Tag: policy

So, you have a new project that requires a lot of research and a deadline that doesn’t fit. Scrambling, you set off to find resources and a search engine is your first go-to resource. You wait half a second and then your confidence falters: 137,000 results.

We live in an information-rich era, but how can you filter the research that’s available and judge its merits for your nonprofit project?

Trust the information experts

Wondering where to find good information resources? Consider reviewing the online research guides provided by a college or university library. Curated by information professionals, plentiful and free, these guides can help you figure out where to look to find international, national, state and sometimes local information.

Senovia Guevara quote for NTENConsider academic sources. Several universities maintain digital repositories that include images, video, reports or datasets available for users to download for free. Research from students, faculty and research-focused organizations associated with the university are often included. Examples include the University of Michigan’s Deep Blue, Harvard’s DASH and more.

Investigate government sources

Depending on what you need, there may be a government-produced report or dataset that can help you. USA.gov, Data.gov, Govinfo.gov and the US Government Publishing Office are several options to consider. Take a look at whether your city provides an open data portal and if they do, take advantage of it.

For example, if you’re an advocate for responsible policing in Lansing, MI, you should know that the city has an Open Data Portal that provides detailed traffic stop information for the area.

Know what to search for

Your front-door search might not give you what you need, but consider other options your search engine provides – like Google’s Dataset Search. Researchers can filter by date, download format and a host of other attributes.

No matter your source, you will still have to vet the sources, but these tips should help you get on the right path and find the data you’re looking for. Good luck!


Main image: Creative Commons, Eden, Janine and Jim.

We’re mapping the nonprofit cybersecurity landscape—and we need your help.

NTEN, in partnership with Microsoft, has produced the first State of Nonprofit Cybersecurity Survey, which asks nonprofits what steps they’re taking to protect their organizations and clients.

Your answers to these questions will help us understand:

  • the policies and procedures your nonprofit has for who and how people can access your systems,
  • to what extent nonprofits are using technology to protect their systems,
  • what kind of training is offered to nonprofit staff, and
  • how the way nonprofits operate contributes to cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Your contributions will be anonymized and used in aggregate to produce this landmark report, to be released this fall. Organizations like NTEN will use this data to inform their training and support programs, so we can help the sector better protect its systems and the data our clients have entrusted us with.

And you don’t have to be technology staff to take the survey! If your organization doesn’t have an IT team, we still want to hear from you.

The survey will take about 10 minutes to complete, and participants can elect to enter to win a registration to the Nonprofit Technology Conference or an NTEN course of their choice.

Take the survey today.


In 2017, NTEN revised our Vision and Mission to read as follows:

We envision a more just and engaged world where all nonprofits use technology skillfully and confidently to meet community needs and fulfill their missions.

We support organizations by convening the nonprofit community, offering professional credentials and training, and facilitating an open exchange of ideas.

One critical piece that we added was the word “just.” As a capacity-building organization, we want to be clear that our work is not only to teach and build skills for nonprofit staff. It is to teach and build skills so that nonprofit staff are better able to effectively, efficiently, and rapidly make real change and meet their missions. We want a better world and we know that nonprofits are out there helping reach it, but they need our help to do the best they can. And we know that access to technology tools and the internet, and the skills to use them to reach goals, is a social justice issue.

In tandem with updating our Vision and Mission, we also created a new set of Values. NTEN staff and board (and, we hope, community) have worked to build systems and processes that regularly ask if we are working in line with our Values. We found, though, that the values listed on the website were no longer serving our goals or our community, and we were regularly redefining what they meant to keep them relevant. The new Values were created with contributions by all staff and were immediately put into place helping guide decisions and influence our work.

This foundational work was important for NTEN to prioritize. It did not, however, fully address all areas of commitment. Since I joined NTEN, we have had definitions and shared understanding around our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion especially as presented publicly with our scholarships, speaker guidelines, and other recruitment and selection criteria for contributors. But without more explicit and public comments on those topics, staff were consistently challenged to justify or explain decisions that felt good internally but lacked policy and public understanding.

So, in 2017, we also started this very important work around diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, in line with our Values, we want to hold ourselves accountable to you, our community, and both document our process and ask you to join us on this journey.

How we worked

We expected this work to engage all staff, but also knew that like all of our other projects, teams, and committees, we needed to have a smaller group of staff serve as the core project team who would meet more regularly, carry the work forward, and bring in the rest of the staff (and board and community) as appropriate. Our team included staff from across the organization: Ash, Bethany, Erin, Leana, Pattie, and me. It was important to me that this work be clearly prioritized by all staff and to set that tone as the CEO, I wanted to be part of the work.

As a first step in the process, we created a list of scenarios that had prompted this work and to root us in real examples from our community to guide our expectations. Those use cases included: being able to publicly communicate clear information when providing scholarships, especially those that are reserved as “diversity scholarships;” recruiting and identifying authors and other contributors; and our practices of engaging the community.

In hand with this first grounding step, we also recognized and admitted to ourselves that moving forward with this work would mean we would make mistakes, big and small, but that our commitment to the work and to moving forward was more important than a fear of failure.

We reviewed public statements and policies from other nonprofits and associations and talked to organizations about the process they used to start and continue all kinds of equity work. Recognizing the budgetary and capacity restraints we had, we decided to prioritize this work without using outside consultants and with an emphasis on establishing foundations for continued work. We would not complete this work in 2017 or truly ever. But we needed to start in earnest.

The committee met every other week and we regularly brought updates, ideas for feedback, and draft language to the rest of the staff in all-staff meetings. The NTEN board has two in-person meetings each year, and draft content as well as information about the goals and continued work was brought to the board in their November retreat. The board discussion resulted in two board members volunteering to join the staff committee as advisors in the short term and to continue on in that role. We also engaged NTEN’s various committees, volunteer organizers, faculty, and board committee for more diverse feedback and engagement.

What we are sharing today

What we have now feels both like a significant piece of work and only a small movement in the direction we want to go. As I said, this was, in our opinion, the final foundational piece we needed as an organization so our Vision, Mission, and Values could work in concert with a clear and public commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. To operationalize this commitment, we also created policy statements to guide our decisions and make clear our intentions with working with various groups in our community.

We do not believe in empty statements. This Commitment is made public so that we can hold ourselves accountable and so you, our community, can join us in that accountability and we can continue to improve. To support that continuous improvement, the committee will continue to meet. We have more on our work plan and will continue to bring that work to the rest of the staff, to the board, and to you as our community. We hope that you will also contribute to our committee agenda. If there are issues, ideas, experiences, or anything else that you’d like to discuss with us or have us discuss, we would love to prioritize your suggestions. You do not have to join the meeting but you can reach any of us at any time with your comments or you can submit anonymous feedback by using this online form.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this work: all of the NTEN staff, board members, committee members, faculty, organizers, and other advisors. And thank you to our community for leading us, guiding us, and holding us to meet our own expectations and yours.

We will not transform into the organization we envision overnight. But we believe this journey is critically important. We will continue to move forward so we can better be part of the world we want to see and meet our own vision of a more just and engaged world.

What’s next?

Now that we have our articulated Commitment and the associated policies in place, we have identified the next work we want to do and also anticipate work emerging that we have not thought of. As we make our work more public and start actively seeking input and feedback, we know that the community may also identify work that we need to prioritize.

On our near-term agenda for the committee already is the creation of guides and questions that staff and committees can use to make the Commitment and the policies more tactical and practical for everyday decision making and integration into regular processes, including recruiting and selecting content contributors (authors, speakers, etc.). We will similarly review and refine the NTC session submission process and guidelines so that when session submissions for the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference open this summer, you will see the impact of this Commitment helping steer a more inclusive and equitable process that includes even more diverse voices.

We welcome your feedback, ideas, input, and examples from your work—anything that can keep us moving in the right direction.

In May 2015, NTEN and Google Fiber launched the Digital Inclusion Fellowship, a new national program investing in local communities and nonprofit organizations to address the digital divide. Sixteen Fellows comprised the first cohort, and they have shared their work with us. Leslie Scott gave us an update on her work with the Full Employment Council in Kansas City, Missouri.

Where do you want the digital inclusion conversation in Kansas City to go in the next 5 years?

I would like to see the City of Kansas City, Missouri adopt a digital inclusion strategic plan, hire staff to implement that plan, and become more involved with the funding of local organizations and programs to bridge the digital divide, much like model cities Austin, Chicago, and Seattle.

The lessons learned from ConnectHome KC could be applied to the broader community, as well. Public-private partnerships and collaborations could help those in the digital inclusion trenches do more with the currently available funding, resulting in a bigger impact on the individual and community levels as the business community increases its involvement. By donating more decommissioned devices for refurbishing and redeployment and getting more training partners to come on board, we’ll be able to widen and deepen the digital literacy skills of our residents who have been on the wrong side of the digital divide.

I believe our Digital Inclusion Coalition could be instrumental in programming and advocacy roles. I hope to see it evolve to be more of a local version of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), working to convene those in the digital inclusion space to collaborate on a shared vision of closing the digital divide in Kansas City and to influence policy decisions that move us closer to this goal.

What advice would you have for the next cohort of Fellows?

Reach out to your fellow Fellows! We had an outstanding group of smart, resourceful professionals but didn’t leverage each other’s knowledge to the extent we could have. Everyone came to the Fellowship with a well-developed area of expertise, which varied from person to person. Get to know each other’s strengths and make the most of them to help you in your own organization and to make the biggest impact as a cohort.

What were you surprised by in your digital inclusion work?

I was somewhat surprised by how people working in the national digital inclusion space don’t interact in a more meaningful way. The NDIA is starting to help people working on digital inclusion connect. I think this is definitely an opportunity for growth in the digital inclusion community.

How have you grown this year?

I believe this Fellowship has earned me a place at the table for some important conversations about digital inclusion that are happening on both a local and national level. Because of my work, I am included in discussions with city officials about our city’s digital inclusion strategic plan and have been consulted by a doctoral student doing research on how technology is changing cities, with a special focus on Kansas City.

I’ve also had the opportunity to be involved with the planning of the national Net Inclusion Summit and served as a moderator for a panel discussion on digital inclusion research conducted by researchers at highly respected organizations such as Pew Research Center and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. This is especially exciting as these are the sources I drew upon to grow my body of knowledge on this topic.

I’m thrilled to be able to interact with these researchers, who have had such a significant impact on my work. I’m more confident that I can engage in high-level dialogue with these and other experts in the field as a result of serving as a Digital Inclusion Fellow.

How can you see yourself applying what you have learned to your future endeavors?

I am a systems thinker, which made limiting my work to one organization somewhat challenging during my Fellowship. The digital divide is a multi-faceted issue and calls for a multi-faceted approach. I am interested in moving away from direct programming to policy work that enables us to attack this issue from many different sides. While I admire and respect the much-needed work done from the programming side, I believe I can be more effective by focusing on the ecosystem of digital inclusion and how I can connect the nonprofit and government sectors, as well as the private sector, to tackle this issue from a systems perspective. Now that I have a deeper understanding of the digital inclusion issue because of my time as a Fellow, I can be an effective advocate for policies that move us nearer to closing the digital divide.

Leslie Scott is currently working on FEC’s Tech Hire Initiative in Kansas City.


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