Photo from John Kenyon
My colleague, John Kenyon, who is a brilliant and talented nonprofit technology trainer just came back from trip to Australia. Readers of this blog might recall that John and I got a chance to do some training session in the UK last January and I did a video blog post interview with him. John posted a marvelous report on the NTEN listservs about what he learned. His post would be the perfect blog post. I asked him if he would be a "guest blogger" here and he granted me permission to repost.
I'm hoping that I can convince him to guest blog or collaborate on a post on a good issue maybe like once month or so.
I have just returned from Australia where I was fortunate enough to attend CISA’s (www.cisa.asn.au ) nonprofit technology conference and to present a series of workshops for nonprofit leaders about technology. I have always appreciated other’s reports on their experiences, so I wanted to briefly share mine.
Some of you may have met CISA’s Doug Jacquier at previous NTC’s. Doug and his staff put together a great conference and the series of workshops in three cities. If you have the chance to work with them or participate in the conference in the future I would highly recommend it, a great group of people.
The conference was similar to NTEN’s NTC in content and structure with a variety of topics and demonstrations. Among others, Daniel Ben-Horin and I both gave keynote addresses and were on a panel together where we shared our insights and observations (listen to the keynote and an interview with Daniel, as well as other conference info here: http://tinyurl.com/2bqupk). And as always, I met fans of Beth Kanter!
From talking to people at the conference and hearing their stories in the workshops, I saw that Australian organizations share many of the same challenges of nonprofits worldwide, including managing data, planning and budgeting adequately for technology, choosing appropriate technologies, training staff and finding technology support providers that understand nonprofits. These issues are exacerbated for them by the great distances involved and the relative scarcity of nonprofit-focused technology support providers (though there are some excellent ones). Australian nonprofits also operate in a funding environment that is much more similar to the environment in the UK than in the US, with a major part of funding coming from the government and less from individual contributors.
I was impressed by the creativity shown by many organization’s technology leaders and their determination to make improvements despite the challenges. In an encouraging report from the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, giving to nonprofits by Australians is on the rise (see report: http://tinyurl.com/yorx4q). I learned a lot and heard some great stories.
This experience has reminded me of the enormous value of sharing our stories. No organization or country has
a corner on imaginative solutions or excellent practices. In the constantly changing world of nonprofit technology we are all continually learning about what works and what doesn’t. I encouraged the Australian nonprofits to share their stories and to reach out to communities like this to benefit from our experiences and struggles. I look forward to their growing participation in our global nonprofit technology community, as we all have much we can learn – and teach – each other, no matter where we work. Thanks to all of you on these lists and elsewhere who do just that.