If you know me, then you probably know a sizable part of my Bayer Center work life is organizing an annual conference called TechNow. It’s a technology conference for nonprofits, with a one-day conference component followed by a Post-Conference Workshop Day.
2016 is the 13th annual TechNow event. I’ve organized all but two of them, the first year called “Tech Town Hall” before the name changed to TechNow in 2005. I attended the 2005 TechNow Conference when I was still working at my last job with PA CleanWays (now Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful). I have clear recollections of that event, which I’d like to share and which may give you an idea of why I think TechNow is so important for nonprofit techies in our region.
When I worked at PA CleanWays, I was the only person managing the technology. (Very typical at small to medium sized nonprofits.) It was my first tech job and first nonprofit job, where I struggled frequently with best practices and finding good information. Yes, the whole Internet is there for you when you are a techie, but Googling to troubleshoot an issue is different from Googling for tech strategy. For example, if you decide your organization needs a new database, you can search the Internet and find a boatload of possibilities. How do you narrow that down and make a choice? Events like TechNow give you the means to expand your network of tech-minded people facing the same challenges and give you brains to pick for answers. Once you have a network in place, you can ask around and see what others have tried.
I managed the tech at PACW in my own little vacuum for a few years before I discovered the Bayer Center and its offerings. First I joined the Bagels & Bytes-Westmoreland group and I was so happy. When I found TechNow and met so many, many other nonprofit techies, I was ecstatic. And now that I work at the Bayer Center and manage this event, I’m crazy excited to help bring it to life year after year.
A misperception about TechNow that I frequently hear is “but I’m not a techie – I wouldn’t fit in there.” You don’t have to be a full-blown techie to benefit from TechNow. We cater to all skill levels – from full-time techie to “accidental” techie. If you are interested in how your organization can leverage technology to better meet its mission and get work done more effectively, TechNow is for you!
Learn more at www.technowconference.org. If you live in the Pittsburgh region or surrounding area, I hope to see you there!