Informed and inspired: Lessons learned at My Charity Connects 2011

Informed and inspired: Lessons learned at My Charity Connects 2011

This blog has been reposted with the permission of Platformation, (Twitter: PlatformDaily) an online resource for charities looking for low-cost, high-value online and mobile technology. We deeply appreciate them sharing their thoughts on the Net Change conference.

I spent a valuable four days last week connecting with and learning from leaders in the non-profit and technology sector during Net Change Week hosted by MaRS.   I attended two conferences that were part of the week’s activities:  My Charity Connects (#mcc11) and Mobile for Social Change (#mt4sc).

Here are some of the great lessons I learned from my My Charity Connects (#mcc11) hosted by our friends at Canada Helps.

It’s time to use our collective force to make a movement

The conference opened up with the ever-inspiring Amy Sample Ward whose keynote was filled with a lot of valuable advice including the importance of listening and collaboration.  The one point that really resonated with me was when she told the audience that we needed to start using our collective force as an industry to drive the development of technological tools needed in the non-profit sector.  This is microeconomics 101, a simple but powerful lesson on supply and demand.  As individuals we may voice our need of certain tools but unless we speak together and our voices may fall against deaf ears.  She ended her presentation by challenging us to find a way to make a movement.  Check out her presentation and send her a tweet!

Make fundraising part of your community manager’s mandate

After being inspired by Amy I attended Claire Kerr’s presentation “Oops, you raised awareness but without raising money” (my favourite slide was 17, check it out!).  Claire’s presentation was filled with great advice and information but the one point she brought up that I think is often overlooked is the importance of making fundraising part of your community manager’s mandate.  Social media is one of an organization’s most public communication portals and it is important that charitable organizations have a community manager who is familiar with its organizations fundraising campaigns.  A great example she cited was a tweet from @AmnestyUK who incorporates fundraising goals and outcomes right into their twitter account by tweets like this one.

Share by default: Create information once, distribute widely, work from anywhere

Our very own Amanda Grainger shared Frameworks’ ICT strategy in her presentation “Looking up: Life’s Better in the Cloud”.  She shared the genesis behind Frameworks’ strategy which is Share by Default (create information once, distribute widely, and work from anywhere).  She explained how Framework has been able to utilize low-cost, highly scalable software (Google Docs, Smartsheet,, Salesforce, and Echosign) to meet its organizational needs and manage the communication between our five staff members and 250 volunteers across Canada.  Her presentation resulted in interesting discussions around getting organizational buy-in when it comes to switching from traditional software to cloud technologies.  Her advice on this matter was to sell those not comfortable with with making the move on the benefits.  For example, integrating a tool like EchoSign to manage contracts can save an organization hours of printing contracts and setting up appointment times to get important documents signed.  Instead contracts can be easily emailed out and signed saving an organization valuable time.

Site analytics don’t have an agenda

Another great presentation was by Mark Farmer who gave a presentation about Google Analytics called: Google Analytics: Business Intelligence for Non-Profits.  Mark gave a very practical hands-on presentation on the importance of GI and how it can be used to better understand how users are navigating your website.  He emphasized that although analytics are not perfect they don’t have an agenda and they are an unbiased reflection of how your site is being used.  One of the tricks he shared that I will be implementing is creating a filter to block out your IP address so visits from your office don’t cloud your analytics.

There were many other great presentations, some which I had the pleasure of attending and others who I unfortunately had to miss (I am waiting on cloning technology!!).  For those who were unable to attend Canada Helps and the conference speakers have generously posted their presentations online.