Nonprofit technology comprises information and communication technologies that support the goals of nonprofit, nongovernmental, third sector, grassroots, and other mission-based organizations. This can be both technology that is specifically designed for nonprofits, and technology that is used in the work of nonprofits.
Nonprofit technology uses
Nonprofit organizations use computers, Internet and other networking technology for a number of tasks, including volunteer management and support, donor management, client tracking and support, project management, human resources (paid staff) management, financial accounting, program evaluation, research, marketing, activism and collaboration. Nonprofit organizations that engage in income-generation activities, such as ticket sales, may also use technology for these functions.
Some technology is created specifically for use by nonprofit organizations. For instance, there are more than 30 software packages designed for nonprofits to use to manage volunteers. There is software designed to help in the management of animal shelters, software to help nonprofit performing arts groups sell tickets and manage donors, software to manage sports clubs, and on and on.
Nonprofit organizations also use both proprietary and open-source software, as well as various online tools (the World Wide Web, email, online social networking, wikis, micro-blogging, etc.), that are also used by for-profit businesses.
Because of their limited budgets, nonprofit organizations may not be able to upgrade their hardware or software, buy computers or Internet tools, or provide technology training for staff to the degree of for-profit businesses. This means that, often, nonprofit organizations can be on the wrong side of the digital divide.
The external links listed below provide details on both computer, Internet and networking technology that is specifically designed for nonprofits, and how technology is used in the work of nonprofits.
Whereas a for-profit business may have the budget to hire a full-time staff member or part-time consultant to help with computer and Internet technology use, nonprofit organizations usually have fewer financial resources and, therefore, may not be able to hire a full-time staff person to manage and support technology use. While there are nonprofits that can afford to pay staff devoted to managing and supporting the nonprofits technology needs, many those who support nonprofits in their technology use are staff members who have different primary roles (called “accidental techies”) and volunteers.
Those providing support to nonprofit organizations regarding their use of computers, the Internet and networking technologies are sometimes known as eRiders or circuit riders, or more broadly as NTAPs (nonprofit technology assistance providers).
A membership association for people volunteering or working for pay to support nonprofit technology is NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network.
- Nonprofit Technology News
- All About Computers, Internet and Web, chapter from the Free Management Library (for nonprofits)
- The Nonprofit FAQ > Management > Internet Use
- A Brief Review of the Early History of Nonprofits and the Internet