#nfpsm – a convention with ambition

What’s that you say? Not another social media conference? Well you’d be right in that assertion, because Shirley Ayres‘ ambitious idea (delivered in a taut six months) to marry TED-style plenaries with practical sessions serving plates of digital communications starters (and mains), was no ordinary social media conference.

The authoritatively titled Third Sector Digital Communication and Social Media Convention pulled together leading UK non-profit practitioners (many of the usual suspects) but pitched an octave higher than the usual conference-by-numbers by attracting some leading keynotes and uniting an impossible array of agencies, membership bodies and sponsors (CharityComms, Mediatrust, ACEVO, NCVO….and erm Google on the same bill – to name a handful).

The small team at Aspire Knowledge worked tirelessly to add something new to the mix; one highlight being Channel 4 news journalist -and tie-fetishist – Jon Snow chairing Day One’s morning sessions and panel – which itself included award-winning US author and innovator Allison Fine (co-author with Beth Kanter of charity’s new media ‘key text’ The Networked NonProfit).

I’m not going to list every speaker here nor rate each in turn (worth reading Stuart Witt’s self-confessed ‘brain dump’ for this type of thing), but any roster that includes a co-founder of politician’s fave Mumsnet, with a TED regular, Google’s European Head of External Relations, and a news hack legend is worthy of applause in my book for balls alone.

Sure, some of the afternoon seminars (on both days) were bloated, and there were some determined to massacre their congregation with a blend of painfully clichéd powerpoint slides and unforgivable complacency, but overall the only thing Aspire can be accused of is, well of being aspirational.

As Howard Lake predicted, delegates and speakers became the true curators of the convention through some brilliant audio, video and photography. I took a few simple snaps, which WordPress is steadfastly refusing to embed (grr), but also check out NFP Voice’s exhaustive storify tweet capture, Katie Bacon’s videos, David Wilcox’s speaker interviews, and Howard Lake’s photographs.

I did a little turn on Day One on digital communications for the smaller charity – for which I had a sizeable, and flattering, crowd; so thanks to those who came along.

I doff my cap to Shirley, Matthew, Hugo and all the team. It’s no mean feat to put on a (comparably) affordable conference, in a really great venue (I have neglected to mention the Mermaid Convention Centre‘s stunning Thames views and impressive main theatre) with a noble vision to turn predictable lectures into inspiring, internationally-worthy learnings.

I hope to see a tighter, leaner, but as-brilliant a convention next year!

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