NonProfit Technology Conference 2012

The 2012 NonProfit Technology Conference has opened the voting for the proposed sessions.  Part of the selection process is to let the community vote on the sessions, which is a nice way to avoid any appearances of bias and sort of crowd source the agenda.  I’ve got two sessions up for consideration and would appriciate your support.  Both of these would draw on my experience in these areas.  Based on the votes and comments, I’d bring in additional SME’s to bolster key points.

Click on the links of the titles to be taken to the site where you can see the status and (I hope) vote yes!

Engaging Volunteers in Technical Roles

Non-profits rely on volunteers to perform many functions to support the mission.  However, IT is commonly one that is hard for paid staff to delegate to unpaid staff.  There can be a feeling that the security of the data, and reliability of the machines requires a loyalty and focus that only paid staff can bring.  This session will explore the pros and cons of a volunteer workforce supporting technology.  The key to a successful volunteer integration comes from the recognition that the skill set to manage technology is vastly different from the skill set to manage people, and that few hard-core technologists have both skill sets.  Examples of how the Red Cross Disaster Services uses volunteers to deploy technology during a disaster will be used.


  1. Train IT leadership on how to manage volunteers.  Plan what will be done before the volunteers comes knocking.
  2. Vet volunteers the same as paid staff.  Post the opportunity as an unpaid staff, not untrained staff.
  3. Empower (and contain) the volunteer with job descriptions, responsibilities and accountability.


Selecting the appropriate technology for field work

A non-profit must make the correct decision regarding money spent on technology.  Mistakes made due to false claims by vendors can waste large chunk of a non-profits resources — not only financial, but in people’s time and the perception of due diligence with donations.  Extending technology out to the field requires a balance of cost versus connectivity.  In this foundation setting session, we’ll explore a variety of land-line, wireless (including cellular) and satellite connectivity options.  Each will be presented with the pros and cons, along with a neutral observation of costs, reliability, usability, and connectivity.
The speaker is approaching this from an experienced practioner’s perspective to share insights and lessons.  While it is vendor neutral and void of any sales pitches, some vendors may be called out as good or gap examples.


  1. Learn a variety of connectivity options, and gain a basic understand of the appropriate use.
  2. Know enough to a smell test of vendor’s claims, and make them explain their services without jargon.
  3. Learn two methods of connectivity that may be best for your particular situation.