Aspiration events are convened with two primary goals in mind: to allow people doing technology work in the non-profit and NGO sectors to discuss their work, and to grow and strengthen the social and knowledge networks of those interested and involved in related topics.
While much technical information gets shared at such gatherings, keeping discussion focused on technology needs and "pains" of non-profits tends to yield the most substantial outcomes. When participants discover allies and available resources, they put themselves in a position to ask questions and get answers long after the event is over. A primary philosophy of Aspiration events is that those who identify as "experts" or "experienced" should refrain from driving the dialog. Too often at technical events, an implicit celebration of expertise and seniority shifts focus from needs to knowledge, with those who have the latter holding forth and those who lack it unable to steer the conversation to adequately meet their needs. Aspiration events have been designed as an inversion of that dynamic.
At a more conceptual level, this philosophy addresses power and how it moves in the non-profit technology realm; those with technological knowledge wield a disproportionate amount of influence in nonprofit technology decision-making, while the non-technical stakeholders sit at a disadvantage and must depend on the vision and translation of others. Aspiration events are a place where those who identify as curious, confused or needing guidance can drive the discourse and set the tone. Those who are accustomed to presenting, speaking and sharing their expertise are encouraged to listen actively, then listen actively more, and then share information concisely and without distracting digression or excessive detail. Knowledge overload is of little benefit at events, while teaching where answers may be searched and found is always priceless.
At their core, events work best when participants are inspired to talk to a broad range of other people whom they haven't yet met. The agenda and suggested facilitation techniques listed in this guide are designed to create a rich range of opportunities and reasons for participants to compare notes and begin dialogs which can last far beyond the event.