baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
20NTC Session

Startup Frying Pan to Nonprofit Fire: What We Learned


Smaller non-profits face a unique set of challenges when it comes to scaling, growth, and maturation. Volunteer-sourced labor has its limits. Distributed workloads can lead to disarray and confusion. Spreadsheets are hell. Growing non-profits are stuck constantly putting out fires instead of building proactive systems. We get it. As leaders in grassroots organizations, we’ve been there.

We’ve also been there as tech professionals in software startups. From our experience with software development, this session will introduce concepts from agile software development and start up culture and apply them to non-profit pain points. We’ll demystify some of the tech jargon and buzzwords to turn them into something non-profits can actually use. Concepts like agility, resiliency, and replication will be discussed alongside tech industry organizational tools. Tech, however, is not a panacea. We’ll also talk about the limits of doing non-profit work with a software startup mindset.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain an understanding of the principles of software development and accompanying jargon
  • See examples of how software development principles have been applied to real world non-profit problems
  • Walk away with concrete ways to apply those principles to their organizational challenges

Target Audience

Anybody at newer or growing non-profits; anybody responsible for tech or curious about its application to their organization


Emerging TechOrg CultureProcessStrategy


Katie Sullivan


Clinic Access Support Network

Katie Sullivan serves on the board of Clinic Access Support Network, a grassroots non-profit that provides transportation, lodging, and emotional support to those seeking abortion care in Houston, Texas. Her career as a tech professional makes her passionate about bringing digital security and technical innovation to the world of reproductive justice.

Nicole Lopez

Software Engineer

Digital Defense Fund

Nicole is a software engineer with the Digital Defense Fund where she builds custom software and provides cybersecurity guidance to organizations in the abortion access space. In her spare time, she volunteers as the Co-Director of Technology for the Midwest Access Coalition, a non-profit organization providing assistance to those traveling to, from, and within the Midwest to access abortion care. Originally an Arabic major, Nicole learned to code through awesome meetup groups in the Chicago tech community as well as through online courses and tutorials. She is passionate about abortion access, coding, human rights, tech education, and how technology can be used to better communities. She is also the proud human companion of two cool kitties, named Ella and Seabass.





March 24, 2020


10:30am – 11:45am



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