Keep It Simple: Takeaways from Day 2 of NTC

Guest blogger Mike Berkowitz is co-founder & CEO of Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies, an impact-oriented strategy firm that partners with the world’s most passionate and daring changemakers to reimagine, expand, and realize their social impact. He is also an active member at RallyPad, a social venture incubator funded by


I’m a first-timer here at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (a huge thanks to for bringing me along!).

I expected to walk away from my NTC experience with a deeper understanding of the ways in which technology can be used to help nonprofits. But I’m intrigued to find that the biggest lesson I’ve learned today isn’t about technology, per se.

From Dan Roam talking at an amazing opening plenary this morning about his new book Blah Blah Blah and imploring us to draw the problem instead of writing it out; to Katya Andresen of Network for Good emphasizing the need to connect with people’s emotions (which generally isn’t accomplished with facts and figures); to blogging expert Britt Bravo’s recommendation to keep blog posts to 100-300 words (and find creative ways to engage people, like this hugely popular blog for Goodwill DC:, the underlying thread of my day has been: keep it simple. 

As Britt taught us, people are skimmers. We’re short on time and short on attention. We respond to emotion. We understand pictures easier than we understand words.

(Which is one reason, by the way, why you may enjoy Rally’s graphical notes from NTC more than you might a traditional conference summary).

So next time you’re communicating to your network, remember to make your message visual, emotional, and easy to understand. In other words, keep it simple.


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  1. Jesse April 6, 2012

    Great post Mike. I sat in a on a few sessions about data and mobile and those also emphasized simplicity — and also knowing your goals and strategy so you don’t try and do too much or use too big a technology for what your needs really are.

    See you around “the Pad”!

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