#14LCS Facilitator Series: Meet Lisa Heft

If you’ve looked over the agenda for the NTEN’s first-ever Leading Change Summit (#14LCS) this September, you’ve probably noticed that we tried to build in a healthy mix of time that attendees will spend in their tracks vs. time that will be spent all together.

All this summer we’ve been introducing you to the facilitators who will make the three tracks so memorable. Today I’m happy to introduce someone who will lead our first chunk of all-attendee, cross-track time on Wednesday, September 3: Lisa Heft.

Lisa is an internationally renowned facilitator and educator known for her use of Open Space Technology and other participant-driven dialogic and interactive methods for engaging deeper reflection, learning, and interchange. Her experience is across cultures and industries for diverse meeting objectives, knowledge-sharing conferences, dialogue-based task work, planning, and reflection. Lisa has been coaching our Education Manager, Julia, as we design this inaugural Summit, and she knows how important it is that the first all-conference gathering on Wednesday afternoon set a foundation for the rest of the event.

When you arrive at the San Francisco Hilton, you’ll pick up your registration badge and head directly into the session that Lisa is planning. She’s working closely with Wednesday’s keynote speaker, Deena Pierott, to make sure that this first opportunity for learning and sharing is inclusive, fun, thoughtful, and sets the stage for you to make the most of the rest of the Summit.

We’re excited that if you register for #14LCS, you’ll get to benefit from Lisa’s experience and wisdom, no matter which track you select! You can learn more about Lisa via her website, Opening Space.

View the lineup of #14LCS speakers and facilitators and register today!

Reflections from #MFOM14: Email Marketing, Fundraising, and Visual Communications


On August 2-3, I attended the 5th biennial Money for Our Movements (MFOM) social justice fundraising conference in Baltimore, Maryland, convened by the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training.

I felt really humbled to be amongst a highly diverse group of both budding and seasoned grassroots activists. The last time I was in Baltimore was in 2007, with Amnesty International at their regional conference, attending as a bright-eyed student organizer trying to learn how to more effectively spread the good word of social justice and human rights (the story of how I got involved in nonprofit marketing!).

At #MFOM14, I participated as a speaker, leading one workshop, Email Marketing to Support Year-Round Online Fundraising, and as a panelist for the session, Visual Communication: Create pictures, videos, and presentations quickly, easily, and affordably.

Key takeaways from the Email Marketing workshop that took place on Day 1:

  • Fundraising is dependent on relationship building: Nonprofits should work year-round to cultivate and maintain relationships with donors, so that “the ask” is not a cold call at the end of the year. Channels such as social media can really help with this.
  • Think about goals and audience: Before you create content, first think about the ultimate goal and the target audience. Let that inform your decisions on what channel(s) to use to reach your audience. For example, if you’re trying to reach new donors, consider participating in #GivingTuesday (in addition to running your year-end campaign) to help increase visibility by connecting to this broader movement. Download this free recording from Blackbaud’s webinar about setting your goals for #GivingTuesday.
  • Set your own benchmarks: Guidelines, benchmark reports, and best practices are helpful to know, but ultimately it’s important to know your audience. To learn this, test as much as you can in order to get to know your audience well and understand what resonates with them. For example, consider creating a strategy for segmenting your emails and testing, this is a great resource from Kivi Leroux Miller.  
  • Everyone is a fundraiser: People donate to entire organizations, not just to one department (or silo). Make sure you’re set up for integrated fundraising success by regularly checking in with staff/departments to ensure that you’re accurately representing their work. Learn more about the three common barriers that nonprofits often face on Nancy Schwartz’s blog.

To learn more about how you can use email marketing to support year-round online fundraising, I’ve uploaded my slides to Slideshare.

While my workshop on Day 1 focused a lot on internal processes and best practices, the next question that we anticipated from attendees was, "What tools can I use to help create this compelling content?"

On day 2, I was part of the Visual Communications panel with four panelists (some you might recognize from the NTEN Community!): Tomás Aguilar, Progressive Technology Project; Yee Won Chong, Fundraising Consultant; Nadia Khastagir, Design Action Collective; and Chris Tuttle, Tuttle Communications. (See photo on the left)

Together, we joined forces and presented on the top tips and tools for creating visual media with a limited budget, and explained why it’s so important. We drew information from Resource Media's Seeing is Believing report, and explained how the language of pictures is universal - picture processing is an ability that we're all born with, as opposed to reading literacy. This is especially relevant if you're working with audiences around the world that communicate in multiple languages, or are illiterate.

Check out our presentation slides, as it’ll give you a lot of new ideas that can help support your year-end fundraising, as well as day-to-day content creation for social media, marketing, and beyond. Specifically, here are the key tools that are free/low-cost and easy to use:

We also asked the audience what tools they would recommend through Poll Everywhere. Here's what they said

Special thanks to the mighty team at the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training! To learn more about the 2014 MFOM Conference visit the conference website, and check out the conference hashtag on Twitter: #MFOM14.

I’d love to continue the dialogue about these two topics! Please post a comment below to share your thoughts and ideas about email marketing or visual communications, such as:

  • What are some email marketing tips that work for you and your organization?
  • What free or low-cost tools do you rely on for creating visual media? 

#14LCS Series: Meet Emily Lonigro Boylan and Demetrio Cardona-Maguigad

Over the past couple of months we’ve been introducing you to the incredible cast of characters who are helping to shape NTEN’s inaugural Leading Change Summit.

It’s about time we celebrate the dynamic duo behind the Idea Accelerator: Emily Lonigro Boylan and Demetrio Cardona-Maguigad of LimeRed Studio. LimeRed is a creative services firm that works with organizations that inspire positive change.

Emily, who founded LimeRed Studio ten years ago, has a portfolio spanning business development, design, user experience, writing, marketing, and strategy in both online and offline programs for multinational corporations, nonprofits, universities, boutique businesses, and prestigious consumer brands. She is a board member of MOM+BABY, member of Chicago's Small Business Advocacy Council, contributor to The Net Change, and more.

Demetrio serves as LimeRed’s Director of Strategic Design. He is also an Assistant Professor and Researcher at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches the Social Media & Public Relations Strategies courses in the Marketing Communications program, as well as an executive producer and on-air host for Chicago is the World, a weekly radio program with a global following.

Both Emily and Demetrio are committed members of NTEN and #nptech communities; you might recognize them from past talks at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, the 501 Tech Club Chicago meetup, or the Nonprofit Tech Academy faculty.

Learn more about Emily, Demetrio, and the Idea Accelerator:

We can’t wait to see what ideas surface between now and the Summit, and which finalists will take the mainstage at the end of the Idea Accelerator! Huge thanks to Emily and Demetrio for helping to shape and manage what’s sure to be an energizing and inspiring grand finale.

It's Your Friendly Communities of Practice Organizers

NTEN Communities of Practice (CoPs) are affinity groups centered on specific topics of interest, from community management to Drupal to nonprofits in the arts. These online groups provide support for your specific needs and interests and offer ongoing opportunities for growth.

But it takes more than a name and a platform to convene a group of thoughtful people; it takes volunteer organizers who are willing to give their time and efforts to build and maintain an online community. We asked NTEN's great CoP organizers to help us understand why they answered the call to nonprofit tech leadership. Following are some highlights from the many answers we received.

Why did you start leading your CoP?

“The previous leader left the nonprofit world, and I wanted this CoP to continue to thrive. It's helped me, and I want more and to help others.” - Richard Wollenberger, Technology Decision Makers CoP

"The CoP used to be only about blogging. I started the group about 8 years ago because I enjoy connecting nonprofit bloggers with each other and wanted to have a place to talk about blogs. I recently expanded the CoP to digital communications to meet the needs of the NTEN community and continue to lead the CoP because I enjoy this role." - Emily Weinberg, Nonprofit Digital Communications CoP

"A couple of us met at NTC 2014. And while each of us came from different parts of the nonprofit arts community, we all wanted to see a stronger presence by arts groups at the conference. There was so much goodness on offer! I’m hoping we can create and sustain a space where arts groups can connect and share what they know (and especially what they don't know)." - Dawn Heinen, Arts Nonprofits CoP

"I have 3 passions: 1) Technology; 2) helping people; and 3) talking. When I heard that the IT Directors CoP (now the Technology Decision Makers CoP) was looking for a cohost for the monthly call, I was excited to step forward. I enjoy working with Richard, and I hope that our efforts mean that other nonprofits don't have to go through the trials that we endure." - Alex N. Speaks, Technology Decision Makers CoP

“I was searching for more meaningful work. As if a light bulb had suddenly gone off, I realized that I wanted to use my 20+ years of database experience for causes that I felt passionate about. Last summer while lying in a hammock, I was contemplating my plan to transition from corporate to nonprofit work. I happened to have my iPad with me, and whatever it was that I searched for lead me to NTEN. I became a member and am now the CoP organizer for Nonprofits & Data. People I have met through NTEN seem to really like what they do. It’s so refreshing to meet people who choose to spend their time to make positive changes in the world.” - Shari Cartun, Nonprofits & Data CoP

“After attending the 2014 NTC I really wanted to connect with more women in leadership and tech and find a common story arc of how we ended up where we are today and where we want to go tomorrow. Also, I wanted to connect with more diverse women in tech and encourage all the women sitting outside during discussions to join and be heard.” - Veda Banerjee, Women in Nonprofit Tech CoP

What advice would you give to a new CoP leader?

“See what other CoPs are doing to get ideas. Try them with your CoP but know what works well for one CoP may not work as well for another. Create a survey for your CoP to see what your community wants.” - Emily Weinberg, Nonprofit Digital Communications CoP

“Co-organizers are invaluable. You need to be able to go on vacation! And if you're an overworked staffer or a scrambling freelancer, sometimes other things have to take priority — be open with your co-organizers about when you can step up, and when you need to take a break.” - Ivan Boothe, Drupal CoP

“If something about your CoP is not working, try something new. Once you find something that seems to work, really commit to it. Schedule it way in advance (for example, we usually have ours on the third Thursday of every month, 1pm ET/10am PT). Have a single URL when possible where notes or resource lists can live. If your CoP is open to people who aren't members of NTEN (ours is), then consider publicizing it in other places outside of the usual NTEN circles. There are lots of nptechies out there who don't yet know about NTEN and would love to connect.” - Johanna Bates, Drupal CoP

“Don't try to impose your ideas on your CoP. Instead, figure out what people are already doing and find ways to enhance that. Change happens best in small moves. I use that advice in lots of places in my career.” - Alex N. Speaks, Technology Decision Makers CoP

“I don't have any advice yet, except to say I don't expect to see much 'community' activity until we get critical mass (normally over 100 people minimum in my experience).” - Maddie Grant, Arts Nonprofits CoP

Describe one big failure you had while working with your CoP and how it made you a stronger leader.

“Firstly, there's no such thing as failure, only adjustment of expectations :) We're too new to have failed yet, but we did realize we need to do more promotion of our calls. We had a ton of people for the first one, so didn't try hard enough for the second and had a lot less people.” - Maddie Grant, Arts Nonprofits CoP

“Our first call was pretty lively and well attended. We were psyched. However, our second monthly call consisted of just the CoP leaders and one other person (a leader of another CoP who was just listening in to see how our two CoPs might intersect). No one else joined the call. The session was being recorded, so I felt more than a little foolish. It underscored the need for me to carve out some more time between calls to build awareness for the next call. - Dawn Heinen, Arts Nonprofits CoP

“One of the biggest struggles has been trying to find candidates for a monthly webinar. A lot of the amazing women that I think our group would like to hear from tend to be booked far in advance or charge for speaking engagements. We haven't really been able to successfully engage in a discussion about what the group members want from the webinar or who specifically they'd like to hear from.” - Michelle Chaplin, Women in Nonprofit Tech CoP

“Since I'm new, I don't have a failure to report! Yet. :)” - Veda Banerjee, Women in Nonprofit Tech CoP

How do you identify and develop emerging CoP leaders in your community?

“I cultivate participation by manually inviting members to the calls. When I invite 20-30 people, attendance is up.” - Richard Wollenberger, Technology Decision Makers CoP

“Johanna and I are both involved in the Drupal community generally, so we're always on the lookout for other folks who would be interested in helping present on a monthly call, or folks who might benefit from being able to ask questions on a call.” - Ivan Boothe, Drupal CoP

“With this group, it's mostly about encouraging people to step up and be leaders. Most of the members I've heard from already have great stories to tell and strong leadership qualities. Sometimes they just need to be reminded that they already have what it takes to do this! - Michelle Chaplin, Women in Nonprofit Tech CoP

“The group is so new that we are still trying to find our voice and foundation. Looking for emerging leaders in the community will be the next step.” - Veda Banerjee, Women in Nonprofit Tech CoP

If you were to write a book, what would the title be?

A life lived without blindersRichard Wollenberger, Technology Decision Makers CoP

Judgy Judge Judger (I actually have this printed on a nameplate on my desk. A birthday gift from my now-husband.) - Dawn Heinen, Arts Nonprofits CoP

Luckily I have written a couple - Open Community and Humanize. Currently working on my next book, and having major trouble honing in on a title, actually. It's about millennial thinking and how all generations need to embrace it to succeed in the new normal - I want to call the book Epic Win but my co-author's not so keen. :) - Maddie Grant, Arts Nonprofits CoP

Old Ivan's Miscellany - Ivan Boothe, Drupal CoP

The Hollow and the SpringAlex N. Speaks, Technology Decision Makers CoP

Ampersand: Noticing Both and And in an Either/Or World - Johanna Bates, Drupal CoP

What's your favorite YouTube video?

Keyboard CatDawn Heinen, Arts Nonprofits CoP

The World's Reaction to Landon Donovan's Game Winning GoalMaddie Grant, Arts Nonprofits CoP

NTEN Community Rhapsody - Ivan Boothe, Drupal CoP

Complete Mars Curiosity Descent Landing + Heat Shield impactAlex N. Speaks, Technology Decision Makers CoP

Double Rainbow and HEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA on 5 hoursJohanna Bates, Drupal CoP

Our hats off to the many amazing volunteers who bring together their local communities of nonprofit tech aficionados to support and further social change. Thank you!

It's easy to join a Community of Practice— just look for the group that strikes your fancylogin to your NTEN account or create an account, fill out your profile, and join the discussion(s). Do you have an idea for a CoP? You can start one! If you'd like to start a group of your own, contact us, and we'll help get your group started!