The Life Of A Non-Profit Data Professional


March 30th, 2020

44 mins 36 secs

Your Host

About this Episode


Building and maintaining a system that integrates and analyzes all of the data for your organization is a complex endeavor. Operating on a shoe-string budget makes it even more challenging. In this episode Tyler Colby shares his experiences working as a data professional in the non-profit sector. From managing Salesforce data models to wrangling a multitude of data sources and compliance challenges, he describes the biggest challenges that he is facing.


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  • Your host is Tobias Macey and today I’m interviewing Tyler Colby about his experiences working as a data professional in the non-profit arena, most recently at the Natural Resources Defense Council


  • Introduction
  • How did you get involved in the area of data management?
  • Can you start by describing your responsibilities as the director of data infrastructure at the NRDC?
  • What specific challenges are you facing at the NRDC?
  • Can you describe some of the types of data that you are working with at the NRDC?
    • What types of systems are you relying on for the source of your data?
  • What kinds of systems have you put in place to manage the data needs of the NRDC?
    • What are your biggest influences in the build vs. buy decisions that you make?
    • What heuristics or guidelines do you rely on for aligning your work with the business value that it will produce and the broader mission of the organization?
  • Have you found there to be any extra scrutiny of your work as a member of a non-profit in terms of regulations or compliance questions?
  • Your career has involved a significant focus on the Salesforce platform. For anyone not familiar with it, what benefits does it provide in managing information flows and analysis capabilities?
    • What are some of the most challenging or complex aspects of working with Saleseforce?
  • In light of the current global crisis posed by COVID-19 you have established a new non-profit entity to organize the efforts of various technical professionals. Can you describe the nature of that mission?
    • What are some of the unique data challenges that you anticipate or have already encountered?
    • How do the data challenges of this new organization compare to your past experiences?
  • What have you found to be most useful or beneficial in the current landscape of data management systems and practices in your career with non-profit organizations?
    • What are the areas that need to be addressed or improved for workers in the non-profit sector?

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Parting Question

  • From your perspective, what is the biggest gap in the tooling or technology for data management today?

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The intro and outro music is from The Hug by The Freak Fandango Orchestra / CC BY-SA

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