More Than PowerPoint Slides, Nametags, and Carbo Snacks
a few good reasons to attend the MNA 2010 Conference
by Teresa Geremia-Chart, Organizational Development Director
|| The 2010 MNA Nonprofit Conference, our 9th, is just around the corner and online registration is now open. You might be wondering if you should attend this year’s conference, spend the money, take the time away from the office, sleep in a hotel, and well, let’s face it… you don’t always get what you want to eat….all valid considerations. But, the benefits of attending the MNA conference absolutely outweigh the sacrifices.
First, the content: The conference curriculum includes thought-provoking, leading edge information and discussions about the future of our sector to help you to learn how to be agile, informed, financially sustainable, and collaborative in today’s constantly evolving, ever-competitive, increasingly scrutinized and more exciting-than-ever nonprofit environment! Topics include Montana’s revenue challenges and the 2011 legislative session, the impacts of advocacy and civic engagement on social change, and the 5-year future of MNA and you - not to mention, skill-building sessions about the “new” donor, strategic learning for real impact (not your grandma’s evaluation process), creating a culture of fundraising in your nonprofit, developing leadership skills, recruiting today’s volunteers, social media, green computing, federal grant management, nonprofit investing, and more, more, more.
Second, the talent: Ruth McCambridge of The Nonprofit Quarterly, one of our nation’s most respected nonprofit journals, who is a dynamo with her finger on the pulse of sector-wide issues will set the stage with her keynote address (and give away subscriptions to her publication). Tim Delaney, National Council of Nonprofits’ (NCN) CEO who, with a sharp mind, extensive experience, and political savvy is transforming NCN into a leading force for change, and striving to get nonprofits a seat at the political table. TechSoup, Network for Good, the TCC group (evaluation leaders extraordinaire), along with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, our sister association, will be in the house, not to mention Kit Gillem of M.J. Murdock who will reprise his advanced grantwriting workshop for our pre-conference.
Content and talent: Our member nonprofits inspire us every day. But the story of the Indian Law Resource Center and Tim Coulter’s humbling yet powerful work on behalf of indigenous peoples moved me to want to share it. Their work has progressed steadily and successfully a few blocks from my own house and I didn’t even know about it until recently - one of many hidden gems among our members!
Networking and sharing: As a result of reading evaluations from past conferences and our seminars throughout the year, I’ve learned that participants appreciate hearing about the strategies, challenges, successes, and work of other organizations in their community or in their subsector group. The conference, especially the reception, is a great way to connect with your peers to exchange ideas and share tips for managing your board, your staff, or for getting insight into that funder you’ve been pursuing. Join us for beverages and a slice of brick baked pizza at the MNA Reception hosted by the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts – talk about a gem – this Montana treasure has international sparkle, too.
Special features: Behind Google, the most used online server is YouTube. If so many people are looking at YouTube, they should be looking at your nonprofit. Learn how to share your work by creating a video (it’s easy with our new Flip Camera) and qualify for a drawing to win a free Flip Camera of your own. We’ll show you how to make your own 30-90 second video. We’ll even edit it and send it to you for your use in telling your visual story.
Got a burning management question? Meet one-on-one with a consultant or professional about your specific question or issue through Consultant’s Corner (25-minute sessions during break times). Experts will be on hand to discuss areas of nonprofit management from governance, to fundraising, to human resources, to financial management, and more.
Become your nonprofit’s financial hero. New this year, learn how you can save money for your organization through MNA’s insurance programs: Unemployment Insurance Alternative, Nonprofit Business Insurance, Major Medical Health Insurance, and our new Property and Casualty Insurance. Sign up at the conference for informal, break time “mininars” with representatives from our insurance partners and MNA staff.
Don’t forget about the exhibitor fair. Learn about services and products available to your nonprofit and talk directly with professional service providers from banks, to printers, accountants, to web developers, and more. Some of our national vendor partners will be available this year, too!
Finally, you can pick up staff and presenter book favorites from Fieldstone Alliance, BoardSource, and others at the MNA Book Fair. I use many of these books in my office to learn about strategies and techniques; some include CDs of templates, checklists, and sample policies.
The most important reason to attend the conference is to take pause from extinguishing the daily brushfires in your organization, to reenergize, be inspired, and celebrate the impact you’re making in the lives of Montanan’s everyday.