Giving Compass' Take: 

• The authors recap various panel discussions at SSIR's 2019 Data on Purpose Conference that focus on how nonprofit leaders, funders, scholars, and technologists can thrive in a digital world. 

• How is the onset of increasingly digital spaces going to affect donors?

• Read more about the future of digital life and well-being. 

From emphasizing the importance of a data culture to exhorting people to “move thoughtfully and improve things,” nonprofit leaders, funders, scholars, and technologists at SSIR's 2019 Data on Purpose Conference provided deep insights into surviving and thriving in an increasingly digital world.

If you're feeling like an idiot trying to navigate the technologies and data that increasingly shape nonprofits' operations and strategies, Alix Dunn with Computer Says Maybe and the Stanford PACS Digital Civil Society Lab has a message for you: you're not.

Technology is just hard, Dunn said in her presentation that opened the 2019 Data on Purpose: Navigating the Digital Now conference. Especially today, when tech is changing at a pace faster than ever that can snare unprepared organizations in a grueling game of catch-up.

Dunn's solutions to the dilemmas of the digital now were some of many offered by scholars and practitioners who gathered for the two-day conference.

Here are a couple of recaps from the conference:

Session 1: Technical Intuition
How do activists avoid feeling inadequate in discussions with tech experts? Which tools do you adopt first? Which do you let go? In a world where the pace of organizational learning is often slower than the pace of technological change, the answers to such questions can be found by developing your technical intuition (“”), Dunn said. She described it as an ongoing process to imagine, inquire about, decide, and demand technological change.

Session 2: Is Your Data Undermining Your Mission?
If you work in the social good sector, you can’t ignore the history of people with power collecting and using data from people without power. What is the responsible way to handle information? A big problem with finding the answer is that people commonly think data will both destroy and save them, said presenter Rahul Bhargava, data scientist with the MIT Media Lab.

Session 3: Data Capacity-Building in the Civic Sector
What can help the social sector go big on data in the right ways? For one, it should stop underestimating itself, said panelist Aman Ahuja, a data consultant. Other members of the panel included moderator Kevin Miller, civic technology manager from the Microsoft Cities Team, and Kathryn Pettit, principal research associate at The Urban Institute. A third speaker, Kauser Razvi, principal of Strategic Urban Solution, noted that different communities are at different stages of data fluency.

Read the full article about Data on Purpose Conference by Eden Stiffman and M. Amedeo Tumolillo at Stanford Social Innovation Review