Digital Inclusion & Automated Arts Advocacy

on April 15, 2016

Communications Associate Jacob Campbell recently attended the 2016 Nonprofit Technology Conference, the nonprofit sector’s signature technology event hosted by the Nonprofit Technology Network. Head to our blog for big-picture ideas around inclusion in both the tech and arts education spaces as well as some awesome (and free!) tools for becoming a more productive and connected arts advocate.


By Communication Associate Jacob Campbell

As a first-timer at the 2016 Nonprofit Technology Conference (16NTC), I was a bit overwhelmed. There were so many booths and breakout sessions to choose from, and I wished I could be in two places at once! I wanted to soak up as much as I could to share with our administrative staff, our faculty of Teaching Artists, and the broader network of arts advocates who support our cause. At such a tech-focused convening, I worried that there wouldn’t be too much crossover with our work at P.S. ARTS, but during the second plenary session, Martin Wolske from the Center for Digital Inclusion at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said something that really resonated with me:

“Technology alone doesn’t create digital inclusion just as paint alone doesn’t create a piece of art.” [TWEET]

Wolske and the rest of the morning’s speakers highlighted the idea that organizations need to shift the culture of thinking from simply providing access to resources, to embedding our services as tools for change and being flexible to meet the needs of the communities we serve. In that paradigm, adoption and participation — in technology, in the arts, in education, and so on — become the true metrics of success.

This sentiment also reminded me of former Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities Rachel Goslins’ recent TED Talk, “The Arts Are Not a Flower,” in which she positions the arts as a tool (a wrench) that can be used to address some of the most pressing issues facing our nation’s public education system.

 

It’s not enough for us to give our communities a box of proverbial puzzle pieces; we need to support them in connecting the dots and filling in the gaps to reveal the bigger picture and our larger goals.


What’s clear is that new technology and the arts are both tools that, when implemented thoughtfully, can make a lasting impact on communities. Equally as clear is our need as service providers to focus not only on quality and delivery, but also adoption and integration. This is quite a feat, and working towards this goal may seem daunting considering the many hats those of us in the nonprofit sector wear on a given day. Luckily, I walked away from 16NTC with a host of new communications, automation, and advocacy tools that I’m eager to test-drive and happy share with my fellow jugglers! We all want to streamline our day-to-day tasks in order to free up more time to focus on advancing the causes we care about most, and (hopefully) some of these tools will allow you to do just that. I’m not an expert (or a spokesperson), but I’d love to hear if any of these resources make an impact on your workflow!

Communication

Slack
Looking for a better way to easily message to your entire team? Do you manage various groups such as volunteers, Teaching Artists, and Curriculum Specialists? Slack is a great way to “Be Less Busy” and create separate messaging channels for each of your teams.

Calendly
Tired of playing email tag when trying to set up a meeting or phone call? Wouldn’t it be great if people could look at your availability and schedule a meeting with you accordingly? Now they can with Calendly! Pro tip: add a “Schedule a Meeting With Me” link to your email signature.

Automation

IFTTT (If This, Then That)
Ever feel like you’re repeating work in multiple places? Are you switching between social media platforms, Google Docs, email builders, and your organization’s database? If you’re interested in “Recipes” that trigger actions between various platforms, IFTTT will rock your world. If you want to get super fancy, try this recipe — IF we receive an online donation, THEN play our celebratory Spotify playlist!

Zapier
If IFTTT isn’t powerful enough for your workload or lacks a key integration you need to make your life easier, check out Zapier. Zapier connects the apps you use most — you can even create multi-step actions!

Advocacy

Thunderclap
There is strength in numbers. What if you could schedule a moment for your online followers to post about the same thing at the same time? If you’re trying to get someone’s attention or spread the word about an important issue, Thunderclap may be the tool for you.

M+R Toolshed
Looking for tips and tricks to improve your performance on social media? Trying to find the best influencers for your next online campaign? Not sure how to create an action plan from all your online data? M+R has you covered!


A big thank you to the Nonprofit Technology Network for hosting 16NTC. I’m looking forward to next year’s convening in Washington, DC! Be sure to save the date for 17NTC: March 23-25, 2017. Learn more at www.nten.org/ntc

P.S. ARTSDigital Inclusion & Automated Arts Advocacy