Mar
28
2011

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Through current events around the world, we have seen firsthand how technology is influencing and bringing forth positive changes. Whether it is being used to rally people to action in Egypt or to help raise funds and awareness for relief efforts in Japan, advocates and champions alike are increasingly using technology and related strategies to amplify their efforts and generate social impact. This impact is made possible in part by the innovative technology that is currently available.

While the role of technology continues to grow in importance when it comes to effecting social change, there is a growing concern that “philanthropic investment in domestic nonprofits’ technology use has largely focused on improving operational functions and efficiencies—hardware and software upgrades, databases for managing membership, the maintenance and design of websites, online fundraising campaigns, etc.” and not the use of new digital media tools and strategies that grantees so desperately need in today’s online driven world.

As noted by ZeroDivide, a nonprofit which helps underserved communities to achieve social progress and opportunity through use of technology organization, “Funder interest in supporting grantees’ use of new digital media tools and strategies is great and the need is high, yet investment remains modest because funders have been slow to adapt to this emerging field.”

In an effort to learn more about funders’ interests in supporting technology investments for social good, ZeroDivide conducted a survey specifically to identify the key barriers to increased philanthropic investment and seek out suggestions that could help the sector in surmounting these barriers. The survey results titled “Amplifying Social Impact in a Connected Age” were released today and include responses from 41 funders and 13 nonprofit technology service providers. (Participating foundations varied in size, programmatic emphasis, and geographic reach.)

As a result of this survey, ZeroDivide developed three recommended strategies to increase funding for technology and media.

  1. Increase funder education and engagement:  While acknowledging the existence of resources and programs related to education for funders, survey respondents cited regular online content, in person gatherings to share best practices and “how to” guides.
  2. Strengthen funder advising:  Many of the smaller funders noted the need for guidance on moving from developing an idea to executing a grant program and how to make the case internally among leadership.
  3. Expand the investment pool:  Simply noting that in order for funding to increase in this arena, so too must the quantity of funding and number of funders.

The report goes into detail regarding the current state of technology-related philanthropy and additional recommendations for strengthening this area. What are your thoughts on this issue, do you agree with the recommendations?  What suggestions would you make when it comes to enhancing funding for technology?

Want to continue the discussion?  ZeroDivide will conduct two, one-hour webinars to present and discuss the results:

In the video below, ZeroDivide President and CEO, Tessie Guillermo provides highlights from the report.

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