Mobilizing with Kapor and ZeroDivide
Spent the morning with funders and thought leaders thinking about the role of technology in advocacy organizations. ZeroDivide and Mitchell Kapor Foundation have a new report out and are attempting to kickstart a community of practice among grantmakers.
The session focused on lessons learned the technology integration of 16 advocacy organizations, with first-person insights from Raven Brooks (Netroots Nation) and Rashad Robinson (ColorofChange), moderated throughout by ZeroDivide’s Jeff Perlstein (indymedia.org, Media Alliance and Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media) standing in for Mobilizing report author Tina Lee who stepped away from the program a couple days early to welcome a truly new edition: Baby Lexie: 6 lbs, 14 oz 20 inches long.
After a quick primer on technology tools trending in the nonprofit sector, Jeff led the room through a series of real-time polling and analysis that revealed our collective organizational characteristics, relative familiarity and appetite for funder tech. Some of our stats made headlines in twitterdom.
We went through the high-level report findings (my emphasis):
- Organizations most successful at integrating technology into advocacy work weave technology practices throughout all aspects of the organization.
- Increasing social impact technology capacity is a leadership development issue, both for advocacy nonprofits and the funders dedicated to helping them succeed.
- There are specific ways funders can support advocacy funders in their efforts to increase the use of technology for amplifying social impact.
The last bullet surfaced repeatedly throughout the program presentations and small group discussions, with funders investigating the challenges both for grantees leveraging technology for greater social impact and for themselves, with calls for guidance around evaluating effectiveness of technology initiatives, identification of a network of funders with skills and understanding to bolster peer learning, and ways to connect professionals who do know how to navigate the tech space with funders and nonprofits.
[people, outcomes, strategy, technology]
With that much tech expertise in the room there was an implicit risk of intoxication with the technology tools, but the very opposite happened: each presenter reminded us how technology was the means, not the end, and the essential ideas that drive the sector –mission, theory of change, engagement, impact– are at the heart of technology integration. The most oft-repeated idea? People first [and many references to POST].
Other Cool Thing
- What are the biggest challenges for your grantees/nonprofits in implementing technology for greater social impact?
- What challenges do you face in helping grantees to leverage technology?
- What do we, as a philanthropic community, need to address these challenges?
More to come on this discussion, I’m sure.