The Technology Gap
501 Commons' campaign to close the gap between our nonprofit and business sectors in access to technology is called ZaptheGap. We are seeking corporate, government, and foundation partners to join us in making up-to-date equipment, software, systems, services and technology skills available to nonprofits. Technology helps businesses create great products, serve customers efficiently, promote employee productivity, and track results. Nonprofits are doing some of the most important and most difficult work in our community. Shouldn't they have the tools they need to be effective?
Why is there a gap?
Nonprofit organizations are heavily dependent upon grants from foundations, corporations, and government to underwrite their services. Almost all of these funders prohibit nonprofits from spending grant funds on technology equipment, planning and consultation, software, services, and support. Furthermore, when asking individuals for gifts, nonprofits feel that they must make a case for donations to support programs and services—not their technology needs.
What is the impact of the gap?
The result is that the nonprofits we rely on to do important work, like helping kids succeed in school, providing job training to people with disabilities, protecting victims of domestic violence, and protecting waterways from pollution, get less accomplished with their limited resources because they are not using technology effectively. They are working with out-of-date technology and insecure and unreliable networks, their client data and files are not backed up, and they are not communicating and collaborating effectively.
What is the solution?
There is already a well-established national system through TechSoup for providing discounted software from companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Tableau, and Intuit. And, many companies like Google, Box, Cisco and Salesforce, have built discounted pricing for nonprofits into their business models. Other companies like Deloitte are providing pro bono services or promoting employee volunteerism. But, the gap persists and there is more we can do.
The Northwest is home to some of the most innovative and important technology companies in the world. 501 Commons believes many more of these companies can join in helping ZaptheGap!
What can you and your company do?
Many companies find good philanthropy is also good business. The 59,000 nonprofits in Washington State are a large customer base but they need help getting a leg up on technology and joining the 21st Century in their use of cloud-based services, more efficient hardware, improving technology skills in the nonprofit workforce, and redesigning business processes to better use technology.
Here are five actions your company can take to ZaptheGap:
- Endorse the ZaptheGap campaign. Sign up as an individual or company by contacting Scott Hayman at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make donations of products and services or offer a nonprofit discount. (Examples of needs are cloud storage, video editing, geomapping, on-line learning tools.)
- Provide training and pro bono expertise to nonprofits. (501 Commons can help you do this.)
- Help us advocate to private foundations, corporations, and governments to change their policies and actively fund technology and technology-related services.
- Join us in helping nonprofits learn how to make the case for technology equipment, services, and solutions.