My theme for #18NTC so far: movement

Author: Dan Frost

Pictured: A young male break dancer dancing on a colorful background.

I was joking with a co-worker earlier today that NTEN should have stand-by therapists at NTC to help people cope with the constant realizations and reminders that their organization is not doing everything it should be, or could be, in the digital/technology space. This is my second year at NTC and it’s really easy to feel a little discouraged afterwards for a few reasons:

  1. There are so many products/tools/platforms out there that can literally do anything under the sun that you want in the digital space (although they almost never do), and it is tempting to start feeling inadequate when you think about all of the tools your organization is not utilizing.
  2. We’re all pretty much stretched to capacity as is, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who thinks all the time about the things that I wish I could do at my work if I had more time and capacity. And, for me, going to all of these great talks forces me to think about of the things that I wish I was doing in the digital advocacy space but aren’t.
  3. You’re meeting tons of people who work in the digital/tech realm and it’s hard not to compare yourself to them and the things that they are doing.

This year I am trying to think a little differently about this. I don’t want to get hung up on all the projects, tools, gadgets, etc.—instead, I’m trying to make my takeaway something much more simple: don’t be afraid to move. Simply put, if something isn’t working at your organization, don’t be afraid to change, don’t be afraid to think outside the box, and don’t assume that things are working well just because that’s the way your non-profit has always done it.


It actually was the “Beyond Webinars” talk with Rebecca Petersen that inspired me to write this blog, because I started thinking about webinars and why I had never questioned their effectiveness. Personally, I don’t love webinars (don’t kill me). I actually have a hard time focusing on them and often times an hour is really long when you’re not really given opportunities to engage with the presenter(s). Also, I think that a lot of people end up doing other work during them. I’m not trying to defame webinars, it just made me start to think a little bit—why, when I don’t love webinars, have I never thought about alternatives.


So, basically, if after this conference you are feeling more depressed than inspired, I get it. I really do, and I’ve felt that way before. However, I think that a perspective shift has helped me approach things differently. There’s a world of possibilities out there and, especially in the non-profit world, people tend to skew risk averse. But, who is really benefiting from not challenging the status quo? You’re not because you’re not excelling at your job as much as you could be. Your organization’s not because you’re not identifying and improving things that are not performing well.


Our organizations rely on us to push them in directions they may not have considered, to challenge things, to shake things up. I’m using this conference to be inspired by all of the change makers here—people who are making change in their communities, the world and within their organization. As a digitally-savvy member of a non-profit you can be so many things, why be complaisant?

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Carlos Rojas (Monday, 21 May 2018 15:57)

    This was so helpful. Thank you for writing this.