Online Communities Bring Tech Companies and Nonprofits Together

Published 11/30/15
christopherdelatorre.com

Devex recapped its Social Innovation Summit with inspiring words on tech collaboration and the future of global social enterprise. As TechSoup expands across the globe, it can better facilitate partnerships between tech companies and nonprofits. Inclusive engagement is key.

TechSoup is the largest not-for-profit provider of technology assistance services to NGOs and libraries everywhere. It’s well positioned to connect those who make the tech with those who use it. In November the organization unveiled its Global Expansion platform, which will enable it to serve each of an estimated 10 million social orgs worldwide.

The platform is a result of cross-sector collaboration. According to Devex, “Microsoft, despite building huge teams to work directly with nonprofit organizations, was the launch partner for TechSoup.Global … described as ‘the first fully global tech donation platform.'” Tech companies and social entrepreneurs continue to align their interests with global development challenges, and a new playing field is emerging for shared value partnerships. Bryan Breckenridge (Box.org) says “the next wave” of collaboration between vendors would further demystify joint vendor solutions—a practical example of how a future global economy might benefit from cooperation. Tall order? Maybe not.

While corporate culture in Silicon Valley is known for its ruthless competitiveness, cooperative attitudes are common there, some say pervasive. This reality alone takes substantive bridge building from “possible” to “probable,” given that tech startups and entrepreneurs are concerned with solving problems from a user-centered point of view.

The challenge now is to keep up with innovation, especially as tech companies start collaborating on their own. TechSoup CEO Rebecca Masisak says, “We’re at the intersection of tech and philanthropy, and everything is changing around us.” Very true. At TechSoup bridge building is what we do. And while product donors strive to offer the best, most comprehensive solutions for nonprofits, Masisak says for NGOs the answer is often a combination of tools.

Which brings us to engagement. Developing the relationships needed to make modular tech solutions a mainstay for nonprofits calls for a first-rate social platform where practitioners from all sectors can share, connect and learn from each other. Right now TechSoup is gearing up for major improvements to its online community and I’m proud to be a part of the process. In October I teleported to Second Life Island to talk about exciting changes coming to the forums next year. See my NonProfit Commons presentation.

TechSoup’s mission is to build a dynamic bridge that enables design and implementation of technology solutions for a more equitable planet. Our product partners are a big part of this, and I look forward to co-creating the inclusive engagement strategies that will help build bridges between companies, tech experts and nonprofits.

Breckenridge says, “To fully bridge the gap that hinders technology’s role in nonprofits, tech companies and funders will need to boost their knowledge of the social sector.” Great news for a platform which understands the needs, desires and experiences of millions of nonprofits worldwide.