Giving Nonprofits The Tech Help They Need

Nonprofits want to help people; they don’t want to waste time and money working on their websites. But a website is an integral part of any nonprofit these days, so they need more than just any volunteer, they need IT volunteers.

Today, technology is the lifeblood of any organization. Nonprofits--like any business--need to be on the Internet in order to give the best possible service, especially if they want to scale their services to help more people and communities than ever before. Unfortunately, given limited budgets and the need to find volunteer workers and services, most nonprofits today face a dangerous IT gap. Close to 90%, in fact, suffer from limited to no IT support.

This post is part of a series on the future of service in America, in conjunction with Catchafire.

In real terms, this means it is more difficult for nonprofits to manage internal operations, appeal for financial support, promote their organization and, most importantly, deliver critical services and support to individuals, families, and communities in need. Closing this gap is critical--especially at this time when federal, state, and local governments are forced to cut back on social support programs and public donations to nonprofits have partially dried up.

One powerful solution to this problem rests in harnessing corporate volunteerism, particularly in the IT sector. Instead of hoping that volunteers will appear with the right skillsets, partnering with corporations allows nonprofits to target volunteers with exactly the skills they need. NPower, a national nonprofit dedicated to closing this gap, has managed to achieve this through The Community Corps, a unique alliance of corporations that connects skilled IT pro bono support to nonprofits. This can mean anything from helping organizations optimize their social media strategy to designing new websites.

This alliance recently came to the rescue of Harlem’s renowned Hale House, by using volunteers from JPMorgan to update the organization’s antiquated IT infrastructure. The Palo Alto Library Foundation, which provides funds for library development around the country, used corporate volunteers from Accenture to upgrade its data management system to support a major fundraising effort. These updates may not seem like much to tech-savvy businesses, but many nonprofits--especially long-running ones--simply don’t have the time or skills to focus on technology updates.

And nonprofits are not the only ones to gain from tightly focused corporate volunteerism. Volunteers and their corporations also benefit. Close to 90% of volunteers believe pro bono work has a positive impact on their careers by building professional skill sets. The TCC program also allows corporations to unleash the power of volunteerism for themselves and their employees. In fact, 94% of corporations report that supporting volunteerism raises employee morale, while more than two thirds believe these activities have a positive impact on their bottom line. Everybody wins.

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