Every year, hundreds of independent school professionals gather for the annual Blackbaud K–12 User Conference in Boston, and many of us attend annually. Why? Three days of training and best practice sessions designed to make you better at your job and a chance to explore the awesome city of Boston. Still need to be persuaded? Here are my top 8 reasons to attend the #BBK12UC this year and every year.
1. Training Sessions
Whether you’re a new user or just want to brush up on your skills, the training sessions are a great way to delve deep into the capabilities of all the Blackbaud products. Bring your laptop and test out functionalities right then and there, and make a list of what you need some extra training on in the future. Then, head on over to the Support room to ask your burning questions or use your desire to learn more about a tool or technique to create an Unconference Session. Feel like you’ve mastered the tools you use and don’t need training? Check out bullet #3 for a new option on training day!
2. Best Practice Sessions
These sessions are a goldmine of case studies, strategies and tips on how you can be the best at your job. Learn from peer schools to see how they are using Blackbaud products as well as other tools within the industry to maximize their impact. That’s right, these best practice sessions go beyond just covering how to use the Blackbaud products; these sessions often take on a broader view of how you can simply be your best at what you do. From admission, development and marketing to student life, academics and athletics, there’s something for everyone.
3. Even MORE Sessions in 2017
For some folks at the conference, the training sessions on the first day aren’t always necessary. This year, you don’t want to miss that first day because Blackbaud is offering a selection of advanced workshops and sessions for advanced users, including a hackathon, advanced lists and more. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.
4. The Un-Conference
Come for the training and best practice sessions, stay for the Un-Conference. A concept that works best with a large group, this is your chance to cover anything and everything that you didn’t accomplish already this week. It’s also an opportunity to engage Blackbaud representatives in sharing some ideas and having your voice heard on suggestions for how they can help make your lives easier. This is your chance to dictate what you’ll learn, or share what you do that’s successful with others.
I have to admit, one of my favorite aspects of this conference is networking. Whether it’s a lunch with a colleague from another school brainstorming ideas or catching the speaker who just presented my dream project to get more details, networking at this conference is awesome. We all use the same products and have the same challenges in our daily lives. This is the perfect place and time to figure out how to maximize the usage of Blackbaud products and get inspired by other schools’ strategies and initiatives.
6. Live Support
Did you just learn about a function of a Blackbaud product that you didn’t know existed? Have an ongoing issue or just need some extra guidance? Just want to meet that voice on the other end of the phone from your support sessions? Head on over to the Support room to meet these awesome people and maybe even get a one-on-one tutorial to help you accomplish everything you need to do. This is your chance to sit down with support folks live and get some in-person assistance.
If you’re considering a new product or planning for the future, the marketplace will give you a chance to explore the various vendor offerings and get the ball rolling. Even better, use your ability to network to ask other schools if they like a product or company, how they use it, and if they recommend it. It’s not often you can interview a company live and then get a testimonial live, all in the matter of a few hours or even minutes.
Did you know that there’s a team of about 20 veteran Blackbaud users from schools just like yours that serve as an advisory board to Blackbaud? We have monthly meetings and two annual retreats to discuss and evaluate the Blackbaud products, roadmaps, and our crucial needs to ensure that our schools have the tools and functionality we need to succeed. The advisors typically attend the BBK12UC annually, and many of them are speakers, sharing their tips and tricks to get the most out of all the BB products. Let’s have coffee and chat!
About the Author
Inspired by her own private school experiences, Stacy Jagodowski has devoted her career as a faculty member and administrator to introducing others to the private school world. Her career has focused on institutional advancement, with five years of admission experience, and more than a decade in marketing and communications.More Content by Stacy Jagodowski
Stacy has led strategic marketing and communications teams at Cheshire Academy and Milken Community Schools; at Cheshire, her team earned award-winning recognition for their annual fund marketing programs and overall team development. She blogs for several private school organizations and has given several webinars and podcasts about private school marketing best practices. Stacy has also presented at national conferences including the NAIS Annual Conference, TABS Annual Conference, NAIS TABS Global Symposium, and Blackbaud K-12’s User Conference.