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?

Searching the web without Google (gasp!)

The topic of search engines came up during a recent  conversation with Tony Karrer.  I told him I use Google some (Google News is actually my browser start page), but that I’ve set the default in the Firefox search engine list to GoodSearch.

“Why use something other than Google?”, he asked. “When do you use GoodSearch, and when do you use Google?”

For very specific or obscure searches, I’ve found that Google works better (i.e., provides more relevant results).  But for everyday, general searches – and to support my general personal learning activities – GoodSearch is more than sufficient.  If I’m looking for a general article, a popular news story, or just trying to track something down, GoodSearch is where I start.  If I can’t find what I’m looking for quickly, I’ll jump over to Google.

This does maybe slow me down just a little bit in trying to find something online, but there is a benefit to using GoodSearch.  If you are not familiar with GoodSearch, here are the basics:

GoodSearch is a search engine which donates 50-percent of its revenue to the charities and schools designated by its users. It’s a simple and compelling concept. You use GoodSearch exactly as you would any other search engine. Because it’s powered by Yahoo!, you get proven search results. The money GoodSearch donates to your cause comes from its advertisers — the users and the organizations do not spend a dime!

Personally, I GoodSearch for St. Louis Elite nfpc, the non-profit that supports my son’s Trampoline and Tumbling team.  Chances are very good that a non-profit organization near-and-dear to your heart is set up with GoodSearch, too, so check them out and start putting all those web searches to work for a good cause.

For more on this, and other, conversations with Tony check out these 100 Conversations.