Alfredo Ramirez, co-founder and COO of Prosal, describes his first in-person experience at #23NTC, the annual conference for NTEN.
I felt right at home when I entered the giant exhibit hall of the Colorado Convention Center to find so many familiar faces and companies listening to the joyous welcome address from Amy Ward. From beginning to end, the 2023 Nonprofit Technology Conference was an incredible melting pot of experiences, challenging conversations, and professional development that is hard to match anywhere else.
I had attended a few online and in-person conferences since last year when Covid restrictions began to ease slightly, but nothing could have prepared me for the energy and love I felt from NTEN. #23NTC was also the first conference I attended, fully representing Prosal and intending to host our first company event. Needless to say, I was busy and stressed.
The Convention Center's vast halls and the attendees' open arms allowed me to carry all that stress with ease and still find time and space to meet with old friends and make new ones.
Even though Day One kicked off with a struggle to find parking and scrape together the remnants of the bacon and banana bread to make a decent breakfast, I dove headfirst into some of the smartest sessions I’ve ever joined. Lauren Hopkins, a social impact consultant, gave a master class on teaching technology skills in a multigenerational workplace. The session gave me excellent ideas about how to appeal to generations, young and old, with accessible content that teaches them how to start their own consulting business and win new clients (something we’re diligently working on in partnership with Consultants for Good).
The high bar was set and exceeded by sessions on knowledge management, a term I wasn’t familiar with until a few weeks ago, by a team from the Nature Conservancy and a website workshop from Audrey Pfund at the Partnership for Public Service. I probably walked 10 miles alone on Day One between all the sessions and post-conference happy hours, which I took notes on for the next day's Puffinry Mixer.
Let me open with the simple statement that I am not, nor have I ever been, an event planner. I am blessed with a genius of a life and business partner in Gabriella Mutti, a brand expert and event planning professional. Naturally, Gabi played a huge role in organizing Prosal’s first-ever in-person event: The Puffinry Mixer.
The day started with a few practical speaker sessions, including one immediately useful one, Design Tips for the Non-designer, by the creative team of Great Believer. Nick, our CEO, arrived that day from California to join the mixer. After leaving him in the care of another founder and Dance Dance Revolution, I made my way through the exhibitor’s hall, where I finally got to meet some people in person that I had been talking to for weeks, if not months, online.
I’m grateful to finally Steven from Forum One and reconnect with Liz Bradley, who I used to work with at the League of Conservation Voters and hadn't seen in person since 2017. I also had the chance to meet Ming from Firefly Partners, Marcy from Wire Media, Andrew from Kalamuna, and Lesley from Cornership Creative. All these exhibitors and people had been supporting Prosal from the beginning!
We also met with some of our closest day-to-day partners, including Sean Ramsey at Philanthroforce and the team from Bonterra, and planted seeds for potential partnerships in the future with groups like UncommonGood.
Our team closed the day with the Puffinry Post-Conference Mixer, a reunion of nonprofit consultants hosted by our team and friends at Consultants for Good. The incredibly generous and receptive folks of Bar AC, a two-minute walk from the conference, helped us create an unforgettable and intimate event. Even though we had competition across the street from the giants at Salesforce, we still turned out over 30 people, dined on delicious flatbreads, and enjoyed the night with a signature cocktail designed by our bartender friend, Jesse. The day could not have gone any better.
The third and final day of the conference was thankfully only a half day because my body begged me to stop. I woke up Friday morning with aching feet, a slight hangover, and a reminder that my inbox was beginning to overflow. But nothing would stop me from making one final tour through the conference.
We realized our RFPs Suck pocket tee was a massive hit with people everywhere. My favorite line was from someone who said they would buy it for their entire business development team and wear it to select pitch meetings.
I delivered a few last-minute handwritten notes to folks I had not been able to share them with, said my thank yous and goodbye’s to Amy, and began the drive home for a nap and Keystone’s closing weekend.
I’m incredibly grateful to the entire team at NTEN for putting together such a welcoming and productive event that challenges my stances and approaches on everything from privacy and AI to the development capabilities of small web teams. The sessions, presenters, speakers, exhibitors, and attendees combined forces to create something magical I look forward to joining again next year in Portland.
In the meantime, if you want your own RFPs Suck t-shirt from Prosal, we're doing a limited release of just 30 shirts that you can purchase here (shipping is included!).