WA State Nonprofit Conference: Quick Wrap Up

Washington State Nonprofit ConferenceYesterday I attended the Washington State Nonprofit Conference for the first time.

As I often do, I wanted to quickly report back on what I did and some quick takeaways.

Beth Kanter on Nonprofit Self-Care & Burnout

Beth Kanter was the morning plenary speaker to kick off the conference. She talked about burnout among nonprofit staff and the critical need to codify self-care among nonprofit policies and practice.

Much of her talk was pretty familiar to me, but I liked her tip to try to identify your “personal chaos index”: the first sign that you’re working too much to the detriment of your well-being. Her example was ignoring the dirty dishes in the sink. Having something concrete to tip you off that you should take a moment for yourself seemed like a good one.

Digital Strategy Workshop

I went to a great first workshop with Nam-ho Park, Heather Griswold, and Tim O’Connor about digital strategy. It was interesting and also quite reaffirming! Much like I laid out in my guest post on the NTEN.org last year, you can’t put the cart before the horse when planning technical projects.

The presenters laid out a great set of questions for assessing goals, audiences, and desired outcomes in order to identify the correct tools for a nonprofit technology project. The workshop was especially strong because they were a group of two consultants and a client, using a real project as their example throughout.

Every project risks falling for shiny objects or allowing staff politics to dictate a project’s tooling. Outlining priorities and holding everyone to them is the best defense against these risks.

During the Q&A, someone also shared my favorite quote of the day:

Building a Strong Website Table Talk

Next, I met with a few different folks at an open discussion about nonprofit websites. We even had a 30-year-old organization joining us that didn’t have a website!

The most interesting discussion for me was whether nonprofits must have a website or not. We all eventually agreed: Yes.

It doesn’t have to be much, but a website is necessary for establishing credibility with some potential donors and volunteers. When someone Google’s the name of your organization, you need to own the first result.

“The Doctor Is In” Consulting

After lunch, I offered two “The Doctor Is In” sessions of 30 minutes of website advice for whoever came. I helped someone quickly remove an image from their site, recommended how to handle a site that’s been broken for over two years, gave a lot of information about managing a CMS migration from Plone to WordPress, and recommended how to prepare for getting an estimate for a new website.

It’s always fun to do these quick-hit, bite-size pieces of consulting!

Learning about “The Delta Vision”

For the last session, I skipped the technology session (despite being quite interested in it) to learn about the new work of some people-of-color-led organizations in Seattle. (There’s little online right now, and this RFP was the most in-depth thing I could find.) In this session, five of the participant organizations described the executive summary of their first year of collaboration that resulted in “The Delta Vision.”

By bringing together organizations that serve the latinx community, different immigrant communities, native peoples, African Americans, and other groups working on behalf of historically disenfranchised population, they identified the pillars of work to support their communities and recommendations for working together and in parallel to strengthen all organization together.

More than anything, their findings reaffirmed the need for listening to and empowering people of color to have more control over the funds they receive and to use them in ways that align with community values and ways of being.

It was clear to me how much effort went into convening, interviewing, and, dare I say, negotiating the path they want to take forward together, but I think it’s important work. If Year 1 of this was theory, I’m excited to learn about Year 2 of praxis, putting that information and new visioning into use.

Building Community

As is often the case, going to an event like this is most useful to reaffirming my connections with various organizations and people in the community. I loved getting to connect with folks from NAC, Wayfind, WTA, 501 Commons, and Washington Nonprofits, along with seeing lots of fellow consultants I’ve known and collaborated with on past projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.