Join an online community with more than 350,000 members from 150,000+ organizations, where you can ask questions and get advice.
TechSoup hosts free weekly webinars on a variety of topics, from cloud computing to fundraising to social media and tech strategy.
Thinking about updating software, investing in new computers, or deploying a network or server? Our IT consulting services can help!
Close this window
Not sure how many people know this, but TechSoup started off as an organization called CompuMentor, From the February 1997 version of the web site:
Schools and nonprofit groups come to CompuMentor for affordable, appropriate help with their computer problems and projects. Volunteers come to CompuMentor for the opportunity to use their skills in well structured projects that benefit schools and nonprofits.
CompuMentor, now TechSoup, was one of the first such ICT volunteering initiatives - that part of TechSoup’s programming has moved entirely online, via the TechSoup forum you're reading now, and TechSoup still offers Working with Technical Volunteers: A Manual for NPOs free online.
In English, IT volunteers or ICT volunteers are also called circuit riders - volunteers that help both individuals as well as staff at nonprofits regarding using computer and Internet-related tools, and such volunteers can be both onsite and online. The United Nations Information Technology Service (UNITeS) tried to track all of these various ICT volunteering initiatives globally once upon a time – UNITeS both supported volunteers applying ICTs for development (ICT4D) and promoted volunteerism as a fundamental element of successful ICT4D initiatives. UNITeS was launched in 2000 by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and was hosted by the United Nations Volunteers program.
After seeing many of those 1990s initiatives go away, IT volunteering initiatives seem to be experiencing a resurgence. Examples now include all volunteers that help teach people computer skills at initiatives like Austin FreeNet (Austin, Texas), FreeGeek (Portland, Oregon), EmpowerUp (Southwest Washington state, Vancouver area), and World Computer Exchange - and even PeaceCorps and VSO. HandsOn also has several IT volunteer tech initiatives, which they brand as skilled-based volunteer engagement under the name HandsOn Tech:
HandsOn Tech Pittsburgh, Pennsylvannia. Follow on Twitter at @HandsOnTechPGH,HandsOn Tech Atlanta, Georgia. Follow on Twitter at @HandsOnTechATLHandsOn Tech Boston, Massachusetts. Follow on Twitter at @HandsOnTechBOSHandsOn Tech Chicago, Illinois. Follow on Twitter at @HandsOnTechChiHandsOn Tech New York City, New York. Follow on Twitter at @NYCHandsOnTechHandsOn Tech Detroit, Michigan. Follow on Twitter at @HandsOnTechDETHandsOn Tech Seattle, WashingtonHandsOn Denver, Colorado (Open Media Foundation)
I still volunteer my tech skills one-on-one with nonprofits, though not through any of these programs. I find that there is still a HUGE need for volunteers to help nonprofits with data mining (how to gather data via databases about volunteers, clients and donors that help show impact by the organization), choosing databases, making a web site fully accessible, using social media, etc.
So, what about you?
TechSoup Community Forum Manager
Top of Thread
I do not know about specific organisations Jayne, as you are well aware it takes a huge amount of energy to keep a volunteer based organisation going, some will fail, some will just run out of steam, the fact that an organisation drops out of sight does not mean that the need they served has gone away.
I agree with you that there is a huge need for this kind of help and advice and always will be, I have just had an email from a friend who is far from a beginner with IT, she is complaining bitterly that the interface of Windows 8.1 on her new computer has changed from Windows 8.0. How these initiatives are provided and who provides them will change but I do not see the need going away anytime soon.
IT Adviser Ethiopian Midwives Association