Review: 2023 Nonprofit Technology Conference

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In mid-April 2023, your correspondent attended NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Denver, Colorado. This was the first in-person instance of NTEN’s annual conference since 2019 (though this instance kept the hybrid option introduced in 2021). There were reportedly over 2,000 attendees across both options, with over half of us gathered for three days in Denver.

This review consists solely of my own opinions and reactions to the conference. In full disclosure, I received a scholarship (following a brief application process) from NTEN to cover the cost of my conference registration fee, and my employer paid for my airfare and lodging.

The conference schedule consists of one keynote address each day, and then the rest of the day’s schedule devoted to either 30- or 60-minute breakout sessions across a wide variety of tracks including fundraising, communications, IT, leadership, and more.

Sessions tend toward various implementations of technology solutions (whether specific platforms and programs or general practices of certain categories of technology) but there is also a wealth of conversation about broader themes such as the equitable use of technology, accessibility, change management, and many other critical topics. There is also plenty of time and space for informal conversation among attendees (particularly meal times; daily buffet breakfasts and lunches are included in the cost of attendance).

There is also an exhibit hall with dozens of technology provider vendors. One of the stated goals of the gathering is for representatives of these vendors to interact with nonprofit leaders (in contrast to corporate or small business counterparts) and get a sense of the unique technology needs of potential nonprofit clients. I had several meaningful conversations with some of these vendors and also with fellow attendees where we agreed we are definitely starting to see the technology sector pay more attention to the technology use cases of nonprofit, charitable, and philanthropic organizations (beyond just “nonprofit pricing”).

NTC is very much a general industry conference. I met people from organizations of all sizes in a wide variety of issue areas, from across the United States, from Canada, and from overseas as well. I knew going in that the place wouldn’t be bursting with fellow arts managers, or with fellow finance managers, but there were even fewer than I thought of both groups. Happily I did find a few peers in nonprofit arts and nonprofit finance to talk shop with, and they were invigorating conversations.

Knowing that it was a general conference, I circulated the agenda to my coworkers a couple of weeks before my departure and asked them to skim the session titles and suggest ones for me to attend. I was able to fit most of their requests into my schedule and return with a few pages of notes to share with my team.

The Verdict

I would absolutely recommend this conference to attend at least once. I could see myself returning every few years if it fits my schedule, but as a complement to rather than a substitute for the conferences hosted by Chorus America and the League of American Orchestras (for the specific issue areas) or American Fundraising Professionals and INTIX (for the specific job function).

NTEN leadership welcomes attendees to Denver at the opening general session.

About Eric Joseph Rubio

Eric Joseph Rubio is a nonprofit and arts management professional originally from Chicago, and now based in Washington, DC. He has served in staff and leadership roles with churches, schools, and arts organizations in the Chicago, South Florida, and Washington, DC areas. Eric is a proud alumnus of the Wheaton College (IL) Conservatory of Music, and is an occasional freelance writer across a variety of platforms. Follow Eric on Twitter and Instagram at @TheRubioRoom, and visit his website ericjrubio.com.

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