Selecting the topics for your events is one your key roles as organizer. You know your community best, so we leave it to you to select the topics that will serve your members. For tips on event checklists and typical event flows check out the Running an Event section.

Suggested Topics: January - June 2018

Not sure what topic to start with? Join other groups by following our calendar of theme months.
Following this schedule will make hosting your meetup easier because we will share event recipes for each month and TechSoup will publish supporting blog posts and webinars that you can share with your members.

Top Event Formats


Event Templates and Topics

Looking for topic ideas? I suggest you steal/be inspired by this list of upcoming NetSquared events or check out the 10 most popular topics from our participant survey.

First Event and Introduction to NetSquared and TechSoup

Coming 2018. In the meantime use the standard event introduction slides.
Introduction to TechSoup, NetSquared's parent nonprofit. What is TechSoup and how can they save nonprofits money?
Sample slides, videos and notes.

Google AdWords

Help local nonprofits are charities make use of Google's $10,000/per month Google AdWords grant. It's available in 48+ countries, but most organizations aren't making use of this free marketing tool. Learn how to plan a Google AdWords Workshop.

Facebook Live Video

Tips on using your phone and Facebook to livestream events and stewarding your community with video feeds.

Social Media Surgery

A social media surgery is an informal gathering of people who want to learn how to use the web to communicate, campaign or collaborate.
The Social Media Surgery site has a checklist for new organizers.

Get More out of Excel: Tips & Tricks

Don't know a filter from a formula? This Microsoft Excel workshop will orient you to Excel's features and familiarize you with some basic tasks so that you can work more effectively.

Microsoft Cloud Services: Tools for the Modern Nonprofit

Collaborate, communicate, and stay on budget with donated and discounted cloud services from Microsoft. Here are three ways you can host a workshop in your community.
Learn how to plan a Microsoft Cloud Services workshop.

Technology Show and Tell: Share a Tool

A crowdsourced event where participants are given up to 5 minutes to share one tool that they use which is valuable to their nonprofit communication/fundraising/community management life. Learn more in the Technology Show and Tell section.

Summer Social or Winter Holiday Party

Hold an informal summer social in a pub or picnic. Or host a holiday party for the #tech4good community.

Sharing Economy

A panel discussion with local sharing economy organizations on how nonprofits are using technology to utilize resources more efficiently.

Online Privacy and Security

Practical tips that you can share to keep yourself and your members safe. Includes printable guide in English, Spanish and French. Learn more in the Safer Internet section.

Data/Open Data

Partner with a local data-focused group (there are lots out there!) on an event focused on how data can be used by nonprofits. We offer some suggestions for potential partners and topics in the data section.

Hackathon Idea Generator (Bubblr)

A Bubblr is a facilitated group session designed to surface (bubble up) moments where technology can be helpful. We call those moments “opportunities for technology interventions.” These ideas can be used to seed hackathon projects and can be facilitated without any training or extensive preparation. Learn more in the Bubblr section.

Digital Storytelling Workshop or Panel

Teach your members how to use digital storytelling tools to advance their mission.
We provide a few suggested formats and a guidebook.

Crowdsourcing Change

Interactive brainstorm session for how one specific nonprofit can take their tech strategy and online communication efforts to the next level.
Learn more in the Crowdsourcing Change section.

Reclaim your Domain

Hands-on workshop guiding local nonprofits through the process of buying their own domain and setting up email and a blog on their custom domain. Don't let your local nonprofits get trapped with a gmail or hotmail address! Learn more.

Meetup Template Feature

As of December 2017 this feature isn't available because of the meetup re-design, but may return later.
You can copy many of these event descriptions into your meetup from the Choose Your Template feature.


Sourcing Event Ideas and Co-Producers

Your members have great event ideas - don't be afraid of putting them to work!

Recruiting Event Producers

Your members may be reluctant to commit to being a permanent member of your organizing team, but everyone has something that they're passionate about. Invite your members to co-produce a single event. See this example invitation from NetSquared Toronto.

Event Brainstorming

If you're looking for event ideas try these approaches:
  • whiteboard brainstorm
  • Member survey by email
  • Member survey with paper form
  • Recruit an "advisory board" of well-connected leaders who can offer you event ideas and connect you with presenters

First Event Styles

The following are style/topic ideas for hosting your initial NetSquared Local event:
  • What is NetSquared?
    Some organizers have asked us in the past if the first event could be about NetSquared or NetSquared Local, so we created two presentations to help organizers tell that story. You can find those linked at the bottom of this page under the "Available Resource" heading.
  • Brainstorming event
    Other organizers have had their first event be a brainstorming session for people interested in the group. This way organizers can learn from the group what topics they can present or want to learn about as well as what days and times work best for the group. It is also a great option for groups who know the first event will have a small number of attendees, especially if you'd like to empower those participants to take ownership in the group by creating a team of co-organizers or advisors from the very start.
  • Jump right in
    Other organizers have had a speaker-led event on a topic relating to technology and social change as their first event. Some communities like to see an event take shape from the start so having a speaker involved from the beginning sets the stage for the kinds of events to follow. For these communities, a brief intro to what NetSquared is at the beginning of the event is usually enough for the group to get going.
  • Hybrid
    Other groups have a mix of two or more of the above events. Please don't feel limited by the options above -- it's meant to expand your thinking, not narrow it!


Event Format Examples

  • Formal Event Format
    Audience size: 50-100 people, depending on room
    Facility Type: function room in a restaurant, bar, or community space
    Timeframe: approx. 2 hours
    Social/Mix Time: can be wide open or you can do an icebreaker to help people feel comfortable (30 minutes)
    Formal Event Time: (45-60 minutes) There are different ways you can do this, but you need to pick speakers and topics of relevance to your audience. We’ve found that people are most engaged when the format is interactive, meaning short presentations and lots of time for Q&A or discussions. Also, you’ll need an emcee to introduce the speaker or topics.
    Entertainment: (15 minutes) This is optional
    More Social/Mix Time: (30 minutes)
    -- You do not necessarily need a speaker who has traditional presentation skills. The “formal” time could be different models such as: Speaker(s)/presentation with Q&A, Facilitated discussion topic with large group (town meeting style), Debates – selecting a controversial topic, Facilitated discussion in small groups, Clinic – have a panel of experts give advice to nonprofits on using new tools and possibly connect them to mentors to help implement

  • Geek Dinner Model
    Audience size: 5-25 people, sometimes more
    Facility: Restaurant
    Timeframe: 2 hours
    All unstructured social time: Eating and mixing at restaurant
    -- This format has been used most notably by Microsoft blogger, Robert Scoble. For a Geek Dinner, a restaurant and date are selected and promoted. Everyone meets up the restaurant for dinner. Each person pays for their own meal. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scriptingnews/sets/1703987/)

  • Blogger Meetups & Dinner Model
    Audience Size: 5-25 people, sometimes more
    Facility: Meeting room, restaurant
    Timeframe: 2 hours
    Meeting: A speaker with Q&A or group discussion. Speakers and topics are identified by the group.
    Restaurant Dinner
    -- Some blogger meetups, such as the Berkman Center Thursday Night Bloggers group, include a formal one-hour meeting. Typically a speaker (a blogger) is invited to lead a discussion or share their work. The meetings are conversational and informal learning opportunities. After the meeting, the group convenes at a local restaurant and share a meal, each person paying their own tab. Some blogger groups just meet for dinner and casual conversation, and skip the presentation.

  • Consult Model (Sometimes called “Pimp my Nonprofit” or "Crowdsourcing Change")
    Audience size: 15-40
    Facility: Office/meeting space, restaurant events room
    Timeframe: 2 hours
    Meeting: interactive brainstorm session for how one specific nonprofit can take their tech strategy and online communication efforts to the next level.
    -- Many groups report great responses from their communities to these events. They vary in application but mostly serve as a fun way to brainstorm ways an organization can improve their online presence, sometimes covering more than one organization in one event as well.

  • Help Desk
    Audience size: Any
    Facility: Best in a large, open room
    Timeframe: Flexible
    Meeting: Volunteers sign up ahead of time to provide either general advice or specific support with a tool or approach. Those volunteers are stationed throughout the space and participants self-select where to go, who to talk to, and get the help they need.
    -- The Help Desk can also be woven into most other event formats either as a concurrent option or something to have before/after a speaker, etc.


  • Social Event/Mixer
    Audience size: Any
    Facility: Coffee shop or Bar
    Timeframe: Flexible, but expect to spend about 2 hours
    Meeting: Best used around potential "down time" periods (like the December holidays), the social event is a good way to not only thank your current members, but also allow everyone to socialize and interact outside of the context of a regular meeting. In addition, it allows for greater networking possibilities.

Available Resources

If you'd like to present on "What is NetSquared" or "What is NetSquared Local" at your first meeting, another conference/workshop/event, or share the slides on your meetup group, we have two you are free to edit/reuse. Please note that both already have speaker notes added in to provide context and talking points for each slide.

Go to the Product and Materials page for slides.

We encourage organizers to connect with a TechSoup Global Partner organization if there is one in his or her country for access to possible meeting space, as well as other resources. To find out if there are any TSG partners in your country, please visit the TechSoup Global website or contact the NetSquared Community Manager.