Guest blog post by David Krumlauf. David is an NPTech superstar and the Chief Technologist for a small family foundation based in Chicago, IL where he does the IT work for several of their grantees. You can read about the foundation and his work at: http://piercefamilyfoundation.org.
Most nonprofit organizations struggle with getting their technology needs funded. I believe that if we share our tech funding stories, we can all benefit and get our tech needs met so we can better fulfill our missions. I searched for a site that collects NPTech funding stories and came up empty so I started a Facebook Page for people to share their successes and failures: https://www.facebook.com/NPTechFunding.
One of the grantees I work with wanted to move into a new office space and needed a lot of new infrastructure to make this space workable and connected to their old office. It was more than the foundation could fund by itself so we broke the project up into manageable pieces: workstations, servers, phones and a network printer/copier. The foundation matched funds in each category and the organization sent out a fundraising email to its major donors. Every piece was funded in a matter of a few weeks! Donors love matching funds. They feel like they’re not alone, don’t have to do much research but can still have a major impact.
In the 5 years that I’ve been doing this work, I’ve gotten to know a lot of nonprofit technology people. If you’re the IT person at a nonprofit organization and are feeling isolated, there’s a terrific community of smart, fun, sharing people at the Nonprofit Technology Network: http://nten.org. They have an amazing tech conference every year and the NTEN members share a lot of advice on their Discuss list. You are not alone!
I’ve been involved with several other organizations working on technology funding for nonprofits. Some you might be interested in are:
Zero Divide: http://zerodivide.org
If you are a Twitter user, we use the hashtag #fundertech to share tech funding information: https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23fundertech.
I’ve been working on getting other foundations to fund more technology grants for their grantees. Most foundation program officers don’t understand enough about technology to make meaningful grants to their grantees. This 3-part webinar series developed with Andrea Berry from Idealware was very well received and we are all optimistic that foundation staff will make more technology grants in the future. The training slides and recordings can be found here: http://seminars.idealware.org/funders_course/0212/funders.html
On the other side of this issue, I wrote a guest blog post on how nonprofits can do a better job of getting their grants funded: http://www.citidc.com/blog/?p=1369 and another post about how import tech funding is for nonprofits: http://www.communitytech.net/news/coming-out-closet
I have personally seen how much more effective nonprofits are with the right hardware, software and training and it’s my goal to make this happen for as many organizations as I can. Please join the conversation on this blog or on the FB Page. It’s so important that we all help each other be as effective as we can be.