#NPDev – The Nonprofit Technology Event You Wish You Hadn’t Missed

Last week, I attended AspirationTech.org‘s annual Nonprofit Developer Summit in Oakland, California. Nonprofit organizations and technologists came together to teach and learn about the technology challenges in the nonprofit industry. Every day, I was brought into thought provoking discussions on how to solve some of these challenges with technology today and inspiring success stories from .Org’s that were adapting technology to win.

I can’t express how truly mind-opening this event is, and I encourage you to add next year’s conference. NPDev gave me several opportunities to connect and interact with highly technical people who work within the nonprofit space, and because the organizers encourage end user language, I was able to participate in technical conversations comfortably and I learned so much as a result!

Big Data, Teaching NPO Tech, and Maps

To help me select which sessions I would attend, I focused on 3 main themes:

* Innovative NPO Tech Use Cases

* Big Data Collection and Management

* Teaching Methods for Tech Beginners 

Here are my top takeaway sessions, linked to their wiki notes pages, for those of you who missed this year’s event –  hopefully I’ll be able to pass on some of what I learned at the NPDev Summit.

Innovative NPO Tech – Maps

Nonprofits are doing really awesome things with maps and the conference focused on a couple of open source mapping tools, TileMill and Open Street Map (OSM) with case studies on how .Org’s were creating interactive map tools to get supplies where they’re needed and match volunteers with someone who needs a little help. There were a number of innovative technologies being talked about at NPDev with Mapping Tech being the most popular.

Here’s my Top Recommended #NPDev Map Sessions:

Introduction to TileMill and Advanced TileMill gave hands-on instructions on using TileMill to create visually enlightening maps for your cause.

Open Street Map (OSM) Mapping showed participants how to use this free, open source mapping tool.

Saving Lives with Crowd Sourced Mapping in Haiti shares case studies on how organizations are using mapping during and after natural disasters to save lives and help rebuild communities.

NonProfit Big Data Tech

Big Data is one of 2012’s most oft-used “buzz” words and the nonprofit industry is seeking solutions just like the corporate world.  Here are some of the best NPDev sessions that discussed what Big Data is and why you need to prioritize Big Data within your organization in 2013:

How to Use Data Informed Campaigns shows nonprofits how to collect and analyze past data to create compelling reports that build credibility around your cause and support your movement.

Being a Data Driven OrganizationTaming the Data Hodge-Podge shared insights into how you can identify key organizational drivers and develop methods to measure and analyze the data to help your Board and staff make decisions.

Open Data Around the World provides resources for finding free data from places like NASA and government organizations and tells you how nonprofits can benefit from using open data.

The Dashboard session includes analysis of several good and bad dashboards and what tools a dashboard should have to be really useful for Nonprofits.

Beginners Tech Guides

Strategic Hosting for NonProfits takes a look at what’s really included in typical hosting plans compared to the needs of most nonprofit organizations and shares tips to help you evaluate and select the right hosting services for your software.

How to Prepare for a Website Project from the .Org Side provides nonprofits with best practices and a methodology to use for your next website project to get the results you wanted.

Introduction to the Command line offers a little history and a truly beginner-friendly guide to using the command prompt to communicate with your computer.

 Introduction to Git covers some of the basic commands you can use with the Git version control tool.

More of What You Might Have Missed

You’ll find a list of the sessions along with the notes and other resources in the Dev Summit Wiki.

Photos from the event are being shared on Flickr with the hashtag #npdev.

Check out a local Nonprofit Tech event: Netsquared! Netsquared meet-ups are local, community-driven events where participants connect to discuss technology tools that can help social causes.  You’ll find me at the Houston Netsquared events, usually so I hope you’ll come to one of our upcoming events in 2013.