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NTEN Conference 2009The burgeoning swine-flu threat didn't seem to keep any of the 1,400 registered attendees from the April 2009 NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) Conference that took place this week in San Francisco. They sat in on several dozen conferences on topics ranging from "Budgeting For and Funding Technology" and "Maximizing Google Grants," to "Better Storytelling" and "The Softer Side of Tech Consulting" (how to read a client's mood), keynoted by famed new-media thinker Clay Shirkey.

But technology vendor attendance was sparse: a dozen tables during the main conference, and a "Science Fair" collection of some 30 vendors only on opening night. New-product announcements were limited, and no vendors were prepared to predict an early end to economic woes.

Online registration and payments vendor Acteva, of San Francisco, provided its Private Social Networks software for the conference Web site, with features that let attendees register for the show, build their calendar from the agenda, exchange messages and network with other attendees, create their own show home pages, and view "virtual vendor booths." GoLightly, Inc., of Mill Valley, CA, makers of an enterprise social media platform, handled the Groups functionality for the site. Acteva's Ed Lemire, VP of Marketing, attributed the success of the NTEN show, which is sold out with attendance 30% above last year, to the social-network features of the NTEN conference site powered by Acteva. "Attendees could not only check the agenda, they could form and join interest groups, talk to one another, find out which seminars have the buzz," said Lemire.

Amazon demonstrated its Amazon Payments for Nonprofits, launched last year as a service that can be added to a Web site to let donors who have existing Amazon accounts to use that account to make donations through a nonprofit's site without having to enter a lot of financial information. This is Amazon's alternative to eBay's PayPal, Amazon's Jon Fleming acknowledged. More recently, Amazon introduced Amazon Simple Pay Donations, an easy-to-use donation-collection system aimed at nonprofits, using cut-and-paste HTML code and buttons for collecting donations., including micro-donations as low as $1.00.

Acteva's newest product is an online registration and payment system specifically for in-person training programs. It provides for publishing the course catalog to the Web, signing up for multiple classes, then tracking results so attendees can print course certificates from their home or office.

Making its move into the US market is Advocacy Online, a British company whose Web-based software supports campaigns by nonprofit organizations, allowing them to build and launch online "actions," with targeted messaging, and tracking and monitoring tools. Already active in Canada, the company brings to the US its E-Activist, Net-Donor, Jamii online community, and Political Xchange products that supported millions of "actions" by clients last year, helped raise funds and grow online communities.

"Our big differentiator is out ability to customize," said president Graham Covington. "Our clients are impressed by the extent to which you can customize and manipulate the Web pages, using style sheets." The system is language independent – client PETA Europe expanded into Hong Kong with a site in Chinese, and into India in native languages there. "It's about engagement," said Covington. "You want the flexibility to brand your site yourself." Among the 125 clients of the nine-year-old company are, besides PETA outside the United States, the Human Society International, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), and World Vision. Advocacy Online is holding its US launch event in Washington DC at Bar Louie June 2nd to introduce its product line; registration is at web.advocacyonline.net/dclaunch.

Atlanta's ThePort Network, Inc., developed The Sierra Club's social network site; the client fills out a detailed form, and ThePort's designers create the Web-based social-media site. According to VP Operations John Patton, ThePort's service is affordable by small and large nonprofits alike, with a startup fee of $5,000 and monthly support fee of $1500.

Also at the show was Web design firm Firefly Partners, a virtual company whose VP Maureen Wallbeoff was particularly proud of the firm's "email welcoming series," which ensures that site visitors who sign up for newsletters or make donations get appropriate response and feedback tailored to their activity. "An email welcoming series is often overlooked," said Wallbeoff, "but it's critical to building a relationship."

Research firm IdealWare offered another of its Consumers-Report-style reviews, "A Consumer's Guide to Low-Cost Donor Management Systems," in partnership with NTEN, free at http://www.nten.org/dms_report (free signup required).

Antharia , of Lantham, Maryland, introduced five new OneFish modules in its integrated Fortyfour Fish product line. The new modules handle CMS (content management), CRM (customer relationship management), email and online newsletter communications, secure real-time ecommerce, and event registration. Packages, all fully hosted on their site and including three online training sessions, each start at $79 per month.

New to the NTEN show was OpenSourcery, of Portland, Oregon, a Web development outfit specializes in building nonprofit Web sites using the open-source Drupal framework and content-management system as the back end.

See3 Communications was promoting its new DoGooder TV, a video sharing Web site specializing in hosting videos for hundreds of nonprofit organizations, as an alternative to sites like YouTube, where the message might get lost among the amateur videos and sometimes-inappropriate content. At http://DoGooder.TV, the site is free. Organizations already hosting videos there include Amnesty International, The Field Museum of Chicago, Loyola University, and United Way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mac McCarthy is a freelance technology journalist, based in San Francisco, CA. He has worked for InfoWorld, SunWorld Online, DevX.com, and elsewhere. Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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