Giving Big, Thinking Bigger: Favorite Moments from the NTC24

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

We’re so excited to share our experience at our first Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) by NTEN. With over 160 breakout sessions spanning data, security, fundraising, inclusivity, AI, and more - there was no shortage of learning opportunities.

Throughout the 3-day event, our team was busy educating attendees, joining sessions, and connecting with peers in the beautiful city of Portland, OR. As expected, we walked away with a broader perspective on major trends and innovations relevant to the work of the mission-focused organizations we honor and support daily.

We'll be highlighting some of our favorite moments from the NTC24 - insights that sparked ideas or shifted our thinking. From leveraging automation to democratizing cybersecurity, these key takeaways showcase the momentum of digital transformation in the social sector.

Moment 1: Unlocking Efficiency through an Automation Mindset

James Walker's engaging presentation focused on adopting an automation mindset to enhance organizational efficiency and resilience through technology. James, Chief Technology Officer at JCA, emphasized looking at automation holistically, beyond just implementation, to understand its impacts on workflows and processes.

Key lessons included:

  • The Importance of an Automation Mindset - This mindset encourages strategically considering how automation can benefit organizations by improving efficiency, responsiveness, and resilience. Rather than just focusing on the technology, it means examining automation's effects across the organization.

  • Spot the Opportunities - Practical steps were outlined for pinpointing automation opportunities, like repetitive or error-prone tasks, large transaction volumes, and activities around data, interactions, financials, HR, and processing. Targeting these areas can yield major efficiency gains.

  • Be Smart, Avoid Pitfalls - The presentation discussed risks like perpetuating biases, job losses, over-reliance, and lack of oversight. Mitigating these pitfalls requires governance, monitoring, iterative development, and keeping a human involved in critical decisions.

By adopting an automation mindset and applying it judiciously, nonprofits can unlock tremendous productivity and resilience improvements. However, vigilance is necessary to avoid potential downsides. Overall, automation holds great promise when implemented ethically, strategically, and holistically across organizations.

Moment 2: AI for Knowledge Management

Presented by Tony Kopetchny from PTKO, this session highlighted the integration of AI in knowledge management within the nonprofit sector. It suggested a cautious yet optimistic approach towards leveraging AI in knowledge management, emphasizing the need for clear governance, ethical practices, and starting with existing capabilities and resources.

Key lessons included :

  • AI's Expanding Role: AI isn’t just about content generation, but is seen as a versatile tool that can be applied across various organizational functions. Despite its vast potential, there's a mix of excitement and apprehension, with many experimenting on an individual level but not yet broadly at the organizational level​​.

  • Challenges to Adoption: Organizations are grappling with understanding AI's role, system limitations, and resource constraints. The lack of clear starting points, success stories, and concerns over data privacy and ethical use further complicate AI's adoption​​.

  • Knowledge Management Potential: Effective knowledge management with AI could revolutionize traditional methods by enhancing risk management, reducing effort, ensuring consistent output, and improving quality and employee satisfaction. There's a strong emphasis on starting with what you have and focusing on governance, business process design, structured data, and ethical considerations​​.

Moment 3: A Plug and Play Cybersecurity Solution Is a Game Changer

The Lockwell Team, including CEO, Emerson Ravyn, was on-site to offer a comprehensive look into the challenges nonprofits face in securing their digital environments and offer an innovative approach to solving these issues.

Key lessons included :

Cybersecurity Challenges for Nonprofits: There is a significant gap between the availability of advanced cybersecurity technologies and their implementation in nonprofit organizations. Despite the prevalence of cyber threats, nonprofits often find robust cybersecurity measures inaccessible due to high costs, complexity, and a lack of internal expertise. Lockwell identifies the need for a simplified, cost-effective solution that nonprofits can easily adopt without requiring specialized knowledge or personnel.

Automated Security Operations Center (A-SOC): Lockwell proposes the concept of an Automated Security Operations Center (A-SOC) as a core component of their solution. This A-SOC automates the functions of a traditional Security Operations Center (SOC), such as threat detection, analysis, and response, without the need for continuous manual oversight or a dedicated security team. This automation, coupled with Lockwell's multi-layered data analysis framework, provides comprehensive protection against a variety of cyber threats, making advanced cybersecurity accessible to nonprofits and businesses of all sizes.

User-Centric Design and Accessibility: Emphasizing the importance of user experience, Lockwell's solution is designed with a focus on accessibility and simplicity. The platform's user interface is crafted to ensure that organizations can manage their cybersecurity needs as easily as any other aspect of their operations, promoting a wider adoption of robust cybersecurity measures across the sector. This approach not only democratizes cybersecurity but also empowers organizations with limited resources to effectively protect themselves against cyber threats.

Moment 4: Giving Away a Big Check

NTC24 offered several inspiring moments, but one particular experience left a lasting impression - giving away a giant check!

In the spirit of giving back, we hosted a raffle where one lucky nonprofit stood the chance to win a generous $500 donation from Lockwell. The lucky winner was If/When/How, a groundbreaking organization dedicated to ensuring that everyone has the freedom to decide if, when, and how to build their families, without facing barriers or punishments.

In just this year alone, If/When/How has made a significant impact by training over 5,100 lawyers, law students, healthcare providers, and advocates. Their Repro Legal Helpline has fielded over 5,200 inquiries, evidence of the critical demand for their services. Furthermore, their RJ Lawyers Network proudly includes around 2,000 dedicated legal professionals, all united in the cause for reproductive justice.

Presenting the check to Cat Xia, IT Manager at If/When/How, was an absolute delight and a highlight of our NTC24 experience. This vibrant encounter fortified our collective commitment to spur positive change and foster deeper connections within our community.

Wrapping Up

The 2024 Nonprofit Technology Conference offered an engaging week packed with insightful sessions, meaningful conversations, and valuable connections. The diverse range of topics, which spanned emerging technologies, innovative strategies, and pressing issues in the nonprofit tech space, underscored the creativity and passion of this vibrant community.

Whether exploring AI & automation, data privacy or tackling racism, bias, and discrimination in implementation, each session and interaction was a reminder of technology's role in driving positive change. Speakers not only shared their expertise but also demonstrated a spirit of using that knowledge for social good.

The sense of community at NTC went beyond the sessions themselves. In the exhibit hall, meal lines, coffee shops and evening mixers, there were abundant opportunities to exchange ideas, learn from peers, and make new friends.

Our deepest thanks to all those who made NTC 2024 a transformative and unforgettable experience. Here's to staying connected as we continue working towards a better world empowered by technology and purpose.