It’s hard to think of an element of nonprofit operations that hasn’t undergone a seismic shift due to recent technological innovations. From fundraising to social media outreach, volunteer management to program metrics, constantly developing technology has rapidly changed the way that nonprofits deliver services and thrive in a competitive environment.
This December, over 300 attendees gathered at Fordham University’s midtown campus for New York Nonprofit Media’s inaugural TechCon event to confront the challenges and opportunities posed by technology. Panelists from leading nonprofits, academic institutions, philanthropic foundations and consulting firms discussed the infrastructure and cultural shifts that organizations must embrace in the current technological environment.
Topics ranged from granular advice, like how to dovetail mailing lists with social media accounts, to deeper existential concerns, like how to convince funders and boards to prioritize capacity building and training for technology needs.
Three distinguished keynote speakers addressed the way that technology has transformed the role of governments and foundations. Seth Andrew, senior advisor to the chief technology officer at the White House, offered an inspirational vision of the government's ability to harness technological innovation to improve systems and rejuvenate services for citizens. Andrew spoke abouthis own work running Democracy Prep Public Schools and how his organization's use of data and analysis, inspired by South Korean practices, led to incredible improvements in achievement.
Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first chief technology officer, spoke of the need to involve more women in technology and bridge the technology gap between socioeconomic groups, saying that Internet access in today’s world is as essential as running water and electricity. She outlined some of the city’s initiatives to help bridge that gap, including free Internet kiosks that will provide direct access to all New Yorkers and generate income for the city through advertising.
Finally, Stanley Litow, president of the IBM International Foundation, shared his company’s global reach, enabling nonprofit organizations and government to harness cutting-edge computing and innovative data analysis. Just one of IBM’s incredible programs: using the energy from a global network of volunteers’ cell phone batteries to power the infrastructure needs of third world countries. Litow also highlighted the opportunities presented by effective public-private partnerships, making the argument that the corporate social responsibility modeled by IBM should become an industrywide norm.
To watch footage of the day’s panel discussions and three keynote addresses, and to find out more about future NYN events, visit the Events section of www.nynmedia.com.
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