2019 Featured Sessions

As we work at bringing you another stellar lineup of 2020 breakout sessions & workshops, see below for a list of featured 2019 topics. Interested in becoming involved? Check out our Call for Speakers open through April 10.

2019 Featured Topics

Tools for Taking Action:
Cultivating an Organizational Culture
of Curiosity and Learning

This session will focus on how to develop an organizational culture that values learning and curiosity. Participants will learn about the key components of a learning culture, how to develop it within an organization, and how to sustain it for the long-term. The session will highlight research-based practices as well as stories from the field. Participants will also engage in a series of fun reflection and planning exercises to jumpstart their own learning culture efforts.

Public Policy Research in the
Era of Big Data, Cloud & AI

At its best, public policy research shines a light in the dark, illuminating social conditions so we can see our way through to solutions. But that light is only as bright as the best research tools and techniques will allow. Recent advances in data science are expanding the range of what’s visible and possible in at least three ways: filling fundamental gaps in knowledge, refining policy design, and clarifying connections between raw data and actionable information.

At the Urban Institute, we are leveraging the power of technology and data to transform the way we deliver value and accelerate impact. We work to fill knowledge gaps by accessing new sources and types of data, deploying cutting-edge methodologies to unlock them for rigorous analysis. Urban is refining policy design by leveraging advanced cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and predictive analytics to strengthen and enhance our microsimulation and policy analysis.

Finding the Balance:
Outsourcing Vs. Insourcing Tech Support

With no budget and increasing frustration with the inherent weaknesses of a totally outsourced technology support solution, what’s the best course of action for a nonprofit? Learn about one case study on an organizations path to creating their first internal technology position (CTO) and designing and launching an internal Regional IT Associate program. By training key, non-technical employees in separate locations to act as on-the-ground liaisons between their team and the home office, they’ve been able to increase trust, save money and deliver quicker service. If you are wondering how you might improve tech support on a shoe string budget, come and learn about this innovative approach, the communication tools used and some things you might want to think twice about as you find the right balance of internal and external resources

Designing for Diversity: How User Personas
Can Transform Your Website and Services

In real life, we recognize the diversity of human experience, but we often overlook nuance and make sweeping assumptions when designing digital experiences, technical approaches, or communications strategies. User personas can help you empathize with and understand the real people using your website and technology tools, watching your videos, or consuming your content. Personas help you understand users’ motivations and how you can best leverage opportunities to engage them. They also interrupt the natural assumption we all make that “the user” is a person just like ourselves. And, personas are useful not only to optimize a web experience—they can help you strengthen your organization’s branding and even how the organization approaches its use of technology or delivers its services.

During this session, the presenters will provide a background on what personas are and how you can apply them. Then, they will provide templates and time for attendees to workshop a few personas that reflect their unique audiences.

Informed UX:
Data-Driven Redesign

User experience is an important component in website design and development, but you don’t have to be a UX designer to understand your users and their behavior. This session will focus on planning and actionable tools that anyone can use to research their users to inform a website redesign. Learn about UMBC’s process of gathering raw data such as heatmaps, user recordings, behavior analytics, audience insights, and stakeholder input. Leave with examples of data collection platforms, analysis, and a final report and scope of work for a UX designer.

Decentralizing Data Analysis
through Data Modeling

Look at strategies to strip complexity from traditional data sources and build simplified data models that are comprehensible to a wider audience. Move beyond thinking about data modeling as simply creating structural representations (although we’ll do that too) to thinking about it as shaping data – taking raw materials (your big, messy data) and shaping them into something recognizable (a flat file or simple star schema). Share examples that illustrate how FHI has expanded access to data analysis and visualization tools for program/content experts and reduced reliance on data “experts” using this approach. Examples will necessarily reference specific products (Power BI, SQL Server, SalesForce), but the concepts can be applied more generally.Takeaways: understanding the benefits of decentralized data analysis and redistributed data expertise, tools for engaging content experts in the development of simplified logical data models, examples of practical application of data modeling/shaping concepts.

Growing a Culture of Security
from the Grassroots

At organizations where everyone takes out the trash, digital security is a community effort, too – everyone cleans the kitchen, and everyone downloads signal! For nonprofits with limited centralized control , implementing best security practices can seem unattainable and unaffordable, and a distraction from the mission’s work. However, security and grassroots are not mutually exclusive. In this session, you’ll learn how to achieve small, progressive wins by showing how digital security supports your mission. By baking security into the policies and processes you already do, you’ll build buy-in and start creating a culture of security.

Nonprofit Cybersecurity
Incident Report

It is a commonly held misconception that nonprofits are not targeted and can safely “fly under the radar” because of their size or the relative unimportance of their data. Attacks have become automated and hacking software is now cheap and readily available, making every computer and device a potential target. In addition, the trusted identity of a non-profit can also be used to pivot and target other organizations or board members. A recent security report by Kaspersky Labs shows that the cost of responding to a data breach for a small to medium business in North America is $149K – are actual costs that organizations like yours would face. Understanding the new and persistent threats that exist is a good first step to adopting a meaningful approach to security at your organization.

This session will provide three takeaways:

  • Understanding of the cybersecurity threats faced by small-midsized nonprofits
  • Playbook for addressing the most common threats
  • Techniques for engaging your board and your organization’s leadership on implementing these solutions
Ensuring Security for a
Virtual Workforce

As technology becomes interwoven into our daily lives, developing sound IT policies and ensuring compliance within those policies is more important than ever. Yet, many small nonprofits with limited IT capacity or budgets are asking themselves; where do I begin? Thankfully some simple steps in IT administration go a long way in ensuring your organization’s data is secure and accessible. These “best practices” are easier and cheaper to implement than you might think. Ocean Outcomes, a small globally-distributed NGO, recently transitioned to a fully-virtual bring your own device (BYOD) operating model. Learn first-hand what this looks like, what we’re doing well and what’s been a challenge, so that you can ensure your users accessing work data on their smartphone and/or laptop are doing so securely, from wherever they might be.