Nonprofit Technology Initiatives

NTEN believes that technology has the power to increase the effectiveness and sustainability of nonprofit organizations. By building the capacity of those working to make change, we help them better serve more people and make a lasting impact on our local communities and beyond.

NTEN helps nonprofits learn to take a strategic approach to tech adoption: we develop educational programming to train technology leaders, provide tools and resources so that nonprofits can stay abreast of technology trends in the sector, to partner with other organizations, technology service providers, and funders to ensure that nonprofits receive the support they need. We bring in outside experts and connect participants directly with local service providers, enabling cross-sector collaboration and problem solving for greater impact.

Nonprofit Technology Readiness program: Towards a technology strategy

Through 16 years of research, educational programs, and direct work with nonprofits of all sizes and focus areas, we have found that having the technology tools to do the work is only the first step. The second step—the more difficult one—is having the training and knowledge to use those tools well.

In 2014, funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust, we launched our first Nonprofit Technology Readiness (NTR) program in Oregon as a 6-month incubator for nonprofits looking to learn about baseline best practices for technology projects and system management. The NTR continues to provide education and resources to ensure all participants can successfully support technology decisions and planning in their organization. In 2016, in partnership with California Wellness Foundation, we took our NTR program to California to serve organizations in that state.

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Benchmarks: What technology investments are other nonprofits making?

Many nonprofits often view technology as merely a cost of administration rather than an essential tool to forward their important work. Benchmarks and case studies are excellent instruments for instigating the kinds of conversations that lead to fundamental changes in how nonprofits operate. NTEN and The Forbes Funds are working to create an interactive benchmarking tool to guide nonprofit leaders to a better understanding of the areas within their organizations that are most in need of technology investments. Our new assessment platform will provide insight into trends and best practices across the sector, helping to support and encourage forward-looking technology planning.

NTEN is designing a technology maturity model for the sector based on our years of research and analysis, and the benchmark platform will serve as the assessment tool. The maturity model will allow an organization to have its methods and processes assessed according to management best practice, against a clear set of external benchmarks, with the new platform providing supporting, quantitative data behind the suggestions. The assessment is also designed to provide meaningful aggregate information on the technology trends within the nonprofit community.