The past few months have brought great change and growth to MNA. As we brought on new staff members last fall, we were in a perfect position to evaluate what MNA has accomplished over the past fifteen years, and question what’s next. Our staff meetings and retreats have been rich with generative questions and discussion about member needs, the evolving nonprofit sector, MNA’s relevance and value, and engaging with the next generation, from whom Montana’s future nonprofit leadership will emerge. A topic that has consistently made its way to the forefront is the broad and overwhelming matter of technology.
Years ago, “online” was the next big thing. For nonprofits, there was a tremendous impetus to engage constituents online, and we all did our best to figure out what that meant and put at least something in place: Facebook, Twitter, etc. And we did this while continuing all our traditional efforts: direct mail, phone fundraising, print ads, and more. To a large extent, these varied efforts still have a place in our workflows.
Like many of you, I have adapted over time, learned new skills and done my best to understand as many new technology tools as possible. Technology brings a promise of doing more with less, but it has been as challenging for me to learn the world of technology as it would be to learn a new language. I get grumpy.
Fast forward to today, an era defined by a constant supply of information about new developments in technology and the monumental amount of new software and devices that are available, with new ideas appearing daily. As an association leader I have found developments in technology to be interesting and useful, but with every new advancement that pops up in my inbox, I experience some level of anxiety. If we don’t use this will we fall behind, or are we already behind? If we start using this, what else will have to change? Will I be able to actually learn this? How do I know what I don’t know? As a person who is passionate about the future of the nonprofit sector, this has been challenging. I don’t want technology to be my ceiling, MNA’s ceiling, or a ceiling for the larger nonprofit community in the state.
Fortunately – there is good news. I lead an amazing staff team – your MNA team – and they are excited about technology and its transformative potential for Montana’s nonprofits. Their can-do attitudes, comfort levels with new technologies, and spirit of adventure are propelling me and MNA toward our technological future. As your association, we are amping up our focus on the opportunities technology brings and ways to address challenges. Our team shares a collective desire and mission to offer resources that increase nonprofit efficiency and effectiveness, including technological resources.
As we position MNA for the future we are keenly aware that we are simultaneously supporting current nonprofit leaders, some of whom share my trepidation with technology, while engaging with new leaders – the next generation – many of whom live in the deep end of the tech pool. It’s an exciting time for us. I’m smiling as I end this little piece of writing, thinking that absolutely anything could happen. All I need to do is walk to the edge of the pool, plug my nose, squeeze my eyes shut . . . and jump!