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VOL. 127 | NO. 85 | Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Conference Stresses Power Of Social Media

By Aisling Maki

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The Memphis-based Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence is gearing up for its seventh annual conference, and this year’s theme focuses on ways nonprofits can harness the power of social media and build connected communities in this fast-paced information age.

“Powerful Networks: Nonprofits, Social Media, and Community” will be held Wednesday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Clark Opera Memphis Center, 6745 Wolf River Blvd.

“We see a lot of nonprofits that are interested in using social media tools, but they’re not really sure how to best utilize them,” said Nancy McGee, executive director of the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence, 5100 Poplar Ave., which serves nonprofits in more than 30 counties in East Arkansas, North Mississippi and West Tennessee. “And I don’t necessarily think they’ve really thought about using them as a way to really connect with their constituents and the rest of the community. It’s about really taking advantage of using these tools, but putting them to the best use possible so that you can really have a better conversation with your constituents, and hopefully, through that, improve your services and be more effective.”

An array of speakers will share their knowledge on a wide range of tech-related topics, including improving websites, creating effective content, motivating supporters through social media, legal considerations for social media use, and board governance in the information age.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup Global, a San Francisco-based nonprofit founded on the belief that technology is a powerful enabler for social change. The organization’s worldwide network shares information about innovative solutions to the most urgent social challenges.

Webb’s address, “Making Change in a Digital World,” will begin at 9 a.m. It will be followed by an address titled “Unleashing Innovation” by featured speaker Laura S. Quinn, founder and executive director of nonprofit Idealware in Portland, Maine.

Idealware provides resources about software to help nonprofits make smart software decisions, therefore making the most of their time and financial resources.

Other out-of-town speakers include Carlo M. Cuesta, managing partner of Creation in Common in St. Paul, Minn.; John Kenyon, educational program manager at NTEN in San Francisco; Emily Chan, associate attorney at San Francisco’s NEO Law Group; Jennifer Leigh, communications director at The Poverty Institute in Providence, R.I.; and Ruth McCambridge, editor in chief at The Nonprofit Quarterly in Boston, Mass.

The conference will also feature Memphis-based speakers Tal Frankfurt and Ken Kimble, who will serve as leaders for breakout sessions.

“We think it’s always important to have a few local people who come and speak,” McGee said. “People here have a tendency to look outside the city for resources and we’ve got some great resources within Memphis. We’re very excited to have Tal and Ken.”

Frankfurt, CEO of Cloud for Good, a Salesforce and Google Apps consulting firm, will share information on using databases to build relationships.

Kimble, director of development and brand strategy at the Wolf River Conservancy, will discuss the generational differences in social media.

“One of the most common themes among nonprofits today is how to attract and retain young talent, both professionally and as volunteers,” Kimble said. “Websites are still important because they serve as an information hub for an organization, but an organization also needs an effective social media presence or it will be extremely difficult to communicate with and attract young people.”

Kimble says that with some training and commitment to a social media strategy, nonprofits have the power to get their message to an unprecedented number of potential donors, volunteers and supporters, with little cost in terms of time and money.

To learn more or to register for Wednesday’s conference, visit www.npexcellence.org.

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