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This post was originally posted on the Minds On Design Lab Blog

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting at the Eastern Oregon Nonprofit Conference in Ontario, Oregon. While I have presented at numerous conferences the rural focus of this one made it especially interesting. By rural focus I don’t just mean the location but of the attendees and context for which the information in the workshop would need to be applied. Rural in this context means the combined population of the two largest cities in the region doesn’t even total 35,000.

I was excited about the opportunity to present on “Nonprofit Must Have Technology Tools” or what I like to refer to as the “Aha Tools”. These are the range of free and low cost resources that many folks are unaware of and when they find out about them and how they can be used think “Aha”. Often times you can literally see it on their faces after connecting the dots between the tool, their needs and their context. Here are just a few of the sharable “Aha” moments.

 

Video Conferencing

In a rural setting it is just understood that you drive, a lot. Due to distances between towns and low density populations it is not uncommon to recruit your boards members and volunteers from a wide geographic area. When we went through some of the options available for video conferencing (Skype, Google hangouts, etc) there was a general nodding of heads and few folks taking notes. Once we connected that with a quick poll of who thinks it is crazy to spend 3 hours driving to attend a 1 hour meeting the “Ahas” arrived. The potential impact to improve attendance, participation and efficiency of meetings was a bright spot for more than a few folks. Especially when we talked about how most of these options are even accessible via smart phone and the ability to now use a Google hangout for live streaming.

 

Online Photo Editing

One of items I gave only a quick mention to is one of the things that got the biggest response. Helping people realize that there are tool like Pixlr and Aviary that allow them to do basic photo editing without an intimidating tool like Photoshop was a big hit.

 

If This Then…My Mind is Blown

We did spent a little time talking about the powerhouse tools like Evernote and If This Then That. Outside of the sheer volume of ways these tools can be used it was the realization that there is growing potential to have your various tools work better together that sparked excitement even for those a bit more tech savvy in the session.

 

We Love The Feedback

My personal “Aha” moment came after the conference when I had a chance to peruse the evaluation forms (yes I read them). While the vast majority of responses were positive and shared at least one thing they will use going forward there was one the killed any worries that I may have fostered too much shiny object syndrome.

 

To the question”What is the key message you take away from this session?” a participant simply responded “Don’t Get A Computer” with a little smiley face.

A wonderful reminder that technology is only a tool to accomplish something else and the best tools are the ones you will actually use. Don’t get overwhelmed by the technology, chose wisely and only worry about what you actually need.

Presentation Slides

Nonprofit Must Have Technology Tools & Tricks from Minds On Design Lab

 

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