By Lauren Woodman
In the face of all of the challenges we confront as global nonprofits, both internally and externally, it would be easy to lose hope. Yet, days like today inspire me and reinvigorate me, because I see the strength and the resolve of the NetHope community. I see the recognition that we need each other to be successful. We need our member representatives and their leadership. We need committed, all-in corporate partners like Microsoft, Facebook, and Okta. We need to invest in ourselves, and the launch of The Center for the Digital Nonprofit is a decisive step in that direction. We need active participation by government. We need individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves to understand and solve problems.
It’s challenging to summarize a day like today. I witnessed so many amazing moments, large and small, from the main stage in the Crystal Ballroom to the hotel meeting rooms to the board rooms to the Exhibit Hall. But, here are some quick highlights.
- We had two opportunities to hear from member CEOs: Dominic MacSorley, of Concern; Maria Cavalcanti, of Pro Mujer; Patrick Fine, from FHI 360; Mark Hetfield, from HIAS, and Mark Viso, from Pact.
- We heard from Facebook's Chris Weasler, who described how connectivity goes to the heart of the mission at Facebook, a company that is focused on building community. Facebook has partnered with NetHope in the past, responding to the Ebola outbreak, reconnecting refugees in Greece, and most recently, in helping to re-establish connectivity in Puerto Rico.
- I spoke with Nigel Pont, from Mercy Corps, and Doug Fountain, from Medical Teams International, who shared interesting anecdotes about "going digital."
- Justin Spelhaug, an old friend and longtime NetHope tech partner, took the stage to tell us about the new Tech for Social Impact group at Microsoft, and their three-point framework of dream, design, and deliver.
- We formally launched The Center for the Digital Nonprofit with the help of Founding Partners Microsoft and Okta. "Okta's mission is to enable any organization to connect to any technology," said Erin Baudo Felter, Executive Director of Okta for Good. The newly created Okta for Good fund selected The Center for the Digital Nonprofit as it's first grantee, supporting our mission to create a network for committed, forward-looking organizations to improve the world we share.
- Washington State Governor Jay Inslee reminded us of the important role of government as we work together to use technology for good. He channeled Winston Churchill, asserting that even thought we face unprecedented threats, we are spurred toward positive action. "These are our finest hours," he said to a very receptive audience. Jay (as he prefers to be called) reinforced what we know to be true at NetHope, that government must work in tandem with private companies and nonprofits to tackle intractable problems.
- We took a family photo in the spacious lobby of the Pan Pacific Vancouver. (Be sure to look in the very back to see an enthusiastic Pan Pacific employee!)
- We welcomed a new member to the family, Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders.
- We celebrated another day of learning, collaboration, networking, and camaraderie at a reception sponsored by Unit4.
Thanks to Governor Inslee, who can add marketer as a skill in his distinguished career, I have a new way of defining NetHope. The word net signifies more than network. It suggests that we have a collective net worth. We net hope, and that is a good thing.