Offer your ideas about what a technologically empowered nonprofit will look like 5 to 10 years down the road...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

About the Nonprofit of the Future project

Tréo picture by Global X

Those of us in the nonprofit technology space spend a lot of time trying to catch up with the current technologies, adapting them for use on the ground, and then spinning off new ideas and applications. We spend less time, however, dreaming and visioning about the future...what the technologically empowered nonprofit of the future will look like 5 or 10 years down the road.

Well, here’s your chance to blue sky it and dream big! Contribute your thoughts to an open source effort where your ideas and those of others (nonprofit clients and staff, techies, and consultants, etc.) will be pooled, reviewed, edited and published under the title “Visioning the nonprofit of the future”. Then again, maybe a contributor will come up with a better title??? Anyone whose ideas are included as part of the final document will be credited, and if any money is raised by the publication, it will be contributed to the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (

All you have to do is post your ideas here. All ideas must be received by June 30, 2006. Stay tuned on where this goes and in the meantime... dream as big as you wanna dream!

Feel free to give a holler if you have questions, and here are some of my own ideas to get you started...

1. Nonprofits will go mobile…the mobile nonprofit will operate without the expense of location or unnecessary overhead. Social service workers will roam the neighborhoods, using only a mobile device as their “office” and meeting with clients where they live and work. These mobile devices will be able to register and transfer people from service to service – so that a single social service employee could potentially be “working” for and paid by multiple agencies. This would result in significant cost savings…

2. Community-based Kiosks and Web-enabled meetings. Social service agencies will offer video conferencing with real people in real time to answer questions – you won’t need to go into an actual office but can conduct transactions via an easily accessible community kiosk or on your home computer or handheld device. Everything from taking your DMV test to applying for food stamps or accessing a homeless shelter can be done in this one-stop fashion.

3. Local demographic and even individual “needs” information will be captured in real time by social service agencies, nonprofits and foundations – reporting and measuring community impact as it occurs. Service providers will be able to move rapidly to address social problems as they arise, and adapt their services to fit the need in real time. A local rise in uninsured children or an earthquake, for example, could be addressed immediately instead of after the fact.

4. Each nonprofit agency will have the capability to create its own technology tools and processes using open source technology. A “nonprofit in a box” will be so user friendly and customizable that anyone can use and alter it – clients and providers alike. Any and all of self-tailored information and communication technology tools used by the nonprofit agency will be fully compatible with other tools and standards being used.