Nonprofit Tech Capacity Building

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NP Capacity Building session:

Thinking about tech as a process and people problem vs. a tool

  • [GIIPhttp://giip.org/]: working with students of all different backgrounds to use tech as tool with social justice and sustainability orgs
  • Language important - not dividing people based on their knowledge
  • For NPOs, impt for them to understand that tech is absolutely necssary. If invest lot of money in infrastructure in the beginning, will save money in the long run. - Kasi. Tech as a last resort wastes money and time.
  • IT folks struggle with getting leadership to make this kind of investment (Brian).

One piece of capacity building should be helping geeks understand how to sell ideas to the rest of management.

  • Generation gap regarding tech understanding and buy-in. Getting young to trtain the new.
  • Misty - difference between IT and processes driving communications and what you're trying to do online. Can't bite off too much. The entire tech bubble doesn't have to be overhauled. It's an iterative process. If gonna redo website, may want new CRM, update all operating systems, etc. Can't do it all at once.
  • Not sustainable to have volunteer-run technology with a lot of turnover.
  • New discussion idea - job of a tech manager. what that entails. how to devleop that career. want tech managers that have social justice slant.

End-users, leader, developers, funders to fund tech in support of end-users

  • How much of it is training versus changing how people think and strategize about technology?
  • GIIP - may be one person to focus on tech stuff, but that person is responsible for 10 other things. Ideally get multiple people in the room for trainings. So, not one person who happens to have a camera who becomes the tech person.
  • Is there a book or tool out there to help nonprofits think of their mission within the context of technology? I.e. a strategic technology book or forum.
  • Resources: outdated - online organizers almanac about how to 'think' about this stuff, beth kanter nonprofit technology book
  • one example of how an org defined Tech person role = cyberorganizer (using online communication tools, but focus on communicating with public)

Aspiration model: 3 processes to help folks think of tech, not as tools but as processes

  • 1. define your goals (tool-agnostic goals)
  • 2. always planning for technology divorce, recognize that the data is more important than the tool - export strategy, contacts, defining data
  • 3. sustainable communications model - going over audiences and learning how to coordinate online channels (publishing matrix - grid used to help folks have skeleton of communications model), message calendar - what are you trying to get done and when; online metrics and listening

3 categories

  • 1. online id and privacy
  • 2. tech strategy
  • 3. online communications/communications
  • Questions around how to help NPOs not focus just on communicating OUT to their audience through emails/newsletters, etc., but how to get them to ENGAGE audience in real/authentic ways with advocacy/social justice organizations
  • Want to shift thinking about technology to Gardening' (constantly interact with it, feed it, pull out weeds) as opposed to 'pizza delivery' (eat it and move on)
  • Want to know: Which NPOs have successfully transformed themselves into strong tech strategizers? Lessons learned. Case studies. Pain points. Including budgets - how much it cost to implement successful transformation (cost benefit analysis). Also to show the failures. Would be great to have a repository of anecdotes/case studies. The stories would supplement the imagination.