In Silicon Valley and across tech circles around the country there is growing desire to put technology to work for social good. The world is facing grave challenges and at the same time technology is giving us hope that change is possible.
The story of the 'great tech hope' has captured our imaginations. The story that isn't told, however, is that the innovative examples lauded by Fast Company writers and on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative distort our sense of how technology is truly used in the social sector and what nonprofits really need. As companies build tech pro bono programs, charitable foundations fund technology and nonprofits continue to emerge to meet the needs of fellow nonprofits, it is important to understand the current state of technology in the sector and where investments should be directed in order to yield the greatest social impact.
The vast majority of nonprofit technology needs are met by very simple solutions that don't necessarily require engaging software or web developers. This is only accelerating as more robust and easily modified off-the-shelf solutions come to market.
There is a critical need for a wide range of tech solutions and resources to make the great tech hope a reality. As more technology companies mature and start to think about their investment in the community and as tech millionaires develop their philanthropic strategies, we need to urge them to not just invest in the sexy, highly customized opportunities, but to ensure that the basic, critical (while perhaps mundane) needs of the nonprofit sector are served.
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