Why didn’t you say this?  People are going to think you’re a total moron.”  And so on and so forth.  What we should be doing instead is dealing with ourselves in a nurturing manner.  Accept the failure, glean the lessons from it, and move on:  “Yes, I made a mistake.  Yes, I see where I could do or say that differently next time.”  Put up your Fail Whale and keep at it.

Watch the entire Clay Shirky keynote here:

Hi all,

I’m writing from San Francisco, where I’m attending NTEN’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) 2009.

It’s been a busy day, as these conferences always are, and I’m looking forward to coming back and digesting all the things I’m learning here so I can share them with you!

It’s ironic, but I was looking forward to some warm sunny California weather here and it’s been in the 50s so far. My husband told me it hit the high 80s in the ‘Burgh today. Go figure, eh? Tomorrow after sessions are over, my plan is to jump on a cable car and do some sightseeing.

In particular, I want to share one of the conference highlights that marked the end of a brilliant and extremely creative fundraising campaign on NTEN’s part. Those of you who attended our own TechNow 2008 conference will remember our keynote speaker, Holly Ross, who is the executive director of NTEN.

A few months back, when NTEN wanted to raise scholarship money to help members be able to afford the conference fee, Holly posted this video call for donations: (P.S., I tried to embed these but WordPress won’t cooperate – sorry.)

This tactic worked and NTEN raised $10,395, just over the $10K goal. Convio matched it dollar for dollar and a bunch of people got to come to the conference who wouldn’t have been able to do so otherwise.

As our “reward” and her “humiliation,” Holly chose to remake the Beyonce video “Single Ladies – Put a Ring On It,” which debuted at breakfast this morning. This is my third year at this conference and I have to say, I’ve never seen so many people show up for breakfast as happened this morning.

True to her word, Holly re-made the video with gusto:

What an fundraising inspiration, eh? I probably would have chosen the trombone playing myself, and I give Holly kudos for not chickening out. She rocks.

So what creative way can you raise money for your organization?

See you in a few days,

Have a question or something to add to this post? Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1 GB USB drive. One winner per week until the end of May.

At our TechNow 2008 conference last October, we had Holly Ross from the Nonprofit Technology Network (aka NTEN, as our keynote speaker. 

NTEN is the membership organization of nonprofit professionals who put technology to use for their causes.  It is essentially a community of peers who share technology solutions across the sector and support each other’s work.

I’m excited about one of NTEN’s latest projects: a book entitled “Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders.”  The book features a variety of topics on nonprofit IT strategy by a range of recognized experts in their fields:

  • Achieving IT Alignment with Your Mission – Steve Heye, YMCA of the USA
  • Managing Technology Change -Dahna Goldstein, PhilanTech
  • Measuring the Return on Investment of Technology – Beth Kanter, trainer, blogger and consultant
  • IT Planning and Prioritizing – Peter Campbell, Earthjustice
  • Finding and Keeping the Right People – James L. Weinberg and Cassie Scarano, Commongood Careers
  • Budgeting For and Funding Technology – Scott McCallum and Keith R. Thode, Aidmatrix Foundation
  • Introduction to IT and Systems – Kevin Lo and Willow Cook, TechSoup Global
  • Where Are Your Stakeholders, and What Are They Doing Online? – Michael Cervino, Beaconfire Consulting
  • Effective Online Communications – John Kenyon, nonprofit technology strategist
  • Effective Online Fundraising – Madeline Stanionis, Watershed
  • The Future if IT in Nonprofits – Edward Granger-Happ, Save the Children

As I type this post, I’m attending an online book release party where we are listening to each author talk about his or her chapter.  Sounds like good stuff to me – I can’t wait for my copy to arrive!  It’s available for order at:,descCd-description.html

If you aren’t ready to commit to purchasing the book, you might be interested in checking out the wiki for the book on which bonus materials, questions, and discussions are being added: