Two small professional nonprofits that I founded and led taught me a few things I'm sharing here. One organization was focused on business process management and the other on user interface design. Both were based in India. In spite of the challenges, both were successful in meeting organizational objectives in terms of realizing audience needs.
Jefferson and Kshama welcoming audiences in two different conferences
Richard Anderson at one of our events in Bangalore
Most conference papers submitted had plagiarized content. So we decided to only have speakers from the West. This met the objective of bringing new knowledge into the country.
Audience participation at our business process conference in Mumbai
We did try the usual things that professional societies do, such as regular meetings, memberships, and newsletters. When one did not work, rather than keep trying, we quickly moved on to another. The IT industry folks were not interested in any of these. So we focused on hosting one big annual conference that practitioners would look forward to. All events were hosted in 5-star hotels. People came from all over the country and the events were rated high year after year.
ChallengesWe found it hard to get:
- Volunteers who can help run the organization and the events
- Conference papers with original content
- Audience participation.
- My team members as volunteers
- Only foreign speakers
- Fail fast.
My own team members as volunteers
Topics covered by the organizations were of interest to my team members at Cognizant. These folks willingly took up volunteer roles. While I had the control I needed, they gained a broad new exposure and enjoyed it.