In a recent blog post, in which our nonprofit, TechSoup, advocated for Net Neutrality, there were several responses that have an interestingly identical structure:
(a) Government should stay out of the Internet;
(b) There are technical issues involved that TechSoup does not understand; and
(c) TechSoup should stick to its knitting of being an opinion-free provider of donated and low-cost software and hardware and not offer opinions on social and political issues.
The first of these points seems broad and ideological; we'll let readers decide for themselves. Jim Nickerson responds to the second point in his comment to our blog post. And I would like to respond to the third.
The parable of the blind men and the elephant comes to mind. One blind man, touching only the trunk, thinks the elephant is entirely a long sinuous coil, and so forth.
When I founded CompuMentor (which became TechSoup) in 1987, I had to file articles of incorporation that would legally bind the organization. This is what I wrote: "The specific and primary purpose of the corporation is to engage in educational and charitable activities which educate the public regarding the appropriate use of computer technology."
This was 1988. There was no web. There was no donations program. We had to walk ten miles to the nearest computer repair shop and it was uphill both ways.
Articles of incorporation do not change unless formally amended, which has not occurred in this case. But a mission statement can be adapted over time. This link takes you to our current mission statement. I want to call out this sentence: "TechSoup's mission is to build a dynamic bridge that enables civil society organizations and changemakers around the world to gain effective access to the resources they need to design and implement technology solutions for a more equitable planet."
To those of you who know us only through the donations program we administer, we express the hope that it has helped you in your nonprofit mission; we invite you to consider some of the other activities in which TechSoup engages on behalf of its mission. These are just a few of the other pieces of our "knitting" that we intend to stick to:
In sum, TechSoup's overriding concern is helping civil society organizations benefit from technology to achieve their missions. Sometimes we do this by providing resources; sometimes we do this by organizing and providing access to data; sometimes we convene activists; and, always, we try to educate and inform about the issues that affect our work and lives.
That's our knitting and we do intend to stick to it.
Image: mirtmirt / Shutterstock
Image: areebarbar / Shutterstock
Image: Arab Resource and Organizing Center
Looks really cool!
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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