The Technology Affinity Group (TAG):  Promoting IT in Philanthropy

peer networking

Written by Jackie Bilodeau

I am the Communications Director for CGNET, having worked for CGNET off-and-on since the early 1990's. I enjoy hiking, music, dance, photography, writing and travel. Read more about my work at CGNET here.

May 9, 2019

peer networking

Written by Jackie Bilodeau

I am the Communications Director for CGNET, having worked for CGNET off-and-on since the early 1990's. I enjoy hiking, music, dance, photography, writing and travel. Read more about my work at CGNET here.

May 9, 2019

The Technology Affinity Group (TAG).   Even if you’re not a member, if you work in philanthropy you probably know someone who is.  TAG is a community of diverse professionals with a singular focus:  Making technology work to help organizations meet, improve and protect their philanthropic endeavors.   With over 240 member organizations in 5 countries and 37 states, TAG members work together –both in person and virtually — to share ideas promoting and improving technology in philanthropy.

Who Makes up TAG?

The TAG network comprises 3 types of members:

  • Foundations
  • Public Charities
  • For-profit “Associate” Organizations (such as IT consultants like us here at CGNET, and software providers).  Associate Organizations can participate in all IT events and activities, except in the areas of governance and leadership.

And in terms of inclusivity, the TAG website says it better than I can:  “Technology is critical to the mission of philanthropic organizations of all shapes and sizes, and related expertise is a communal asset that should be accessible to all parts of the sector.”

Learning From One Another

The key goal of TAG is this:  Keep non-profits and their partners connected, sharing their challenges and innovations.  With that in mind, TAG leadership fills the year with workshops and meet-ups across the country.  Regional meetings (or “Learning Days”, as they are more aptly called) are held every year on both coasts and in the Midwest.  Webinars and online “virtual coffee” klatches are sprinkled throughout the year and cover topics like Diversity and Inclusion in Philanthropy and Cybersecurity Essentials.

Beyond all of the organized events, the TAG website provides a discussion forum as well.   This is a great (members-only) place to feel secure in asking for advice and sharing experiences with your peers.

A Party With a Purpose

And then there’s the annual party (oops, I mean, conference).  TAG’s yearly get-together is chock-full of interesting workshops, speakers and group discussions.   And of course, the necessary cocktail hours, dinners and other extra-curricular activities that are always the icing on any “work conference” cake.  Attendees come away not just with new knowledge and ideas, but also with the optimism and energy generated by new friendships with like-minded colleagues.

Learning in the Desert

Last year’s event took place in the beautiful foothills of Tucson and was organized into 3 learning tracks:  Management, Technical and Grants.   Participants signed up for and attended as many as they wanted to in any track.   In addition to two amazing keynote speakers that bookended the week, an array of diverse subjects were addressed through workshops, breakout sessions and presentations.  These covered such practical matters like choosing the right grants management platforms for your organization, and security enhancements in Office 365.  But also popular were the more — dare I say — “fun” topics, like:  the new discipline of “Human-Centered Design”,  and – my favorite of the week — the brain science behind innovation.

Mixin’ and Minglin’

And the aforementioned social events.  Group  hikes, morning yoga practice and evening get-togethers.  Last year’s TAG Conference dinner party involved cowboy hats and BBQ.   (Not to mention, a small group of us out on the dance floor until the DJ announced that the last bus was going to leave us behind if we didn’t hang up our spurs and mosey on out. )

Can We Please Do That Again?

The 2019 Annual TAG Conference looks to be even more fun, taking place in Miami Beach and promising to include lots more useful workshops and interesting speakers.   Oh, and an evening beach party.  I mean c’mon.  Who doesn’t love a good beach party, really?     Check out the tentative agenda as well as all the deets at:  https://www.tag2019.org/   (Note that registration begins on August 1st and is limited to only 350 attendees!)

Do-Gooders, Unite!

So while anyone working in the non-profit, charitable sector can utlitize much of what TAG has to offer, membership in TAG is much more rewarding.   You get things like:

  • Access to a private network of IT leaders, staff, and partners at foundations throughout the world
  • The ability to exchange knowledge, ideas and questions through a private Slack community and discussion forums, as well as attendance at the meetings and workshops I described earlier
  • Opportunities for professional development through TAG’s Emerging Leaders Initiative
  • Discounts for training and web services programs
  • A brand new set of Ginsu knives.  (OK, that one I made up, but even without the knife set TAG Membership is pretty cool.)

So hop on their website, take a look around, and ask questions.   As a newer member (since I just returned to CGNET a year ago; my very first day of work was at the San Francisco TAG Regional Learning Day!)  I’ve found TAG leadership to be very friendly, welcoming and responsive.   Turns out that people whose goal is to  “do good” tend to also be good people.  And don’t we all need more friends (and colleagues) like that?

 

 

 

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