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Despite increasing buzz surrounding technology funding, the vast majority of charities aren't able to fund their technology sufficiently. Nonprofits and funders are stuck in an unhealthy cycle in which they acknowledge that more tech funding is needed; yet the investments never quite occur.
A new Box white paper by Box.org executive director Bryan Breckenridge and nonprofit program director Anne Maloney, Why Fund Tech for Nonprofits, makes a strong case for increased funding for technology and suggests some ways to move forward. It's a free download. We think it's definitely worth a look.
Most nonprofits are starving for the technology that would help them achieve their missions. The Box report includes some analysis on the reasons for this shortfall. A primary one is the overhead myth, which states that reputable charities must keep their overhead costs below 10 percent of total expenditures.
Technology is overhead (so are rent, utilities, admin and management salaries, fundraising, accounting, HR, and all the other essentials needed to keep the lights on). BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, and Charity Navigator issued a joint letter in early 2015 encouraging nonprofits to join forces to dispel the overhead myth because it's strangling tech investment.
The Box report features interviews with 16 leaders involved in the nonprofit sector, including one of my favorites, Ekta Chopra, director of technology at the James Irvine Foundation. One of the most intriguing interviews is with Zeev Klein, general partner at Landmark Ventures. He explains how "funders don't want to invest in the means, they want to invest in the ends."
The report also recommends solutions to the thorny tech-funding problem. It focuses on five of them:
I also liked the examples near the end of the report of successful technology deployment, featuring innovative charities like Fast Forward, CareerVillage, and One Degree.
At TechSoup, we heartily agree that it’s now time for funders, technology providers, and nonprofits to work together to assure that the nonprofit sector finally experiences the empowerment that technology has brought to the private sector. We encourage you to check out the free Box.org download, Why Fund Tech for Nonprofits.
Download the Report