What Can the Nonprofit Technology Conference Do for YOUR Camp?

by Kevin Martone, Technology Program Manager, JCamp 180

Camp is an incredible place for kids to learn, grow, meet new people, and have new experiences. Camp staff and board members should follow this lead and make sure they are continually learning as well. This is why JCamp 180 offers its annual conference free of charge to all of its participating organizations.

This is also why JCamp 180 Business Systems Analyst, Joe Ruotolo, and I attended the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) organized by NTEN. We joined 1400+ nonprofit staff members, including a growing group of Jewish nonprofit professionals, to learn how to utilize technology to improve our nonprofit communications, fundraising, and management.

 

Some key takeaways that we can all use in our work include:

  • Stories are our most powerful tool for communication. Here are some key tips from a session about how to tell great stories:
    • Everyone in your organization should be collecting/telling stories: staff, board members, counselors, campers. For camps, this is easy - stories are as much a part of camp lore as campfires, swimming, and bug-bites.
    • Don't recreate the wheel. Use stories that already exist!
    • Repurpose/reuse stories across channels. A longer story that can be used during a camp visit or in an eNewsletter can be shortened for a Facebook status update or Tweet.
    • 10 great stories are better than 100 mediocre stories. Don't worry about the quantity, focus on the quality of the stories.
    • Pictures and video are effective vehicles for telling stories.
    • Consider guest bloggers for additional stories/content.

  • Start with Mission -> Strategy -> and Goals (You've been working hard with your JCamp 180 Mentors on that Strategic Plan for a reason!). For true success, everything has to tie back to moving your mission forward.
  • Your communications have to be focused on your audience, not your organization: "Cause 1st, You 2nd." Check your website, brochures, Facebook Page, eNewsletter, etc. - if the content is focused on what YOU do and not on your audience, get to work. Start with personal stories (see above). Focus on your IMPACT.
  • YouTube now offers a customizable video player and the ability to allow users to upload videos to your YouTube Channel. Camps could use this for moderated video contests. Sign up for  your free YouTube nonprofit video channel if you haven't already.

 

  • Use tools and templates to make your job easier and more effective. For example:

In Summary…There are LOTS of nonprofits facing the same challenges as our camps. And many are overcoming those challenges with both technology and non-technology solutions. The key? Start with a strategy and goals and then DO IT! And remember to continually learn…just like your campers.

Want to learn more? This brief recap of the SXSW® Interactive 2010 Conference in March gives 10 quick takeaways from that conference for nonprofits that dovetail nicely with the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

Want even MORE information? Search for the NTC official hashtag on Twitter (#16ntc in 2016; #17ntc in 2017). The Foundation for Jewish Camp was also there - check out their tweets as well: @FdnJewishCamp. Many other Jewish organizations were present and tweeting as well!

And last (but certainly not least!), check out Beth Kanter's blog - she offers great insights and examples about how nonprofits can use technology effectively. For example, here is her post about social media measurement based on her session on the topic at NTC.

Thoughts? Let us know in the comments!