Recap of #17NTC – Digital storytelling, donor retention, creating digital content that wows

Recap of #17NTC – Digital storytelling, donor retention, creating digital content that wows

Julia Claire Campbell Events, Nonprofits 1 Comment

On a cold, rainy March day in Boston I set off to meet other nonprofit technology professionals at the 17th annual NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, DC.

It was my first time at the conference, but I needn’t have worried about fitting in. Immediately at registration I was greeted by several enthusiastic, friendly faces, who gave me one of my now-favorite tote bags and encouraged me to check out all the buttons and flair. (I LOVE buttons.)

Obligatory Instagram shot of the incredible tote bag at #17NTC! So excited to actually be here!! #nptech #nonprofitnerds ????

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After checking out the exhibit hall, the video game alley (with retro games like Pac Man!), and connecting with a few attendees on the official conference app, I knew that I had found my people.

This three-day conference was chock full of fabulous sessions, insightful small group roundtables, networking, connection, community, and fun! (Did I mention the 80’s dance parties and rocking happy hours each day?)

From the 80s party last night; what a blast! I’m going to miss my #17NTC peeps!

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Here are my top takeaways from the conference sessions.

Have a plan for your digital storytelling.

In her great session Harnessing the Power of Digital Storytelling, Linda Reinstein, President of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization described her personal experience leveraging stories into strong tools for advocacy, education, and community building.

Reinstein recommends dividing your digital storytelling efforts into three buckets – macro messaging, micro messaging, and multimedia.

  • Macro-messages are long-form stories, like blog posts, longer videos, or news articles.
  • Micro-messages are bite-size stories (that may lead back to a macro-message), like Facebook posts, tweets, and short Instagram/Snapchat videos.
  • Multimedia stories are focused around video and photos, which can be edited, cut, recycled, and reused on multiple platforms.

Online tools can be used for donor retention, not just acquisition.

Tactical tips were the focus of the Increase Your Acquisition and Retention by Using Data and New Multi-Channel Approaches. EveryAction’s Melissa Wyers provided an actionable, step-by-step plan to using different tools to acquire new donors and retain current ones.

Some of the techniques she covered (that your nonprofit can steal):

  • Upload your email list of donors and create unique Facebook ads targeted at them, providing impact stories, thank yous, and other special acknowledgements.
  • Start a Lapsed Gift Prevention Program to prevent the lapse before it starts. Your organization can send out a recapture email or another piece of content to get a donor engaged again before they are about to lapse. Multi-channel approaches work best in this case.
  • Rethink your renewals! How can you automate your renewal email series? How can you incorporate other multi-channel and multimedia approaches into encouraging your donors to renew? Think beyond the direct mail solicitation (although that is a big piece of the renewal puzzle).

Figure out what your online community needs – and give it to them.

The panel for How (and Why) We Doubled Down on Digital Content to Protect Wild Places was so knowledgeable, that the session ended up going way over at the end of the day and no one minded!

Loren Drummond, Digital Content Manager for the Washington Trails Association, discussed the process that led the organization to create the community-led review site Hike Finder Map (I call it Yelp for hikers). They wanted to provide a needed service and fill a gap for their target audience, as well as invest in technology that would help them fulfill their mission. The Hike Finder Map encourages participants to leave reviews and empowers them to protect these wild places.

Kassia Randzio, Marketing and Grants Manager for the Montana Wilderness Association, wanted to engage hard-to-reach audiences, like young professionals and parents of young children. Her organization created Wilderness Walks, a free, open to the public program that showcases the “why” of their mission (protecting wildness) and recruits advocates.

As a government agency, the National Park Service, is not allowed to explicitly advocate on behalf of environmental issues, such as protecting wild spaces. Film producer Sarah Gulick uses film to showcase these areas, without music or narration. The lack of an obvious agenda allows people to become inspired on their own.

The main takeaway is to know exactly where your organization’s goals meet your community’s needs – and create content in this overlap.

I am already excited about #18NTC – and it’s going to be in New Orleans! To learn more about the NTC, go to

Do you need a step-by-step guide to creating digital storytelling campaigns?

You are in luck!

Sign up and get a free chapter of my new book, Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits. This book is designed to be a step-by-step how-to guide for small and mid-size nonprofits that want to learn how to set goals, measure results, and carry out amazingly successful digital storytelling campaigns!

When you sign up, you will also receive my free weekly bulletin with tips, tricks, and advice for savvy nonprofits on how to kick butt at online marketing and fundraising.

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Comments 1

  1. Christoper Noah

    Things changed a lot from past – It is all due to rise of the Internet connectivity all over the world. It is also due to the support of the developed countries towards the developing countries. There are many aspects of it but finally everyone choice to enjoy the digital age and I am also enjoying the digital age. The future is unpredictable, but there is a lot of things hidden in the future our kinds no doubt enjoy a bright future.

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