I love working with Annkissam, and one of my favorite tasks is assisting in organizing their pro bono, sales-pitch-free tech consultation events for local nonprofit professionals.
The next pro bono event will be on the evening of March 31st at the Cambridge Innovation Center.
Tech Networks of Boston and 501 Partners will be serving as co-hosts; I love to see these three mission-driven nonprofit technology assistance firms collaborating to serve nonprofit organizations.
I also love to see a wide range of other nonprofit technology mavens volunteering a few hours of their time at these events to offer consultations to any of the nonprofit guests who request assistance and advice. In addition to the immediate help that this provides to the attendees, the event is a opportunity for nonprofit techies to do skills-based volunteering together, and sends a crucial message about our ability to collaborate.
Here is the all-star March 2015 team of nptech volunteers!
I’m so excited about this evening’s pro bono tech consultation event for employees of local nonprofit professionals!
At the same time, I’m now in the painful position of needing to issue disinvitations to people who want to come.
Why? Well, the reasons vary:
- We’re holding this event in a building that has tight security, and were obliged to submit the final guest list last Friday. People who try to enter without confirmed invitations may be escorted out ignominiously by security officers, and it’s best to avoid that.
- We have a long waiting list. The people on that list who honor our request not to show up without a confirmed reservation would be slighted if we allowed others to walk in. Moreover, we’d be condoning rude behavior if we allowed people to walk in to an event that is by reservation only.
- We have made it clear to the mavens that they will be volunteering their time to serve employees of nonprofit organizations. This was made clear to the invitees as well. It’s rude and possibly fraudulent to take advantage of free services that are intended only for nonprofit professionals.
I have a surprisingly wide conservative streak, when it comes to etiquette. I am fully capable of being shocked when people are oblivious to (or intentionally ignore) the ground rules of events that are by invitation only.
On Monday, November 3rd, Annkissam, Tech Networks of Boston, and 501Partners
will be co-hosting an evening of pro bono, sales-pitch-free tech consultations for local nonprofit professionals!
This event will take place at the Venture Cafe in Kendall Square. Nearly seventy nonprofit professionals will be able to have short one-to-one consultations with as many mavens as they like. (I will be one of them, offering consultations about strategic tech planning, knowledge management, social media, web strategy, and some other topics.)
I want to give a big shout out to my fellow mavens, who are volunteering to serve the nonprofit attendees in a completely sales-pitch-free environment:
In addition to the excitement of an event that enables me to work with a slew of nonprofits that are making the world a better place, I love the idea of showing the world that our local community of nonprofit technology professionals is a surprisingly collaborative one. Three nonprofit technology assistance companies are coming together to host and underwrite the evening, and the 21 mavens will be working side by side in one room. We’ll be encouraging all of our guests from the nonprofit sector to solicit second, third, and fourth opinions. The goal isn’t to block them from exposure to other vendors, but to make sure they have the information they need and an opportunity to identify resources that are a good fit for their needs.
I am often asked if I can offer pro bono assistance to nonprofit organizations that need help aligning their technology strategies with their overall organizational strategies.
The good news is that there are three different events in the near future where I’ll be offering pro bono strategic tech consultations:
- At the Annkissam table, October 29th. (Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Conference & Expo, Sheraton Framingham.) I will also be one of the facilitators at a conference workshop on knowledge management for small nonprofits, along with Mollie Murphy, Kevin Palmer, and Jim Fisk. For more information, please follow this link.
- At the Venture Cafe on November 3rd. (Cambridge Innovation Center, Kendall Square.) The co-hosts of this event are Annkissam, Tech Networks of Boston, and 501Partners. I will be one of 21 nonprofit technology mavens! This event is currently booked to capacity, but you can put yourself on the waiting list by following this link.
- At the Annkissam table, November 17th, (Providers Council Convention & Expo, Boston Marriot Copley Place.) For more information, please follow this link.
When I provide strategic pro bono assistance to nonprofits, it’s on the following basis:
- No charge to the nonprofit organization
- No sales pitches to the nonprofit organization
- No further obligation on the part of the nonprofit organization
If you are a Boston area nonprofit professional in need of strategic technology assistance, then I hope to see you at one or more of these events!
I’m excited about Data Day at Northeastern University tomorrow, which is being co-hosted by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Boston Indicators Project.
I’ll be offering pro bono strategic tech consults at this event; my time is being underwritten by Tech Networks of Boston. If you’re planning to attend, please come say hello to me! Just look for this sign.
As you can probably guess, I spend a lot of time these days worrying about outcomes measurement for nonprofits; I also devote time to discussing this topic with experts and with nonprofit professionals.
As I talk to some of the most impressive mavens in this field I sometimes ask, “would you travel to Massachusetts at your own expense, to give a free day-long training on outcomes measurement to nonprofit professionals here?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained – am I right? (Or as my dear sister once put it, I am The Mouth That Knows No Fear.)
A few really stellar experts actually agreed to do it, if a training event could be arranged to suit their schedules and other reasonable needs. Of course, I am stunned, overwhelmed with gratitude. Never underestimate the kindness of mavens!
So now I turn to my nonprofit colleagues in Massachusetts, with another unscientific survey. I want to get a sense of who would be interested in day-long free training. This survey is for them. If you’re not a nonprofit professional based in Massachusetts, please do the honorable thing, and refrain from participating in this survey.
I had a lovely time on Wednesday at the Providers Council conference and expo. All told, I put in about six hours at the Annkissam table, along with Kevin Palmer and Matteo Ramos-Mucci. As previously mentioned, Annkissam underwrote my time at the conference, so that I could provide pro bono strategic tech consultations on site and on demand.
It was fun.
I enjoyed the challenge of improvising the best possible assistance for each human service provider who sat down for a brief consultation. I’m not sure I could do thirty-minute consultations all day and every day, but it was very satisfying day.
Other aspects of the conference that I enjoyed were the company of members of the Annkissam team, meeting the other exhibitors, chatting with acquaintances as they passed by our table, and striking up conversations with total strangers as they stopped to ask about what we were featuring: Annkissam’s services, NPO Connect, and on-the-spot pro bono assistance.
One phenomenon that interested me greatly was the response of total strangers to the idea that Annkissam was interested in offering strategic technology assistance that was free from cost, obligation, or sales pitches. The responses appeared to include suspicion, incredulity, confusion, apathy, relief, and joy. I can understand that it’s hard for someone who doesn’t know me or the folks from Annkissam to comprehend that they might get anything other than a sales pitch and a piece of candy when visiting the table. Naturally, the passers-by who already knew us had no trouble with the concept.
It’s going to take a lot of repetition before the idea of pro bono strategic technology consultations at conferences for nonprofit professionals becomes a commonplace, but as long as it’s fun, I’m more than willing to keep at it.