Startup Nonprofits Are Getting Technology Wrong

Jefferson Chang
Jefferson Chang


To all startup nonprofits, stop wasting your donor’s funds.

You’re not spending time and money on the right things when it comes to technology. We’ve seen non-profits waste thousands of dollars on a web developer, adopt overpriced donor management systems, pay for phone lines, and much more.

It’s upsetting because so much time and resources are wasted on technology that is a bad fit for startup nonprofits. It gets pissed away. Your resources should really be put into developing your programs and change theory instead.

It’s not your fault. Really it’s not. Let me tell you why. First, you don’t have time. You need to be focusing your time on what you’re good at, creating social impact, rather than technology. Second, you’re never been taught how to start an organization. Some MBA friend usually tells you to write a business plan. This is useless for a startup nonprofit and distracts you at this stage. Third, technology companies don’t serve you. Why? Because you’re unproven and don’t have the budget. Many of the non-profit technology products in use today have been developed for large and complex non-profits. This makes finding the right technology for your startup nonprofit extremely difficult.

The right technology is crucially important because of three reasons:

  • It helps you become more efficient by helping you do more with less
  • It helps people get information about your organization
  • It helps you obtain resources such as volunteers and funding
  • It helps you develop your change concept

As a startup nonprofit, you’re finding a repeatable and scalable change concept. Your technology goal is to adopt technology that will help you get things done most immediately to support that effort. You need to prove your concept so that it has a measurable social impact that donors will support. There’s no need to plan technology for the next 2-3 years before this point. The best technology are tools that you can grow out of rather than grow into.

Through a series of seven blog posts, we’re going to help you setup your technology infrastructure the right way. This isn’t a scientific or rigorous system evaluation approach towards technology implementation. You don’t need that. You don’t need expensive and heavy software for larger nonprofits either. Instead, we focus on recommending solutions that are fast, cheap (or free), and easy-to-use — qualities important to help your nonprofit startup.

If you want to save thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of dollars, and set up technology that will help you scale social impact the right way, this is the perfect series for you.

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