Some thoughts on volunteer tech support to non-profits

Some interesting, though probably not unexpected, insights from the incredible humans at BigWideSky about “digital donation errors” made by non-profits.

As part of our study, 2019 State of Nonprofit Digital Giving, we secretly donated to 100 organizations across the nonprofit spectrum from humanitarian, healthcare, environment, food, animal groups, arts & culture, youth charities and more.

Source: State of Nonprofit 2019: Digital Giving Study

I just downloaded the report and am looking forward to reading the full results of the study. Just reading the summary, though, got me thinking.

The challenges faced by many non-profits goes well beyond fund raising. My recent experiences at the Code With a Cause events put on by GlobalHack showed me that many of these organizations know there are things they could / should be doing. There are plenty of open source, “free” tools out there for non-profits to use. But non-profits often a) don’t have the in-house expertise to implement and/or b) don’t have the funding to hire an agency (or freelancer) to develop the solutions they need.

Based on my understanding (which is admittedly limited), the main donations to non-profits are either financial contributions or a contribution of time in the form of volunteering, either in the execution of the main mission or in providing support to operations. There is, as the Code With a Cause events highlight, huge potential for the “donation” of technical – and experience design – expertise.

The big question, though, is how to vet and coordinate technical volunteers. Perhaps set up a non-profit that vets and coordinates technical volunteers, a sort of “volunteer staffing agency” specializing in developers and designers?