21NTC Session

Best practices in building a nonprofit data science team

This is a resubmission of an accepted 20NTC session proposal.


Many organizations recognize the value of data and analytics, but few have experience building out an organization’s data science capacity in a way that supports all of its strategic goals. This session will explore critical considerations and best practices for nonprofits looking to better integrate data analysis into everyday decision making. We will cover topics including: setting realistic goals (and managing expectations); types of team structures (and how to pick the right one); skills and expertise needed based on specific objectives; how to address common challenges; the role of technology vs. people; and key organizational commitments needed to ensure success.

Session Type

60 minute session

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the different ways to structure data science capacity within a nonprofit
  • Identify common issues nonprofits face when incorporating data science (and how to address those issues)
  • Recognize what’s needed from the entire organization to enable data science success

Target Audience

Staff in charge of hiring/org structure; teams looking to be more data-driven; data-minded staff looking to support/drive adoption of analytics


AnalyticsDataOrg CultureStaff Development


Kate McKenney

Insights and Data Strategy Director


Kate leads NRDC’s data strategy, developing new opportunities for audience engagement via messaging guidance and campaign strategy. She leads the research and analysis of our programs and develops KPIs and tracking. Kate has a deep history in how to use data to innovate and learn from users to develop better advocacy campaigns.

Ben Kirshner

Applied Data Science Lead, Nonprofit

Civis Analytics

Ben Kirshner is an Applied Data Science Lead at Civis Analytics, where he leads custom projects and relationships with nonprofits and advocacy groups. Ben helps organizations, especially environmental ones, leverage data to understand and grow their donors/supporters. Previously, Ben worked in political media at Politico, where he co-architected Politico’s data strategy.



March 25, 2021


8:30am – 9:30am