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ZaptheGap

The Technology Gap

501 Commons has launched a campaign to close the gap between our nonprofit and business sectors in access to technology. Most nonprofits are operating without the up-to-date equipment, software, systems and services that are commonly available to help businesses serve customers efficiently, promote employee productivity, and track results.

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 They are working with out-of-date technology and insecure and unreliable networks, their client data and files are not backed up, and they are not communicating and collaborating effectively.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 will 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 six actions your company can take to ZaptheGap:

  1. Endorse the ZaptheGap campaign. Sign up as an individual or company by contacting Scott Hayman at scott@501commons.org
  2. Make donations of products and services or offer a nonprofit discount. (Examples of needs are cloud storage, video editing, geomapping, on-line learning tools.)
  3. Provide training and pro bono expertise to nonprofits. (501 Commons can help you do this.)
  4. Help us advocate to private foundations, corporations, and governments to change their policies and actively fund technology and technology-related services.
  5. Join us in helping nonprofits learn how to make the case for technology equipment, services, and solutions.
  6. Promote the campaign by being a sponsor of the 501 Commons’ annual Techtacular event.
We’re excited about the prospects of igniting change to dramatically improve the technology capacity of nonprofit organizations. Better technology means nonprofits can better accomplish their community strengthening and life-affirming missions. If you or your company can help, please contact Scott Hayman at scott@501commons.org.

Techtacular 2016 Sponsors & ZaptheGap Contributors

We’d like to recognize three key ZaptheGap contributors, Google, Microsoft Philanthopries, and Unified Compliance Framework.
Google donated 20 refurbished computer servers to 501 Commons, which will be redistributed to local nonprofits that need them. This will improve the IT infrastructure of these organizations so that they can work faster, more efficiently, and more securely.
Microsoft Philanthropies funds 501 Commons’ Plan IT, an action learning cohort program focused on helping nonprofit organizations assess their use of technology and develop a blueprint for making specific improvements that harness the full power of IT for the benefit of their missions.
Unified Compliance Framework donated a two-year license to 501 Commons for its technology that enhances security for our IT nonprofit clients, and generously reduced its fee schedule for nonprofit access to the UCF Common Controls Hub.