I blogged about the Grassroots Technology report recently published from INOM that highlighted the successes and barriers for grassroots organizations integrating technology into the office and field. The Technology Affinity Group recently published the 2007 Grantmakers Information Technology Survey Report, which has some similarly disappointing results and much fewer signs of hope.
The Council on Foundations conducted the survey of grantmaking organizations via its online survey and benchmarking website. Organizations can use the benchmarking tool to make unique comparisons of the data to go beyond the report’s included statistics.
Anyone who has worked in the nonprofit technology sector can attest that staffing is always an issue. It is often the department that isn’t even a department, projects completed by staff with other titles and job duties or by consultants. Grantmakers are increasingly interested in helping nonprofits increase their technology facilities, whether by staff, education, or hardware. BUT, as this report shows, grantmakers need to be looking at their own organizations before trying to understand how to best help nonprofits.
“Thirty-two percent of respondents indicated the party primarily responsible for technology was the finance/administration staff and 25 percent of respondents indicated the party primarily responsible for technology was in-house technology staff. An Additional 19 percent reported that consultant was the party primarily responsible for technology.” Foundation staffing numbers can be more accurately represented by relevant peers, rather than foundation asset size (as the number above represent) by using the benchmarking tool online.
Technology staff that a foundation does have, is frequently not included in strategic planning (65%), and 84 percent of organizations surveyed said they do not have a technology plan, or have one that is not up-to-date (71% and 13% respectively). Foundations are more likely to have a disaster plan than a technology plan.
Barriers for technology implementation and maintenance are similar to those of nonprofit organizations with cost and lack of staffing coming in as the highest constraints. Following those, lack of training and lack of organizational commitment are the next most frequently cited barriers—again, echoing many of the complaints that nonprofits have voiced.
In two areas that the recent report on grassroots organizations did not cover, we find more disappointing news for grantmakers. The use of open source software in most categories is decreasing. This worries me the most as open source is a terrific way for nonprofits to support software development and decrease costs. Knowledge management is the other unique area, especially important for larger grantmakers, with less than exciting news. Only 2 percent have implemented a knowledge management system!
More than one third (38%) indicated they were not interested in knowledge management, and 47 percent indicated they were trying to define what knowledge management meant to their organization.
A very discouraging report (the third of its kind, COF has surveyed grantmakers in 2003, 2005 and 2007) for the philanthropy sector. Grantmakers should be at the forefront of technology use and capability internally and for external communications. Grantmakers will need to turn these numbers around to better serve, lead, and support the nonprofits they are encouraging to use technology to its fullest.