2021 Washington State Nonprofits Conference: Wednesday

  1. 2021 Washington State Nonprofits Conference: Tuesday
  2. 2021 Washington State Nonprofits Conference: Wednesday
  3. 2021 Washington State Nonprofits Conference: Thursday

My second day at the conference was wide-ranging! The keynote was an free-flowing and very engaging discussion with two organizers and nonprofit leaders. I then enjoyed participating in a Nonprofit Websites Ask Me Anything (AMA), and ended the day learning a bit about photography.

Thanks to my commenting, I am currently close to “winning” the conference. No, that’s not important or meaningful in any way. But it is silly.

Keynote: Finding Our Way Forward

Akaya Windwood and Lili Navarette

The Q&A format of this talk meant there wasn’t an obvious throughline, but instead a series of interesting and often deeply personal observations and ideas. I wrote down what jumped out to me while I worked through a page of my NTC swag coloring book.

A partially completed tiny coloring book page. A series of overlapping leaves are colored in with blue and green stripes with one yellow and pink leaf differing from the others

Akaya shared that one large difference in movements she has noticed over time has been the coming together of different movements. (I immediately think of “intersectionality” in this observation.) The coming together of movements to dismantle racism, sexism, xenophobia, ableism, and more has made every movement stronger.

The Impact of COVID on Nonprofits

Lili shared her experiences of supporting farm workers in eastern Washington. Her organization stepped up to fill the near-total lack of support for farmworkers and warehouse workers—some of whom are undocumented—with COVID testing, PPE, and the general lack of a safety net. Organizations are filling critical holes that government and business sectors should be filling themselves.

Akaya talked about the new ideas organizations are having after getting through a year+-long pandemic. Do we need to pay for offices when that rent could fund a new program? Why are we doing the work we’re doing and how can be better support our communities? How can we embrace this moment of uncertainty to imagine new ways of being and making change? Nonprofits are good at planning for 5 years and envisioning 100-200 years from now, but the in-between is harder (including emotionally). Thinking about 10 and 20 years from now is challenging and comes with a risk of getting our hearts broken.

Engaging with Folks Who Think Differently From Us

Akaya shared that she thinks that making real change and progress requires engaging with folks who have wildly different views than ourselves. She recently got into a long conversation with a Trump voter while on vacation and learned to talk about prison abolition differently.

Lili shared her fears of certain places she feels unsafe going that aren’t far from where she lives. She went on to talk about the need for white allyship that steers far from white saviorism. Fleshing out a metaphor she used: White people don’t need to stand there and patronizingly open doors for people of color, but they need to stop locking the doors too.

Ask Me Anything (AMA) about Nonprofit Websites

I had an awesome time answering questions from people about all things nonprofit websites. In fact, the questions were so good, that I’m going to save my answers for a series of blog posts both here and on Nonprofit WP.

A big shout out to Julie at Washington Nonprofits who read my full session description mentioning the Seattle Sounders and threw me a question: “What FC team will challenge the Sounders the most this season?” I replied:

This season has started better for the Sounders than I could have imagined! I expected them to be good… but not this good. I love the new 3-5-2 formation that is showing off Nouhou’s incredible defending and the Roldan Bro’s late runs into the box and cut-back crosses.

Despite the good start, I think the final result of the season will require Frei and Lodeiro to return from injury and Yeimar, Arreaga, and Nouhou to lock down the three starting centerback positions.

This is a hard question because so many of the teams expected to be good have struggled (Minnesota, LAFC, Columbus). With a lot of time off in June and then the summer transfer window opening up, I expect the standings table to look really different at the end of the season. In many ways, we’re wrapping up Phase 1 of the season, and I think some teams are going to drastically improve or revert to the mean in Phase 2.

LAFC’s players are too good to stay at the bottom of the table, so I expect them to be in the playoffs and be a legitimate challenge. Portland is probably better than their record due to having to play extra games in the Champions league, but I also don’t see them being elite with their aging stars.

I think this may be a year for some less-storied clubs to make a run. Orlando, Philadelphia, and Colorado all are looking decent, and maybe even Austin can make some noise if they figure out how to score. And I’m still not sure the LA Galaxy are 100% for real, but if Chicharito keeps scoring at his current rate, they’ll be around for the postseason.

But back to nonprofit websites…

As part of the AMA, I was able to poll conference attendees on a few questions, and I thought the answers were pretty darn interesting:

What aspect of your current website needs improvement most? Be specific (1-3 words) and don’t say “everything”!

Tag cloud. "Organization" is the only word mentioned multiple times. Other frequent themes are updates, calls to action, design, and accessibility

How old is your current website? Estimate in number of whole years.

Word cloud of numbers and the word "years" when people included it. Most commons answers by far are 3 and 5. The lowest number is 1 and there are sites of 7, 8+, 9, and 15 years old.

Which of these website accessibility best practices for content managers do you consistently follow on your website? (Definitely not an exhaustive list!)

Alternative Text for images: 6 votes. Headings to outline page structure: 12 votes. Avoid "click here"-style links: 6 votes. Ensure contrast between text and background: 7 votes. Provide captions and/or transcripts for video and audio: 2 votes. Use plain and simple language (14 votes).

I have my own thoughts, but I’m curious what you have to make of these stats.

Photography for Good: Visual Storytelling for Social Impact

Lisa Merril, Merrill Images

I completely lost track of time and missed the start of this session. There were lots of good tips about working with photographers and taking your own good images.

It’s very clear that nothing can compare with paying a skilled photographer to take photographs of your organization specifically. Lisa provided an excellent example “shot list” for a local nonprofit to show the level of detail you can capture specific to your organization.

Tiny Trees Preschool Shot List: Safety during pandemic: temperature checks - child alone and with parent, handwashing - children in line, 1 child, close-up of hands. People: children along - diversity, children in small groups, teacher with child(ren), teacher leading lesson. Outdoor classroom: Entire classroom in forest, reading area, giant logs, swing, storage shed, porta-potty. Activities: nature exploration with magnifying glass with field guides close-up of hands with seeds & critters, fine motor skills - drawing, writing, active play, dance part, hike - in forest, on beach, circle time, snack time. Details: rain gear, boots in mud/leaves, class schedule sign, daily lesson on white board easel.

Despite the value of custom photography, I also appreciated the recommendation for stock photo sites that included a few I didn’t know:

Stock photography. Pros: Easily accessible, varied pricing. Cons: Can appear staged; lack diversity. Sources: Canva, Creative Commons, iStock, Adobe, Ripple Effect, Danita Delimont, Merrill Images

In an interesting convergence, the Creative Commons search project is joining with WordPress.org and rebranding to Openverse.

To that list of stock photos, I would add the following sites I’ve found recently that include a focus on diversity in at least some collections:

Amusing Aside: My participation is 56900

Mostly thanks the way I replied to my Ask Me Anything questions, I have risen to the #3 most-active participant on the conference platform. To be extremely clear, I am almost certainly middling in my conference participation thus far when compared to others.

I haven’t been loving the conference platform, Whova, in general, and I think it’s interesting that its attempt to reward people for participating lifts up a guy who has missed multiple sessions.

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