BVU Ohio Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit

Blog Date

BVU Ohio Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit

I want to begin with a BIG thank-you to BVU Director of Communications and Technology Melanie Meyer (@MelanieAMeyer) for inviting me to attend the inaugural BVU Ohio Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit on Friday, September 30, 2016, as their guest representing the good work of Cleveland GiveCamp (@CleGiveCamp).

The mission of BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence (@BVUVolunteers) "is to promote business volunteerism and foster excellence in nonprofit organizations." This has led Melanie and me to explore how Cleveland GiveCamp can reach out to the nonprofits served by BVU. As a provider of free tech solutions to Cleveland and Akron area nonprofits, it seemed logical that Cleveland GiveCamp be present at BVU's first tech summit. Cleveland GiveCamp (@CleGiveCamp) has the largest number of tech volunteers of any of the nation's other GiveCamps (@GiveCamp).

Years ago, I applied for a position at BVU, since I was intrigued by their mission. I think the work they do for the nonprofit sector in Cleveland and Akron is important to our community. Learn more about their current services on their website:

What follows is information from my notes taken at the tech summit, plus the support information provided by BVU. Melanie Meyer has done an outstanding job in providing the resources from the summit on BVU's website. I wish that all the tech conferences I attend would make this type of effort to provide resources after the event. I highly recommend you visit the BVU breakout sessions web page as an excellent example of how it should be done.


Summit Exhibitors

A wealth of information was provided for the asking from these exhibitors! I recommend you read the details on page 12 and 13 of the BVU Technology Summit Program PDF file here to learn more about the services they offer.

Summit Exhibitors see page 12 and 13 of the BVU Technology Summit Program PDF file
Click on image will open the
BVU Technology Summit Program PDF


Here is the list of exhibitors, including the description of Cleveland GiveCamp that I provided:


BVU Technology and Communications Summit Plenary Slides & Graphic Recorder Boards

BVU Technology and Communications Summit Plenary Powerpoint from BVU

Thank you,  BVU Associate Director of Education and Nonprofit Engagement Cory Isler (@CoryIsler) and graphic artisit Jo Byrne (@SeeYourWords ), for sending me these images of the graphic recorder boards. I found them very powerful as memory triggers of what was presented:

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First graphic recorder board - BVU Ohio Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit
Second graphic recorder board - BVU Ohio Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit

See more of Jo's work on her work online in the See Your Words Graphic Recording gallery.


Plenary - Become a Networked Nonprofit: Leading on Social Platforms - Beth Kanter (@Kanter)

Plenary - Become a Networked Nonprofit: Leading on Social Platforms - Beth Kanter (@Kanter)
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  • Beth Kanter opened her talk with video: Conan Is Clawing His Way To The Top Of LinkedIn

    See Beth's blog post: Conan O’Brien: Stop Talking About Red Hats & Do A Monologue About Charitable Giving

  • As you develop objectives, be sure they are based on value.

  • How networked is your nonprofit?

    • Crawl - Lack social media ambassadors
    • Walk - Use social media sporadically -- not connected to objectives
    • Run - Socially engaged, but no strategy or objectives
    • Fly - Formal ambassadors -- social strategy connected to objectives -- provides training & measured results
  • What type of social media person are you?

    • Turtle - Profile locked down or not present
    • Jellyfish - Profile open to all
    • Chameleon -Profile open - adaptive and thoughtful
  • Social Media should be part of everyone's job.  Get staff to promote your nonprofit.  Talk to the faithful first to lead others.

  • Important that board members for nonprofits promote their organization on social media

    • First, survey board members to ask how much they use social media and how comfortable they are sharing on social media. 
    • Then train board members on how to use social media to promote your mission 
  • Read Beth's blog post: Does Your Organization Have Social Media Guidelines for All Staff? which includes information from TNT (@TNTMediaHub) Employee Social Media Guidelines.

  • Question: How do you avoid treating your donors like ATM machines?

  • Use your champions to share your mission with their social media followers.


Plenary - Use Data and Analytics to Better Communicate with Your Audience - Jeff Leo Herrmann (@JeffLHerrmann of @FathomDelivers)

Plenary - Use Data and Analytics to Better Communicate with Your Audience - Jeff Leo Herrmann (@JeffLHerrmann of @FathomDelivers)
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  • Google has trained users to be impatient. We want information now -- we don't want to wait!

  • People want information, not salespeople.

  • Jeff says think like a publisher.

    See slides starting at 65.

  • Think of content as a digital asset.

  • Every company is a media company – every person is a media company! (I really like this idea that everyone can be their own media company!)

  • Spend a lot of time determining your target people -- who you should be reaching.  You don't want to reach everyone.

  • Pick one social media channel to focus on based on your audience (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Jeff is big on using LinkedIn for the audience he wishes to reach.

  • Jeff is big on video. It is visual and tells story, so grabs people. Easy to do with selfie stick or tripod and your smart phone.

    Interesting that Jeff mentioned that he is big on using both LinkedIn and video, since during his talk I found the video Jeff Leo Herrmann Speaker Reel on his LinkedIn profile:


  • Measure content outcome.

  • During his talk, Jeff cited Global Cleveland (@GlobalCleveland) as a good example of a local nonprofit using social media. (Interesting, since I have learned about Global Cleveland via Twitter, plus met two of their leadership team through contacts that originated on social media.)


Plenary - Funding Technology from the Funder's Perspective - Leon Wilson (@leon_clevefdn of @CleveFoundation)

Tales from the Dark Side... [Things Nonprofits Should Know RE: Tech Funding]

Plenary - Funding Technology from the Funder's Perspective - Leon Wilson (@leon_clevefdn of @CleveFoundation)
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  • I missed the beginning of Leon's presentation, so was glad that others shared information on Twitter (see tweets below) and that his slides on the BVU Technology and Communications Summit Plenary Powerpoint were made available.

  • Use board members who know technology to help you.

  • Don't go to Cleveland Foundation for tech support if you don't invest in it over time.

  • Be sure that the technology benefits your mission.

  • Tech is part of your base cost – not for grant.

  • Most foundations don't support technology for basic operations, but they do support capacity building.

  • How does technology help further the nonprofit's service/outreach/mission?

Years ago, when I was on the board for the Ohio Council of Fundraising Executive (OCFRE), I helped plan a joint technology conference between the two professional fundraising associations at the time -- NSFRE/OCFRE Technology Workshop -- thus, it was very interesting to hear from Leon Wilson how certain things have not changed regarding nonprofit funding for technology.


Plenary - Cloud Solutions: How They are Transforming the Way Nonprofits Work - Linda Widdop (@phillybirdnerd of @Tech_Impact)

Plenary - Cloud Solutions: How They are Transforming the Way Nonprofits Work - Linda Widdop (@phillybirdnerd of @Tech_Impact)
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  • Cloud computing is more affordable for nonprofits than for for-profit businesses.  Cloud computing costs less and is more secure.

  • Large tech companies give free or lower cost technology to nonprofits.

  • Move technology from being a capital expense to an operating expense.  Move to cloud. Push cost as an operating cost.

  • Moving to the cloud improves business.

  • Less dependent on the IT guy/gal.

  • Companies like Microsoft and Google owe society -- thus, they give back to nonprofits by offering low-cost cloud services.

These two slides (slide 127 & 128) tell the story!


Plenary - TechSoup: Leveraging Product Donations and Services - Kathryn Svobodny (@katiesvo of @TechSoup)

Plenary - TechSoup: Leveraging Product Donations and Services - Kathryn Svobodny (@katiesvo of @TechSoup)
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The TechSoup website lists over 375 tech products! To assist you in getting started, here is a list of product areas that link to the TechSoup website for more information:


Plenary - Idealware: Making Smarter Technology Decisions - Karen Graham (@KarenTGraham of @Idealware)

Plenary - Idealware: Making Smarter Technology Decisions - Karen Graham (@KarenTGraham of @Idealware)
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  • Take online classes.

  • Can sign up to get notices.

Here is a description from Idealware's Who We Are web page:

We’re a nonprofit that puts technology at the heart of our mission. We help you make smart technology decisions so that you’re able to do your best work on a limited budget.

Idealware, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the authoritative source for independent, thoroughly-researched technology resources for the social sector. Our publications, assessments, and training can save you time and money by providing impartial guidance that gives you the knowledge and confidence you need to decide what’s best for your organization.

We don’t do consulting and we don’t offer any technology products of our own. But we do collaborate with nonprofit technology experts to uncover and synthesize vast amounts of original research so that you can focus more of your time on what matters most—your organization’s mission.


Session 1:

SESSION 1 (1:00-2:00 PM)
Build an Audience & Move Them to Action Through Social Media
It's not enough to simply have a social media presence. To be successful on social media, a nonprofit should find the right audience, consistently provide them with content that really speaks to them, ultimately move them towards action - and then do it all over again! Panelists will provide tips and tactics to make social media work for your nonprofit.
Presented by Fathom Digital Marketing Experts: Jennifer Frates, Jennifer Marini Garvin and Joe Adams


  • Fathom Digital Marketing (@FathomDelivers)

  • 65% of adults online use social media.

  • Fathom speakers talk about creating a social media calendar.

  • Suggest talk on social media as brand voice in most cases, when representing an organization.

  • Idea - make videos short, since audience has short attention span.

  • Former TV person says don't make video over one minute.

  • Paid social media is the way to go if you have the money, since it can be very targeted -- can target by age, neighborhood, college attended, etc.

  • Build an Audience & Move Them to Action Through Social Media from BVU


Here are links to the other presentations from Session 1:


Session 2:

SESSION 2  (2:15-3:15 PM)
The Changing Role of IT Staff
As nonprofit organizations adopt cloud for basic productivity and database needs, the role of the"technology staff" must shift.  Today, IT staff must engage with management and users to understand business needs and manage systems rather than hardware.  We will discuss this changing role and how nonprofit leaders can prepare to successfully manage the new IT landscape, and the responsibility of managing data sources, understanding data integration and how this can affect the organization.
Presented by Linda Widdop, TechImpact.


  • Linda Widdop (@phillybirdnerd) Tech Impact (@Tech_Impact)

  • Donors and foundations are asking more questions.

  • The IT person is not climbing under desks and keeping servers going anymore. Instead, they have the role of training users to use data effectively. Instead of using local services, nonprofits can now put everything in the cloud for free. Have new type of IT department that gives you the data you need.

  • See Nonprofit Tech Staffing Report by @NTENorg at:…

  • Evaluate IT staffing and support:

    • Manage services vs managing T staff.
    • Stop worrying about IT staff -- instead, manage outsourced resources. Hire brain power.
  • Outsource phone support and help desk.

  • Most cloud services are free for nonprofits, and offer good security and less downtime.

  • Go to Microsoft Trust Center website to find information on support. Also look for HIPPA requirements.

  • You can hire a virtual CIO.

  • Heard that Melanie Meyer at BVU will be providing great new nonprofit tech services in Cleveland. Watch for more information.

  • The Changing Role of IT Staff from BVU


Here are links to the other presentations from Session 2:


Session 3:

SESSION 3  (3:30-4:30 PM)
Social Impact, Accelerated: How Your Nonprofit's Back Office Can Change the World
Nonprofits operate in a world of significant complexity and limited resources. Whether it is the continuous friction between the fundraising and accounting departments around actual revenue and delivering a superior donor experience or trying to link outcomes with the true cost of programs, nonprofits regularly struggle to accomplish their mission under increased pressure to spend more on programs and less on the back office.
In this session, David Geilhufe, Senior Director of, shares how your nonprofit can leverage future-proof technology and leading practices to achieve higher performance and increased innovation, all while bridging the gap between your fundraising and accounting teams.


  • David Geilhufe (@geilhufe) (@NetSuiteorg)

  • gives away software and provides training.

  • Nonprofit industry is changing:

    • New Business Models
    • Increasing Constituent Expectations
    • Breaking the Nonprofit Starvation Model
  • First-time donor retention is around 19%.

  • Look at cost per outcome.

  • Idea: Take person out to lunch who you met at this Summit that does the same thing as you do. Then go back to their office and have them show you how they really use the technology (not how the salesperson thinks you should use the product).


Here are links to the other presentations from Session 3



Here are my photos from the day, which include information shared by the presenters.

If your device does not support photos/videos,
please view them here.


Thank you, BVU, for sharing your Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit photos on Flickr:

If your device does not support photos/videos,
please view them here.


Tweets & Retweets

Here are 184 of my @sos_jr tweets and retweets of the experiences of those attending the BVU's Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit. Please share any information or photos that you find interesting by retweeting, so that others may benefit from the shared knowledge.

Cleveland GiveCamp - FREE Tech Projects for NEO Nonprofits!

During the summit, I was telling attendees that they can sign up today at to be notified when the nonprofit application process starts. With 2017 being the eighth year of Cleveland GiveCamp (@CleGiveCamp) providing free technical solutions for local nonprofits, the challenge is letting those local nonprofits know of the service.

Action Steps: 1) Please help spread the word by encouraging nonprofits to sign up for the 2017 notices, 2) In honor of Cleveland GiveCamp serving the community these past seven years, please make a point of asking seven people to let the nonprofits that they work with know about Cleveland GiveCamp.

Please read the information in these images for more information and to see a thank-you to Cleveland GiveCamp sponsors.

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Cleveland GiveCamp mission & history
Cleveland GiveCamp Information

Thank You Cleveland GiveCamp 2016 Sponsors

To learn more, please read my five past Cleveland GiveCamp blog posts here.


Thank You, Sponsors!

Thank You Technology & Communications Summit Sponsors

Here are the sponsors that made it possible to share important technology information with Cleveland and Akron area nonprofits -- Thank You!




This was the first Nonprofit Technology & Communications Summit where BVU has brought together technology and communications talent to help local nonprofits improve how they use available resources. I hope that the participants report back to BVU that they gained real value from the summit. I also hope that the sponsors continue to support programs like this, so that more nonprofits can benefit from future summits in Northeast Ohio.